Drinking

Menu Monday: Animal Kingdom Beer Oases

by on September 22, 2014

Tusker Beer at the Dawa BarThe beer situation in the Animal Kingdom is rough. They seem to be cognizant of this, since they recently added several “beer carts” along the paths in Asia (near Everest and on the way to DinoLand U.S.A.). Indeed, the rising demand for good beer seems to be causing a bit of a branding crisis for the park. Ubiquitous is the Safari Amber ($6.95), which Cast Members will tell you is specially brewed for the Animal Kingdom. That’s a little bit of a stretch: it’s actually specially *branded* for the park. You know the “Red” or “Amber” beer that seems to appear in restaurants that only sell Bud and Bud Lite, but has some cute name that directly references the tacky ambiance of wherever you are? This is the selfsame brew, and will taste exactly like Kingdom Red Ale in the Kansas City Chief’s stadium, or Ray’s Red at Tropicana Field in Tampa, or Thirsty Frog Red Ale “brewed exclusively for Carnival Cruise Lines.” If you’ve had one of these mystery “Red Ales” before, you’ve had the mediocre Safari Amber.

I’d like to go though each land of Animal Kingdom like I did for Epcot, reviewing spots and providing rankings for each experience, but it’s just not possible here. You will be looking for an Oasis, not wandering through a verdant field of hops. With that in mind …

Dawa Bar

Located in Africa, right outside Tusker House. The bar represents a microcosm of the Animal Kingdom experience. The selection is sparse and lacks air conditioning but is none-the-less pleasant and entertaining.

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Disney Dining: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

by on September 22, 2014

It has been years since I have been to ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and I have been looking forward to a return for a long time. Getting dining reservations at this popular restaurant can at times be as frustrating as Cinderella’s Royal Table or Anna and Elsa at Fairytale Hall, so when Tim Grassey – my co-host of the E-Ticket Report podcast - scored a dinner reservation and asked me to join him, I jumped at the chance to see if ‘Ohana was as good as I remembered it being. (Please note that all pictures in this article can be viewed at full size by clicking on them.)

OHANA_BreadPudding

‘Ohana Bread Pudding a la mode with Bananas-Caramel Sauce. More on this later…. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Menus Added to TouringPlans.com

by on September 19, 2014

FoodandWinelogosmallYesterday was the soft open of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which officially began today. Because of the invaluable help of Chat moderator, Susan Weaver; friend of the site, Heather Pero; and blogger, Maddi Higgins, we’re able to bring you this year’s Food & Wine menus and pricing in plenty of time to start planning your assault on the booths.

The biggest change this year is the elimination of all larger sized beer offerings. Whereas in previous years beers were sold in 6-, 12-, and 22-oz. sizes, for 2014 you’ll only find 6-oz. pours and flights of 4 beers at 4 oz. each. Those are priced $3.50 and $9.25, respectively.

It will come as no surprise that prices have generally gone up from last year. Most of the returning items are 25-50¢ higher this year. The majority of food items are in the $3.75 to $5.75 range. Desserts are usually around $3.

Nearly every booth at least one vegetarian choice, though many times that choice is dessert only. Vegan choices are only found at Terra, which returns this year.

The Food & Wine Festival runs now through November 10. TouringPlans recommends visiting on weekdays to avoid what can be very long lines at the food kiosks.

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Observations from Downtown Disney (Fit2Run, Theme Park Tagalongs, New Bridge to Saratoga Springs, Construction Walls)

by on September 9, 2014

Time to head back to Walt Disney World’s shopping and dining district, Downtown Disney (DTD). In my last several photo reports of DtD I have skipped over just how many construction walls have popped up all over the place, so today we’re going to get up close and personal with those, as well as a new bridge connecting DTD to the Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. We’ll also check out the Fit2Run store on the West Side, look at some new merchandise at World of Disney, artwork at Art of Disney, collectibles at D-Sreet and give a full report on whether or not Theme Park Tagalongs actually do what they say they do (as I had my doubts when I first saw them). So sit back and get ready to take a tour through the construction capital of the world (and don’t forget that clicking on any picture will bring up the full size version). Ready? Well let’s get to it!

 

DTD_MoreWalls

All roads lead to more walls.

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Disney Dining: Bongos Cuban Cafe at Downtown Disney

by on September 8, 2014

Recently I was at Downtown Disney and had planned to go to the House of Blues to do a photo report. Unfortunately, when photographer Brandon Glover and I got to the restaurant they told us it would be a ten minute wait. This was in the middle of a weekday and the House of Blues was – at best – 30% full. There were even two parties ahead of us waiting to get a table. Acting on principal alone, the thought of waiting 10 minutes to get a table in an empty restaurant with so many other choices nearby seemed beyond ridiculous, so we left to try another venue. A couple steps down from House of Blues lies Bongos Cuban Cafe, so we decided to check it out since neither one of us had ever tried it before.

 

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Bongos Cuban Cafe (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Staying in Tampa for Your Walt Disney World Vacation

by on September 3, 2014

©Scott Wurzel

©Scott Wurzel

A common topic of discussion for Walt Disney World vacation planning is whether to stay on or off-site. Assuming you choose the latter, most look to Orlando area hotels and resorts. This of course gives you good access to Disney World parks and other area attractions, but if you are interested in a more complete Florida vacation, staying in Tampa for your Walt Disney World vacation is a compelling alternative. Because Interstates 75, 275, and 4 form a triangle around the city, most attractions in Central Florida are an hour or less away, and the best beaches in the continental United States are even closer.

Orlando Parks

Walt Disney World (All Parks)
Via: I-4
Travel Time: 75 minutes.

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La Cava del Tequila to Host Patron Party at Coronado Springs on Friday, September 12

by on September 3, 2014

On Friday, September 12, at 7:00 PM La Cava del Tequila (the tequila bar located Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion) will host a party at Rix Lounge at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Limited to 150 people, each $30 ticket includes a shot of Patrón Single Barrel Reposado, a Patrón margarita, and light appetizers. Guests can RSVP via email to CavadelTequila@me.com 

laCava

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Menu Monday: The Happiest Hour Around Walt Disney World

by on September 1, 2014

Disney World Happy Hour

Image via @danasnyder

If you dial back your flux capacitor to 2004 in Orlando, Florida, you’d see me enjoying a frosty cold one and munching on atomic hot wings after a long day of handing out towels at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club’s Stormalong Bay. As a Disney College Program intern, my favorite happy hour spot around Walt Disney World was the Miller’s Orlando Ale House in Lake Buena Vista. For a kid from Seattle, the $8 pitcher and 50¢ wings seemed like a great deal compared to prices back home.

I still recommend Miller’s Ale House as an amazing spot for wings outside Downtown Disney, but I figure everyone should have a few Orlando happy hour options after a long day in the parks. After a few questions on comment boards, a post on Reddit, and a bit of my own experience, here’s a list of some of the best places to celebrate the happiest hour around the “World.”

Downtown Disney Happy Hour Specials

Raglan Road

We all probably have a little Irish in us. If you don’t, it only takes a pint of Guinness to change that! As one of the most celebrated places to drink in Downtown Disney, Raglan Road should be your destination for Irish singing and dancing.

  • Happy Hour: Visit the Hole in Wall outdoor pub 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm – $2 off beer, well drinks, and glasses of wine.
  • Food Specials: The bar menu features exclusive pub grub from 11:00 pm till late (which I think means until they want to close for the night).

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Takeaways from Disney’s Villains Unleashed

by on August 30, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Takeaways from Disney’s Villains Unleashed. Last weekend the first hard ticket event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since 2009 took place, celebrating everybody’s favorite bad guys. It was created out of the Unleash the Villains event, which took place at DHS on Friday the 13th in September of last year as part of Limited Time Magic. If anything, Unleash the Villains in 2013 may have been too popular, as what many people remember from that fateful night is the gridlock of vehicles outside DHS trying to get in, unorganized queues to meet the villains inside the park, and nowhere near enough staff to handle the throngs of guests who descended upon the night’s events. What was popular? The Villainy in the Sky fireworks show, which almost all who have seen it agree it was among the best nighttime spectaculars Disney has ever produced. The good news is that Disney brought Villainy in the Sky back, but did it fix the other problems? We’ll examine that and other issues as we look at Six Takeaways from Villains Unleashed starting with…

 

# 6 – The biggest villains of the night may have been the eBay pirates

VillainsUnleashed_shirt

Villains Unleashed shirt (photo by Scott Wurzel)

 

Most of us theme park fans love our merchandise, and nothing is more frustrating than to find out that limited edition merchandise is completely sold out halfway through an event, only to see the very same items up for sale on eBay with ridiculous prices. It happens all the time, so we shouldn’t be surprised, but it happened in spectacular fashion at Villains Unleashed. There were only a couple pieces of event specific merchandise (including a shirt, a water bottle, and a pin), and much of it flew off the shelves before the majority of party goers even had a chance to see it. Lo and behold, all the items began immediately appearing for sale online.

 

VillainsUnleashed_ebay1

eBay items put up during the Villains Unleashed event

VillainsUnleashed_ebay4

Villians Unleashed pin put up on eBay while the event was taking place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Menu Monday: Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

by on August 18, 2014

Trader Sam's drinks - Natalie Reiner

The Shipwreck on the Rocks and the Polynesian Punch in their souvenir mugs at Trader Sam’s. The Navy Grog, being off-menu, doesn’t have a souvenir option.

For such a hot spot for Disney super-fans, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar sure has an unassuming location.

Sharing a building and patio with the Disneyland Hotel’s counter-service dining location, Tangaroa Terrace, Trader Sam’s could easily be overlooked amidst all the drooping palms and towel-clad children running to the monorail water-slides. But word is out: Trader Sam’s, a tiny little bar named for the head salesman of the Jungle Cruise, is a can’t-miss highlight of any Disneyland vacation.

Inside, louvered “windows” look out on tropical islands, a la the Enchanted Tiki Room, and tiki gods gaze down from the rafters and walls. Notes and aged photos pay tribute to Disney films, Imagineers, and Cast from over the decades. Just in terms of exploring the archives and deciphering the inside jokes, Trader Sam’s is Disney-nerd heaven.

And so Trader Sam’s has become part of the Disneyland trip for in-the-know fans. One morning that I was there, in fact, every single person in the room was a Walt Disney World Cast Member or Cast Member-alumni–including myself, and the bartender.

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