Uncategorized

Disney Haiku — Follow-Up

by on April 22, 2016

"Disney Haiku"

“Disney Haiku”

Hi everyone!  You may recall that a few weeks ago, we invited you to come up with Disney haiku.  A few of you posted some great little poems in the comments (thank you!), but there were many, many more posted to Twitter that you might have missed.  With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few of the better ones that I saw that day.  Read on after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Julia’s Best Week Ever, April 21, 2016: The Dark Side

by on April 21, 2016

Weeks with runDisney events always seem to get away from my family. Between the Expo, three different events, and recovery from those early morning days, runDisney events take a huge chunk out of our life. Truth told, I don’t really like running that much, but Disney races make it more bearable–for various degrees of bearable. I’ve done a race when it is cold enough that I’ve had to carry a supply of hand warmers. I’ve done a race when it is warm enough that we’ve been handed cooling towels at the finish line. I’ve done a race when it’s been so windy that I wasn’t sure if I’d end up at the finish line or at Oz. I’ve even had the “fun” of “running” in the rain. (It was more like ice skating on the slippery Boardwalk.) With the ever-increasing cost of a runDisney weekend of races, and my general apathy about the running experience at this point, I had decided going into this weekend that this would be my last runDisney event for the foreseeable future. (Unless they bring back the Everest Challenge–I’m totally down for doing that again.)

2016-04-15 05.01.31 HDR

This weekend was the Star Wars Dark Side set of races. For this weekend, I had cut back from my 10K usual to a 5K so that my husband could experience an inaugural 10K. For the kiddo, it was the ever-exciting 200-meter dash.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Dining Review: Il Mulino New York Trattoria

by on April 15, 2016

If you’ve ever had a craving for Italian food at Walt Disney World, you know there certainly isn’t a lack of choices, particularly in the Crescent Lake Resorts/Epcot corner of the World. Recently, I took a trip to the Swan resort’s Il Mulino signature Italian eatery to see what it had to offer and how it compares to its neighbors.

I’d never been to Il Mulino before (but had always heard rave reviews), so I brought along a friend who had – as it turns out, this was an excellent decision, otherwise I never would’ve found the restaurant! The Swan hotel has two “lobbies” of sorts, so you have to walk through the main hotel lobby to the other central lobby to get to the restaurant. Once you’ve found it, you have to walk through the bar to get to the hostess stand (though I have occasionally seen a hostess outside the restaurant helping direct guests inside). After a few minutes of confusion about where to seat us in the bustling restaurant, we headed to a table in the main dining room. My first impression was that of an upscale modern eatery in a big city – a loud dining room with bare bones décor, filled to the brim with large parties of conventioneers and only a smattering of families. Our server was very quick to greet us (and introduce his serving partner), but then took a bit of time to come back to take our order. We were pretty overwhelmed by all the options on the menu; it’s probably twice as large as most signature dining options, with appetizers, salads, soups, pizzas, pastas, seafood, and meat entrees along with the family style dining section (available for parties with four or more people). Our server didn’t offer up any recommendations at first, but I had no idea what to order – so many options, many of which sounded fantastic. After a little prodding, he recommended a few of the pasta dishes and the steak entrees. We went against the grain and ordered a few items from several sections to try to get a representative sampling of the large menu.

Our drinks arrived in due time – I tried the “Piano Piano” ($13), basically an aviation cocktail you’d find at many other restaurants. After sampling this lightly-poured drink, I’d hazard a guess that most of the cocktails here follow suit – meant for conventioneers and tourists who rarely drink, so think light on the liquor, heavy on the sweet fillers. Sangria was recommended by one of our servers, as was the extensive wine list, but at convention prices (think: slightly higher than most Disney signature restaurant wine list), I was reluctant to order selections I’ve seen all around property for a few dollars cheaper per glass. I eventually caved and tried the red sangria, but it was, rather predictably, cloyingly sweet and lacking in any nuance. Along with our drinks, we received the restaurant’s bread service – several slices of crusty Italian bread, a few pieces of tomato herb focaccia, and a plate on the side with a few slices of salami and a healthy portion of eggplant caponata (a pretty standard mix of eggplant, garlic, tomatoes, with a few olive slices here and there). The salami was odd – very little flavor, no spice, no savory twang; but the caponata was excellent – not overly salty, and it brought out the sweetness of the tomato flavor in the focaccia.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

10 Things You May Want to Know About Disney Cruise Staterooms

by on April 4, 2016

Are you wondering what your stateroom will be like on your Disney cruise?  What does it have, what does it not have?  I am here to help!  Here’s 10 things you may want to know.


Disney Magic 2951. Stateroom Size
– They’re small! No two ways about it, if you are comparing a cruise stateroom to the average hotel room, it’s small. Now if you’re comparing them to a standard room on another cruise line, well then they could be huge! The smallest stateroom on a Disney ship will still sleep 3 people with a queen bed and convertible sofa. On many other cruise lines the standard cabin only sleeps 2. Standard rooms on Disney ships are usually around 25% bigger than standard rooms on other lines.  But we are still talking small here. There are some smaller inside rooms that are 169 square feet, with most rooms running between 204 and 241 square feet. Laurel and Len created an excellent visual of how big (or small) Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms are when they taped off the size of Disney rooms in their driveway! Value resort rooms are 260 square feet, so they are bigger than a stateroom onboard. So, remember, your Disney cruise stateroom will be small, but you can feel happy knowing you likely have more room than passengers on other cruise lines. And you should by happy because you are on a Disney ship. And who doesn’t feel happy there!?!?

Disney Magic 3002. Beds – The beds are kind of important, right? Well good news, they’re comfortable! Maybe it’s the gentle sway of the ocean, maybe it’s the $1500 sheets, or the perfect pillows, but I sleep like a baby on a cruise. (Is that really a good analogy? Perhaps not. A baby that sleeps all night. Not a baby that screams every few hours allowing no one else to sleep.) The main bed in all staterooms is a queen bed (they say queen, they feel a little bigger to me) with lots of space underneath for suitcases. Now that the rooms on all four ships have been updated, none of the beds separate into two twins as you find on many other lines. Good news for those that like to sleep in the middle of the bed, bad news for some single travelers. In standard staterooms categories 5-11 on the Wonder and Magic, and 5-7 and 9-11 on the Dream and Fantasy, there is also a couch that converts into a single bed and a single that pulls down from the ceiling in most rooms. Not all rooms have that pull down, so if you are a family of three with a little one that really wants to sleep in the super cool bed that pulls down from the ceiling, make sure you are booked in a stateroom that has one. In categories 8 on the Dream and Fantasy, and 4 on all the ships, there is also a pull down murphy type bed. The couch and pull downs are definitely not as comfortable as the main bed, but I’ve slept in one and they aren’t bad! Concierge staterooms R, S and T have various other configurations sleeping between five and seven people.

3. Bathrooms – Maybe even more important than beds! And I have more good news. The bathrooms are great! They’re small (small rooms remember), but they’re great. On all ships, with the exception of accessible staterooms and category 8A’s on the Dream and Fantasy, everything in categories 4- 10 have split bathrooms. Split bathrooms are genius! A split bathroom means there essentially two bathrooms which is so helpful with multiple people getting ready. One has a sink and toilet, and the other has a sink and tub/shower. You heard me bath loving people, Disney has a tub in their bathrooms. On most other lines, you’ll have to get to the suites before a tub is an option. In categories 8D, 8C, 8B, 4 and V on the Dream and Fantasy, there are actually round tubs! With rainfall shower heads! The V on the Magic and Wonder, and R, S and T on all ships have a whole ‘nother level of bathrooms and tubs. The tub in the 1-bedroom suites on the Dream and Fantasy is more like a small pool.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 31, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. March came in like a lion, and stayed that way. Tickets for the grand opening of Shanghai Disneyland went on sale (and immediately sold out). Meanwhile, the delays and cost overruns in Shanghai Disneyland could be having profound effects on the parks we go to over here. The strangest rumor in the history of theme parks surfaced with a possible Guardians of the Galaxy overlay to the Tower of Terror. Walt Disney World started charging for preferred parking, SeaWorld said this generation of killer whales would be its last, and Universal announced it will be bringing in a new restaurant into CityWalk that will debut with the first ever E-Ticket milkshakes. We’re still reeling from all the news, and that’s not even covering the announcements of a whole bunch of new up-charge events that basically had theme park social media ready to grab pitchforks and join Gaston to kill the Beast. But the best thing that happened in the entire month was this unbelievably self-entitled article written by a college freshman that suggests kids and old people shouldn’t go to theme parks

Now while all of you were out riding Rock n Roller Coaster with Steven Tyler, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

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 item this week is our first ever Made With Magic piece of merchandise to hit the Outlets. These were the Mickey Ears that lit up with different colors to Glow With the Show during some of the nighttime spectaculars at the parks. I have no actual financial numbers to support my theory, but having been the parks many, many times and only seeing a handful of guests wearing these, I’m going to assume Disney took a complete bath on this idea. It’s an item that cost over $25, is heavier than a normal pair of Mickey Ears, and the person wearing it can’t even see it glow. The sign on the bin said these were originally $23.17, but I haven’t seen them for that price in the parks. They were reduced to $9.99.

glowears

Glowing…glowing…gone!

Next up was a whole slew of Disneyland 60th Anniversary items. There were so many that I have to wonder if alleged Disneyland fans like Guy Selga, Tom Bricker, and Seth Kubersky have ever bought a single piece of merchandise in the parks. Here’s a Disneyland 60th Barbie. Originally $24.95, now $14.99.

barbie_29.95_1499

Where’s DCA Ken?!

This next one is straight up bananas. We’ve covered unusable giant erasers at the Outlets in the past, but this one takes the cake. A giant diamond ring eraser. This is proof that there was not a single idea was discarded as being “too crazy” for Disneyland 60th merchandise. Originally $12.95, now $7.99.

eraserring_1295_799

This diamond ring did bring back fond memories of a classic piece of Burgan Fine Art entitled “He Said Yes!

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Flower and Garden Festival Merchandise

by on March 23, 2016

 

merchoverviewEpcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival is in full swing, and while there’s plenty of green to look at, there’s also a lot of ways to spend green–on festival merchandise.

This year, I’ve been very pleased with the merchandise I’ve seen. I personally think the designs are better than previous years, and of course having Figment on many items is a huge plus for me.

Merchandise is available at the stores along the way to World Showcase and at locations around World Showcase Lagoon, plus in the Festival Center on weekends. Here are some of my favorites for this year.

 

 

 

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

The Basics: Planning A Trip to Universal Orlando for Disney Veterans

by on March 18, 2016

gringotts dragonThis is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.

Even the most ardent Disney fans have become aware that there exists ANOTHER theme park complex in Central Florida that people visit from time to time, and some of you have probably even considered popping over there for a bit to see what it’s all about. Gatorland aside, however, let me tell you about Universal Orlando, which is yet another top notch theme park experience that you should consider. This article will hopefully provide you with some guidance as a first timer to help you get the most out of the experience.

Let me get this out there at the outset: I realize that there exists this whole “Disney vs. Universal” rivalry that exists in the fan community. I’m not really trying to steer anyone towards one park or the other, I’m just trying to provide enough objective information to help Disney fans that are considering going to Universal make an informed decision and plan for the best trip possible. Because I am writing this for those that are familiar with Disney, however, some comparison of the two is a useful way to go about it, as it provides some context. I’m sure some of the more passionate folks on either end of the issue will take some of these thoughts as a shot across the bow. Just know that I’m a fan of both places, I have annual passes at both places, and I’m honestly doing my best to be as fair as possible. Please keep that in mind before you fire off your scathing email or comment! So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Disney Haiku Challenge

by on March 11, 2016

"Disney Haiku"

“Disney Haiku” (yes, that’s really what it says)

I’m not sure why exactly, but I’ve always found haiku to be a fun little creative outlet. My law school roommate and I would often sit in the back of our Estates & Trusts lectures and compose absurd haiku as a way to pass the time. This might explain why neither of us do estates and trusts as a part of our practice, by the way, but that’s a discussion for another day.  

Anyway, as a reminder for those of you that have not encountered it since elementary school, haiku is a form of short Japanese poetry that follows a particular format: a traditional haiku is 17 syllables in three phrases that follow a 5-7-5 pattern.*  In other words, the first phrase is 5 syllables, the second is 7, and the final phrase is 5 syllables.  To the extent that it requires you to wedge your thoughts into a small number of words and still convey something worth reading, you can almost think of it as an ancient version of Twitter (minus the abbreviations, emoticons and vitriol).  Alas, I digress.

Haiku have traditionally been used to convey very Zen-like observations regarding the serenity of the natural world.  Accordingly, the juxtaposition of this simple, beautiful form of poetry and its traditional use, and different subject matter — like the decidedly un-serene and not-particularly-natural Disney Parks — can lead to some wonderfully absurd results.  Soooo, here’s a challenge for all of you — come up with some Disney park haiku and share them in the comments below.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Julia’s Best Week Ever, March 10, 2016: Springtime in Epcot

by on March 10, 2016

 

A topiary representation of me in spring.

A topiary representation of me in spring.

If you have seasonal allergies, you may have a love-hate relationship with spring. When I lived up north, I was thrilled to feel the warmer temperatures and know that snow shoveling season was ending. Of course that meant cars covered with yellow pollen, itchy and watery eyes, and sneezing, but it is a small price to pay for warmth again.

In Florida, where seasonal differences are more subtle, sometimes it is nice to have a reminder of the awesomeness that is spring. For me, the biggest reminder of spring is Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival. As soon as it opens, that’s where you’ll find me.

Opening weekend for Flower and Garden also was opening weekend for Epcot’s Easter Egg hunt. We had a blast doing it last year, so we knew we wanted to do it this year as well. It seems the word has gotten out about this fun event, as it took about 10 minutes in line to get our map.

2016-03-05 11.58.23

The map also comes with stickers that look like the giant eggs hidden around World Showcase. Simply walk to a country, find the hidden egg, put the correct sticker on the map, and take the completed map back to the redemption center for a souvenir character egg.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Disney Hacks #3: FastPass+ Hacks & Advanced Tips

by on March 8, 2016

disney hacksOK, so you know what FastPass+ is, you know how to use it, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how to get the most out of it? Now you’re looking to crank it up to 11 and take this ninja level, right?  

First of all, full disclosure, the glory days of being able to hoard multiple FastPasses and then use them at the end of the day in a headliner free-for-all are unfortunately behind us, and there’s nothing in here that reaches that level of awesomeness. Moreover, everything here falls squarely within Disney’s rules and practices. With that said, information is power, and knowing what it will and will not let you do can help you make the most of it, and hopefully do some things you hadn’t considered. 

Split Your Party to Get Hard-to-Get FastPass+ Reservations

Sometimes, you’ll try to make a FastPass+ reservation for an attraction for your group and there’s simply nothing available (this is probably most frequent when trying to make reservations on relatively short notice for in-demand attractions). Before you relegate yourself to waiting in the regular line like a plebeian, you might try splitting your group into smaller groups to see if that changes the availability.

©Disney

©Disney

For example, let’s say that you have a party of 4, and you want to experience the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but the FastPass+ system is telling you that there’s no availability. It could be that they don’t have an hour of time for a party of four, but they might for two groups of two, or even four single reservations. Accordingly, try breaking your party down into smaller groups and see if that changes the availability. Moreover, those time blocks for the smaller groups might overlap, such that you could still experience the attraction together (e.g., if one window starts at 1 pm and the other starts at 1:30, there is a 50 minute window, including the grace periods, where both groups could ride at the same time).

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print