The cabins at Fort Wilderness went through a refurbishment that began in fall of 2015 and was completed in early 2016. To learn all the great things about the cabins you can read my blog post from last year. In this post I will give you a glimpse of the changes that have been made to the cabins.
The most dramatic upgrade is in the kitchen, which has been completely replaced. The stove is gone with a two burner stovetop and a microwave/convection oven combination as the new cooking area. At the end of this post, I will share my experience cooking in the oven.
The bathroom got new cabinets and countertops. The bathtub is fiberglass.
The bench at the dining table now has a back cushion. The murphy bed was replaced with a large TV and a six drawer dresser. The sofa has been replaced with a larger double size sleeper sofa. The child’s table and chairs are gone. The window coverings have also been updated.
With the refurbishment, the pantry and a small TV were removed from the side of the kitchen. The new space seems to be missing something, like maybe a side table was supposed to be there.
If you have been curious to try the all-new signature restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Tiffins, you now have a great opportunity to do so.
A brand new lunch menu has been introduced for the restaurant which features small portions of some of Tiffins’ most popular dishes. From 11:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. each day, Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the Taste of Tiffins options. This offering allows Guests to explore the standout dishes from this restaurant. Guests can choose from a pairing of two different options, alongside a Jade rice blend for $28.00, plus tax and gratuity.
Options that Guests can select from include: flash-fried blue mussels, black-eyed pea fritters, crispy Yellowtail Snapper, sustainable fish crudo, 72-hour beef short rib, salad of roasted baby beets, market vegetable curry, marinated grilled octopus, Chermoula-rubbed chicken, or the masa and pulled pork tamale. (My suggestions…the octopus and the beef short rib. I’ve tried both and they were both excellent!)
In addition, a light bites menu has been introduced as well, including:
Archaeologist Salad ($12.00)- Spring Vegetable Variations, Pumpernickel Soil, and a Champagne Vinaigrette
Tiffins Signature Bread Service ($10.00) – Pomegranate Olive Oil, Harissa Yogurt, Zhough Yogurt, Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
House-made Head Cheese and Chicken Liver Pate ($14.00) – Goji Berry Chutney, Accouterments, Whole Grain Mustard
Should you choose, you still do have the option to order off the regular, all-day menu at lunch, as well. The choice is yours, but I think this new offering is certainly a great way to sample some great dishes without over-stuffing yourself during the lunchtime hours.
As much as we all enjoy eating at Walt Disney World, you can find yourself feeling sticker shock when the wait staff brings your bill (unless you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, where the sticker shock comes well before your trip).
But, don’t fret. I’m here to help and to tell you that, yes, dining values can still be found on Disney property. Here are a few of my picks for great meals, snacks and drinks on a budget. This doesn’t mean that these are necessarily the least expensive items, but rather the best items and experience for the price. If you’re on the dining plan, you’ll likely want to go for the most expensive item you can get with your credit, but if you’re paying out-of-pocket for food, this list is for you.
Share your thoughts in the comments, along with your picks for dining values.
Table Service Appetizer: Bread Service with all 9 Accompaniments at Sanaa, $13.99
Sanaa Bread Service with all 9 Accompaniments
This one lives up to its reputation as a unique, filling appetizer that will satisfy multiple people. First, Sanaa, the table service restaurant at Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village, is an outstanding value overall with unique cuisine, beautiful decor and animals wandering just outside the restaurant. The bread service is simple in concept, but complex in flavor. You get a variety of freshly made naan bread to enjoy with dipping sauces arranged in order of spiciness. One version of the bread service comes with three sauces, but we recommend getting the full nine, which is a mere $2.50 upcharge. This is also one dish where the restaurant actually increased the portion. In 2014, when the photo above was taken, we were given three pieces of naan, but when we returned a year later, it came with five pieces of naan, which makes this an appetizer that can be comfortably shared among a table of four.
Crowds at Walt Disney World were very close to what the Disney World Crowd Calendar predicted between June 12 and 18. The calendar correctly predicted that midweek crowds would be larger than those on the weekend. Magic Kingdom crowds led the way with every day at a crowd level ‘8’ or higher except for Saturday (6). Animal Kingdom was the least crowded park of the week after dipping to a level ‘3’ on Friday.
Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day on the Touringplans.com Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:
In honor of July 4th we are presenting a special SATURDAY SIX with a Salute to All Nations (But Mostly America). July 4th weekend brings out the patriotism in all of us, and nothing is more American than our favorite theme parks. Created with the opening of Disneyland in 1955, theme parks — along with comic books and jazz music — are one of the rare forms of art that we in the USA have given to the citizens of Earth. Thankfully, they are all so good that the world forgives us for everything else we’ve given them such as Zima, reality television, and the KFC Double Down. So raise Old Glory up to full staff, put Real American on the CD player, and let’s dive into some theme park American goodness!
# 6 – Voices of Liberty (Epcot)
The Voices of Liberty (photo by Mike Sperduto)
Located at the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, the Voices of Liberty are an 8 person a cappella group that will have your heart swelling with pride as they belt out some of the most well known songs paying tribute to our country’s rich history. The playlist includes: “America the Beautiful,” “This Land is Your Land,” “This is My Country,” “You Raise Me Up,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
# 5 – Captain America (Islands of Adventure)
Captain America. (photo by Brandon Glover)
America’s super soldier, Captain America meets guests daily at Marvel Superhero Island. The origin of Captain America himself is tied to World War II and – in the pages of comic books – was fighting the Nazi army in Europe months before America itself officially entered the war in December of 1941. Draped in red, white, and blue, Cap is the living embodiment of everything many of us strive to be: courageous, loyal, selfless, and unshakably honest.
Disney Springs has been rocking and rolling ever since it officially opened the Town Center section of the shopping and dining district. One thing that hasn’t officially happened is a grand opening event. That is until now. The Disney Springs Grand Opening Summer Celebration has officially kicked off and will last until September!
Guests will be able to experience live entertainment, special décor, sales at many retailers, and fun warm weather-inspired enhancements. Free, live entertainment will take place throughout Disney Springs with something for everyone including pop, country, jazz and more. There will be a variety of live musicians, improvisational rappers, DJs, Living Statues and even a roaming illusionist. Local talent will be performing including Sleeping Sunset (Pop), The I-4 Band (Top 40), Chaz Robinson (Pop), Casey Conroy (Contemporary/Pop), Plus 1 (Country), Vintage Vinyl (Contemporary with a vintage sound), Dayve Stewart (Jazz), CeCe Teneal (R&B), The Gerry Williams Band (Funk), and The Liam Duncan Trio (Current Acoustic). In addition, every afternoon, the Marketplace Fountain will be flowing, giving Guests the chance to splash the day away during the Beat the Heat DJ Party.
Many shopping locations around Town Center will offer some great deals, with some lasting all summer. Make sure to check with the stores to see if they will be offering specials.
For those of you visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom and who would like to get drenched on Kali River Rapids while potentially waiting in a shorter line, I have news! A single rider test will be taking place from July 3-17 in an effort to allow more Guests to experience the attraction.
To enter the single rider line, Guests will use the FastPass+ entrance where they will be separated into a different section further down the queue. Guests will then be placed on boats needing single riders when necessary.
For those looking to take advantage of this particular line, do keep in mind that testing is not guaranteed and may stop and start at any time.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Animal Kingdom. For July, we are going to try something new around here. It’s our first ever themed series of articles for the SATURDAY SIX, and we’re going to put a spotlight on Walt Disney World. That’s right, we are going to take a look at each one of Disney’s four parks and explain why they are some of our favorite places on Earth. First up, the oft-maligned Animal Kingdom which has completely transformed itself from a “half day park” to possibly the best theme park in all of Orlando.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom. (photo by Tim Grassey)
While Animal Kingdom was originally designed to keep people on WDW property, and not make a side trip to Tampa for Busch Gardens, it has become one of the most interesting theme parks you’ll ever see. By far and away the biggest park at Disney (the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction by itself is larger than the entire Magic Kingdom) Animal Kingdom has a combination of terrific thrill rides, world class shows, and amazing safari adventures. Filled with unforgettable experiences, Animal Kingdom simply has it all. But what do we love most about this park? Well, sit back, pour out a 40 for Little Red, and let’s start our countdown with…
# 6 – The Tree of Life
With Cinderella Castle and Spaceship Earth, WDW already had two of the greatest – and most recognizable – theme park icons in the world. With the majestic Tree of Life, Animal Kingdom’s park icon immediately joined them. Despite being completely man-made (even the leaves are made out of a special plastic called Kynar), the Tree of Life looks as if it sprung from the ground and it’s only when you stare at it do you begin to see over 300 animal designs carved into the trunk and roots. The details will make your jaw drop.
Recently the Tree of Life became even more breathtaking with the introduction of projection mapping for the Tree of Life Awakens shows. These three minute shows make it appear that some of the animals in the trunk come alive before your eyes, along with spellbinding special effects in the leaves above. This is true Disney Magic.