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Menu Monday: Snacks from the World Showcase: China!

by on October 20, 2014

Epcot's Iconic Spaceship Earth, on our snacks from China Quest

It’s a perfect day to search out snacks! © Disney

It’s Menu Monday! Today we are looking once again at packaged snacks that are available in Epcot’s World Showcase, and we have already visited JapanCanadaUnited Kingdom, France, and Germany. Only a few stops remain on our snacking tour, so let’s check out what’s available as we explore today’s stop, China!

Snack Rules

  • No snacks over $10; preferably less than $5
  • As unusual as possible
  • Something I personally would eat

Let’s see what we can find!

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Street Performers at Disney Hollywood Studios

by on October 16, 2014

Visiting Hollywood Studios but not a fan of the amusement rides? I’ve got a solution for you: Live actors mingling with guests throughout the park. Yes, walking (and even driving) about; interacting with you. We make it a point every visit to seek them out and enjoy their shenanigans, um I mean, their shows.

Just your average Citizen. - Courtesy of Disney

Just your average Citizen. – Courtesy of Disney

The Citizens of Hollywood

The Citizens of Hollywood, or Streetmosphere characters as they are otherwise known, are characters that perform every day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can usually find them on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. The characters range from aspiring actors to directors and even to police officers. They perform a variety of skits that generally have us rolling with laughter and are a great source of family-friendly entertainment. The skits are always different because the crowd they are interacting with constantly changes.

A Brief History:     Streetmosphere has been a part of Hollywood Studios since its opening day in May 1989. The entire idea of Streetmosphere was created by C. McNair Wilson, who would later become an Imagineer at Disney. Wilson was one of the directors of a street theater company, SAK Theatre, which performed at renaissance festivals throughout the country. In 1982 Disney Imagineers asked the group to perform in the Italy pavilion in Epcot. They were quickly extended to performing in the United Kingdom pavilion and then Future World. By 1985, they were performing 45 shows-a-day in Epcot in four different locations. That year they were brought into the plans for the upcoming Hollywood Studios Park as part of the planned 2-hour Backstage Tour show. Once Disney decided to go in another direction, Wilson still was inspired to make SAK part of this expansion. Wilson presented a collection of 40 characters that would make the guests feel like they were actually in Hollywood. The Disney executives were won over and presented Wilson with a budget for 23 characters.

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Where to Find “Real” Sweet Tea at Disney World

by on October 13, 2014

Starbucks Shaken Sweet Tea

Starbucks Shaken Sweet Tea

If you’re from the South, you know that there’s a big difference between sweetened tea and “real” sweet tea; and if you have been to Disney World, you also know that it can be quite a challenge to find this Southern staple.

Now for those of you who don’t know, “real” sweet tea is Black Tea that is brewed with sugar while it’s still hot, as opposed to adding the sugar later. This process creates a smooth, blended sweet taste and consistency that can’t even compare to fruit flavored tea or the Gold Peak Tea found throughout the parks and resorts.

But if you’re like me, and sweet tea is your go-to refreshment after spending the day trekking through the parks, I have uncovered a few places at Disney World where you can enjoy a Southern-style Sweet Tea!

Starbucks – Starbucks locations have been opening up all throughout Disney World this past year, beginning with the Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom, then Fountain View at Epcot, followed by two locations at Downtown Disney, and soon, a new location at Hollywood Studios. Now I know that Starbucks is all about coffee; but for me, it’s also a go-to for a sweet tea fix. Each Starbucks at Disney World now serves a Shaken Sweet Tea, which has all the flavor of real, Southern Sweet Tea. Plus, the variety of Starbucks locations means that I can grab a sweet tea almost anywhere at Disney World now with prices ranging from the smallest size at $1.99 to the largest at $3.29. Check out the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery’s menu here!

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Most Quotable Disney Attractions

by on October 5, 2014

Arriving at our favorite vacation destination is always a surreal experience for me. I often find myself hovering in an odd emotional space of feeling like I’ve never left and also like I can’t believe I’m finally here! Disney has a wonderful way of welcoming back old friends that encompasses all of the senses. That “finally here” moment can happen when we first see the Train Station or the Castle in Magic Kingdom. Or it can happen when we smell the Confectionary on Main Street or the burning of Alexandria in Spaceship Earth. It can even happen when we step off the plane and feel that classic Florida warmth and humidity. But Disney can always welcome us home with what we hear. I often have that “finally here” moment when it’s triggered by some of the lines from Disney’s classic park attractions.

In no particular order is a list of some of the most quotable Disney attractions and some of their standout phrases. I’ve limited this list to the top ten most quotable attractions, because otherwise this article would go on forever and eventually include every attraction, show, parade, and even safety warning.

Disney Transportation

You may be lucky enough to find your favorite Disney quote on a t-shirt.

You may be lucky enough to find your favorite Disney quote on a t-shirt.

Before you even step foot in the parks, you’re immersed in the “Disney bubble” with the cleanliness, service and details Disney is renowned for, even on the transportation to the parks.

The Monorail safety spiel is so popular, it even has a cult following t-shirt. Whenever I hear: “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor, manténgase alejado de las puertas”, I know I’ve arrived!

I also love being greeted by the safety spiel on the Disney Transportation shuttles:

“Hello everyone, and welcome aboard the Walt Disney World Transportation system. We’re on our way to insert Park name here. For your safety and the safety of others, please remain seated while the motor coach is in motion. If you’re standing, we encourage you to use the handrails above or to the side and remain clear of the doors and stairwells. We also ask that you refrain from eating, drinking or smoking while onboard the motor coach. And now we invite you to relax and enjoy the ride.”

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The Most Underrated Walt Disney World Attractions

by on October 3, 2014

t_logo_fbWell, you did it. I hope you’re happy with yourselves. We weren’t the first to pass that way, but soon we’ll be the last, because Maelstrom, the troll-tastic boat attraction located in Norway at Epcot, is officially closing its doors on October 5th 2014 to make way for a new themed area celebrating “Let it Go.” But as sulky as I and others may be about it, it makes you realise something. The Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Test Track at Epcot. The bag check line at the front gate. There are a lot of Disney World attractions that people tend to think of immediately before any others, and for good reason. They’re big, flashy, exciting, and Patrick Warburton’s voice is like buttah. But it’s easy to get stuck on the big ticket thrill rides, or just the attractions with the most flash and that new magic smell and think of the rest as “filler.” Kids can basically be dazzled by just about anything, but teens and adults are harder to win over if something doesn’t involve at least three inversions and an animatronic yeti. Most of the time, when people talk about Disney World attractions, there’s a handful that always get brought up, and some that, well, just don’t as much as they should. Here’s a list of just some of the best, most underrated Disney World attractions the parks have to offer, and why you should make every effort to catch them on your trip, too. As for the most overrated attractions, well… that’s a whole ‘nother flame war, and my flame-retardant suit is in another castle.

And hey, when you’re done reading and you’re back from your trip, make sure you fill out the Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World Survey to help refine our ratings and our information for the future. Teens, nobody but us needs to know you really thought Wishes was the most spectacular thing ever… your cool, detached demeanor is safe with me.

Disney's Maelstrom at Epcot's Norway Pavillion

Disney’s Maelstrom at Epcot’s Norway Pavillion

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – Is it cheesy? Yes. A little goofy? Sure. But this 21 minute long animatronic show located in Magic Kingdom is still one of the most impressive things Disney World has done. Guests sit down in theater style chairs on a revolving floor that takes them through a series of scenes following a family through the seasons, and through the years. The characters don’t age, but the emphasis here is on, well, progress. Little things, like how the icebox works, the cost of food, travel times, all of it is presented in such a way as to provide a great example of how much things have changed. All of this is narrated and acted out by a series of remarkably well articulated animatronic folks. (Still not as creepy as CGI Jeff Bridges.) Most amusing of all, the most “recent” era the show will take you through is going to feel pretty recent indeed thanks to new technology like the Oculus Rift and even “smart” ovens, despite being something the show clearly intended to be futuristic. Light-hearted, silly, and yet still relevant and interesting, it’s a great way to relax. Just don’t expect to get that song out of your head anytime soon.

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Disney’s Newest (Adorable) Collectible Craze: Tsum Tsums!

by on October 2, 2014

Tsum Tsum Tag

Even the Tsum Tsums tags are adorable!

Have you heard about the newest Disney collecting craze? No? Let me tell you what they are:  A series of collectible plushies (stuffed animals), drawn from a wildly popular mobile game in Japan, featuring Disney characters. These plush toys are called Tsum Tsums, which means “stack, stack” in Japanese, from the game’s objectives, and is pronounced “tsoom tsoom” (which basically sounds like zoom zoom). The toys are designed to be stacked up in a pyramid shape, much like the objective of the game.

Clear as mud, right? Let’s take a closer look…

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Disney World Crowd Report – September 21 to 27, 2014

by on October 1, 2014

A strange week for crowds across Walt Disney World last week, with some parks swinging as much of 5 index points depending on the day. We’re not sure whether the big swings were due to actual increases in crowdedness or anomalies in wait times. Most notable were skewed wait times at Maelstrom and Backlot Tour, and surrounding or related attractions. None-the-less, it is clear that the low crowds of September have passed and Fall crowds have arrived.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Touringplans.com Disney World Crowd Report:

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Taking a Pal to Disney World

by on September 25, 2014

Francine8

Thank you for posing with my stuffed chipmunk!

Ed. – today we’re running two articles with ideas for silly things that can make your trip to Walt Disney World even more fun. Has your family ever done anything like this? Talk about it in the comments.

There once was a Walt Disney World cast member who was selling balloons on Main Street USA. Suddenly a girl comes up to her and asks her if she could take a picture of the cast member holding her stuffed chipmunk, who also happens to be holding a plastic Mickey balloon. The cast member obliges, and the girl walks away with the chipmunk, ready to add more pictures to the chipmunk’s adventure in the Magic Kindgom.

Some of you might have very similar experiences as me. Not only do we take family and friends to Walt Disney World, we also take pals to help commemorate the adventure. For some, it’s Flat Stanley. For others, it’s some other special pal. For me, it’s Francine, a stuffed chipmunk.

Taking a pal like this to Orlando is a great experience. It allows us to photograph things in different ways, and create adventures for our pals that we couldn’t do with real people.

But what is the point of it all? Why bring anything in the first place? Well, first I’ll explain my story.

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Disney Savvy Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

by on September 24, 2014

Cinderella Castle - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Cinderella Castle at Christmas

Ed. – We realize it’s still over a month until Halloween, and you haven’t even ordered your Thanksgiving Turducken yet, but tickets are already on sale for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Enjoy the Food&Wine-aweenThanksmas season and have a Happy New Marathon Weekend.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a popular, hard ticket event at Disney World where guests can enjoy holiday festivities and the Christmas spirit at the most magical park of them all, the Magic Kingdom! The party is scheduled for select dates throughout November and December. In addition to the festive atmosphere, but also a series of holiday performances and activities to enjoy. Like what? New this year is the lighting, or rather freezing, of Cinderella Castle by Frozen’s Elsa! The party also offers character dance parties, Holiday Wishes, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, character meets, and so much more. To help you maximize the Disney magic, I’ve got a little early Christmas present:

Disney Savvy Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Plan for the Cold - Contrary to popular opinion, Florida is not warm and sunny all year long. In fact, it can get very chilly at Disney World during the holiday season, especially at night. The past two times I attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I’ve needed several layers or even a coat to keep warm. When your party date draws close, check the extended forecast or monthly average temperatures for an idea of how to dress.

Watch the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade from Main Street – Many guests have their own opinions for where to watch the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Electrical Parade; but for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I encourage everyone to find a spot on Main Street, U.S.A. for the popular Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Why? Main Street, U.S.A. is the only location in the park where fake snow drifts down from above as the parade passes by, creating a picture-perfect winter wonderland! Spots along the parade route go quickly, so claim a space early!

Prepare for Rain - During my first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party experience, it rained the whole night! Myself, along with most of the party guests, just donned a poncho and braved the damp, but there were few changes to the party due to the inclement weather. First of all, some elements of the parade were removed for safety purposes. The main floats were still included, but some of the characters and dancers were not. Whenever the weather isn’t cooperative, Disney does their best to carry on the night as planned, but some performances and live entertainment can be cancelled, delayed, or altered. It’s just something to prepare yourself and another reason to check the forecast.

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Best Places to Find Pins at Disney World

by on September 21, 2014

Disney Pin Trading has become somewhat of a Disney vacation pastime and is one of my personal favorite things to do when I visit Disney World. What is Disney Pin Trading? Well, all throughout Disney World you will find metal pins for sale representing everything from characters to resorts to attractions to special events. The more pins you purchase, the greater your collection, plus you have great mementos to remember your vacation by; but this souvenir experience is also interactive in that you can trade with Cast Members, or with other guests, if they so choose. It’s a fun activity that everyone can enjoy while exploring the parks and resorts!

Disney Pin Trading - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Disney Pin Trading

Now you will find Disney Pins for sale almost everywhere throughout the parks and resorts, but there are some corners of Disney World where you may find a better selection of pins or those rare, special edition pins or just maybe that one you’ve been hunting for the whole trip. So read on to check out my best places to find pins at Disney World!

Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion – This particular Epcot pavilion is one of my favorites because there’s a lot more to see than just the fountain and restaurants found at the front. The Morocco Pavilion actually extends back farther than what you may realize in a network of exotic, winding streets which contain lots of things to see and a few shops. It’s impressive and trust me, you will have a hard time reminding yourself that you’re actually in Central Florida and not Morocco! Anyway, back to Disney Pins. So because most guests don’t realize that the Morocco pavilion offers more than just what’s at the front door, the Cast Members who work at the rear of the pavilion, and their lanyards, aren’t visited by guests nearly as much as at others. While nothing is guaranteed, Morocco, in my opinion, is a good bet for those rare Cast Member pins!

Stores & Service Locations – Most shops and stores at the parks have their own individual pin boards from which you can trade from. Some stores have their own “themed” boards that match the theme of the land or attraction they belong to, which only makes trading even more fun! Some of the pin boards at the Disney World Resorts are only brought out at certain times and may have a trading limit. If you’re not sure, feel free to ask! In addition, many service locations at Disney World, such as stroller rentals, also have their own pin boards. I’ve even heard of a pin covered stroller with a stuffed Mickey Mouse in the seat from which you can trade at the Magic Kingdom! Pin boards are where I go to in order to trade because you never know what you might find, and very few guests realize that service locations have their own pin boards.

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