Downtown Disney

Two Shops at Downtown Disney Closing to Make Way for New Virtual Experience

by on August 17, 2017

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire - Downtown Disney

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Recently it was announced that an all new virtual experience themed around Star Wars, called Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire would be coming to Downtown Disney in the Disneyland Resort. The question was, where will this experience be located? It seems that it will officially be going in the space of Disney Vault 28 and Fossil. Both stores will be closing soon, by the end of September to make way.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will be a brand new collaboration between Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB, and THE VOID which will take Guests literally into the Star Wars world via a hyper-reality experience. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will allow fans to move freely in an untethered, social, and multi-sensory experience and Guests will be able to interact with friends, fans, and even some characters.

It is still currently unclear where the experience will be found at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will open this holiday season on both coasts. Stay tuned to the blog for more details!

Parking Policy Changes at Downtown Disney in Disneyland

by on August 8, 2017

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Changes are taking place at Disneyland in regards to the parking policies at Downtown Disney.

Beginning on August 16, Guests will only be able to receive two hours of free parking when they make a $20 minimum purchase where they will be able to receive validation from any Downtown Disney location, including kiosks and quick service dining locations. For those who dine at a Downtown Disney table service restaurant or who watch a movie at the AMC Theatres, Guests will be able to receive up to four hours of free parking with validation.

Any additional hours will cost $12, which will be charged in 30 minute increments, with a minimum $6 charge after the initial 15 minute grace period. The maximum daily parking fee and lost ticket fees will be increased as well, from $36 to $48.

Currently, any Guest can park in the lot for free for up to two hours.

 

Brand New Immersive Star Wars Experience Coming to Disney Springs and Downtown Disney

by on August 3, 2017

Today, it was announced that a brand new collaboration between Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB, and THE VOID will take Guests literally into the Star Wars world via a hyper-reality experience. Called Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, Guests will be able to be thrust into the Star Wars universe at two new new VOID Experience Centers. These centers will be found at unannounced locations at both Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort and at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will allow fans to move freely in an untethered, social, and multi-sensory experience. Guests will be able to interact with friends, fans, and even some characters.

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©Star Wars

“At THE VOID, we combine the magic of illusions, advanced technology and virtual reality to create fully immersive social experiences that take guests to new worlds,” said Curtis Hickman, co-founder and chief creative officer at THE VOID. “A truly transformative experience is so much more than what you see with your eyes; it’s what you hear, feel, touch, and even smell. Through the power of THE VOID, guests who step into Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire won’t just see this world, they’ll know that they are part of this amazing story.”

The fun begins sometime during this holiday season. Stay tuned to the blog as I find out more information about this ground-breaking experience.

#RockTheDots Event at Disney Springs and Downtown Disney

by on January 19, 2017

#RockTheDots

©Disney

Did you know that January 22 is National Polka Dot Day? Disney is inviting its Guests to #RockTheDots and celebrate the fashion icon that is Minnie Mouse. Guests looking to celebrate should visit Disney Springs in Walt Disney World or Downtown Disney in Disneyland dressed in their polka-dotted attire. During the #RockTheDots event, Guests will be able to take part in unique entertainment, photo opportunities, discounts, and giveaways.

At Disney Springs, Guests who visit should first stop and pick up a commemorative button. Those dressed in polka dots can grab one at the following locations:

  • The Welcome Center
  • Marketplace Co-Op
  • Tren-D
  • World of Disney
  • Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories
  • DisneyQuest
  • Select participating retailers

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Family Friendly Desserts at Walt Disney World Your Kids Won’t Forget!

by on October 15, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Family Friendly Desserts at Walt Disney World Your Kids Won’t Forget! Recent SATURDAY SIX articles have had us looking at some of the great drinks you can get at the WDW hotel lounges (such as the Northwest Exposure at Wilderness Lodge’s Territory Lounge or the Abita Flight at Port Orleans Riverside’s River Roost Lounge) along with some unique burger offerings on property including ESPN Club’s Old World Bavarian Burger or The Mad King at Splitsville. Today we are going to go straight to the end of the menu and look at some of the most unique, outrageous, and – at times – next level bonkers desserts on Disney property. So sit back, loosen up that belt on your pants, and let’s begin our list with…

# 6 – “DESSERT”ED ISLAND (Todd English’s bluezoo)

One of the most underrated dining experiences in all of “The World” is at Todd English’s bluezoo in the Dolphin at Walt Disney World. bluezoo is known for its world class bar that has one amazing cocktail after another (we recommend to start with the Burnt Orange or the Swedish Fish) but the restaurant’s dinner menu may be the true “best kept secret” at Disney. The Crispy Asian Pork Ribs appetizer is  somehow better than the mouth-watering ribs at Morimoto Asia. On the way to the dining room, guests will also pass by a unique circular rotisserie that makes the fish being grilled on it seem to dance on the coals. On the menu, this is presented as “this evening’s dancing fish.” So with a sense of style, originality, and wit you don’t often see in restaurants, it is no surprise that bluezoo also features a Must Try dessert.

The “Dessert”ed Island follows the grand tradition of Disney as it actually is based on story. This story features “a chocolate boat filled with vanilla ice cream sailing the Jell-O seas to explore chocolate island.” If more stories were like that I bet Millenials would read more. All of the chocolate pieces, including the ship and sails, along with the palm tree, are actually made in-house at the Swan and Dolphin. Just a spectacularly fun way to end a meal. ($9.00)

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“Dessert” ed Island. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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One of the “dancing” fish.

# 5 – Everything Pop Sundae (Disney’s Pop Century)

No one believes this when I tell them, but the Everything Pop food court at Disney’s Pop Century is hands-down the “restaurant” at Walt Disney World I visit the most. Why? Because it’s the one place at WDW where you can get a Sloppy Joe. We all have that favorite Disney food or snack. Some guests love their Mickey Waffles, some prefer the cheddar cheese soup at Le Cellier, and others keep coming back for the bread pudding at ‘Ohana, but for me it’s the Sloppy Joe at Everything Pop.

Many SATURDAY SIX readers know of the Everything Pop food court because of the infamous Pop-Tart Sandwich. An inaugural theme park Turkey of the Year nominee, the Pop-Tart sandwich uses Pop-Tarts as the “bread” for a sandwich that has egg in the form of a hockey puck along with cheese and bacon melded together in a twisted form straight out of John Carpenter’s The Thing. But believe it or not, the sandwich is not the only item at the Everything Pop food court which uses Pop-Tarts. The Everything Pop Sundae features six flavors of ice cream, brownies, bananas, M&Ms, gummy worms, marshmallows, rainbow jimmies, chocolate fudge, caramel sauce, whipped cream, Maraschino cherries and Pop-Tarts sticking out of the top like monoliths. You may ask yourself “why, gummy worms?” That’s a very good question. ($10.99)

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Everything Pop Sundae. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Everything Pop Sundae. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Everything Pop Sundae. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Blaze Pizza: A Fast Favorite at Disney Springs

by on August 16, 2016

As I mentioned last week, Disney Springs has had so many new restaurants open in the past few months. Just last Friday, one of the final pieces of the dining puzzle opened its doors to welcome pizza lovers from near and far. Blaze Pizza, located in the Town Center area just across the springs from Homecoming Kitchen, is a fast casual chain that promises fast-fired pizzas and salads in just 3 minutes. The easiest way to think of Blaze is to look at it as Chipotle for pizza: pretty much everything is customizable, from the crust, to the sauce, toppings, and pizza finishes.

After my first glance at the menu board outside the restaurant, I was excited to try Blaze just based on the price – a plain cheese pizza, 11” personal size (as all pizzas are served here), is just $7.25; add one topping out of a huge selection, and the price is $8.45. For any and all toppings you want, or one of the specialty pizzas, the price is still less than $10, at $9.65! You can even have your pizza made half-and-half, if you’re indecisive or looking to split a pie with a friend, at no additional cost.

I visited Blaze not long after it opened a few days ago for an early lunch, so there wasn’t yet a long wait that particular day (though a queue was set up outside for later use during rushes). Once I was greeted inside, I was introduced to the huge variety of topping options and the four “simple salads” available. I decided to leave my first pie at Blaze Pizza up to the experts, so I ordered half-White Top (white cream sauce base, mozzarella, bacon, garlic, oregano, and arugula) and half-Art Lover (artichoke, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, and dollops of red sauce on top). I also chose to add pepperoni on the Art Lover half, just to see what the portion size was like there, too.

I’m glad I took a chance adding a topping here, because my expert pizza makers made it clear that some who’ve passed through the doors of Blaze had already made a fatal pizza flaw: too many toppings. They really do know their stuff – too many toppings leads to soggy pizza, one that’s harder for them to cook and for you to eat.

Simple is better here, and while you don’t get a ton of each topping on your pizza, everything I tasted on my pie was fresh and flavorful to the point that I didn’t really miss the extra few bites. I chose the standard crust, which is thin, almost like a flatbread. The high-rise crust was explained to me as being a bit more like what most would think of as “normal pizza crust”, but at $2 more, I felt like the standard crust was just fine.

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SATURDAY SIX Looks at Our Favorite Shows That Went to Disney World

by on May 28, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Of Our Favorite Shows That Went to Disney World. A while back  we took a look at the locations in Walt Disney World used in Thunder in Paradise; a camp classic “action” “adventure” show featuring Hulk Hogan in the mid ’90s. Most people, thankfully, haven’t seen Thunder, however they did catch many of sitcoms of that era who also made their way down to Florida.

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Cory and Shawn get directions from Goofy at The American Adventure in EPCOT in Boy Meets World.

Now it should come as no surprise to anyone that all the shows featured aired on ABC, and all but one of them shortly after ABC merged with The Disney Company. This was corporate synergy in action. Many of our favorite shows (most part of the hugely successful T.G.I.F. lineup) went to the vacation kingdom of the world. Despite having all the sophistication of a Beetle Bailey comic strip, many people that are a certain age fondly remember these shows, including Your Humble Author. Today we are going to take a look at all the ABC shows that ventured to the House of Mouse and examine The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of each. So sit back, try not to have Urkelbot flashbacks, and let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 – Boy Meets World “The Happiest Show on Earth.”

Season 3, episode 21

I don’t know. I mean I made a mistake. I thought we could be friends like you and I are but, you know when I see Topanga I want to hug her, hold her, kiss her. When I see you I have no interest in any of those things.” – Cory

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Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World going to WDW is the best of times, and it is the worst of times. The charisma of everyone in the episode is off the charts and you can see why the show is so beloved. However the actual content of the show is little more than a ’90s version of Three’s Company, and by that I mean the entire episode hinges on a non-stop series of coincidences and people seeing things completely out of context. Now sitcoms aren’t generally known for Emmy-award winning writing, especially back then, but the episode could have been just three minutes long if any of the characters just talked to each other instead of letting people think the worst. It’s basically one of the reasons most people had a very negative reaction to the recent Batman v Superman movie.

With that out of the way, this Boy Meets World episode was a fun one. To get the characters down to WDW, schoolmates of Corey (the main character of Boy Meets World) wrote papers for the Environmental Essay Awards. The three winners just so happened to be Topanga (Corey’s ex-girlfriend), Ronnie (the lothario of the school known as “Lips”), and Kristin, a girl Corey had just dated and accidentally called “Topanga” after kissing. Knowing Topanga and Ronnie would be together down in Orlando, Corey’s friend Shawn hatched a scheme to get them down there as well. There was actually a wonderful moment where right before they announced the winners of the contest, Shawn finally turned in his essay. To cover for Corey, his brother Eric created a ridiculous looking dummy and planned a Weekend at Bernie’s situation. It works because it’s so ridiculous. Big thumbs up.

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Overhead shot of EPCOT Center as seen in Boy Meets World.

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Spaceship Earth.

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Topanga and “Lips” ride Dumbo in Corey’s nightmare scenario. It also looks like the Carousel behind them is under refurbishment so interesting choice of shots to use by the producers.

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SATURDAY SIX Looks at TOWN CENTER in Disney Springs: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

by on May 21, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Town Center in Disney Springs. The great Jim Hill often says about Disney Cruise Line, “You start building a new ship in one economy, and you finish it in a completely different economy.” The same can be said about building things at Walt Disney World except for one thing, it takes even longer. Years ago Downtown Disney was – to be kind – a mess. The parking situation was the absolute worst in Orlando. The two main areas (West Side and The Marketplace) were bookends to a ghost town once Pleasure Island closed in 2008. Finally, in 2013 Disney bit the bullet and announced the area would be completely refurbished and rebranded as Disney Springs.

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Welcome to Disney Springs. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Disney Springs had some growing pains during the first couple years, but it finally turned the corner in 2015 when the first of two parking garages opened along with The Landing (which includes The BOATHOUSE, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, and Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC among other venues.) On May 15, 2016 the final phase of Disney Springs began to open with the launch of Town Center. Many guests gave up going to Downtown Disney during the construction and they will not recognize the place once they come back. In the words of Tony Stark in the recent smash hit Civil War, “You’re in dire need of an upgrade, systemic, top to bottom, 100 point restoration” and that’s exactly what Disney fans got. Today we’re going to look at our favorite parts of Town Center, along with some things that could be a bit better. Let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 – The Area Looks Beautiful at Night

Downtown Disney was many things over the years, but you’re probably not going to find too many people who thought that it was “pretty.” With the opening of Town Center, Disney Springs is now aesthetically pleasing to the eye, both during the day and night. The water features and lighting package of Town Center make it a wonderful place to spend time in as the actual springs are gorgeous.

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Morimoto Asia as seen from The Town Center. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Town Center at night. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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First Impressions of Disney Springs Town Center

by on May 18, 2016

When I first heard the concept of Disney Springs, three years ago, I had a hard time adjusting to it. Downtown Disney has had its share of evolutionary challenges, but it seems to have finally come together and transform into a place people thoroughly enjoy visiting. There are still some more stores and restaurants that have not yet opened, but with this weekend’s official opening of the Town Center, Disney Springs is practically complete.

The Town Center brings something that we’ve not really seen in a world class theme park based vacation destination: a shopping mall. It is beautiful and lovely, but there is no denying that Town Center is a mall. And that’s ok. There seems to be enough demand for such a shopping experience on Disney property, and if shopping isn’t your forte, the atmosphere and design of Town Center are enough to enjoy, and then there’s the long list of dining options.

Let’s take a look at the first impressions of Disney Springs Town Center. We’ll also take a look at a few new dining and shopping locations that opened on the edge of the Marketplace and The Landing sections.

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The Springs

Besides the large amount of brand name stores, the springs themselves seem to be getting the most attention. The crystal clear water of the Disney created springs winds through most of the Town Center area. It is incredibly picturesque. The atmosphere of Town Center revolves around these springs.

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Drinks You Must Try At Disney Springs

by on May 14, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at 6 Drinks You Must Try At Disney Springs. Tomorrow, May 15th, is a gigantic day in the evolution of Disney Springs. The Town Center will officially be opening with a whole bunch of new restaurants and retail stores. The Lime parking garage will also start accepting guests, joining the Orange garage, dedicated ramps from I-4, and multiple pedestrian bridges that have been built over the last several years. Disney Springs, which was once the absolute worst place to get to on Disney property (and there wasn’t even a close second) has now become the easiest. We here at the SATURDAY SIX want to make a toast to this momentous occasion, and to do so we’re going to take a look at some drinks you need to try next time you go to Disney Springs. So sit back, remember to always use a coaster, and let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 –  P37 Swirl (Sangria Margarita) at Paradiso 37

The 37 in Paradiso 37‘s name references the 37 countries that make up North, Central, and South America. During the last couple years that Disney Springs has expanded, Paradiso 37 has also increased in size with a large amount of indoor and outdoor seating. You’re going to find a very large drink menu to choose from, but the restaurant’s specialties are tequila, sangrias, and the “coldest beer in the world.” One of their signature drinks is the P37 Swirl, which combines a frozen margarita mixed with frozen sangria. Very tasty, with neither drink overpowering the other, making it a solid choice while dealing with the Florida summer.

Our frozen P37 Margarita swirled with our famous Red Sangria. $10

P37 Swirl at Paradiso 37 in Disney Springs

P37 Swirl. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Now, longtime SATURDAY SIX readers know we certainly weren’t going to pass up the opportunity to try a unique beer. Pardiso 37 has the P37 Lager, which is served at 29 degrees Farenheit (for our non-American readers, that’s like minus 100 degrees Celsius, give or take.) It’s actually a great tasting beer. Not sure how much the temperature adds to it, but it’s a neat gimmick.

P37 Lager in Disney Springs.

P37 Lager, the coldest beer in Orlando. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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P37 Lager, the official beer of Mr. Freeze, (photo by Brandon Glover)

While watching us act like lunatics taking pictures of beer (only the best for you, Dear Reader) a manager showed up with a trio of drinks to try. These included the Prickly Pear Margarita (Don Julio silver tequila, prickly pear syrup, fresh lime juice, and sour mix,) Red Sangria (Premium red wine and brandy combined with pomegranate, guava, and cranberry juice) and White Sangria (Sauvignon Blanc wine, Club Caribe pineapple rum combine with mango and orange). Because of how many tequilas and sangrias that Paradiso 37 has, it’s your go to place at WDW for either.

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Margarita and sangrias (photo by Brandon Glover)

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