Walt Disney World (FL)

Menu Monday: Whispering Canyon Café Breakfast Review

by on July 20, 2015

Today we are visiting one of my favorite on property breakfast experiences:  Whispering Canyon Café.  I say experience because it is so much more than just a place to eat.  Whispering Canyon is a place to laugh and have a good time.  It is a character breakfast of sorts, but not with your traditional Disney characters and at no additional cost; No Princesses, Mickey, or other Fab Five member here.  The characters I am referring to are the wonderful Cast Member waiters and waitresses.  They bring the restaurant alive, and keep our family coming back for more.

What:  Whispering Canyon Café
Where:  located directly off the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge
When:  Breakfast is served every day 7:30-11:30am
“The goings-on can get a little loud, and that’s just the way we like it.”

To play or not to play.

To play or not to play.

Our last waitress, M.T., was a real hoot.  We had a blast with her sarcastic humor.  She knew how to work her “audiences” as well.  She could read the patrons at her table perfectly and acted accordingly.  The table to our left was a family with 3 children.  She joked with the children and even put one of them “in jail”.  The large table to our right was not in the mood for fun.  They had clearly just come to eat breakfast and not partake in any of the shenanigans.  M.T. reacted accordingly and they got your normal no-fun-all-business waitress.  They were perfectly content.  We have a darker sense of humor and she seemed to tune right in to it.  We were in stiches before our order was even taken.

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Menu Monday: Boma Breakfast Review

by on July 20, 2015

Boma SignLooking for the best breakfast spot in all of Disney World? Look no further than the Boma breakfast buffet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Nestled in a quiet spot on the first floor of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, you will find this hidden gem. Known for its delicious as well as adventurous dinner buffet complete with the famous Zebra Domes, many guests are unaware that a spectacular breakfast is also served here. The Boma breakfast buffet offers an amazing variety of tasty foods so even the most picky of eaters, like myself, can find plenty of things to try. Boma is my family’s favorite breakfast place in Disney World and when we visited again last month, it did not disappoint!

Thinking of checking it out for yourself on your next Disney World vacation? Read on for everything you need to know about the Boma breakfast buffet.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s OLD KEY WEST Resort

by on July 18, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Old Key West Resort. One of Walt Disney World’s biggest strengths against all of its competitors is the wide variety of unique resorts it has on property to offer guests. We’ve covered several here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts such as Art of Animation and Pop Century, Moderate Resorts with Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, and Deluxe Resorts including the Contemporary. While our reviews on both Animal Kingdom Lodge and BoardWalk Inn & Villas included a Disney Vacation Club component, today we are going to take a look at our first DVC exclusive resort with Old Key West.

OldKeyWest_MainSIgn

 

In fact, Old Key West was the very first Disney Vacation Club resort built at WDW. Originally named Disney’s Vacation Club Resort in 1991, it wasn’t until 1996 when the name was changed to Old Key West. With its pastel colored buildings and lush vegetation throughout, the resort definitely stands out from the other hotels on property. When Walt Disney said “Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland…the blessing of size” he may have been foreshadowing Old Key West, as the resort itself is massive.

OKW_ConchFlats

Welcome to Conch Flats, the mythical town of Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

 

With the sprawling size comes some downsides, including many rooms being quite far away from the check-in area and several of the resort’s amenities. There is an internal bus system, and the grounds are gorgeous to walk across, but it may be a shock to guests who have not stayed at such a large resort. Thankfully the TouringPlans Hotel Room Request will help make getting a room closer to front easier, but it is still something to consider. That said, the size of Old Key West is also a positive, as it is one of the best places at WDW to spend time at outside of the parks because there is so much to do. So sit back, grab a plate of conch fritters and an ice cold margarita and let’s begin counting down our top six reasons we love OKW starting with…

# 6 – The Sandcastle Pool Area

Anyone who travels with their family on vacation knows how important pools are when it comes to selecting a resort. For our family, pools with slides now rank above any E-Ticket attraction or dining experience at WDW. Old Key West has a total of 4 pools spread out across property, but the Sandcastle Pool located by the front of the resort is where you want to be. In this area you’ll find the main pool along with its incredible 125 foot waterslide and a plethora of  nearby activities. There are several play areas for the younger set, a whirlpool spa, a sandy beach, and even a themed sauna!

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The Sandcastle Pool at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

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Theming around the Sandcastle Pool.

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Planned Spontaneity: MyMagic+ for the Spur-of-the-Moment Vacationer

by on July 17, 2015

Fastpasses

Ahhh, the good old days!

MyMagic+. Love it or hate it, it’s the reality of Walt Disney World vacations. Whether you are making dining reservations at 180 days or FastPass+ selections at 60 days, MyMagic+ is enough to make your average spontaneous vacation-goer break out in hives. Like me, I’m sure you’ve heard — an possibly participate it — talk of the good old days, where paper FASTPASSES were king and you could always find a walk-up reservation. Alas, we live in the now, and right now planning ahead is the name of the game. So, what is an impulsive tourist to do?

I’m going to preface my answer by first calling myself out as the type-A, uber planner that I am. I’m absolutely thrilled to have joined the Touring Plans team, in part because Touring Plans has fed my Walt Disney World planning obsession for years. It’s true, I think MyMagic+ is about as awesome as your average Disney cupcake, but I understand that I might be the minority on this one. (Don’t judge me!) But just because I am a planner, that doesn’t mean my traveling party is, so I’ve managed to develop a formula for leveraging MyMagic+ to its fullest advantage while leaving in room for those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types.

Festival of Fantasy Circus Swing

Looking to fly by the seat of your pants?

At this point I’m sure you’re asking, “What is this magical Disney secret?! Open those gates so I may unlock your secrets and exploit your riches!” (Humor me, people.) Are you ready for the big reveal? My huge secret to Disney happiness? This is it: I PLAN FOR SPONTANEITY. Before you start calling me crazy, follow my train of thought on this one. I know that if I want to eat at the restaurants I want, I have to make the reservations far in advance. I know that if I want to ride the rides I want, I have to book my FastPass+ selections as soon as the window opens. No matter what, these two things hold true. So if I want to have an unscheduled block of time to do whatever I decide in the moment, I have to plan for it.

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my approach, and while it may not be perfect, it is pretty serviceable, if I do say so myself. I’ll walk you through my method step-by-step, and perhaps you’ll find some aspects that will work for your traveling party!

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – July 5 to 11, 2015

by on July 16, 2015

Thundershowers kept crowds quite low for the days following the July 4th holiday last Saturday. Like New Year’s Day, the crowds following an evening celebration can be fairly light but this year they were especially light after July 4th. By mid-week we saw crowds return to expected levels. The Disney World Crowd Calendar predictions for Magic Kingdom continue to be excellent with only one day missing by more than one index level – on Saturday.

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

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios Gets Ice Palace Boutique for Frozen Summer Fun Event

by on July 16, 2015

Have a little Frozen fan who wants to prepare for Coronation Day? Well, soon, they will be able to at the Ice Palace Boutique at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the Frozen Summer Fun event! Here, guests will be able to to undergo a transformation at the wintry-themed salon which will be located on Commissary Lane across the way from ABC Commissary.

So how does this differ from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique? Well here, the whole family can get in on the fun, because there are select packages that will be available where families can enjoy the excitement too! Members of the party will be able to enjoy the exclusive Ice Palace Cafe, where there will be Frozen-inspired snacks. Also, Guests will get a reserved seating for one showing of “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” at Hyperion Theater.

There will be three different packages that Guests can select from. They are:

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever July 16, 2015: Epcot Resort Hotels

by on July 16, 2015

Best week ever Epcot resort hotels

Explore the Boardwalk Inn and beyond in this Best Week Ever walk around the Epcot resort hotels (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Since so many of you enjoyed last week’s tour of the Magic Kingdom monorail hotels, for this edition of Best Week Ever we’re strapping on the sandals for a walk around the other Epcot lagoon. I’ll try to keep the commentary to a minimum this time and just let the pictures do the talking, as we take a tour of the Epcot resort hotels.

My morning started at the Boardwalk Inn, which (unlike some of the monorail resorts) is receptive to allowing off-site guests to park in their lot. A quick walk across the bridge and I’m back in the Atlantic City of the early 20th century!

Boardwalk Inn

 

 

 

The Boardwalk Inn’s public areas are full of lovely thematic details.

 

 

 

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Complete Guide to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Tiki Mugs

by on July 16, 2015

Three months ago the tiki gods smiled upon Walt Disney World with the opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. This ornate tiki bar on steroids is a must-do for tiki culture enthusiasts and Disney fans alike. Now that the initial wave of hype and pandemonium has receded, the Grog Grotto is even more enjoyable.

One of the best features of this exotic themed bar are the Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto tiki mugs. True to the authentic tiki bar experience, there are a variety of souvenir tiki mugs that are quite the hot ticket items. I am a fan of the tiki culture, though not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. However, I love both Trader Sam’s locations and have acquired a collection that I would like to share with you along with as much information as I can about these unique keepsakes.

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Tiki mugs 101 – a brief history

I know I have a lot to learn about this fascinating, entertaining fandom. Suffice to say, I dabble. So in recognition of my basic knowledge I took to the interwebs to get some knowledge. At the most basic level, it is understood that tiki bar culture and the ritual of elaborate ceramic tiki mugs started in California. After World War II many service men return to the United States with a hunger to enjoy South Seas culture. Tiki bars and Polynesia style restaurants became all the rage. It quickly became customary for the delicious, exotic elixirs to be served in elaborate ceramic and glass tiki mugs at such establishments.

A menagerie of styles all over the country could be found. Varying from tall highball style to short, rotund and even large bowls, all in a vast assortment of shapes like coconuts, barrels, hula girls, bamboo stalks, parrots, the list is nearly endless. One of the motivations for these ornate tiki mugs becoming such a large part of tiki culture is that they are meant, in part, to represent the tiki totems found throughout the South Seas. Often carved in wood, the primary purpose of a tiki totem or statue is to scare away evil spirits. So with that purpose in mind, what better way to get happy than to sip a refreshing rum drink from a tiki mug?

Rum flight mini tiki mugs

Rum flight mini Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto tiki mugs

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Taking Your Parents to Walt Disney World: Dealing with Change

by on July 15, 2015

mickey

My family back in 2000

I have to admit that my love of all things Disney was started by my parents. They took me to the movies, bought the toys, and, most importantly, took me and my siblings to the theme parks. I was fortunate enough to go three times in my childhood years, and every time we went there was something new that I grew to love.

Eventually, though, my family moved into the college years, where my parents couldn’t afford to go to the theme parks because they were putting the four of us through school. Regardless, I still made a point to request a trip every year, to which I was met with a patient “no.” Even when I was doing my solo or friend trips, I always yearned to have the whole family back in Walt Disney World again.

To my shock and amazement, my father told me the last time I was home that they were indeed planning a Walt Disney World vacation for next summer, and that I should come along. My youngest brother is now done with college, and they felt it was time to enjoy the parks again. (Plus my mother is a huge Harry Potter fan, and she has been dying to go to Universal Orlando, too.)

My parents are in their late 50s, so this is not a post about getting around the parks with elderly parents. (For tips on that, you can check out the comments section in this article.) But if you have done the parks as a child and now are going back as an adult with your parents, you know full well that things are going to be very, very different!

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Tips and Tricks for Maximizing Suitcase Space

by on July 13, 2015

Photo - Angela DahlgrenI’ve read many a post on what to bring to Walt Disney World. In fact, I’ve even written about the topic here and here! However, I don’t often see posts on how to maximize the space in ones suitcase. So, today I bring you just that. Whether its a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, here are my space-saving tips!

Note: This article is targeting toward a more casual vacation. I’m hopeless when it comes to packing for business & formal events. Huge overpacker. 

Make a packing list

For me, this is crucial. It is the ONLY way I won’t forget anything. As you place the item in the suitcase, cross it off your list. This may also prevent you from overpacking.

Extra tip: The night before, I like to make a list of all the last minute items I’ll need to add (i.e. phone charger, toothbrush) the morning I leave.

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