Walt Disney World (FL)

Observations from Downtown Disney (Fit2Run, Theme Park Tagalongs, New Bridge to Saratoga Springs, Construction Walls)

by on September 9, 2014

Time to head back to Walt Disney World’s shopping and dining district, Downtown Disney (DTD). In my last several photo reports of DtD I have skipped over just how many construction walls have popped up all over the place, so today we’re going to get up close and personal with those, as well as a new bridge connecting DTD to the Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. We’ll also check out the Fit2Run store on the West Side, look at some new merchandise at World of Disney, artwork at Art of Disney, collectibles at D-Sreet and give a full report on whether or not Theme Park Tagalongs actually do what they say they do (as I had my doubts when I first saw them). So sit back and get ready to take a tour through the construction capital of the world (and don’t forget that clicking on any picture will bring up the full size version). Ready? Well let’s get to it!

 

DTD_MoreWalls

All roads lead to more walls.

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Disney Dining: Bongos Cuban Cafe at Downtown Disney

by on September 8, 2014

Recently I was at Downtown Disney and had planned to go to the House of Blues to do a photo report. Unfortunately, when photographer Brandon Glover and I got to the restaurant they told us it would be a ten minute wait. This was in the middle of a weekday and the House of Blues was – at best – 30% full. There were even two parties ahead of us waiting to get a table. Acting on principal alone, the thought of waiting 10 minutes to get a table in an empty restaurant with so many other choices nearby seemed beyond ridiculous, so we left to try another venue. A couple steps down from House of Blues lies Bongos Cuban Cafe, so we decided to check it out since neither one of us had ever tried it before.

 

Bongos_outside

Bongos Cuban Cafe (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Disney World Crowd Report – August 31 to September 6, 2014

by on September 8, 2014

There are two weeks a year where we can be certain about crowds at Disney World. We know December 28 through January 1 will be extremely crowded and we know that the week after Labor Day will be extremely light. Even we were surprised how low the crowds were last week. We expected that Fastpass+ would help moderate wait times across the resort but we still saw some of the lowest average wait times of the year.

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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Menu Monday: Snacks Around the World Showcase – Germany

by on September 8, 2014

Spaceship Earth!

Spaceship Earth! © Disney

Welcome once again to Menu Monday, where we explore what packaged edibles Disney offers. We are traveling around the World Showcase, stopping in at each country to give an interesting and unusual (and hopefully tasty!) snack a try. We have already visited Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, and France. Today we are checking out what snacks are available in Germany. Before we get started heading around the Showcase, let’s remember the rules:

Snack Rules

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

Let’s go find some snacks from Germany!

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Menu Monday: Trials and Tribulations of an Amateur ‘Disney’ Chef

by on September 8, 2014

FoodandWinelogosmallAs some of you know, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will be starting September 19 and running through November 10. In honor of this event (and the fact that I will be attending for the first time), I decided to put my culinary skills to the test.

The Challenge: Recreate three popular recipes found at Walt Disney World.

The Line Up:

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort

by on September 6, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort. One of Disney’s Value Resorts, Pop Century has a level of theming that makes it stand out compared to the other lower priced hotel offerings at the All Star resorts as well as dedicated bus transportation to the parks and Downtown Disney. The entire resort is themed around pop culture icons from the latter half of the twentieth century, with the wings of the hotel dedicated to the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each wing has elements from their particular decade throughout the area. If it sounds cheesy, that’s because it is cheesy, but it’s a good kind of cheesy way and one that can bring back a lot of memories for every family. At the very least Pop Century is great for an afternoon of “resort hopping” to see some of the things they offer that you can’t find at any other Disney resort, starting with…

 

# 6 – The Lobby is a Wonderful Trip Back Through Time

SS_PopCentury_Lobby2

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 

While the check-in desks inside Classic Hall are the same that you will see in many theme park hotels, the walls opposite check in are filled with shadow boxes containing items from the 1950s through the 1990s. This is a wall that will have various generations of every family seeing an item and instantly remembering where they were in life when that was popular.  Elvis, the Moon landing, Dobie Gillis (with Maynard G Krebs), the Beach Boys, Star Wars, Mork & Mindy, Jane Fonda’s workout book, Trivial Pursuit, He-Man, Go-Bots, Smurfs, and so much more are in this area.

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Disney World Crowd Report – August 24 to August 30, 2014

by on September 4, 2014

By far, the least crowded season of the year is the period between Labor Day and mid-September. Schools are back in session and most families have completed their summer vacations. Judging by last week’s crowd numbers that September lull may have begun a week early. We saw very low wait times across the resort.

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

 

Walt Disney World Resort Crowd Levels – Daily Breakdown

Sunday, August 24, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
4
2

Crowd levels were all below average as expected on Sunday. Magic Kingdom was the lowest with the other parks not far behind. Haunted Mansion (20 minutes), Jungle Cruise (18) and Winnie the Pooh (22) hit their lowest point on our 1 to 10 scale.

Epcot
2
3
Hollywood Studios
4
4
Animal Kingdom
4
3

Monday, August 25, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
4
4

Our predictions of ‘4’ at Magic Kingdom and Epcot and of ‘2’ at Animal Kingdom hit the mark. Only The Studios fell outside normal range with a 22 minute average posted time at Great Movie Ride as well as 72 minutes at Toy Story Mania. Star Tours also hit a healthy 24 minute average.

Epcot
4
4
Hollywood Studios
4
6
Animal Kingdom
2
2

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
3
3

Tuesday’s crowd at Epcot was the first sign that the Septmeber lull in attendance may have been occurring early this year. Test Track averaged 52 minutes, well below expected although Spaceship Earth hit 16 minutes, exactly as we predicted.

Epcot
6
2
Hollywood Studios
3
4
Animal Kingdom
3
1

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
4
1

More signs of lower than expected crowds on Wednesday. All parks came in two or more levels lower than history would suggest. Many attractions hit a level ‘1’ on our scale, especially at Magic Kingdom, an occurrence that is normally reserved for the week after Labor Day.

Epcot
4
2
Hollywood Studios
5
3
Animal Kingdom
6
2

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
3
2

Our predictions of ‘3’ or lower at Magic Kingdom, The Studios and Animal Kingdom were within range but Epcot’s crowd was unbelievably low. Test Track averaged 43 minutes, Spaceship Earth 10, Soarin’ 34 and Living with the Land 2, all the lowest on our scale.

Epcot
6
1
Hollywood Studios
3
1
Animal Kingdom
2
1

Friday, August 29, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
3
1

Ones across the board (except for The Studios at ‘2’) are another sign of the Labor Day lull in attendance arriving early this year. No headliner attraction resort-wide went above a level ‘3’ on our scale – and the most common level by far was ‘1’.

Epcot
5
1
Hollywood Studios
4
2
Animal Kingdom
2
1

Saturday, August 30, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Magic Kingdom
3
4

Predictions returned to normal performance on Saturday with only one park (Magic Kingdom) missing the mark, slightly. We predicted Soarin’ would average a posted time of 49 minutes and we observed exactly that.

Epcot
2
2
Hollywood Studios
4
4
Animal Kingdom
3
3
What to Expect This Week
August 31 to September 6, 2014
How Crowded is Walt Disney World

How Crowded is Walt Disney World

If last week was slow then imagine how quiet this week must be. By far, the number one best time of the year for low crowds is the week after Labor Day. The summer heat is still blazing however so be prepared to take breaks – not from the crowds but from the heat.

To see Walt Disney World Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.

To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.

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Hidden Details of the Disney World Resorts

by on September 4, 2014

There are many reasons why the Disney Parks stand apart from other theme parks around the world, but one of the biggest has to be Disney’s incredible attention to detail. You can see the extra mile in the form of details just about everywhere on Disney property, from attractions to parade costumes to resorts to transportation to even the bathrooms! Personally, I love the details. They are not only appealing to the eye and fun to find, but almost always meaningful to the history of an attraction or to the story the Imagineers are trying to tell. For today’s post, let’s take a look at the hidden details of the Disney World Resorts!

Deluxe Resorts

Grand Floridian Wedding Pavilion - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Grand Floridian Wedding Chapel

The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa: Disney’s flagship resort is also home to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, a fairy tale location with a view of Cinderella Castle! Even if you’re not getting married, you can still walk over to the pavilion area where the chapel and Franck’s Bridal Studio are located. Be sure to look up to notice a special detail: a heart-shaped weather vane of Mickey posing as Cupid!

Animal Kingdom Lodge: Throughout Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village you will find African quotes and proverbs on the walls and rock work; however, one of them is different from the rest in that it’s a quote from Walt Disney. You can find it around the Samawati Springs pool area!

The Contemporary: For years, guests have been reporting a small, metal Mickey perched on the edge of a rooftop at the Contemporary Resort. When riding the Express Monorail, keep your eyes open when you approach the entrance to the resort.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: September 4, 2014

by on September 4, 2014

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re visiting Typhoon Lagoon, taking a look at the fall decorations at Magic Kingdom, and stopping by to check on Frozen at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You may notice a little difference in the photo quality this week. I picked up a new camera, the Canon S110. I wanted to get something a little more portable than my big DSLR. I’m still getting the hang of it so forgive me if anything looks “off”. With that out of the way, let’s get started! I thought what better way than how I start every trip to Disney? WIth a quick pass under this magical sign!

Our first stop is Typhoon Lagoon, somewhere I’ve never taken you before! When I visited I had every intention of busting out the GoPro and taking you on some slides, but mother nature had a different plan. Black, ominous storm clouds started to fill the horizon and I knew it was going to be a short trip. I decided to run around and take a few photos and ask you if you’d like to see more. Pictured below is the Crush ‘n’ Gusher. I’ve only done the slides a few times and didn’t love it, but the wading pool out front is very nice.

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Walt Disney World Noteworthy News – 9/3/14

by on September 3, 2014

I’m back again with quite a few great little tidbits that you may want to keep in mind for your next Walt Disney World vacation.

  • The Harmony Barbershop, located on Main Street, U.S.A., will be closed for almost two months this winter. The popular stop for guests to get their little one’s first haircut (and my hubby likes getting his cut here, too) will be closed from February 5 through March 30, reopening for guests on March 31.
  • The “Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It” Street Party at the Magic Kingdom will have an amended schedule for September 10, 11, 15, and 17. The parade will only perform at 5:40 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • We all know that Epcot will be getting new acts over the next few months in World Showcase. Well, now I’m here to share a few small details about the acts. Sbandieratori Flags is the flag choreography act in Italy; the Canadian Lumberjack Show, which is considered a thrill show, will take place in Canada; B’net Houariyat is a musical/dance act for Morocco; and Scottish Musical Trio will perform Celtic music in the United Kingdom Pavilion.

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