Drinking

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

by on February 14, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Each of Walt Disney World’s onsite hotels have their own unique feel, and that rings true from the value end (such as Art of Animation) through the moderates (including Port Orleans French Quarter) and all the way up to the deluxe resorts like The Contemporary. That said, no hotel in Orlando stands more by itself as a one-of-a-kind original experience than Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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Located directly next to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park (and absolutely nothing else,) many guests consider Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) too far out of the way to consider staying at. While the wait for the Disney buses may be a little bit longer than other resorts on property, today’s edition of the SATURDAY SIX is going to count down six reasons we feel everyone should consider staying at AKL as part of their next vacation, starting with…

# 6 – Indian-style Bread Service at Sanaa

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Sanaa bread service. A first ballot hall of famer for Disney food. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Animal Kingdom Lodge is broken up into two parts, the main hotel (Jambo House) and the Disney Vacation Club wing (Kidani Village.) In these two areas there are three of Disney’s best restaurants including Boma and Jiko at Jambo House, and Sanaa at Kidani Village. Unlike many restaurants at WDW that have dumbed themselves down in order to maximize profits as part of Disney’s Dining Plan, AKL’s restaurants deliver an experience that is true destination dining. The standout of these three venues is Sanaa’s bread service. With five different types of Naan bread available and up to nine different accompaniments to go with it, this is a bread service like no other.

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Menu Monday: The Best World Showcase Pavilions for Drinking

by on February 9, 2015

Enjoy the details in Epcot's World Showcase - Torii gate in Japan (Photo by Sarah Graffam)

Whether you’re attempting to drink around the world or simply want to stop in at one of your favorite spots in World Showcase, there’s no denying that Epcot is a great place to kick back and have a few. A lot of that has to do with the fact that you can take in the sights and sounds of different cultures from around the world in a single day. Many park guests have made it their mission to have a drink in every single one of the World Showcase countries in one day, which isn’t a task to take lightly. If you’d rather just sample a drink or two and need help prioritizing which countries to hit up, you’re in the right place. Below you’ll find my list of the best countries to drink in at World Showcase in Epcot. When I originally set out to do this list, I was going to rank all the pavilions from best to worst but found that a lot of my descriptions were the same because frankly there isn’t that much to do in a lot them drinking wise besides take in the architecture, walk around the gift shop and move on. With that in mind, I decided to limit the list to the five best pavilions.

I based my rankings on five categories. Each category is scored on a 5-point scale, so there is a total possible score of 25 points. The categories are:

Drink Selection

This category focuses on the amount of different drinks available in the pavilion and whether or not they’re any good.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! January 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on January 31, 2015

MMM positiveIt’s January and that means we are in a whole new year. It’s going to be hard to top 2014. We had Disney Imagineers with 9 foot shovels in Animal Kingdom.  We had a commercial with featured both the Seven Dwarfs and rap music (which, by the way, wasn’t even the weirdest commercial Disney did last year). It was a year we discovered that the Pop Century Resort offered a sandwich that used Pop Tarts as the bread.  It was a year that we lost Push the talking trashcan, the Giggle Gang, and Camp Minnie Mickey, but gained a whole lot of Anna and Elsa. What will 2015 bring? Well, looks like just more Anna and Elsa, but here’s hoping for another 12 months of unforgettable moments, magical memories, and merchandise people don’t want to buy, speaking of which….

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Now, some readers of this column may remember last month that I vowed to “hang it up” if Disney released a Steamboat Duffy Bear. Well, Disney called my bluff.

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“Your move Derek.” – Disney Consumer Products Division

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

by on January 17, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. Regular readers of the Saturday Six know how much we enjoy staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World, and while Disney is challenged to compete with some the amenities that Universal can offer its guests, where it does shine is the overall amount and unique hotels on property. Universal has a total of four onsite hotels (soon to be five with the opening of Sapphire Falls in 2016) while Disney has five value resorts alone, not to mention all the moderate, deluxe, and DVC resorts on property. Today we are going to look at our absolute favorite moderate: Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

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Port Orleans French Quarter.

 

Disney’s Port Orleans is broken up into two sections: French Quarter, and Riverside, the latter of which is the much larger of the two resorts. While Riverside certainly has its fans (in fact we’d probably consider it our extremely close second favorite moderate,) we prefer Port Orleans (POFQ) and here are six reason why, starting with…

# 6 - Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory

French Quarter doesn’t have a table service restaurant (although Riverside’s Boatwright’s Dining Hall is a short walk away,) but it does have a fantastic counter service with the Sassagoula Float Works. Set up like a mall food court, there are several different stations offering Louisiana-inspired dishes such as Po’Boys, Jambalaya, Gumbo, and Beignets. For lunch you can not go wrong with one of the various Po’Boys (our favorites were the pork and beef versions) along with a side of bean salad or house-made chips. As we wrote about in our review of the Fantasy Fare food truck, Disney makes surprisingly good chips. For dinner you gotta go with the Jambalaya or Pot Roast, and any time of the day is good for an order of beignets. Made fresh-to-order and covered in powdered sugar, these beignets are one of the best treats at WDW.

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Pork Po’Boy with bean salad from Sassagoula Float Works and Food Factory.

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Universal Dining: The Cowfish in Universal CityWalk

by on January 5, 2015

The Cowfish was the final piece of Universal CityWalk‘s year long renovation that brought eight new dining venues to the resort. Cowfish joins Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Antojitos, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Bread Box, Vivo Italian Kitchen, Cold Stone Creamery, and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt as the new kids on the block, joining longtime CityWalk restaurants such as Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and the Hard Rock Cafe. Cowfish is located in the former home of Starbucks, who moved downstairs to the main strip of CityWalk, next to Cold Stone Creamery.

While Cowfish arrived last, it was possibly the most anticipated of CityWalk’s new locations from the minute they were all announced back in 2013. A one-of-kind dining concept that melds pan-Asian cuisine with the good ol’ American burger, Cowfish was bringing something completely unique to the table. While many were expecting a mouth watering and innovative menu, what no one saw coming was the amount of humor and interactivity that debuted with Cowfish, including its photo-op outside the restaurant that allows guests to saddle up and ride a cowfish.

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The Cowfish. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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An Evening out with Yehaa Bob at Disney World’s Riverside Resort

by on January 4, 2015

Copyright - Bob Jackson

Copyright –  Yehaa Bob Jackson

Have you ever had interaction with one of the blue nametag elite at one of the Disney parks? Do you know that the blue nametag has special meaning? Those who wear it have received the highest honor of being bestowed with the Legacy Award, which is the highest honor cast members, crew members, and Imagineers can achieve at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Recipients are nominated and selected by their leaders and peers for consistently inspiring others, going out of their way to create happiness for guests and other team members, and finding new ways to deliver Disney magic.

One of the recipients of the Legacy Award in 2013 was the lively entertainer Yehaa Bob Jackson, who has been with the company for more than 17 years. To be honest, Bob was not even on my Disney radar until rather recently, but has quickly risen to one of my favorite reasons to love Disney. His shows are family friendly, loud, and just a righteous good time.

Flashback: Three years ago during our first stay at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. One evening, on our way back to our room we walked by the bar area and witnessed a raucous crowd who we assumed were just loud inebriated guests.

Fast Forward: One year later a fellow Disney friend was excitedly telling me about an upcoming show he was going to Ohio featuring Yehaa Bob. I concealed my ignorance and rejoiced for him. But immediately took to the internet to see who this Disney personality was. What I found were scenes of our “inebriated guests” from the year before. Only, they weren’t inebriated. And some of them were kids! I knew I had to see him in person.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 25: Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

by on December 25, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY FIVE: Butterbeer (all versions) at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Orlando Resort)

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Frozen Butterbeer and regular Butterbeer with Hogwarts Castle standing majestically in the background.

 

The Game Changer.

When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village opened in 2010, it was a brand new day at the Universal Orlando Resort. Guests were leaving with bags filled with Potter merchandise, a stark contrast for a resort that sold a ton of Thing 1 & Thing 2 shirts, but little else of note. Harry Potter and the Forbbiden Journey had a queue that guests wanted to spend more time in. Imagine that. In a world where theme parks are spending Millions (if not Billions) on getting guests through queues quicker, guests wanted to stay longer in the elaborate Forbidden Journey queue. As Vizzini would say, “Inconceivable!”

But what no one was prepared for was a little drink called Butterbeer. To say it was popular may be the understatement of the century, as Universal celebrated selling one million Butterbeers just six months after their debut. It is said that Universal made enough money of the sale of Butterbeer in those six months to completely cover the entire cost of the Wizarding World. Since the very first drinks were poured, guests have debated which was better: regular Butterbeer or frozen Butterbeer. The answer? Neither, the Hot Butterbeer is clearly the best. They are all so good they are going to collectively get the # 1 spot and, what the heck, we’re going to add in Butterbeer Ice Cream from Florean Fortescue’s as well!

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 24: Lapu Lapu at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

by on December 24, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY FOUR: Lapu Lapu at the Tambu Lounge (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)

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Lapu Lapu at the Tambu Lounge.

 

We are in the middle of huge changes going on at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The Pineapple Lanai quick service station opened earlier this year, offering guests an easy way to grab a Dole Whip outside of the Magic Kingdom. The recently renovated lobby area opened, the DVC bungalows on the Poly beach should open in the spring, and 2015 will also bring the long awaited Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. While all this change is exciting, two things at this Deluxe resort are staying exactly the same: ‘Ohana and the Tambu Lounge. Located on the second floor of the Grand Ceremonial House, the Tambu Lounge is effectively the waiting area for ‘Ohana, but guests can go any time and order off the menu. Here is where you can find the iconic Lapu Lapu. Served out of an hollowed out pineapple, this legendary drink is a combination of Myers’ Original dark rum and tropical fruit juices while topped with Bacardi 151 rum.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 23: Duff Beer at Duff Brewery

by on December 23, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY THREE: Duff Beer at Duff Brewery (Universal Studios Florida)

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“Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” – Homer Simpson (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Just as Universal Studios Florida itself will celebrate its 25 year anniversary in 2015, The Simpsons television show celebrated its silver anniversary this year. Since 1989, Homer and the gang in Springfield, USA have been making us laugh with hilarious observations on American culture. One of the longest running  gags of the series is Duff Beer, Homer’s favorite drink of choice. Universal made Duff Beer a reality in 2013 when it expanded its own Springfield area of the park with Fast Food Blvd, Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck, Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, and Duff Brewery.

Duff Brewery has seating around the bar along with many tables nearby facing the Universal lagoon and the London Waterfront facade of Diagon Alley. In trademark Simpsons fashion, Duff Brewery has hilarious mock beer ads, along with nods to the iconic show itself, such as full size topiaries of the “Seven Duffs” (a takeoff on Disney’s Seven Dwarfs.) Duff Brewery offers Duff, Duff Lite, and Duff dry in bottles, along with Duff and Duff Lite on draught. For people of a certain age, Duff Beer is synonymous with growing up as Aunt Beru’s Blue Milk on Tatooine or Butterbeer in Hogsmeade village.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 22: “Carl’s Combo” at Rose & Crown

by on December 22, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY TWO: “Carl’s Combo” at Rose & Crown (Epcot)

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A “Carl’s Combo” (half Bass Ale followed by half Bass Ale) at Rose & Crown. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

One of our absolute favorite places to get a drink at Walt Disney World is at the Rose & Crown pub in Epcot’s World Showcase. With a terrific atmosphere and several of our favorite brews on tap, Rose & Crown is the perfect spot for a quick pint and an order of fish and chips. One of the things that separates World Showcase from any other environment in the Orlando theme parks is that the Cast Members are from the specific countries, giving guests authentic interactions with different cultures. While service at Rose & Crown is terrific across the board, bartender Carl is a standout and one of the most memorable CMs on property. With a warm smile, great conversation, and how-did-he-do-that bar tricks, Carl gives just about every guest a magical moment so we are nominating today’s drink in honor of him with Carl’s Combo. On the menu, you’ll find it listed as the Grand Imperial Pint, but longtime Rose & Crown guests know this half Bass Ale/half Stella Artois by its rightful name, Carl’s Combo.

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