Downtown Disney

Things to Do at Disney World outside the Parks

by on November 21, 2014

It can be easy sometimes to forget just how much there is to do outside of Disney World’s four theme parks and two water parks. With so much contained within the parks, it might not even cross some guests’ minds that you could actually spend a whole Disney World vacation without ever going to the parks. Although I personally wouldn’t suggest skipping the parks entirely, you could do it and still have a great vacation. Maybe it’s the last day of your vacation or maybe you just want to explore the property a little to see what else Disney has to offer. With that in mind, here are just a few of the many things to see and do without ever having to pay for a park admission ticket.

Disney World Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf

Golf

Disney World wouldn’t be much of a resort destination without golf. With three courses (four if you include the onsite Four Seasons course) and one nine-hole walking course, there’s a wide variety of play options for fans of the sport. Even if you think you’re terrible at golf or you’ve never tried before, this is a good place to start. Resort courses are notoriously less punishing than most courses (people don’t need a stroke on vacation) and even if you do play horribly, at least you’re still in Disney so you can’t be that upset. If the full-fledged sport still seems like too much of an undertaking, Disney also offers two thematically different mini golf courses. Fantasia Gardens (located near the Boardwalk) is themed after its namesake film and even features a more traditional putting green course for those who want to just work on their short game. Winter Summerland Miniature Golf is located at Blizzard Beach and has two courses themed after winter and summer. For those concerned about having to purchase a water park ticket to play here, no need to worry. The mini golf course may be located at Blizzard Beach but it’s actually outside of the Blizzard Beach entrance.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: November 13, 2014

by on November 13, 2014

1Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re attending the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, stopping by Downtown Disney and Epcot, then checking out the Osborne Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Phew – that’s a lot!  Let’s get going! :)

I was absolutely over the moon when I got the email from Touring Plans asking if I wouldn’t mind attending the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The truth was I’d been on the fence about going the first night, but the tickets sold out before I pulled the trigger. So let this serve as a warning to all of you to not delay picking up those party tickets! But what if you can’t make it this year? Well, no worries! Just click to read all about it. 

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Observations from Downtown Disney (Big Hero 6 Kiosk, New Stores, Construction Update, and More)

by on October 29, 2014

It has been a big week for Downtown Disney (soon to be rebranded as Disney Springs) with the news of two new dining venues coming to the area, including one from celebrated Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. A lot of progress has been made since our last photo report of WDW’s shopping district, and today you’ll be able to get a look at two new kiosks that have recently opened (Set the Bar and Sublime) along with updates on the Food Truck Park, the bridge across Village Lake, and new merchandise at the stores.

Our first look is at the status of the much needed West Side parking garage. This garage is huge and stretches all the way from DisneyQuest to Pleasure Island. The scheduled opening date is Spring 2015.

DTD_garage1

West Side parking garage.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

My New Favorite Disney World Souvenir Finds

by on October 29, 2014

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears

I don’t know about you, but souvenir shopping is a huge part of my Disney World Vacations. I always enjoy browsing through the stores at the parks and resorts for new merchandise; and during my past few trips to Disney World this year, I have discovered some magical, new items. So take a look at just a few of my new favorite Disney World souvenir finds!

Little Mermaid Mouse Ears – $19.00

As a huge Little Mermaid fan, I was thrilled when I came across these Little Mermaid Mouse Ears! I had seen the Belle and Cinderella themed Mouse Ears before, but this design is by far my favorite. I especially like the pearl accents! Surprisingly, I only found this twist on Disney’s classic headgear at Epcot’s Mouse Gear and Downtown Disney’s World of Disney Store during my most recent trip to Disney World, but hopefully that has changed. After all, who wouldn’t want to sport these ears around the parks, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Disney Dining: The Smokehouse at Downtown Disney

by on October 27, 2014

With House of Blues still on double secret probation, it was time to try a new venue for lunch while on a recent trip to Downtown Disney. I had intended on trying the menu of one of the four Disney food trucks, but three of them (the ones dedicated to food representing Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and “Magic Kingdom’s around the world”) were not open until 6PM. I met photographer Brandon Glover near Cirque du Soleil on DtD’s West Side, and The Smokehouse was the first place we walked past, so we made the easy decision of just eating there instead of walking all the way back to the Marketplace, where the Animal Kingdom food truck was parked next to World of Disney. (Please note that all pictures in this article can be viewed at full size by clicking on them.)

 

Smokehouse_ribs

A half rack of St. Louis ribs at The Smokehouse (photos by Brandon Glover.)

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Menu Monday: AMC Dine-In Theatre at Downtown Disney

by on October 13, 2014

IMG_0135Hi everyone! By request, I’m stopping by with another Menu Monday to tell you all about the AMC dine-in Theatre at Downtown Disney. Anyone that has read my park reports knows I’m a fan of sloshing through Disney World in the rain. It might come as a surprise that another one of my rainy day favorites is visiting the AMC dine-in Theatre. Not to mention it makes for a great date night!

This past weekend I stopped by for a movie because a storm was coming and I hadn’t packed my rain gear. Since it was before noon, the parking situation was simple, but you should know that parking can be very difficult to find these days if you stop by later. It’s very simple to park at Saratoga Springs and stroll over. At the guard shack just tell them that’s your plan and they’ll direct you to the best parking. There’s nothing sneaky about it. With the limited parking available at Downtown Disney right now they’re encouraging you to find parking at a nearby resort.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Unexpected Disney Souvenir: Shoes

by on October 10, 2014

photo_2

When you think about Disney parks souvenirs, the products that typically come top of mind include t-shirts, ear hats, and plush toys. While these are certainly all easy-to-find items, another surprisingly prevalent product in the parks is shoes. These range from inexpensive flip-flops to performance athletic equipment, and everything in between.

In addition to being a fun souvenir, many of the shoes sold in the parks can fill the gap if emergency strikes and your luggage is lost or if Little Billy decides that your vacation sneakers are the perfect place to store the leftover half of his Mickey bar.

Here’s a sample of what was available in the parks and resorts in early autumn 2014. The exact designs do change from time to time, but the range of styles and price points generally remains consistent.

BASIC FLIP FLOPS

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: October 2, 2014

by on October 2, 2014

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re stopping by the Disney’s Hollywood Studios to say goodbye to the Backlot Tour. Next, we’ll stop by Epcot for the last day of Off Kilter and some more Food and Wine fun. Lastly, we’ll stop in the Magic Kingdom to ride the Astro Orbiter on the first day it reopens. Who is ready for an awesome week? Let’s go!

Bright and early on September 27, I set out to ride the Backlot Tour. Upon first arriving it looked like any normal day, the crowds didn’t seem to know they were experiencing an attraction on the last day. The queue was short and the area was eerily quiet compared to that madness at Toy Story Mania next door.

1

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Best Places to Find Pins at Disney World

by on September 21, 2014

Disney Pin Trading has become somewhat of a Disney vacation pastime and is one of my personal favorite things to do when I visit Disney World. What is Disney Pin Trading? Well, all throughout Disney World you will find metal pins for sale representing everything from characters to resorts to attractions to special events. The more pins you purchase, the greater your collection, plus you have great mementos to remember your vacation by; but this souvenir experience is also interactive in that you can trade with Cast Members, or with other guests, if they so choose. It’s a fun activity that everyone can enjoy while exploring the parks and resorts!

Disney Pin Trading - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Disney Pin Trading

Now you will find Disney Pins for sale almost everywhere throughout the parks and resorts, but there are some corners of Disney World where you may find a better selection of pins or those rare, special edition pins or just maybe that one you’ve been hunting for the whole trip. So read on to check out my best places to find pins at Disney World!

Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion – This particular Epcot pavilion is one of my favorites because there’s a lot more to see than just the fountain and restaurants found at the front. The Morocco Pavilion actually extends back farther than what you may realize in a network of exotic, winding streets which contain lots of things to see and a few shops. It’s impressive and trust me, you will have a hard time reminding yourself that you’re actually in Central Florida and not Morocco! Anyway, back to Disney Pins. So because most guests don’t realize that the Morocco pavilion offers more than just what’s at the front door, the Cast Members who work at the rear of the pavilion, and their lanyards, aren’t visited by guests nearly as much as at others. While nothing is guaranteed, Morocco, in my opinion, is a good bet for those rare Cast Member pins!

Stores & Service Locations – Most shops and stores at the parks have their own individual pin boards from which you can trade from. Some stores have their own “themed” boards that match the theme of the land or attraction they belong to, which only makes trading even more fun! Some of the pin boards at the Disney World Resorts are only brought out at certain times and may have a trading limit. If you’re not sure, feel free to ask! In addition, many service locations at Disney World, such as stroller rentals, also have their own pin boards. I’ve even heard of a pin covered stroller with a stuffed Mickey Mouse in the seat from which you can trade at the Magic Kingdom! Pin boards are where I go to in order to trade because you never know what you might find, and very few guests realize that service locations have their own pin boards.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

DisneyQuest: Five Floors Of Fun!

by on September 20, 2014

IMG_3420Recently, I was asked to upgrade my Disney pass to help out with some extra stuff here at Touring Plans. I hadn’t bothered with a premium annual in years since it just meant access to DisneyQuest and the water parks. I’d remembered DisneyQuest as a let down with lots of broken machines and outdated technology. It was a couple months after upgrading that I decided to finally stop in and see if anything had changed. I don’t know if it was just because of the time that had passed or due to recent changes, but I had a great time and wondered why I’d written the place off so many years ago. So with a fresh perspective I thought I’d share what you can expect from the five floors of fun at DisneyQuest!

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print