Walt Disney World (FL)

2015 Disney Dining Plan Information Released

by on July 28, 2014

Disney Dining Plan

©Disney

Earlier today, it was mentioned by Len on the TouringPlans forums that the 2015 Disney Dining Plans informational brochures had officially been released in PDF format. (A quick heads up: the 2015 Vacation Packages will be available starting on Wednesday, July 30.)

The actual details of the 2015 Disney Dining Plans haven’t changed from 2014, meaning that guests will still receive the same number of entitlements that were available under the 2014 Plans. RapidFill refillable mugs will also continue to be offered with the 2015 Disney Dining Plans.

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Offsite Options: Is a Disney World Annual Pass Worth It?

by on July 28, 2014

I. INTRODUCTION

I have a confession to make: I stay offsite when I visit Walt Disney World. I know, I know. Go back and re-read my previous articles here on TouringPlans and wonder how you ever could have believed anything I said. While you do that, however, I’ll address Walt Disney World Annual Pass Savings, especially for those staying offsite.

Annual Passholder Box

Annual Passholder MagicBands – © John Kivus

The Disney World Annual Pass certainly seems to come at a substantially higher cost than other ticket options. If we view the passes at face value, then this is an accurate conclusion – an annual pass does cost more than any other pass, even a 10-Day Park Hopper. You may think this means you have to visit the parks at least more than 10 days to get your money’s worth out of an Annual Pass.

The problem with this reasoning is that there is so much more to everything Disney than face value, and having at least one Annual Pass for your party can be very valuable, especially for offsite guests.

Before we get into the details, I do want to warn you that there is no easy answer to the question of whether or not an Annual Pass is a good value for a particular party’s Walt Disney World trip. In fact, the analysis will require planning, and DUN DUN DUN: math.

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Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 7/28/14

by on July 28, 2014

I’m back with all the great little Disney planning details that I think you need to know!  There’s quite a few little nuggets that have passed through my desk, so enough with this chit chat, yick yack, and flim flam; let’s get on with it!

  • As always, we’ll start with refurbishments. This time I only have one to let you all know about. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin at the Magic Kingdom will be closed for a brief refurb this Fall from November 10 – 21, reopening on November 22.
  • The WonderGround Gallery, which can be found at Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney, now has a presence at the Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World.
  • The Epcot After Hours Wind Down event has been extended. The extra experience, which takes place after Illuminations:Reflections of Earth on select nights, will now last until November 9. The event was originally supposed to run until September 15. The After Hours Wind Down includes a menu featuring a selection of appetizers and one beverage flight. The price is $35 per person, per location. A cash bar option is also available.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! July 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on July 28, 2014

MMM positiveWe all have our favorite stores in Walt Disney World such as Mouse Gear in Epcot, the Emporium on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, or Villains in Vogue at Hollywood Studios. Disney has made gift shops as ubiquitous in theme parks as churros and turkey legs. Most of us have Disney magnets on our refrigerators, coffee mugs in our cabinets, and shirts in our drawers that immediately bring back memories of previous vacations.  Not all merchandise gets sold though. Some of it sits on the shelves long enough to be shipped over to the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando, and that’s where we come in. The Magic, The Memores, and Merch! is your monthly guide to these products which never found a home.

Our first find at the outlet is AULANI DUFFY. Original priced at $35, these are now $9.99.

IMG_7542

Turns out that ancient taboo idol that Bobby Brady found wasn’t the worst thing to come out of Hawaii after all.

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Walk Disney: A Review of the Boardwalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour

by on July 28, 2014

t_logo_fbThe Walk Disney series will provide a description and review of activities that can be done while walking the grounds at Walt Disney World resorts.

Do you know why the ESPN Club on Disney’s BoardWalk is shaped like an octagon? Do you know where the hidden Tinkerbell is near the elevators of Disney’s BoardWalk Villas? By taking the free BoardWalk Ballyhoo Guided Tour, you will learn these and many more interesting details about Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas resort area.

Before describing the experience that my wife and I had on the tour, here are the tour basics:

What does the tour entail? The tour covers many of the design choices that the Imagineers made when constructing Disney’s BoardWalk Resort area. The walking, informational tour begins at the Bellevue Lounge, continues through the main floor of Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, and eventually ends up on the boardwalk outside of the Boardwalk Bakery.

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Disney Wildlife: Florida’s Native Birds

by on July 27, 2014

The Magic Kingdom’s most famous birds might live in the Enchanted Tiki Room, but Disney World’s native birds far out-number the singing and talking ones in Adventureland. All around Walt Disney World Resort, you’ll see magnificent tropical birds, native to Florida and happily adapted to life in a theme park. It’s Disney wildlife: Florida’s native animals living right there amongst the attractions. Thanks to central Florida’s waterlogged environment, many of the most distinctive species are wading birds, inhabiting the trees and rooftops around the Seven Seas Lagoon, Bay Lake, and even Frontierland‘s Rivers of America.

Most people just point and call them storks, or flamingos. But you want to look more clever than that, right? So here’s your guide to the native birds of Walt Disney World. Here are some tips: only one of these birds is a stork, and the only flamingos you’ll find are on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Great Egret: One of the most elegant birds you’ll ever see, the great egret stands more than three feet tall. Although the egret has the long legs and neck of a wading bird, you’ll often find them perched high in trees or on the roofs of show buildings at Disney. Their diet isn’t limited to seafood either — I’ve seen egrets flying over with long wriggling snakes dangling from their beaks. And they think they ought to live on turkey legs — great egrets stalk guests near the Turkey Leg cart in Frontierland, waiting for hand-outs. While it is funny to watch an unsuspecting tourist turn around and let out a scream at the giant bird lurking behind them, turkey skin isn’t in their natural diet at all. Don’t feed them and encourage the madness.

Keep your eyes open for smaller egrets around Disney World, including the less-common Snowy Egret, which has amazing breeding plumage feathers in spring, as well as bright yellow feet, and the Cattle Egret, a small white egret often seen foraging for insects in roadside verges and grasslands.

From Left: Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret. All call Walt Disney World home. Images: Wikimedia

From Left: Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret.
All call Walt Disney World home. Images: Wikipedia

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Top Ten Places to Find: Romance in Disney World

by on July 26, 2014

Already a popular destination for fairy tale weddings and fun honeymoons, the Walt Disney World Resort is no stranger to romance.  If you’re looking to find a little romance during your Disney vacation, here’s a list of top ten spots to check out for a bit of romance in Disney World.

A smooch in front of the castle is pretty romantic!

A smooch in front of the castle is pretty romantic!

Cinderella Castle – Magic Kingdom: One of the most popular locations in Walt Disney World to pop that life-changing question, Cinderella Castle definitely tops the charts as one of the most romantic locations at the resort. Take advantage of the plethora of PhotoPass Photographers in this location to get a picture of you and your sweetheart in front of the castle. Whether it’s a smooch, a slow dance, a firework show, or a marriage proposal, head to the castle for a bit of love pixie dust.

Boat Rides: The Love Boat doesn’t have anything on the fleet of boating options available at Walt Disney World.  And nothing says romance more than snuggling up with your loved one on one of the many cruising options Disney offers. From Pirates of the Caribbean in Magic Kingdom to Maelstrom in Epcot, enjoy a slow, entertaining cruise in the arms of the person you love. Kick up the romance another notch by booking a Fireworks Cruise and enjoy the leisurely romance of a luxury boat in addition to the sparkle and pizazz of the nightly fireworks shows at either the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. It costs a bit extra, but who can put a price on love? Book your own personal love boat cruise by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529)

Walk Along the Beach: Everyone enjoys a romantic stroll on the beach, and Walt Disney World Resorts offer several beach options. Enjoy the white sands and calming beach atmosphere at the Wilderness Lodge, the Grand Floridian, and the Polynesian Village. For a bit more upbeat vibe, stroll at the beach at the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resort or Caribbean Beach Resort. Holding hands and burying feet in soft white sands offers a great tropical romance. Visit the Polynesian Beach in the evening and get a unique view of the Wishes fireworks show, complete with music!

Victoria & Albert’s: Fine dining is always a great resource for some much needed romance. Again, Disney has a multitude of options for every adventurous (and every not-so-adventurous) palate out there, but Victoria & Albert’s is the cream of the crop. The only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Central Florida, Victoria & Albert’s has amazing food and service beyond your wildest dreams without being at all stuffy. Quiet and decorum are enhanced by the most stringent dress code of any Walt Disney World restaurant and an age limit for diners (must be 10 years old or older). If you want to dress up and leave the kids in one of Disney’s kids clubs, this is the place to go. Its price list is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth every penny! Go online or call 407-WDW-DVNA (939-3862) to make your reservation. 

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival International Marketplace Menus

by on July 25, 2014

Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri from the new Patagonia Marketplace ©Disney

Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri from the new Patagonia Marketplace ©Disney

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is rapidly approaching! We are only two months away from opening date, which has been moved up this year to September 19. And the Festival lasts until November 10! That means that guests who enjoy this event will have 53 full days worth of delicious delicacies and wonderful beverages!

Of course, the most popular part of the Food & Wine Festival has to be the International Marketplace booths, which are scattered throughout World Showcase. This year there are more than 25 different booths you can choose to stop at to try a cornucopia of cuisines. The event is a food lover’s paradise.

Today, I share with you the menus of each Marketplace. I’m starting to figure out my list of where my must-stops will be, and I bet you will be too!

 

Africa

Food Beverages
Beef tenderloin tips berbere style with okra, jalapeños, tomato and pap MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc
South African bobotie with turkey and mushrooms (gluten free) Fairview Pinotage
The Wolftrap Red: Syrah, Mourvèdre and Viognier

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Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Premium Events Information

by on July 25, 2014

A Taste of The World

©Disney

Are you excited about this year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival? It is my favorite time of year at Walt Disney World, so you can bet I’m excited. If you’re anything like me,   you want to know all the details of the Festival so you can start your planning! (And I would suspect you are like me; you’re reading this post).

For those of you who love to take part in the Festival’s Premium Events, they go on sale next week, Thursday, July 31. Make sure you have those dialing fingers ready, cause a lot of these events go fast!

There are a TON of events that take place during this event and there’s really something for everyone, whether you’re skilled in the art of fine dining or a you are a complete novice, like me. They also have different events with everyone’s budget in mind too. So, if you’re excited, I’m excited! Let’s get into it!

There are quite a few new events scheduled to take place for this year’s Festival. They include:

NEW – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – Boot Camp Series

During the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – Boot Camp Series, you will discover the inspiration to create, based off of instruction from an expert in this 2-hour event. The event will take place in the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion East Hall on select Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Cost is $119 per person. The boot camps include:

  • Food and Wine Pairings 101 (September 21)
    Hosted by Andrea Robinson – Master Sommelier
  • Chocolate (October 5)
    Hosted by Erika Davis – Graycliff Chocolatier
  • Cake Decorating (October 12)
    Hosted by Gabrielle Parisi – Carlo’s Bakery
  • Pickling 101 (October 19)
    Hosted by Allen Susser – Chef Allen’s

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Top Ten Places to Find Coffee at Walt Disney World

by on July 24, 2014

The Walt Disney World Resort is 47 square miles, which is about the same size of San Francisco. A resort this size is pretty certain to have whatever you might be looking for. For those as addicted to caffeine as I am, my first question in the morning is, “Where’s the coffee?” With this mind, here is my quick and dirty “top ten” guide on where to find coffee at Disney World. Now, this list isn’t all-inclusive, and it isn’t even ranked (who can really say one Starbucks is better than another), but I will give you a list of ten options for you to keep in mind when you’re on your “Where’s Waldo?” search for a tasty cup of Joe.

Starbucks at the West Side of Downtown Disney is easy to spot, next to the Characters in Flight attraction

Starbucks at the West Side of Downtown Disney is easy to spot, next to the Characters in Flight attraction

Starbucks – West Side Downtown Disney: Nestled next to the Characters in Flight balloon launch in Downtown Disney’s West Side, this coffee mecca is pretty easy to find. And the curse/blessing of any chain restaurant is that you know exactly what you’re getting when you order your favorite beverage here. Starbucks regulars can even use their Starbucks gift cards here. What makes this location unique from any other location is the impeccable coffee theming. True to Disney form, you are immersed in coffee culture, so take some time to peruse the walls and learn a bit about this addictive little bean we all love so much. Once you’ve grabbed your beverage, snag a window seat to watch shoppers stroll along or the Characters in Flight balloon lift-off. Or sip while you doodle on the interactive screen.

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