Walt Disney World (FL)

New Restaurants Added to Tables in Wonderland Program

by on August 8, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

Do you have a Tables in Wonderland card? Then I bring good news! Four new dining establishments have been added to the special dining program. Those restaurants are:

  • Jungle Skipper at Magic Kingdom
  • Tiffins and the Nomad Lounge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs

So, what is the Tables in Wonderland program?  It is an exclusive for Disney Vacation Members, Florida Residents and Annual Passholders. Membership in Tables in Wonderland includes a 20 percent discount on all food and beverage at participating Walt Disney World table-service restaurants and lounges. Guests also receive complimentary valet parking for dining purposes.

Tables in Wonderland does come at an extra cost. It costs $175 for Florida Residents and $150 for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. To purchase a membership, you should visit any Guest Relations kiosk located one of the four Theme Parks or at Disney Springs.

For more information about Tables in Wonderland, make sure to check out their website.

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Better DHS FastPass+ Choice: Toy Story Mania or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster?

by on August 8, 2016

Toy Story Mania wait times have dropped around 40% since its third ride track opened in late May – from around 83 minutes to around 51 minutes so far this summer. That drop means that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has the longest average wait of any ride in the park, at around 68 minutes.

That leads to an interesting question: Is Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster a better Tier 1 FastPass+ choice than Toy Story Mania?

The answer is “probably not.” But the difference  is so small that you’re unlikely to notice the difference. So assuming your family can ride them, either Toy Story or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a good choice for your Tier 1 FastPass+ at Hollywood Studios.

Read on for the details of how we got to this result.

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Selecting an Epcot Resort

by on August 8, 2016

View of the Epcot Resort Area

View of the Epcot Resort Area

With the recent release of the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival menus, I can’t help but think about my upcoming trip. The 60 day FastPass+ window is approaching quickly, and as an avid proponent of planning ahead, I’m ashamed to admit that I still haven’t fully decided on a hotel!

It’s one of the biggest dilemmas I face when planning any trip to Walt Disney World. It’s especially hard for me during the fall when visiting Epcot’s World Showcase is top priority thanks to the mouthwatering samplings at Food and Wine Festival. I’ve narrowed it down to the Epcot resort area to make walking to Epcot a breeze, but that still leaves me with five wonderful choices – Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, Dolphin, Swan, and Yacht Club.

Not one to take the resort decision lightly, I’ve carefully mapped out a comparison to help me (and hopefully some of you) pick the right Epcot resort for any Walt Disney World vacation.

Theming

All five resorts fall into the deluxe category at Disney, and with that designation comes elaborate theming. However, because Swan and Dolphin are the only two that are not owned by Disney, some may find them to be lacking that special Disney touch.

  • Beach Club – It’s a New England-style resort hotel that is painted blue with white trim and adorned with typical beach décor. Think seashells and sand dollars.
  • Boardwalk Inn – Modeled after a turn-of-the-century Atlantic coast boardwalk, the rooms actually sit behind a façade of neon lighted shops and restaurants along a wooden boardwalk.
  • Dolphin – Words escape me when it comes to the theming of both the Swan and Dolphin, and if you’ve ever seen it for yourself, you can probably understand. Disney describes it as “deluxe accommodations inspired by Florida itself, Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel juxtaposes modern architectural silhouettes alongside Renaissance flourishes—most notably, the twin stylized dolphin statues gracing its rooftop.” Now, I’m not sure what they think a dolphin is, but based on their designs, I would say that a dolphin is some combination between a goldfish and carp.
  • Swan – Though very similar the Dolphin in theme and design, the Swan is outfitted with two Swans atop the building instead. At least these two actually resemble swans.

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Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – July 24 to 30, 2016

by on August 7, 2016

Disney World Crowd Calendar

How Crowded Was Walt Disney World Last Week?

Sunday through Tuesday last week, crowds we observed were within one index level of what the Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted while later in the week crowds drifted a little further away from what we expected. Crowds were at least a point busier last year during the equivalent week.

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

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Night of Joy Schedule of Events for 2016

by on August 5, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

It is almost time for Night of Joy, the Christian music festival that occurs at Walt Disney World each September. This year, the popular event will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex for the first time ever on Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10.

Due to the new location, the event will be expanded for 2016. Guests will have more options than ever with two nights of music, ample seating at indoor and outdoor venues, amazing performances on multiple stages, including Champion Stadium, and opportunities for fellowship and fun.

This year’s Christian artist lineup features 18 great artists. The lineup for each evening is as follows:

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Limited Time Character Experience with Memory Maker

by on August 5, 2016

Belle - Memory Maker

©Disney

If you have Memory Maker for your Walt Disney World vacation this month, you’ll be able to soon take part in a limited time character meet and greet experience test.

From August 7-31, Guests who visit the Magic Kingdom who have purchased Memory Maker, Memory Maker One Day, or have an Annual Pass with complimentary Disney PhotoPass available, will be able to take advantage of a special character experience with Belle in her formal gown. This meet and greet experience will occur at the Heritage House in Liberty Square from 11:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Only one person in your party needs to have purchased Memory Maker in order for your entire group to take part in this opportunity.

This seems like a great way to meet one of your favorite Disney Princesses with minimal wait!

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Blaze Pizza Opens at Disney Springs

by on August 5, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Today, the newest restaurant opens at Disney Springs. Blaze Pizza, the counter service location that serves artisanal pizzas cooked in a blazing hot oven in just 180 seconds, invites Guests to create their own pizzas. The focus at Blaze is all on being an individual.

The Disney Springs location is themed as the town’s local sawmill. You will see touches indicating this throughout the restaurant including a lathe above the menu board and touches of Cypress trees that have been used in decoration of the dining establishment.

At Blaze, you get to build your pizza your way. Here are the toppings you can choose from to make your pie:

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A Night Out On The BoardWalk at Flying Fish and AbracadaBar

by on August 5, 2016

The marquee at Flying Fish remains as colorful as everDisney dining fans have been anxiously awaiting the reopening of one of the most popular signature table service restaurants in Walt Disney World, and it’s finally here. After several months under refurbishment, Flying Fish (formerly Flying Fish Café) reopened this week with a new look, new menu, and a new chef leading the way (though Chef Tim Majoras is a familiar face to the restaurant, as he’s been with Flying Fish for the past five years). As a longtime favorite of mine, I was just as excited as all of you to try the new menu (and probably just as sad to see favorites like the potato-encrusted snapper fly away off the menu). But first, I had to make a quick stop into another new addition to the BoardWalk, right next door, at AbracadaBar.

The front of AbracadaBar's menu offers a peek into the bar's backstory.Located in the space formerly occupied by Seashore Sweets, AbracadaBar is the newest addition to the Disney bar scene, though it may surprise a few guests with how different it is from other recent additions. AbracadaBar, open at 4:00 PM daily, is a bar, through and through, and decidedly not a lounge in the traditional Disney lounge sense. The menu (featuring a little magic trick of its own) is fairly short, featuring eight signature cocktails with high-end spirits, a selection of beers, wines, and two non-alcoholic drinks (that can also be tailored to your tastes if you prefer them on the alcoholic side).

If you frequent Disney lounges, you’ll notice something – I didn’t mention any food on the menu; that’s because there isn’t any, though your server will likely offer you some truffle popcorn to snack on with your drink. This is probably for a specific reason – there are a TON of food options on the BoardWalk (AbracadaBar itself is sandwiched between Trattoria al Forno and Flying Fish). It seems like it’s meant more as a stop-off for those on their way to their final dinner destination. This could be a great idea for the area, typically packed with adults looking for a fun place or two to spend a night out without kids.

AbracadaBar's interior is both cozy and welcoming.The space inside AbracadaBar isn’t huge in size, and the beautiful dark finishes and ornate red and gold wallpaper inside make it pretty cozy but welcoming. The tables aren’t on top of each other, which is always a plus in a bar or lounge. I loved coming in to this atmosphere out of the harsh Florida summer sun – a quick twenty minute break inside to enjoy a drink was really all I needed. Speaking of a drink – what to sample? I’m a big fan of many of the style of cocktails on this menu, so my choice was difficult, but I settled on one of the rare-at-Disney drinks, the Elixir 13.

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Celebrate Art in August at Disney Springs

by on August 3, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Disney Springs is in full celebration of its grand opening and this August, the shopping and dining district will be hosting a special event called “Art in August.” This event will be a vibrant open-air art stroll that celebrates art of all forms throughout the promenade featuring fantastic works of art.

Throughout the month, the “Art in August” event will feature Disney and local artists who specialize in a variety of different art forms. Artisans will include crafters, jewelry makers, photographers, painters, and more. Guests who visit the event will also be able to participate in demonstrations, as well as meet some of the artists behind the creations. Artists that will be on hand will include: Don “Ducky” Williams, Greg McCullough, Darren Wilson, William Silvers, Quynh Kimball, Joe Kaminski, and Richard Terpstra.

“Art in August” will take place in the Marketplace section of Disney Springs, every weekend (Thursday through Saturday) in August through Labor Day Weekend.

For a full list of “Art in August” events, make sure to click here.

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New Miss Fortune Falls Attraction Announced for Typhoon Lagoon

by on August 3, 2016

Miss Fortune Falls Water Raft Ride

©Disney

It had been known for months that Disney was going to be adding a new attraction to their water park, Typhoon Lagoon. We now have details what Guests can expect to experience with this fun-filled family water ride.

Miss Fortune Falls (haha…I love a good pun) will be a family-style raft attraction that takes Guests through the fabled Captain Mary Oceanear’s past. The story goes that Captain Oceanear, a treasure-hunting heroine, traveled across the sea collecting unique artifacts before she became stranded at the water park by a rogue storm.

Once Guests board their treasure rafts, they will journey through Captain Oceaneer’s past before plunging into a white-water adventure. During their ride, Guests will be able to see some of the artifacts that Captain Mary Oceaneer has collected as she adventured around the world.

Miss Fortune Falls will be located near Crush n’ Gusher. Lasting about two minutes, it will be the longest ride for any Disney water park.

The new Typhoon Lagoon attraction will open in the spring of 2017. Stay tuned to the blog for more details!

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