Walt Disney World (FL)

A Disney Springs Dining Digest

by on August 2, 2016

New restaurants abound at Disney Springs (pictured here: Chef Art Smith's Homecoming Kitchen)We’ve had an overwhelming amount of news and reviews lately about dining at Disney Springs, so I thought it’d be nice to take a step back this week to compile a Disney Springs Dining Digest of all of the new options now open. Below, you’ll find a quick summary of each new restaurant and what we thought of it here at TouringPlans (with links to our menus and full reviews, because we know you love photos of all that tasty food!). I’ll also rank the restaurants to give a sense of my overall favorites, which will hopefully help you plan your next visit to Disney Springs.

The Big Five (Table Service Restaurants)

Disney Springs has always had table service restaurants representative of a variety of modern cuisines with Wolfgang Puck, Bongo’s Cuban Café, and Crossroads at House of Blues. Recently, though, five new table service locations have opened that diversify the dining scene even further. Since we’re looking at the changing landscape of Disney Springs as a whole, we’ll start with one of the first new locations to open, even before Downtown Disney converted to Disney Springs, and move chronologically to restaurants that have opened as recently as the last few weeks.

The BOATHOUSE

  • Food: American steaks and seafood (priced similarly to Yachtsman Steakhouse or Shula’s); sandwiches, burgers, fried baskets (priced similarly to lunch at non-signature restaurants like The Wave or platters at more expensive quick service locations)
  • Atmosphere: The waterfront location and white tablecloths make it seem pretty fancy, but never so stuffy that eating a burger and fries here feels out of place. Families are welcome here, but it also works well for an adults-only date night out.
  • Quick Tips: Wait times for a walkup table here can creep up pretty high, so take advantage of the indoor/outdoor bar areas if your party is small. Steaks are good, but with few exceptions, require ordering other stuff to feel like a full meal: an appetizer (shrimp cocktail or oysters from the raw bar) or a la carte side (giant bowl of mac and cheese? Count me in.) is perfect for two people. On that note, always share desserts here (they’re huge!). Burgers and filet sliders are among the best budget-conscious meals at Walt Disney World for their quality. Beer selection is mostly bottled, so if that bothers you, stick to the cocktail menu.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: I haven’t formally reviewed The BOATHOUSE here on the blog, but I’ve previously mentioned it as a great alternative to Wolfgang Puck and STK Orlando. Definitely one of the first places I consider for a meal if I find myself hungry at Disney Springs.
  • How Do We Get Here: Park at Lime Garage or use the walking bridge from across Buena Vista Dr; The Landing’s boat dock for water transportation to/from resorts and other Disney Springs docks is right next door to the restaurant

Morimoto Asia

  • Food: Pan-Asian (influences from Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisines); dim sum appetizers, sushi, ramen, noodle bowls on the lower-priced end ($15-25 for a meal, like a standard table service restaurant), plated entrees including Peking duck and amazing kalbi beef on the higher-priced end (signature dining pricing)
  • Atmosphere: The glitzy centerpiece chandelier is worth a visit to the restaurant alone, and it feels a bit more adult and upscale than most restaurants at Disney Springs due to the modern music and darker tones throughout. Kids and families wouldn’t be out of place, but you’ll probably see far more adults-only groups when you dine here.
  • Quick Tips: Grab a spot in the bar/lounge area or the upstairs Forbidden Lounge if wait times are high. If entrée prices are out of your budget (believe me, though, they’re worth saving for), you’ll still have a great meal by sampling from the extensive dim sum, sushi, and appetizer menus. Desserts are easy to share, but your money is better spent trying a cocktail, sake, or beer from their well-crafted menu.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: In true Len Testa style, this epic review describes reactions to a vast majority of the menu’s dishes. Overall, Len listed it as “good, quality dining at reasonable prices”, and my meals there have reflected the same sentiment.
  • How Do We Get Here: Technically located on the outskirts of The Landing, just across from Raglan Road, it’s a two minute walk on newly-opened pathways from Orange Garage.

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

by on July 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. How long? Today marks the THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! What started out as a simple $1 bet between Len Testa and Laurel Stewart to see if they could take a simple Florida blogger and turn him into a two time runDisney medal winner/PizzaMania champion, has transformed into what many would consider the 9th Wonder of the Modern World (in terms of “people wonder why we keep writing it.”) The best rags-to-riches story this side of Cinderella, our monthly treks into Orlando’s Disney Outlet Stores have provided highs and lows (and then even more lows) in order to deliver you, Dear Reader, a glimpse into a world which very few have lived long enough to tell about. A sincere thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to read this little article. Except Tom Bricker, of course.

Also, in an unbelievable gesture, we have been swamped with “congratulations” messages and telegrams from people around the globe and we’re going to print some of them here, so keep your eye out!

Now while all of you were saying goodbye to Dateline Disneyland (we’ll miss you Andy!) 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.)

As always we start off with any new Tsum Tsums and this month we only had one. I spent a couple seconds trying to figure out which Star Wars character it might be until realizing it was Black Widow from The Avengers. All Tsums have been reduced to $2.99.

BlackWidowTsum_595_299

Black Widow Tsum Tsum, but doesn’t that look like a lightsaber on her side?!

This is interesting. Last month I made a slight “faux pas” and identified the Mother Gothel Tsum Tsum as MULAN. All of a sudden, for the first time ever, a TSUM TSUM GUIDE FOR DUMMIES appeared showing people who each Tsum Tsum was and what movie they were from. I’m not 100% sure you can all blame my accidental racism for this chart, but I’m also too old to believe in coincidences.

TsumTsumForDummies

Tsum Tsum For Dummies.

Speaking of things I don’t understand…

POKEMON AT THE DISNEY OUTLET STORE!

We wrote about Pokemon Go this week in the SATURDAY SIX (go ahead and read that masterpiece, don’t worry, we’ll be here when you get back) and honestly, the game makes absolutely no sense to me. Then again neither did “on fleek,”  gluten free desserts, or Universal’s Straight Outta Food Truck. For those of you who do play Pokemon Go, you’ll be glad to know you can catch various Pokemon at the Disney Outlets!

OutletPokemon

Pokemon Go! at the Disney Outlet Store. Reports are that people are going all around the globe to catch Pokemon but many are just catching the Zika virus. (photo by Julia Mascardo)

Was a little surprised to see these Magic Kingdom salt and pepper trashcans make their way to the Outlets. Originally $9.99, now $3.99 and I picked up the Frontierland and Fantasyland ones. This is one of those 50% bonkers/50% absolutely awesome items. Going to try to slip these into the rotation for our next dinner party and wait for one of my non-Disney neighbors to ask which garbage can has the salt.

Trashcans_399

Would have paid extra for the “Talking Push” variant.

Pretty sure this is the first appearance of a SHELLIE MAY item at the Outlets. This pillow pet was originally $29.95, now $9.99 and yes, I bought one. My secret shame.

shelliemay_2995_999

WE WANT GELATONI ITEMS!!

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SATURDAY SIX News Desk: A 100% Serious Look at Recent Theme Park News From Disney and Universal

by on July 30, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is special one as we once again dust off the blue blazer and step behind the SATURDAY SIX News Desk.  If you’re like us you’ve been deluged with news lately. Many childhoods have been “ruined” because of female Ghostbusters, Justin Beiber – a noted Canadian – was offered $5 Million to perform at the Republican National Convention, and maybe most important of all Taco Bell created a Cheetos burrito. However we’ve been informed that a whole lot of stuff happened in the theme park world recently. So we took a page out of our old college playbook, guzzled down a dozen 5 Hour Energys, and pulled another all-nighter. We crammed as much information as possible into our brains so that we could  report back to you, Dear Reader, with all the relevant facts (and before we forget it all tomorrow). So sit back, know that you are getting all the news that’s fit to print (and plenty more that’s not), and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – Universal’s Fast & Furious Supercharged Pushed Back to 2018?

SATSIX_FastFuriousSupercharged

Get your Coronas, baby oil, and English-to-Vin Diesel/Vin Diesel-to-English dictionaries ready, SUPERCHARGED is coming in 2018. (photo by Michael Sheehy and Matt Cleary)

While many people would scoff at the idea of the Fast and Furious franchise being an equivalent to Star Wars or Harry Potter, the box office numbers show that there is some smoke to that fire. To date the Fast and Furious movies are approaching four Billion dollars, which is about half of what SW and Potter have done, but F&F is picking up steam fast. In part thanks to F&F’s ethnically diverse cast, it appeals to demographics across the globe in a way that very few brands can. For example, in China Fast and Furious 7 opened to $182,000,000 while Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened to $52,000,000.

Universal announced that Fast & Furious Supercharged would be making its way to Universal Studios Florida in 2017, replacing Disaster and Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue. Walls were put up in front of the old attractions, and graffiti was spray painted along the walls teasing the upcoming Fast and Furious ride. Earlier this summer, the year “2018” suddenly appeared in the artwork, so it looks like Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon and Volcano Bay will be Universal’s major projects opening in 2017. Supercharged, with a cast featuring more six packs than a Budweiser plant, will headline Universal’s summer a year later. Hopefully this extra time will allow Universal to develop F&F merchandise that can approach the levels Disney gets with Star Wars and Universal gets with Potter, because that is one area the franchise is way behind in.

# 5 – At Comic Con Disney Announces Guardians of the Galaxy Attraction to a Mixed Near Unanimous Fan Reaction

After a one year break, Marvel Studios returned to the world famous San Diego Comic Con and dropped some major bombshells, including one for the Disney theme parks. After giving news on their upcoming film slate (including Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Thor: Ragnarok), Marvel brought out the cast for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  At the end of the Guardians presentation, it was announced that a new attraction was coming to Disney’s California Adventure: Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout. As we wrote back in March (Looking at ways Disney can introduce Marvel to the theme parks) the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction would not be a brand new ride, but instead replace the Hollywood Tower of Terror. The reaction in Hall H was not what anyone would call overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

 

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Summer Crowd and Wait Time Trends at Disney World

by on July 29, 2016

It’s been a challenging summer for Walt Disney World. If you go by America’s economic indicators, attendance should be strong: gas is cheap and getting cheaper, unemployment is below 5%, and stock markets are flirting with record highs.

But Disney is also facing some formidable challenges in getting people into its parks.  From the self-inflicted, sharp increase in admission earlier this year – the largest increase in at least 20 years – and a move to “seasonal” one-day ticket pricing that falls squarely on parents with school-age children, to June’s murder of Christina Grimmie, the Pulse Nightclub massacre, and fatal alligator attack at the Grand Floridian.

Based on our analysis of posted and actual wait times for rides at Walt Disney World, we think attendance is lower to this point in summer for Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom, and higher at the Magic Kingdom, versus the same period in 2015. Overall, we think attendance is flat to slightly lower throughout Walt Disney World.

Here’s a breakdown by park. The date ranges are June 1 through July 24 for all graphs. We focus on standby waits, posted waits, and people in line between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., since this is the peak time for crowds.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wait Times

Animal Kingdom Wait Times Summer 2015 and 2016

Every major attraction at the Animal Kingdom has seen its wait time drop in 2016. The average posted wait is down 2 minutes since summer 2015. In terms of people in line, it’s roughly a 7% decline, from 693 people in line per attraction in 2015, down to 646 people in 2016.

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Pop Flashback Friday

by on July 29, 2016

Pop Flashback Friday Photo Booth Props

Pop Flashback Friday Photo Booth Props

Visiting Pop Century Resort is always a trip back in time, as the resort is a tribute to the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. But there is now a new event on Fridays that celebrates looking back, Pop Flashback Friday.

My favorite part of the event is the Pop Flashback Friday photo booth, which is available throughout the day. Instead of an actual booth, this is a backdrop, found off the lobby and next to the entrance of the Everything Pop Shopping and Dining. The backdrop has the main logo for the resort, as well as each decade’s logo. It’s a fun picture even if you didn’t want to use any of the extras. Next to the backdrop, there is a table set up with props you can hold in your picture. The props include each of the decade logos, as well as several themed elements, such as a cassette tape and a mirrored disco ball. There is even a prop with the event hashtag, #PopFlashbackFriday, on it. Along with the props, there is a fun frame that matches the backdrop, with the resort’s hashtag. I think this photo spot fits perfectly with the theme of the resort, and would be a great permanent addition.

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New Musical Act Coming to the Germany Pavilion at Epcot

by on July 29, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

For months, I’ve been wondering what was going on with this little gazebo that was built in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion in World Showcase. It at first looked like it was just going to be for meet and greets, but as I got closer to examine it, it appeared to be a stage.

Well, now, after months of wondering, I can share that it is indeed a stage and it will showcase a new musical act – the world famous yodeler Margret Almer & The Bavarian Band. This new act will bring spirited and authentic music to Germany’s gazebo.

Margret Almer & The Bavarian Band is now performing at the Germany Pavilion five days a week.

 

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Flying Fish Reopens August 3

by on July 28, 2016

The Flying Fish has been closed for refurbishment for the past few months, but I bring news that it will be reopening soon! Reservations for the popular BoardWalk Resort restaurant open tomorrow, July 29 for dates beginning August 3.

©Disney

©Disney

The entire interior has been completely redesigned. Diners will be welcomed to a sophisticated space that pays homage to the golden era of seaside boardwalks. The refreshed interior will feature an all-new onstage kitchen and gorgeous dining room. The tone of the restaurant will be reminiscent of the sea with fantastic architectural accents and a gorgeous chandelier.

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The Muppets Are Coming to the Magic Kingdom

by on July 28, 2016

The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History

©Disney

Are you a fan of The Muppets? Then you will want to make sure to visit the Magic Kingdom this fall when a brand new live show will debut. This show, called The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History will feature your favorites, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggie, Fozzie, and Gonzo. Oh yes, and it wouldn’t be a patriotic show without Sam Eagle. This new show will take place in Liberty Square outside The Hall of Presidents.

The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History  will see the characters presenting historical tales such as the midnight ride of Paul Revere and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, presented in the fun and irreverent way that only the Muppets know how to do best. The characters will pop up throughout the day to share their own spin on how the founding fathers and the birth of our nation occurred. This show will also feature a song created especially for it.

Honestly, I have no idea what to expect from this new show. It is the Muppets after all, so anything will be possible with their zany humor. I guess I’ll just have to wait until it debuts in October to really find out what kind of high jinks the characters will get into! One thing is for sure, I’m positive it will be a salute to mostly America.

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New Average Wait Times at Soarin’ & Toy Story Midway Mania

by on July 28, 2016

Two of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions recently went through significant changes to their capacity. Toy Story Midway Mania added a third track on May 25, 2016 and Soarin’ re-opened on June 17, 2016 after a long refurbishment to add a third hanger and present a new film. An increase in capacity should lower the average standby wait at these super headliners, now that we have at least a month of collected wait times for both, let’s take a look to see if the average wait times have changed.

Average Daily Wait Time at Walt Disney World

Average Daily Wait Time at Walt Disney World

First, let’s get a baseline for how wait times are doing in general compared to historical averages across all Walt Disney World Attractions. Here is the average daily wait time across all attractions since 2009. Since May 25th, 2016 the average daily wait time remains almost unchanged, down about 1%. Sure, the sample size is not large but we can be fairly certain that any change in the average daily wait time at Toy Story Midway Mania and Soarin’ would be due to the capacity changes, not to a significant drop in overall attendance. It is also helpful that we are comparing a time of year that is historically very similar year over year. Late Spring and early Summer have only two holidays, Memorial Day and July 4th, both of which have similar crowd patterns each year.

Average Wait Time At Toy Story Midway Mania

Average Daily Wait Time At Toy Story Midway Mania

Except for an initial spike in wait times shortly after re-opening, Toy Story Midway Mania wait times are way down compared to years past. There we see a 38% percent reduction in the average daily wait time since May 25th, 2016 when the third track began entertaining guests. Toy Story Midway Mania is still the most popular attraction at Disney Hollywood Studios but the extra track helps relieve pressure on the standby queue for those guests unable to obtain a Fastpass+ reservation. Historically, it would not be unusual to see Toy Story Midway Mania hit a peak wait time of 100 minutes or more, even on an average day. Now, that peak is more likely to be 70 to 80 minutes or less.

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Walt Disney World August 2016 Preview

by on July 27, 2016

Welcome to TouringPlans’ preview for Walt Disney World for August 2016 – everything you need to know if you’re traveling to the Happiest Place on Earth next month. Who’s ready for August?

Average Weather for Walt Disney World in August

 

Hi 92, Low 76, 78% Humidity, 16 days with rain

August Weather for Orlando

 

 

 

 

 

August in Orlando is nearly identical to July’s with the added bonus of entering the peak (August, September, October) of hurricane season. Florida has not been impacted too strongly by weather in the last few years, but sources say 2016 may be more active than recently. NOAA’s National Hurricane Center is an excellent resource for forecasts that may affect your August trip.

Plan to visit the parks early in the morning or late in the day to avoid the heat as much as you can and spend your afternoons napping or at the pool. Summer’s extended hours mean there is plenty park time available after dark, so take advantage of it, especially if you’re eligible for Extra Magic Hours.

 

Upcoming Live Chats for August

Want to chat live about your trip? Join us on Facebook throughout the month as our experts take your questions in a fun and lively discussion.

We are working on a more regular chat schedule, but we should have a good one to start the month. Our own Brian McNichols will be visiting Disneyland and our West Coast regular Guy Selga. Brian will be there from August 7-10 and he and Guy are planning a dual live chat right from the resort. Make sure you watch Facebook and Twitter for the exact date and time.

Brian will also be doing a wrap-up chat about his trip to Disneyland and any and all news from the Orlando parks on Wednesday, August 17 at 1:00pm U.S. Eastern time. He’ll give you a chance to get your early questions in a few days before the chat.

Times for all live chats are posted in advance on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

 

Walt Disney World Park Crowds for August

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