Walt Disney World (FL)

2017 Pro Bowl Week Schedule

by on January 22, 2017

The Pro Bowl Week is a week-long celebration that unites and inspires the entire football community – players, coaches, families, and fans for a full week of activities, challenges, and true football spirit.

During Pro Bowl Week, everyone has the opportunity to participate in or watch a variety of events, including youth football clinics, the NFL Flag Championships, Pro Bowl player practices, skill challenges, sessions for coaches, the Women’s World Football Championships, and a host of other festivities with the best players of the past, present and future.

Many events are taking place at Walt Disney World, and are free to attend. Practices are free and open to the public but fans can register for priority access here. Some events require a Fan Mobile Pass (FMP). 

 

NFL Pro Bowl Practices

 

Pro Bowl Practices at ESPN Wide World of Sports are not only a chance to see NFC and AFC teams in action, but also the epicenter of a three-day football festival. Practice combined with various fan competitions and activities will be open to the public beginning Wednesday, January 25 and concludes on Saturday, January 28.

AFC Team Practice Schedule

  • Wednesday, January 25: 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM
  • Thursday, January 26: 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
  • Friday, January 27: 11:20 AM – 12:20 PM
  • Saturday, January 28: 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM

 

NFC Team Practice Schedule

  • Wednesday, January 25: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • Thursday, January 26: 11:20 AM – 12:20 PM
  • Friday, January 27: 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
  • Saturday, January 28: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Most Artistic Snacks at Epcot’s Festival of the Arts!

by on January 21, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at The Six Most Artistic Snacks at Epcot’s Festival of the Arts! When word came around that Epcot was adding another festival to its annual lineup, we were skeptical to say the least. Sure, we love the Flower & Garden and Food & Wine festivals, but did we need another one? Long story short: YES. Yes, we did.

The festival is filled with incredible art to see (and buy) along with an even better menu of unique food and drink options. From the Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnuts to the Wild Mushroom Risotto, the festival is filled with indulgent foods, but as always we here at the SATURDAY SIX were drawn to the more sugary based options. Today we’re going to look at the most artistic snacks at the festival, along with a whole bunch of non-food related reasons detailing why we really love the Festival of the Arts. It’s basically TWO editions of the SATURDAY SIX in ONE. You’re Welcome! Let’s start this party off right with…

# 6 – Mary Blair White Chocolate Art Painting

This may be the coolest looking chocolate in the history of chocolates at Walt Disney World, a miniature Mary Blair “painting” on a chocolate easel. This is such a fantastic idea executed so flawlessly that you don’t mind paying $7 for a pretty small piece of chocolate. The chocolate itself tasted really good, even though it is so pretty we didn’t even want to eat it (but c’mon, it’s chocolate, it was gonna be eaten sooner or later).

Served at The Painter’s Palette, ($7)

Mary Blair White Chocolate Art Painting. An E-Ticket snack. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Reason We Love the Festival of the Arts: Figment’s Brush with the Masters

Epcot continually has the best scavenger hunts in any Florida theme park, thanks in part to the great souvenirs you get when accomplishing your hunt. The Easter Egg hunts are always a blast during the spring, and we also enjoyed Remy’s “Hide and Squeak” hunt during Food & Wine. For Figment’s Brush with the Masters, guests are given a blank map along with a set of stickers featuring well known paintings. You then have to go from country to country in World Showcase to match the correct country with the painting it features. In a fun twist, each of the famous painting features our favorite Epcot character, Figment!

Blank map. (photo by Megan Stump)

Figment inserted into Edvard Munch’s The Scream painting. (photo by Megan Stump)

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Disney Romance at Old Key West

by on January 18, 2017

With Valentine’s Day a month out, we’re looking at some places at Walt Disney World that offer the chance for couples to get away from the usual park experience and enjoy some romance – Disney style. Disney’s Old Key West Resort is a surprisingly great resort pick if you are looking for some Disney romance with your significant other. At least it was a surprise to my husband and me when we made a recent adults-only getaway and stayed there for the first time.

As Disney Vacation Club members, we often plan our trips months in advance, but this trip was planned within a much shorter time frame. Old Key West is one of the DVC resorts that is more likely to have availability when planning just a couple months out.We were thrilled to find a room there for our dates. While we were excited for our first stay at this resort, what we didn’t expect was how much a part Old Key West would play in the overall romantic mood of the trip.

© Sarah Graffam

Covered walkway leading to the riverfront

So here’s a rundown of reasons why you should consider Old Key West Resort when planning your next couples trip to Disney World.

Disney Romance Factor 1: Setting

Old Key West’s layout is very spread out, with a central Hospitality House and two- to three-story buildings in pastel colors throughout several “neighborhoods.” This layout, especially for the buildings that are a bit tucked away, is extremely conducive to the feeling of privacy that enhances romance. The abundant foliage, palm trees, water features, and golf course fairways create an atmosphere of relaxation and seclusion away from the busy parks.

The slow pace extends to the Hospitality House where you can wander with your sweetie under a wide covered walkway that opens onto the riverfront and dock area. Upon arrival at the resort, take a stroll together through the walkway out to the river. This transition creates a similar reveal, and a feeling of “you are here,” as when walking under the railroad station into Magic Kingdom’s Town Square—but without the crowds. This first impression of the resort was one of the earliest indications that our time at Old Key West would be even more relaxing and romantic than we expected.

© Sarah Graffam

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Updated Information About New Typhoon Lagoon Attraction

by on January 17, 2017

Well, it appears, according to Disney, as though there is a bit of a change when it comes to the new Typhoon Lagoon family raft ride. The attraction, which was once called Miss Fortune Falls, is now apparently going to be called Miss Adventure Falls.

And let me tell you, Miss Adventure Falls looks incredible, at least according to this concept art!

Typhoon Lagoon Miss Adventure Falls

©Disney

 

Miss Adventure Falls will still feature the story of sea-faring treasure hunter, Captain Mary Oceaneer. She traveled across the sea collecting unique artifacts before she became stranded by the rogue storm.

During the attraction, which is the longest attraction at a Disney Water Park, Guests will board a 4-person treasure raft and travel up a conveyor belt that then takes you straight into the action. Along the way, Guests will be able to spot artifacts that had been collected, as well as meeting Mary’s old diving partner, an Audio-Animatronics parrot, who just so happens to still be hunting for treasures at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.

Miss Adventure Falls will be located near Crush n’ Gusher and will clock in at approximately two minutes. It looks like it will be a great adventure, indeed!

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Disney World Valentine’s Day Romance: Mix and Match Your Plan

by on January 17, 2017

Valentine's Day Romance at Walt Disney World

While Disney World is known for being a magical place for families, its fantastic variety of dining, attractions, entertainment, and recreation options also make it a great place for couples to find some romance. With the approach of Valentine’s Day, you may be thinking about how to spend an ideal day of romance, Disney World-style. This article offers a framework for a plan and plenty of ideas to inspire your own Disney World Valentine’s Day.

Disney World Romance Step #1: Breakfast

What better way to start off Valentine’s Day than with a leisurely breakfast. Although taking a park by storm at rope drop is a key strategy in time-efficient touring, Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to take a slower approach. Here are some great resort and in-park options. Keep in mind that the location of your choice can be a stepping stone to the next part of your plan.

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Your Top-Rated Magic Kingdom Restaurants

by on January 16, 2017

Top Rated Magic Kingdom Restaurants

After every trip to Walt Disney World, we send our TouringPlans members a survey to see how satisfied they were with each part of their vacation.

The Dole Whip in both its glorious forms

In 2016, we got back more than 122,000 responses on Walt Disney World restaurants, up from 97,000 responses in 2015. To put that in perspective, we have more surveys about Disney World restaurants than Yelp and TripAdvisor combined.

In this blog post we’ll cover your ratings for the Magic Kingdom’s restaurants, from best to worst. Let’s start with the Magic Kingdom’s quick-service restaurants, using our straightforward “thumbs up/thumbs down” rating system. Restaurants in green are rated better than average; those in pink are worse than average; and the ones in red are much worse than average.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2016 (No Matter How Hard We Try)

by on January 14, 2017

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2016 (No Matter How Hard We Try). With the new year upon us, it is time for another SATURDAY SIX annual tradition of looking back at some of the most “memorable moments” of the previous year. Now we already covered some of the great things that happened during the past 365 days, and some of the worst as well, so today let’s look at six theme park stories that fall into a different area. Events that are almost hard to believe actually happened, but we promise they did, and we’re here with the proof. So let’s kick it off with…

# 6 – Disney Puts a Paper Bag Over the Tower of Terror

Disney has some truly incredible projects opening over the next couple years including Pandora: The World of Avatar in Florida and a huge Star Wars Land on both coasts. These projects look to give guests the same level of immersion – if not more – than the critically acclaimed Cars Land and Diagon Alley. For their first ever Marvel attraction in America, Disney went in a different direction. In a shocking announcement at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, it was revealed that the Hollywood Tower of Terror in DCA would be converted over to Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! While Pandora will have guests dropping their jaws while looking up at the “flying mountains” and Star Wars Land will fulfill many a fanboy dream of walking onto the Millenium Falcon, the Marvel attraction is going to look just like the iconic Hollywood Tower of Terror with a bunch of pipes on it.

The Tower of Terror prepares to undergo its transformation into the Collector’s Fortress. (photo by Guy Selga)

Here’s the thing: say what you will about California’s Tower of Terror versus Florida’s version (it stinks), the ride still has the memorable Tower of Terror hotel facade. This is one of the all time most iconic ride facades in Disney history. In fact, with the Sorcerer’s Hat now gone from DHS, it has become one of the four WDW park icons along with Spaceship Earth, the Tree of Life, and Cinderella Castle. Disney has owned Marvel now for almost a decade, and as they saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. No matter how good the actual Guardians of the Galaxy ride is or isn’t, being shoehorned into one of the most recognizable facades in any theme park is going to make the attraction look and feel out of place.

The most unbelievable part of this entire story is the fact that Disney started converting the Tower of Terror over to Mission: BREAKOUT! while guests were still enjoying the Terror of Terror. Large parts of the Tower were covered, and the attraction started to look like a sports fan wearing a paper bag over their head because they were ashamed of their team.

Paper of Plastic? (photo by Justin Martin)

Despite the Tower of Terror not being in anyone’s top ten ride list in DCA, the reaction to the hotel being changed was not received well on social media (to be fair, not much is anyway). Even crazier, DCA is just coming off a Billion dollar makeover that included making a large part of the park themed to early 20th century California, the exact same theme which Tower of Terror already had. Many have voiced their displeasure, but a few have also had a little fun with the idea of the hotel soon to be under new management….

Adam Britten as a newly displaced Tower bellhop.

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New Star Wars: Galactic Nights Special Event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on January 11, 2017

Star Wars: Galactic Nights

©Disney

If you are a Star Wars fan, the ultimate event will be taking place this April at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars: Galactic Nights will occur on April 14 and invites Guests to celebrate the beloved Star Wars franchise. Star Wars: Galactic Nights Guests will be invited to dress as their favorite character while attending this family-friendly event, as well as experience fun and exclusive Star Wars activities and events.

Rebel Base

Guests will start at the Rebel Base, found at the center of the par, which will serve as the event hub. There will be multiple shows, events, and dance parties. Here, Guests will experience stunning, interactive projection featuring iconic Star Wars scenery.  Guests will also be able to experience “The Star Wars Show” on Location, where you’ll be able to join the hosts of the popular starwars.com show while they film their weekly program. You will also be able to experience Celebrate the Saga where you’ll have the opportunity to take off on an interactive journey that chronologically celebrates the milestones of Star Wars.

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Walt Disney World Planning: Order of Operations

by on January 11, 2017

Walt Disney World Trip Planning

I’ve been helping my middle school-age son with his math homework lately. And one of the things that has been a bit of a challenge is something called “order of operations.” Basically, when you have a complex, multi-step problem, you have to do your calculations in order. Take care of what’s inside of any parentheses first, then calculate any exponents. Next, do your multiplication and division calculations. Finish with any remaining addition and subtraction.

Well, the same principle applies to planning a Walt Disney World vacation, which is its own complex, multi-step problem. So consider this a step-by-step road map that will keep you on course and allow you to reach the correct solution: a successful Disney vacation. If you’re new to planning, I highly recommend using the services of a travel agent that specializes in Disney destinations. They can help guide you and answer any questions you might have along the way.

Parentheses (first things first)

Let’s assume you’ve already decided on a Walt Disney World vacation. Consider this step the parentheses of our equation: the one part you simplify and solve before anything else. The first crucial decisions in your planning are when and where you’re going to stay.

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Disney World Experiences Kids Today Will Never Understand

by on January 9, 2017

The Walt Disney World Resort is celebrating its 45th anniversary; and while a number of attractions and experiences from the resort’s early days are still be enjoyed all these years later, the resort has been no stranger to change. When I think back on my childhood visits to Walt Disney World, a few things come to mind that kids today will never experience… or even believe! Like what? Well, let’s take a look at just a few Disney World Experiences Kids Today Will Never Understand, shall we?

Cinderella Castle Was Once a Cake

Walt Disney World rarely gives their icons makeovers nowadays. For this year’s 45th Anniversary, a banner appeared on Cinderella Castle for like five minutes and then vanished. Disney even forgoes the popular holiday layovers that some Disneyland Park attractions are given each year.

This is why Cinderella Castle’s sugary pink makeover for the resort’s 25th Anniversary is a little hard to swallow in retrospect.

Yes, on October 1, 1996, Cinderella Castle was transformed into a pink and white cake decked with an assortment of candies! My seven year self loved it, but let’s just say others did not…

Regal Cinderella Castle remained a cake for 15 months, and that is just one of the Disney World experiences kids today will never understand or experience!

PUSH

PUSH in Tomorrowland (photo credit Scott Sanders – Disney Cruise Line Blog)

The Best Character Meet was PUSH the Talking Trash Can

For many years, the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland was home to a mobile, interactive trash can appropriately called PUSH. Now I know what you’re thinking, kids. But trust me, PUSH was a rock star. PUSH would talk and tease guests and treat any trash you disposed in him as a tasty snack.

Sadly, PUSH can no longer be found at Walt Disney World these days, but he is one Disney World experience I hope may return one day.

Mulan Was Drawn at a Disney Park

Disney’s Hollywood Studios, originally known as Disney-MGM Studios, was intended to be a theme park and a functioning production studio.

The studio element of the park eventually disappeared; but back in the day, live action and animation both took place at the park. In fact, park guests were once able to watch Disney animators working on films like Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Brother Bear at the Magic of Disney Animation pavilion.

FASTPASSES

Ahhhh, the good old days!

Days at the Parks With No FASTPASS or FastPass+

One of the Disney World experiences kids today will never understand is the struggle of a Disney World Vacation before FASTPASS. Not until 1999 was the original FASTPASS paper ticket system introduced to Walt Disney World, offering relief from lengthy wait times and non-interactive queues in the pre-smartphone years.

Today, Walt Disney World guests enjoy FastPass+ where guests can book their FastPass+ reservation online or through the MyDisneyExperience app. This second generation system guarantees a short wait for a favorite headlining attraction, even before a guest arrives on property. It’s a luxury my childhood self never could have imagined!

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