Walt Disney World (FL)

SATURDAY SIX: Six Outrageous Food Items at Walt Disney World

by on April 19, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers Top Six Outrageous Food Items at Walt Disney World. Regular readers of this column know that we like our theme park food, and the more outrageous it is, the better. While Disney has its fair share of fine dining (Victoria & Albert’s, California Grill, and Jiko among others), it also has many food items that would make your cholesterol and blood sugar rise just by looking at them. Today we are going to look at six of our favorites…

# 6 – The Doh-Bar (Cookes of Dublin)

Downtown Disney is our first stop, and while Raglan Road is the critics’ darling, Cookes of Dublin next door has one of our favorite snacks on property, the ‘Doh bar.’ Picture this: a Snickers bar is dipped into donut batter, deep fried, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. Basically, a work of art that ranks somewhere in between Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Michaelangelo’s David.

dohbar2

The ‘Doh bar” – Donut Battered Snickers

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2014 Grand Floridian Easter Eggs

by on April 18, 2014

One of the things I love most about writing for Touring Plans is that it encourages me to go out and see things I would have skipped in the past. If you can believe it this is the third annual Easter Egg display at the Grand Floridian, but the first year I’ve stopped by for a visit. I have each and every one of you to thank, because the display is incredible! I couldn’t think of a better way to wish everyone a happy Easter and to share some photos! First the lovely Briar Rose:

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And on the reverse side of the princess is her Prince Phillip. Can you believe each of these eggs is between 16 – 20 inches tall and weighs over 9 pounds even though they are hollow? Also, in frame you can see a non-Disney themed egg. There are eighteen eggs on display this year so I couldn’t feature all of them. Though I focused on the Disney eggs there are others that are more traditional or themed after famous works of art. They are all exquisite!

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Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Parade and Fireworks Viewing Tips and Observations

by on April 17, 2014

FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing tips

Get a VIP view with FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing areas at the Magic Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome to the future of fireworks and parades at Walt Disney World! In recent weeks, as the final rollout of FastPass+ has concluded in the Disney World parks, I’ve been sharing my experiences using the system as an Annual Passholder at Epcot, as well as at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Since my last post, FastPass+ has been fully implemented for all Disney World guests, including day-guests not staying on Disney property, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to experience one of the most controversial aspects of the new system. Without further ado, here are my FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing tips, based on my personal observations at the Magic Kingdom.

 

Festival of Fantasy FastPass+ Parade Viewing

When the features of FastPass+ were first announced, the private reserved viewing areas for parades and other spectaculars were the aspect I was most skeptical (even cynical) about. Personally, such performances are usually very low on my priority list during a park visit for several reasons. Most of the parades had grown quite stale to me from years of over-exposure, I have an aversion to spending valuable touring time staking out a spot of asphalt just to get a good view, and I can’t abide being crammed like sardines in the crowd that accompanies the procession. So I would normally use that time to take advantage of marginally shorter queues at my favorite attractions. If I did want to see a parade, I’d typically walk up a minute or so before it started, and make do with a partial view blocked by the sea of shoulder-sitting small-fries in front of me. With a limit (soon to be lifted) of only 3 FastPass+ reservations per day, I couldn’t see myself “wasting” one on something like a parade when Space and Splash are beckoning.

This is currently the closest you can get to Anna and Elsa from Frozen without a mult-hour wait for their meet & greet.

 

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Tours of Epcot: Behind The Seeds

by on April 16, 2014

Do you love Living With The Land at Epcot? I don’t know what it is about this quiet, little boat ride that holds my attention. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s one of the few attractions that still feels like the Epcot from my childhood. The Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot offers guests the chance to walk through the greenhouses seen on the boat ride and take a closer look. While just taking a stroll through this location is worth the price of admission, the tour offers some great “edutainment” about the future of gardening. 

To sign up you simply need to purchase tickets at the desk in the Soarin’ boarding area. We’ve done the first tour of the day in the past for fear they would sell out. However, this time we showed up just 30 minutes before the last tour of the day and were able to join with no issue. Then we just had to meet back by the desk five minutes before our tour time. The below information contains lots of spoilers about the tour. If you’d like to be surprised, you might want to scroll down to the bottom past the numbered sections.

The tour begins when your guide whisks you to a backstage location to explain the tour rules. First, guests are encouraged to ask as many questions as they can. Your tour guide is normally an intern here on the college program with a shocking amount of botany knowledge. I was very impressed with our guide and the frequent questions she was able to answer! Rule number two is that photography is not only allowed, it’s encouraged! I was excited about that one because I often get lectures on tours because they see my big camera coming. It was nice to be welcomed despite the fact that we were in backstage areas. The final rule is the most important: do not touch any plants. This one seemed obvious to me, but what I hadn’t thought of the reason they make this request. In the greenhouse they have exotic plants from all over the world that many people have never been exposed to, and likely will never be exposed to again. The Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot is not a great time to find out you’re wildly allergic to some rare plant! So that no touching request is just as much to protect you as it is the plants.

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Disney is Looking For a Million Dollar Arm

by on April 16, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Do you have a Million Dollar Arm? That’s what Disney is looking for in this new contest. If you can throw a 100-mph fastball, you could potentially win $1 million.

How? Well, to promote Disney’s upcoming movie, Million Dollar Arm, on April 25-26 Walt Disney Studios is holding a competition where contestants will have three chances to throw the fastest strike they can.

Participants can attempt the feat at one of three locations. Guests can test their arms at Downtown Disney at Disneyland (California) and at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World (Florida) from 7:00 a.m-6:00 p.m. local time. In New York, the competition will take place at the Tribeca Family Festival on April 26, from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. All who participate in the contest get complimentary tickets for themselves and a guest to attend an advance screening of Million Dollar Arm at a nearby AMC Theatre.

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Walt Disney World Crowd Report – April 6 to 12, 2014

by on April 14, 2014

Anytime statisticians see a spike like the one we see on this week’s crowd report, they first break out in hives, then catch their breaths and look for an explanation of the outlier. The number one most common reason that our predictions miss the mark is weather. Unexpected good weather and bad weather can affect what we see in the parks, and we think that is what happened last week. On Tuesday, Central Florida experienced a severe weather warning from around noon until early evening. Then on Wednesday resort guests, off-site guests, and locals who were well-rested from missing most of Tuesday’s touring time flocked to the parks.

We feel this is a solid theory since wait times returned to expected levels on Friday and Saturday. If Tuesday’s spike was the result of an underestimate on our part, then one would expect the rest of the week to be very crowded, as well. This wasn’t the case. Also, during the day on Wednesday, Disney extended park hours to accommodate the unexpectedly large crowds.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up on other days last week.

The Crowd Report

The Crowd Report, April 6-12, 2014

 

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report
April 6 to April 12, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Park-level crowds ranged between a ’3′ at The Studios and ’6′s at the Kingdoms on Sunday. Both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were one level higher than the ’5′ we predicted which pushed the resort-wide level to a level ’5′, one higher than expected. Epcot’s crowd level ’5′ was also one level higher than predicted while The Studios’ crowd level ’3′ matched our prediction.

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Observations from Downtown Disney for April 10, 2014 (Construction Walls, T-Rex, Food Trucks, New Merchandise)

by on April 14, 2014

It has been several months since I have been to Downtown Disney, so it’s time to check in to see what is going on lately. After several trips in which I had to scream “Serenity Now!” while trying to find a parking spot, I realized what I needed to do in order to fix that problem: I rope-dropped Downtown Disney.

The only two places to park in front of Downtown Disney itself and these are the lot by the Marketplace and way down the other end by Cirque du Soleil. Even at 10 AM, the sign leading to the Marketplace lot said it was “full,” so we parked down by Cirque du Soleil. This lack of parking is caused by the two parking garages Downtown Disney is in the process of building. Many people are hoping for these to be done by the holiday season of this year, but guest services said it wouldn’t be until early 2015.  There is also parking across the street in which you can take a Disney shuttle to Downtown Disney.

DowntownDisney_ParkingGarage

Status of the parking garage closest to Cirque du Soleil

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Easter Activities at Walt Disney World Resort

by on April 12, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Easter is just a week away (April 20) and Walt Disney World is gearing up for the holiday with some great events the whole family can enjoy. Many different facets across the resort are getting in on the fun.

In The Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom

  • From April 13-20, guests will be able to meet Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny on Main Street, U.S.A., in Town Square, between City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce.
  • A special pre-parade will take place on April 19 and 20, featuring Mr. Easter Bunny, springtime characters, dancers, and the Azalea Trail Maids.
  • Speaking of parades, the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will be shown twice from April 13-20. Showtimes are at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

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Epcot To Introduce After Hours Wind Down Experience

by on April 11, 2014

Have you ever walked around Epcot’s World Showcase after IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth has ended and thought, “I wish one of these restaurants were open so I could grab a drink and a light snack.” Well, now that option is a possibility!

Disney is introducing the new After Hours Wind Down. During this special experience, guests will be able to sit down in an intimate setting and sample appetizers and beverages from one of four different lounges found in World Showcase. The lounges guests can choose from include: La Cava del Tequila (Mexico), Spice Road Table (Morocco), Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar (Italy), and Rose & Crown Pub (United Kingdom). You may only choose one dining location per night.

Menu offerings include a selection of small bites, paired with one beverage flight. Additional beverages can be purchased, if guests choose.

The event is for adults, 21 and up, and takes place Thursdays-Sundays, from 9:20 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. It is scheduled to run from April 17 – September 15.

The cost is $35 per person, plus tax and gratuity. A special ticket is needed to take part in this experience, and admission to Epcot is required but not included in the price.

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A Look at the Seven Dwarfs Characters in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

by on April 11, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

So, I don’t usually post all the updates that Disney shares about the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but this video was too good to pass up.

The short clip takes a look at the upcoming New Fantasyland attraction at the Magic Kingdom and shares how the Seven Dwarfs will appear in the mining portion of the ride. The Audio-Amatronics used for this new attraction are some of the most advanced I’ve ever seen. They move in ways that are incredible, and their faces are super-realistic. (Created in a similar fashion that the Cars characters appear at Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure.) This is our first glimpse into how these characters will look in the new ride, and it’s a huge step up from how they appeared in the former Snow White’s Scary Adventure attraction.

If you don’t want to see spoilers about the attraction, I highly suggest that you not view the video.

In addition, if you want more information, I recently posted a ride description sharing what to expect with the attraction.

As a reminder, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will have a height requirement of 38 inches, and FastPass+ will be available.

I am in awe of how good this portion of the attraction looks and cannot wait to ride it when it officially opens. As if I wasn’t already excited enough!

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