Walt Disney World (FL)

Details About Big Hero 6 Meet and Greet Opportunities

by on October 16, 2014

BGS697042

©Disney

Who else is looking forward to hugging Baymax from the upcoming Big Hero 6? Well beginning at some point this Fall, you’ll have the chance to do so on both coasts!

For guests who are headed to Walt Disney World, you’ll need to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where inside The Magic of Disney Animation, you’ll be able to tour the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology’s lab. From there you’ll make your way to Hiro’s garage workshop to meet both Hiro Hamada and Bamax.

Unfortunately, this means that we will no longer be able to head to Sugar Rush; we’ll be losing the meet and greet for Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope. Their meet and greet officially closes on October 24. (Guests looking to at least see Ralph or Vanellope will still be able to find them in the “Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade” and the “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade” this year.)

In Disneyland, guests should make their way to Tomorrowland’s Starcade, where you’ll be able to visit Hiro’s robotics workshop and see both Hiro and Baymax. Guests will also be able to see an extended sneak peek of the upcoming film Big Hero 6 in the Magic Eye Theater. (Where Captain EO could previously be found.)

The only detail we now need to wait for is the opening date, as it hasn’t been announced for either Walt Disney World or Disneyland. The only information we have is mid-November. Big Hero 6 rolls into theaters on November 7.

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Extra touches for Celebrations at Walt Disney World

by on October 16, 2014

Once Upon A Time there was a glorious celebration filled with love, laughter, and pixie dust. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to create such a memory for yourself or someone you love? Not every celebration can be fairy tale like, but when at Disney the sky is the limit. No matter what you are celebrating, they have options for you. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Weddings, Graduations, and everything in between can be reason for some extra pixie dust on your vacation.

Celebrations Buttons

Courtesy Disney

Courtesy Disney

You’ve probably seen other guests wearing these 3” buttons before. Not being a person who wants to draw attention to myself, I am always a little hesitant about announcing to the world it’s my birthday or anniversary, but it certainly has its perks. The buttons can be picked up at your resort upon check in, or at any vacation planning booth or guest services location within the four parks. These buttons are FREE for the asking and can be personalized. There are currently nine choices available: anniversary, … happily ever after, 1st visit, birthday, family reunion, I’m celebrating…, my magical triumph, just engaged, and just married.

You can receive and wear the buttons 6 months prior to an event, such as your birthday, and up to 6 months after. So, if traveling to WDW two months after your birthday, you can still get a button and proudly wear it around the parks as you have a late celebration of the event.

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Street Performers at Disney Hollywood Studios

by on October 16, 2014

Visiting Hollywood Studios but not a fan of the amusement rides? I’ve got a solution for you: Live actors mingling with guests throughout the park. Yes, walking (and even driving) about; interacting with you. We make it a point every visit to seek them out and enjoy their shenanigans, um I mean, their shows.

Just your average Citizen. - Courtesy of Disney

Just your average Citizen. – Courtesy of Disney

The Citizens of Hollywood

The Citizens of Hollywood, or Streetmosphere characters as they are otherwise known, are characters that perform every day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can usually find them on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. The characters range from aspiring actors to directors and even to police officers. They perform a variety of skits that generally have us rolling with laughter and are a great source of family-friendly entertainment. The skits are always different because the crowd they are interacting with constantly changes.

A Brief History:     Streetmosphere has been a part of Hollywood Studios since its opening day in May 1989. The entire idea of Streetmosphere was created by C. McNair Wilson, who would later become an Imagineer at Disney. Wilson was one of the directors of a street theater company, SAK Theatre, which performed at renaissance festivals throughout the country. In 1982 Disney Imagineers asked the group to perform in the Italy pavilion in Epcot. They were quickly extended to performing in the United Kingdom pavilion and then Future World. By 1985, they were performing 45 shows-a-day in Epcot in four different locations. That year they were brought into the plans for the upcoming Hollywood Studios Park as part of the planned 2-hour Backstage Tour show. Once Disney decided to go in another direction, Wilson still was inspired to make SAK part of this expansion. Wilson presented a collection of 40 characters that would make the guests feel like they were actually in Hollywood. The Disney executives were won over and presented Wilson with a budget for 23 characters.

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Official Opening Date for Trattoria al Forno Announced

by on October 15, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Kouzzina recently closed at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and in its place is the upcoming Trattoria al Forno. Today, the Disney Parks Blog announced the official opening date for the Italian restaurant — December 18. The restaurant will offer both breakfast, which will be served from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., and dinner, which will be served from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

Menu items for dinner will include dishes like specialty pizzas (like Broccoli Rabe with Fennel Sausage or Truffle Cream with Asiago, Pecorino, and Fontina); pasta (like Linguine alla Vongole or Polpetta Gigante, a giant meatball with ricotta cannelloni and marinara); entrees (including things like Pork Chop Milanese or Shrimp with Garlic, Capers and Anchovy Butter, with Polenta); and dessert (like Bembolini served with dark chocolate and vanilla gelato or Tiramisu).

Guests may begin to make reservations beginning October 21.

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This Ain’t Disney World! – Planning a First Visit to Universal Orlando

by on October 15, 2014

The scenery may be beautiful, but the line is VERY long.

The scenery may be beautiful, but the line is VERY long.

On our first visit to ‘the other Orlando park,’ my oldest daughter and I attended a viewing of Universal’s Horror Make-up Show. During the show, the volunteer, a nice woman ended up covered in red-dyed corn syrup. The hosts threw a towel out to the woman and called after, “That’ll be $14.50!” We all laughed, but knew it wasn’t exactly distant from the truth. Certainly, we knew most of the major differences between Disney World and Universal Studios. We weren’t, however, expecting to encounter such a myriad of differences between the two parks. Hopefully, some quick research, a planned touring plans itinerary, and this article can help you get a quick overview of what to expect at your first visit to Universal Orlando Resort.

The parks are over a small area. Really small. If you could walk through a few buildings, you could easily get back and forth between the parks. We could see Dr. Doom from our window at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. You can also take Hogwart’s Express between the two parks at any time, too. I’d avoid going during the surge of the middle of the day, but make certain to go both directions, so board at Hogsmeade Station, as well. Each ride is a bit different. The walk wasn’t quick, but it was awfully close.

Don’t, however, mistake close for convenient. I could see the park, but our walk to the entrance was about fifteen minutes each day along a winding path that seemed to close back over itself. We ended up walking to and from the parks every day, but getting through Universal can’t always be done quickly.

The queue and exit line for every ride can be pretty long, if they are needed or not. The line to get onto Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure is filled with beautiful pieces, the Triwizard Cup, banners for each champion, and VERY few people. Most of the occasions we were on the ride, it was essentially a walk-on. The theming was much better than I had expected, but the walk was LONG. The wait may have been longer for Flight of the Hippogriff than it was for Dragon Challenge. The queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was long, as well. It was filled with stations throughout Hogwarts, talking paintings, and myriads of setup. Perhaps the rides were purposefully trying to delay our boarding, but on multiple occasions, I wondered why I STILL had to walk through tons of labyrinthian mazes to get on the Seuss High in the Sky Trolley ride. The exit for Ripsaw Falls, I felt like I had mistakenly gotten back in line for another ride. Even the pathway between our hotel and Islands of Adventure I felt like it had carved out a purposefully winding path to throw off our pace. Each day, my pedometer on my iphone killed its battery. I never had an accurate step count, but I was well above 15,000 steps.

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A Guide to Walt Disney World Attraction Vehicles and Seating: Epcot

by on October 14, 2014

t_logo_fbWe recently brought you guides to the ride and attraction seating situation at the Magic Kingdom and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Next up is our guide to the attraction seating at Epcot.

Keep those hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times …

FUTURE WORLD

Captain EO, Imagination Pavilion

  • Seating capacity per row: Several dozen.
  • Seating capacity per vehicle: NA. Show-style attraction. More than 100 guests per show.
  • Seating surface: Lightly padded chair with armrest.
  • Safety restraints: None
  • Boarding procedure: Walk into theater
  • Height requirement: None
  • Notes: Wheelchair and ECV users may ride directly into the theater. Some of the special effects can only be experienced when seated in the attraction chairs. Guests wanting the full attraction experience may want to transfer to the standard seating if possible.

IMG_8329

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Managing Your Disney Morning

by on October 14, 2014

t_logo_fbTime is precious on any vacation, and a Disney World vacation in particular can create the feeling that time is passing at a far quicker pace than in everyday life. With so much Disney fun waiting each day (and the feeling that time flies at the World unlikely to abate), who wants to spend a lot of time getting ready in the morning. Whether your goal is to be at the parks at opening or to eke out a bit more sleep before you start your day, getting up and out of your room efficiently will help maximize your vacation time. And the rewards for your efforts can be significant.

Whether you need to get your entire family up and out the door or just yourself, there are several steps you can take to smooth the morning routine. These steps will not only save time but make the morning (and the people getting ready) more relaxed so that you can leave the room happy, stress-free, and ready for fun. This article highlights specific tips for your morning as well as TouringPlans tools and information that can extend the benefits of a calm morning to the rest of your day.

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Where to Find “Real” Sweet Tea at Disney World

by on October 13, 2014

Starbucks Shaken Sweet Tea

Starbucks Shaken Sweet Tea

If you’re from the South, you know that there’s a big difference between sweetened tea and “real” sweet tea; and if you have been to Disney World, you also know that it can be quite a challenge to find this Southern staple.

Now for those of you who don’t know, “real” sweet tea is Black Tea that is brewed with sugar while it’s still hot, as opposed to adding the sugar later. This process creates a smooth, blended sweet taste and consistency that can’t even compare to fruit flavored tea or the Gold Peak Tea found throughout the parks and resorts.

But if you’re like me, and sweet tea is your go-to refreshment after spending the day trekking through the parks, I have uncovered a few places at Disney World where you can enjoy a Southern-style Sweet Tea!

Starbucks – Starbucks locations have been opening up all throughout Disney World this past year, beginning with the Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom, then Fountain View at Epcot, followed by two locations at Downtown Disney, and soon, a new location at Hollywood Studios. Now I know that Starbucks is all about coffee; but for me, it’s also a go-to for a sweet tea fix. Each Starbucks at Disney World now serves a Shaken Sweet Tea, which has all the flavor of real, Southern Sweet Tea. Plus, the variety of Starbucks locations means that I can grab a sweet tea almost anywhere at Disney World now with prices ranging from the smallest size at $1.99 to the largest at $3.29. Check out the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Bakery’s menu here!

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Menu Monday: AMC Dine-In Theatre at Downtown Disney

by on October 13, 2014

IMG_0135Hi everyone! By request, I’m stopping by with another Menu Monday to tell you all about the AMC dine-in Theatre at Downtown Disney. Anyone that has read my park reports knows I’m a fan of sloshing through Disney World in the rain. It might come as a surprise that another one of my rainy day favorites is visiting the AMC dine-in Theatre. Not to mention it makes for a great date night!

This past weekend I stopped by for a movie because a storm was coming and I hadn’t packed my rain gear. Since it was before noon, the parking situation was simple, but you should know that parking can be very difficult to find these days if you stop by later. It’s very simple to park at Saratoga Springs and stroll over. At the guard shack just tell them that’s your plan and they’ll direct you to the best parking. There’s nothing sneaky about it. With the limited parking available at Downtown Disney right now they’re encouraging you to find parking at a nearby resort.

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Cast Member Chronicles: Chef Kevin Marshall

by on October 12, 2014

Photo Credit - Derek Burgan

Crystal Palace

I met Chef Kevin Marshall at a dinner party while visiting Orlando this past September. He is a friend of my Uncle Keith, and was gracious enough to share his culinary talents as our personal chef for the evening. As he prepared a scrumptious feast for us, I interviewed him about his diverse and fascinating career at Walt Disney World.

In June of 1989, he was a man fresh out of tech school. He applied at Walt Disney World, but soon learned there was a hiring freeze for positions he originally desired. Because he had previously managed a Wendy’s restaurant, he was offered a job in food and beverage at The Crystal Palace. As part of the culinary staff, he moved around to different positions, soon cooking alongside professional Disney chefs.

While working at the Crystal Palace, he and two other coworkers were asked to carve a 700 lb pumpkin for Halloween. They were told to carve and hand paint the ‘Blustery Day’ scene from Winnie the Pooh. It took two weeks of overtime and 90 man hours to complete this masterpiece. It was displayed outside the restaurant, surrounded by bales of hay to prevent guests from touching it. One day, a Cast Member saw a little boy ignoring the bales and and putting his hands on the carved image of Pooh. Originally thinking the boy was causing mischief, the Cast Member told the boy to refrain from touching the pumpkin. As it turns out, the little boy was blind. He never knew what Pooh and his friends looked like. From the carving, the boy was able to feel and learn the character shapes. It was his own personal braille pattern. Kevin said it made all his hard work truly worth it and is a memory that touches him to this day.

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