Drinking

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

by on March 31, 2015

MMM positiveThough the March Hare is about to leave us on the last day of this very month, you need not worry because the April Fool has arrived a day early and is here with a brand spanking new Outlet Report. So take a break from hunting for Easter Eggs at Epcot, put aside your souvenir mugs from the soft opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, hold off on booking that breakfast reservation for Be Our Guest, and be sure to pick your jaw up off the ground because it’s still there from finding out the Magic Kingdom opened up Aunt Polly’s on Tom Sawyer Island earlier this week. 

Prepare yourself for a trip to not just one, but BOTH Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando (physical addresses for both are located at the end of every edition of MM&M.) That’s right Dear Reader, I did the impossible and braved the I-4 traffic and horrendous parking situations at both outlets, for YOU.

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).

Our first stop is the Disney Outlet closer to Universal at the end of I-Drive and was surprised to see the first ever Tsum Tsums show up. I’ve seen them before at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney, but never felt compelled to buy one at $6 a pop. That said, unlike Vinylmation, I can definitely see the cuteness factor and why people would want to collect them. The only Tsum Tsums available were the seven dwarfs and only the ones pictured below. Of course I bought them all.

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Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Soft Opening Photos and Video

by on March 31, 2015

Trader Sam's soft opening

Mystery, adventure, and lots of rum await at the Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto soft opening. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

It took a couple days longer than originally expected, but WDW’s hotly anticipated Trader’s Sam Grog Grotto soft opening finally began on Saturday, March 28th. Of course, we were on hand when the new watering hole’s doors opened for the first time, in order to bring you these photos and video (it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it). So grab a bottle of rum and take a virtual visit to the Polynesian Village Resort‘s trendy tiki bar, minus the long line or hangover.

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in the Disneyland Hotel has a loyal following, and its east coast cousin looks to be a hit right out of the box, based on the crowds attending the Grog Grotto’s initial days of operation. For the first day of soft opening, some guests got in line 5 hours early, and by an hour before the 4 p.m. scheduled opening there were already well over 100 people waiting.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Ways to Repurpose Your Extra MagicBands

by on March 7, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Ways to Repurpose Your Extra MagicBands. MagicBands. We all have ‘em. They multiply faster than Tribbles on the USS Enterprise or selfie sticks at a theme park. But what do you do with all the extra MagicBands you have lying around your house? Throw them away? Seems wasteful in this era of going “green,” and besides, we have more important things at WDW to take to the dump.  Sell them on eBay? Good luck, the only thing with less value is a share of SeaWorld stock. But, there has to be something we can do with all these bands… right?

Have no fear, the crack team at the SATURDAY SIX offices got together and came up with six ways you can use MagicBands in your everyday life. This is life hacking meets theme parks and we’ll start it all off with…

# 6 – Pet Collars

Pet owners around the world have been forced to buy expensive pet collars from the Big Chains for years, but did you know that you can reuse your MagicBands as the perfect* collar for the Aristocats or 101 Dalmations in your household?

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“I’ve got 8 lives, do you? May want to sleep with one eye open for a little while pal.”

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Foodie Awards: Where Locals Eat (Part 2)

by on March 2, 2015

Thank you all so much for the feedback on part 1. One comment was about how there were a lot of mediocre and not-too-original places on the list. For this part, you’ll see quite a few more interesting spots—and one exception that sticks out like a sore thumb.

If you haven’t read part 1, the brief recap is that the Orlando area has a lot of amazing dining options, many of which are near Walt Disney World. Readers of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper vote on them. The food critic weighs in. And the results are shared. You can read part 1 here. And now, here’s the second round of the award-winning restaurants.

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice (Readers’ Choice: Best Frozen Treats), 4750 The Grove Dr., Windermere.

While the gelati they have is good, there’s a reason why it is called Jeremiah’s Italian Ice. If you’re going there, try a sample of some of their unique flavors in the gelati and Italian ice rotation, including cotton candy, horchata, salted sea caramel, and Key West tropical.

At Menchie's, pick your frozen yogurt, your toppings, and the amount of each and pay by the ounce. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

At Menchie’s, pick your frozen yogurt, your toppings, and the amount of each and pay by the ounce. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Menchie’s (Runner-Up, Readers’ Choice: Best Frozen Treats), Multiple Locations

I am old enough to remember when frozen yogurt started to become “a thing”. This ain’t the TCBY from my teen years! Come in, grab a cup, and fill it up with as much or as little of a variety of self-serve flavors and dozens of toppings, then pay by the pound. (Or, if I had the option to eat there every day, I would pay by [putting on] the pounds! But it’s yogurt, so it’s healthy, right?)

Biergarten (Runner-Up, Readers’ Choice: Best German), Epcot

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

by on February 28, 2015

MMM positiveIs February already over?! What a month. We got the inevitable yearly ticket price hikes, got the first details on both Star Wars Weekends and the holiday hard ticket parties, saw Big Hero 6 shock the world and take home the Oscar for Best Animated Film, found out Spider-Man would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe (YES! YES! YES!) and – most importantly – found out Duck Tales will be returning to TV! It’s a good thing this month is only 28 days because we don’t think we could handle any more (especially since we wasted an entire day on Llamas on the loose and that ridiculous white/gold blue/black dress meme.) We know a lot of you have had a rough month in the area of weather, and we can certainly sympathize. In fact it almost got down to 50 degrees one night this month and we had to pull a blanket out of the closet to stay warm.

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).

First up is an item I have wanted for a long time and almost cried seeing it at the Outlets. A Polynesian Luau Bowl! Originally marked $49.95, this was reduced to $24.99.

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I think by now most people know how much I love the Marketplace Co-op at Downtown Disney and a big reason for that is the many Adventureland/Polynesian inspired pieces they have. I’ve also seen these Luau bowls at the actual Poly whenever I go to ‘Ohana, and behind glass cases at the Art of Disney store. This bowl is something I’ve always wanted but never thought I would actually own.

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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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