Drinking

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

by on June 30, 2015

MMM positiveWe have reached the end of June and the non-stop amount of theme park new continues. Most importantly, our prayers were answered and Disney World banned the use of selfie sticks at any of its four theme parks, two water parks, and DisneyQuest. Over at Animal Kingdom, snacks shaped in the form of animal poop became an instant success last week, generating more viral attention for Disney than I have seen in years, yet they have already been taken off the market. Meanwhile at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Frozen Summer Fun began its summer run, but with the good comes the bad, as it was also announced that The Magic of Disney Animation would be joining the Studio Backlot Tour, the Legend of Capt Jack Sparrow, Sounds Dangerous, American Idol Experience, and the Sorcerer’s Hat in the great big theme park in the sky. Universal, already in the middle of building an E-Ticket attraction (Skull Island: The Reign of Kong), a new hotel (Sapphire Falls) and a water park (Volcano Bay) also just committed to what looks like a MAJOR renovation of the Incredible Hulk Coaster and the removal of what is expected to be Twister: Ride It Out for a rumored attraction based on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Don’t the theme parks know it’s summer and they are supposed to be resting on their laurels while the theme parks are packed?!

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).

This trip started off with a surreal experience at the Disney Character Warehouse on I-Drive (close to Universal) because everything in the store was 50% off the already discounted prices. A lot of stuff that was normally in the store was gone though, such as Tsum Tsums, most of the pins, all the plush, etc. Later in our journey I’ll explain why this once-in-a-lifetime sale was happening. However, to show the type of deal that this was, that next level bananas Mama Melrose sign had been brought down to “just” $30 after all the discounts were applied. I was tempted to buy it, if only as a gag gift for Len Testa, but somehow held back.

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I promised to all that I will personally buy the BoardWalk Pizza Window sign if it is ever for sale. Because that will mean the place has finally been closed and I’ll be in euphoria.

It’s long been known that WDW Today’s own Matt Hochberg is terrified of the Dinosaur attraction at DHS, and you can imagine why if his parents ever got him this photo frame as a kid. I actually wish Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights merch was this scary. Originally $14.95, this was marked down to $7.99 (and keep in mind that would be $4 after the final discount.)

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Mesmerizing.

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Universal Dining: Emeril’s New Cocktail Menu

by on June 29, 2015

A longtime favorite of TouringPlans readers, Emeril’s Orlando is the Florida outpost of Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans restaurant and has probably the best food and wine list within all of CityWalk, and considering the new competition including Vivo Italian Kitchen, Antojitos Authentic Mexican and The Cowfish, that is quite the accomplishment. The restaurant itself sits in prime real estate at Universal, overlooking the park’s lagoon as you make your way to Islands of Adventure. The food is Louisiana-style with Lagasse’s signature creative flair, with a menu that is routinely being updated with new dishes.

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Emeril’s in Universal CityWalk. (photo by Brandon Glover)

We were recently asked to try out Emeril’s new cocktail menu, and we felt we needed to bring along an expert in the field of theme park drinking to fully gauge the quality of this menu. A call was placed to the agents of Drunk@Disney, and after tough negotiations he agreed to join crack photographer Brandon Glover on this journey. The theme of the new menu  is simple: Classic New Orleans both pre-prohibition and modern. Emeril’s wanted to focus on providing an authentic new Orleans experience. Did they pull it off? Let’s check it out…

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Monk’s Revolt, The New G&T, Smoking Gun, and Passion Fruit Hurricane

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s BoardWalk Resort

by on June 27, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. While we have done articles on several of our favorite Walt Disney World resorts, including Animal Kingdom Lodge, Art of Animation, and Port Orleans French Quarter, it was the BoardWalk Inn & Villas which was the hardest to cut down to just our six favorite things. The overall depth of theming and amount of details throughout the resort is second to none. 

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Disney’s BoardWalk.

The BoardWalk was the second of Disney Vacation Club properties to be built (following Old Key West) and its “story” revolves around  the great East Coast boardwalk areas of the 1920s and 30s. In the early part of the 20th century places like Coney Island in New York and Atlantic City in New Jersey were the Walt Disney World of their day. Attractions, restaurants, hotels… they were the place to be. Disney Imagineers and architect Robert A.M. Stern pulled from this incredible era of history of America to create Disney’s BoardWalk and left tons of wonderful details for guests to appreciate. The details are just one of the many reasons we think this resort is the bee’s knees, so let’s begin counting down our top six reasons starting with…

# 6 – The Lobby

There are some lobbies at Walt Disney World which will have you picking your jaw off the floor (most notably the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Wilderness Lodge) but what the BoardWalk lacks in expansiveness it makes up for in fantastic show elements, such as the gorgeous Hippocampus Electrolier hanging above. A hippocampus is a creature from Greek mythology that is part horse, part fish, while electrolier is a name for a ceiling fixture holding electric lamps (a name which never took hold and is just referred to as a chandelier today.) Weighing in at 3,000 pounds and intricately detailed, this may very well be the most impressive chandelier on Disney property, and imagine what that is saying.

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The BoardWalk’s stunning hippocampus electrolier. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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

by on May 31, 2015

MMM positiveMay has come to a close and the start of the Theme Park Summer (AKA Some Attractions Are Worth Melting For) is upon us. In case you weren’t paying attention, May just happened to be one of the biggest of the year. Star Wars Weekends started, and I even wrote a handy dandy guide on how you can survive it in Six Simple Steps. Universal had a busy month, officially announcing the new King Kong attraction, a partnership with Nintendo that will bring new attractions to the Florida parks, and a brand new ultra-themed water park in Volcano Bay that looks to compete with Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Meanwhile out in California Disneyland delivered the goods in a major way with their new Paint the Night electrical parade, debuting 60 new pressed pennies, added a new World of Color show, and even a new nighttime fireworks spectacular! Walt Disney World fans weren’t left out in the cold either, as the Lunching Pad at the Magic Kingdom has a brand new crisped rice treat that looks like a flip flop. Everyone came up a winner this month!

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 step is checking out the new Tsum Tsums that have arrived, which naturally have become the newest thing I’m addicted to. Here are two of our favorite pals from Toy Story, Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

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Toy Story Tsum Tsums.

There were also several puppies from 101 Dalmations along with Cruella Deville.

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How many of the 101 Dalmations have official names and are identifiable by fans? Do people have their favorites like the Seven Dwarfs?

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Adult Drinks at Walt Disney World

by on May 23, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Top Six Adult Drinks at Walt Disney World. Who among us doesn’t enjoy an adult libation from time to time, especially on days when Anna & Elsa still have a 40 minute wait at 3 in the morning? While we at the SATURDAY SIX offices respect those who attempt an Ultimate Touring Plan to see every attraction, show, parade and live performance at a Disney Park, you’re more likely to find us attempting to drink around World Showcase or figuring out the best resort to stay at while attempting a WDW bar tour.

We looked at every bar and lounge across WDW property and came up with the list of best adult drinks. The only venue not eligible is the new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, because they will be getting an article devoted entirely to them in the near future (we’re still in the honeymoon phase, and the Nautilus, Shrunken Zombie Head, Rum Flight, Tropical Dark & Stormy, Krakatoa Punch and Polynesian Pearl would fill up the list.)  With that out of the way let’s begin the drink countdown, starting with….

# 6 – Grand Marnier Orange Slush (France Pavilion, Epcot)

Our first stop after crossing the International Gateway at Epcot is Les Vins des Chefs de France kiosk for a Grand Marnier Orange Slush. Similar in taste to an orange sorbet with just the right mix of Grand Marnier and Grey Goose vodka, this slush is absolutely delicious and the perfect drink during a hot touring day at Epcot.

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Gran Marnier Slush. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Menu Monday: 9 Differences Between Trader Sam’s at Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland

by on May 18, 2015

The tiki drums are pounding, the tropical libations are now flowing, and there is cause for celebration. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is now open at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to the delight of Disney fans and tiki lifestylers. There is so much to love about this East Coast installment of a Disneyland Resort treasure. But as is always the case with siblings, there are some characteristics that set the two apart. These little touches give a difference that is just distinct enough between these two enchanted tiki destinations.

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A Dream Come True

Before we begin our list of differences, let’s take a moment to look back. About three years ago I sat at the Tambu Lounge on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. I nursed a tall frosty mix of tropical juices and rum; like so many Disney fans, Tambu Lounge had earned its place on my regular rotation of Disney bars & lounges.

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Give Mom Some Disney Loving for Mother’s Day

by on May 4, 2015

Mother’s Day is drawing near, and the ever present question looms: What to get Mom to show you love her? Not all moms are the same, so the answers can end up being quite different. One mother may enjoy a little spa time and pampering, while another may want an adventurous outing. Here are a few Disney inspired ideas for those who will be in or near the magic, starting with my favorite: food.

1)      Mother’s Day special Dining Options Making reservations as early as possible is recommended for these special occasion meals.

Yacht Club
Captain’s Grille Brunch
7:30am-2:00pm

  • Carving station with Roasted Top Sirloin
  • Omelet Station
  • Breakfast selections: French toast, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, pancakes, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, fruit, cheeses, Mickey waffles, bread pudding, cereal
  • Brunch selections: Clam chowder, peel-and-eat shrimp, baked whitefish, crab cakes, grilled asparagus, tomato mozzarella salad, pear salad with blue cheese, roasted baby carrots, mashed potatoes
  • Bakery selections: pastries, breads, muffins, cookies and brownies

Call 407-WDW-DINE or 407-939-3463 for reservations.

 

Breakfast at Chef Mickey's brings out the kid in everyone.

Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s brings out the kid in everyone.

Contemporary Resort
Chef Mickey’s Brunch (featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto)
7:00am-1:00pm (sold out)

  • Breakfast selections: scrambled eggs, cheese omelets, french toast, biscuits and gravy, bacon and sausage, roasted potatoes, oatmeal, waffles, fruit, yogurts, smoked salmon, cereal, pastries
  • Brunch selections: Beef sirloin, seasonal salads, BBQ roast chicken, salmon, vegetables, steamed broccoli with cheese sauce, vegetable lasagna

Call 407-WDW-DINE or 407-939-3463 for reservations.

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A Review of Disney World’s Top of the World Lounge

by on May 4, 2015

Disney World’s Top of the World Lounge is an upscale bar combining spectacular views of the sunset followed by spectacular views of Magic Kingdom’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show. Perched high atop Bay Lake Tower, the Disney Vacation Club resort that is the counterpart to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Top of the World Lounge is close to Magic Kingdom yet a world away from the busy atmosphere of the park.

Bar with monorail mural at Disney World’s Top of the World Lounge (Photos © Sarah Graffam)

My husband and I recently had a chance to visit Top of the World and invite you to come along for a peek at this exclusive Walt Disney World spot. Why exclusive? Because access to Top of the World Lounge is open only to Disney Vacation Club members (and their guests) staying at a Disney resort.

Whether or not a visit to Top of the World Lounge is likely in your future, why not have some fun getting an inside look at one of the best lounges in Disney World.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons You Need to Check Out Busch Gardens Tampa

by on May 2, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons You Need to Check Out Busch Gardens Tampa. While we are generally focused on Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort, we often need to take a quick break and remind everyone that there are a lot of other incredible things to do while in Orlando on your family vacation. They say a rising tide raises all boats, and with both WDW and Universal doing record business Orlando is booming with companies trying to get a slice of the tourist pie. Stalwart parks such as Gatorland and SeaWorld are staples of Central Florida, and you’ve probably seen publicity for some of the new kids on the block including the Orlando Eye and SEA LIFE aquarium. There’s also attractions not far away from O-Town that are well worth your time and money including Legoland in Winter Haven and the Kennedy Space Center near Port Canaveral. 

Today we are going to take a drive on I-4 West over to Tampa and check out possibly the most underrated attraction in all of Florida, Busch Gardens, and give you six reasons you need to check it out on your next vacation, starting with… 

# 6 – The Animals

There is a reason Disney built Animal Kingdom, and it was because it wanted to keep people on WDW property instead of driving to Busch Gardens. For both parks, being able to see and interact with exotic animals is a big selling point. While Animal Kingdom has upwards of 2,000 animals, Busch Gardens Tampa has over 12,000. Elephants, cheetahs, gorillas, rhinos, and giraffes are the headliners but there are hundreds of species throughout the park. Not only are there much more animals, in general you are also going to be closer to them than at Animal Kingdom, getting a more intimate experience.

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Feeding the animals at Busch Gardens Tampa. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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Cheetah. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Most Unique Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World

by on April 18, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Most Unique Dining Experiences at Walt Disney World. Nobody enjoys eating at “The World” more than us. From outrageous snacks like the King Cupcake at Pop Century, to Disney food trucks, to table service restaurants like Bongo’s Cuban Cafe or ‘Ohana, food may have actually replaced attractions in what we look forward to the most on our Disney vacations. Can you blame us though? WDW has some of the greatest restaurants you will ever go to, with several one-of-a-kind experiences that you will never get back at home. So today we’re going to take a look the six most unique dining experiences on property, starting with…

# 6 – Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge)

The Animal Kingdom Lodge just may be our favorite resort at Disney, and one of the biggest reasons is how much we love Sanaa. Located in Kidani Village, this is the only restaurant at AKL that has a view looking out into the beautiful savanna and all the animals. The decor is fantastic, with the chairs having backs echoing tribal shields and lighting fixtures based on nests that Weaver birds would make in Africa. The dining room floor has beautiful representations of acacia trees while the entire room is filled with art, which is appropriate since Sanaa is the Swahili word for artwork. Sanaa is hands-down one of the most gorgeous restaurants in Orlando.

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The famous Sanaa bread service while seated next to the Savanah. (photo by Brandon Glover)

There are plenty of places at Walt Disney World to get chicken fingers and hamburgers, but Sanaa (along with other AKL venues such as Jiko and Boma) is where you can expand your culinary palate and try dishes you normally wouldn’t. It is worth making an ADR for Sanaa based on their bread service alone. There are five different types of Naan and you can choose up to 9 accompaniments to go with the bread. From a gamut running sweet to spicy, there is a dip for everyone in your party.

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Sanaa’s acacia tree decor. (photo by Tom Bricker)

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