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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! November 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on November 30, 2016 15 Comments

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando.

November has come to an end and so kicks off Your Humble Author’s favorite time of the year. In fact we started early as just last week we had TWO editions of the SATURDAY SIX, a special Thanksgiving edition going over What Theme Park Fans Have To Be Thankful For in 2016, and the fan favorite 3rd Annual Theme Park Turkeys Of The Year.

While it seemed to fly by, we actually had a bunch of interesting things happen last month. For those wondering just how many dessert parties Disney could make in one year, the correct answer was “infinity” and we just got our latest with the debut of Tiana’s Riverboat Party. Unlike traditional dessert parties offering “preferred viewing” of parades and fireworks, the view of the Festival of Fantasy parade from onboard the Liberty Belle reminded me of Bob Uecker’s “front row” seat.

What started as a next level bananas rumor from the Grand Poohbah of TouringPlans, Len Testa, came to fruition just days later with the Kingdom Cabanas in Tomorrowland. This is one of those things you can’t tell your non-theme park friends or coworkers because upon hearing the details they may try to get you committed to a mental institution.

Great news for those of us who felt EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival was just too short, as next year’s edition will run for a new record of 75 days. But wait, there’s even more festival dates coming as 2017 brings us the brand new EPCOT International Festival of the Arts! That’s right, from January 13th through February 20th guests will see Disney attempt to “combine visual, culinary and performing arts from around the world.” Whatever that means. I wish someone would take my idea of a festival built around the foods you can get a state fairs. I’m talking the most unhealthy foods in the entire world: fried candy bars, beer battered pretzel coated cheese curds, and bacon wrapped bacon.

Now, while all of you were trying to open up a lemonade stand in the EPCOT parking lot, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

First up is, as always, my unhealthy addiction to Tsum Tsums. Tsums were STILL just $0.99 (for the third month in a row) and now they were BUY 2 GET 1! Unfortunately I had pretty much all the ones they were offering, but there were a couple new ones to the Outlet.

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Buy 2 Get 1 Tsums!

Both came from the Star Wars line of Tsum Tsums, including this Han Solo.

tsum_hansolo

Han shot first.

And here is Jabba Desilijic Tiure, more commonly known as Jabba the Hutt.

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Jabba the Hutt Tsum.

The next item was a shocker for me. This Hippabore toy was the absolute FIRST item of Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise to make an appearance at Walt Disney World last year. Who knows why anyone in the world would buy one, even the die-hard Force Awakens fans, but here we are almost a year and a half later and they are just now hitting the Outlets. Originally $27.99, now $14.99.

starwars_animal_2799_1499_hippabore

This was the creature Finn drank water next to in the trough.

Next up was one I did get, the Tie-Fighter Popcorn Bucket. The wings of this thing fall off if you just look at it hard enough, and it holds approximately 32 pieces of popcorn, but like I’m not not going to buy this. Reduced to $7.99.

starwars_popcorn_799

Popcorn bucket.

Read the rest of this entry »

PizzeRizzo: Classic Disney Pizza Under New Management

by on November 30, 2016 1 Comment

Neon and classic pizzeria signs welcome you to PizzeRizzo.I have a secret. It’s kind of shameful in the eyes of many Disney fans. It’s definitely shameful in the eyes of those who enjoy good food.

Are you ready?

I was really sad when Pizza Planet closed earlier this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, because I actually liked the pizza there.

I’m sure many are now completely questioning any dining reviews I’ve ever written, but it’s true! It’s not the best pizza at Walt Disney World (which I’ll rank in an upcoming post), but it served its purpose – fast, relatively cheap, and meets the cheese-sauce-bread ratio that qualifies it as “pizza”. I wondered, therefore, whether changes made in the transformation of the Toy Story-themed Pizza Planet to the newly opened Muppets-themed PizzeRizzo would also affect the pizza.

In short: no, it’s still the same pizza (and side salads, and meatball subs). For many of you, that’s probably enough of a review to know what you’re getting into (same food, new themed area surrounding The new ordering area at PizzeRizzo is much bigger than before.your dining table). I will say, though, that a few things about PizzeRizzo pleasantly surprised me, which I’ll share below. Read the rest of this entry »

A First Look at the 2017 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

by on November 29, 2016 2 Comments

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

©Rikki Niblett

We are just a few months away from the 2017 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, which kicks off on March 1 and lasts until May 29. (That’s 90 days of gardens, character topiaries, entertainers and food and drink offerings.) This year will feature a number of new things for Guests to enjoy.

To begin with, there will be two new Outdoor Kitchens that will join the thirteen returning dining kiosks. I am excited to learn what these new kitchens will offer, since I love the fresh food and beverages that this festival serves each year.

One of my favorite things about the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival are the topiaries. This year, there will be an all new Belle topiary from Beauty and the Beast. Belle will be a new generation of topiary that will feature facial features, much like Snow White, Anna, and Elsa currently have. She will be seen wearing her famous yellow ball gown.  Read the rest of this entry »

Walt Disney World Introduces New Highway in the Sky Dine Around

by on November 29, 2016 10 Comments

©Disney

©Disney

Have you ever wanted to take part in a progressive dinner at the Walt Disney World monorail resort restaurants? With the brand new dining adventure called Highway in the Sky Dine Around, you’ll be able to do just that.

Guests will be able to enjoy a five-course meal that will include cocktails, appetizers, dinner and dessert and will feature stops at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Plus Guests will receive a VIP guide and a private viewing of Wishes.

The event begins at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, where you’ll check in at The Wave… of American Flavors where you’ll enjoy a specialty cocktail. From there, you’ll head to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort where you’ll enjoy a variety of island-inspired beverages and appetizers. Read the rest of this entry »

ABC Commissary to Offer Fast-Casual Dining

by on November 29, 2016

Photo courtesy of Disney (c)

©Disney

Guests who visit ABC Commissary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will soon be able to take advantage of a new way to dine. Beginning November 30, the counter service restaurant will now be offering a fast-casual dining experience during dinner. This new dinner offering will include a menu that focuses on made-to-order, healthful, and specialty items.

This experience appears to be similar to one that is currently offered at Be Our Guest Restaurant for lunch. Here’s how things will will work: Guests will place their order at the counter. After placing their order, Guests will receive a pager and be able to find a table while their food is being prepared. Once their food is ready to be served, it will be brought directly to the Guest’s table.

The fast-casual dinner option will be offered daily beginning at 3:30 p.m. Lunch at ABC Commissary will continue to operate as it currently does, as a full counter service option.

 

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

by on November 29, 2016 5 Comments

Sapphire FallsVisiting Universal Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights provided the perfect opportunity to stay in the new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Back in July, Dani included a visit to Sapphire Falls in her Best Week Ever series, and I was curious to see if the resort completed most of the last minute touches since then. Here are my first impressions and experiences of Sapphire Falls. To give you a taste of what it’s like to stay at the new resort, we’ll start with ‘great’ and work through ‘good’, ‘average’, and ‘bad’ before finally reaching ‘ugly’.

Great

Staff: When your main competition is Walt Disney World, a company known for its friendly Cast Members, slacking off in the customer service department would be unwise. The Team Members at Sapphire Falls did not disappoint. Every single Team Member, from the luggage service staff to the managers, went out of their way to be friendly, helpful, welcoming, and engaging. Out of all the hotels I’ve visited, including many of the Disney Deluxe resorts, the staff at Sapphire Falls was by far the best I’ve experienced. They genuinely seemed happy to be there.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Recap of Black Friday at Disney Springs: Boom or Bust?

by on November 28, 2016 7 Comments

Spoiler Alert: This is not the kind of crowds that Disney Springs merchants were hoping for.

Spoiler Alert: This is not the kind of crowds that Disney Springs merchants were hoping for.

This year, with a wide variety of new stores opening throughout Disney Springs, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Disney Springs announced that it would be getting into the holiday shopping spirit with its own Black Friday sales.

In conversations with one of the merchants, the consensus was that neither the merchants nor Disney had any idea whether or not this would be successful. And although I’m anti-crowds and an anti-“stuff” semi-minimalist, I wanted to see exactly how Black Friday at Disney Springs would compare with the stories you see on the news. Full disclaimer: I have never door-busted any stores for Black Friday in my life, but have had a few years of experience as a sales floor manager at Target way back in my youth and got to see the best and the worst of Black Friday behavior. There were a couple items that I was looking to purchase for some family members this year, and so if I could get a small discount on them, I’d be happy with that as well. Just to say we’ve had the experience, we decided to rope drop the Black Friday event at Disney Springs.

Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX: Third Annual Theme Park Turkeys of the Year

by on November 26, 2016 7 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is one of our favorites as we present the Third Annual “Turkeys” of the Year. For Thanksgiving this week we took a look back at things both Disney and Universal fans should be thankful for, but today we are going to go the other way. Gather ’round as we continue the fine tradition of awarding six Theme Park “Turkeys” to the craziest, most outrageous, or just downright weird stories of the year, concluding with the coveted Golden Turkey award. Let’s kick off the ceremony with a food situation that blew us away….

# 6 – That Time Disney Charged $12.99 For a “Hurricane Box”

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Art by Juliette Elton (@JulietteElton)

In early October, the state of Florida had its biggest weather scare in almost a decade with the oncoming Hurricane Matthew. Most of the models used by meteorologists had Matthew slamming into the East Coast, and then continuing straight up through the center of the state hitting Orlando. Seemingly playing a weird game of chicken, Disney and Universal both waited until just about the last possible moment to announce their hard ticket events of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Halloween Horror Nights would be cancelled for Thursday, October 6th,  and all the Orlando theme parks would be closed on Friday, October 7th.

With the storm bearing down on Florida, food everywhere was being cleared off the shelves at Walt Disney World. Lines appeared at the hotel food courts that seemed impossible to believe were true (but they absolutely were.) The food court at Port Orleans French Quarter was in the process of being refurbished, and there WDW was offering a $12.99 boxed meal that included a sandwich, an apple, a bag of chips, and a cookie. Pictures of the paltry boxed lunch hit social media and news outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel, with most of the reaction being very unfavorable to Disney.

Read the rest of this entry »

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of November 25, 2016

by on November 25, 2016 1 Comment

ICYMIDid you go Black Friday shopping? Who’s bought all their Christmas presents? I have a few, but need to get a few more still.

Since it’s been a busy week, we’ll just dive right in! Take a look at the changes coming to Hong Kong Disneyland, see the new teaser trailer for Cars 3, and more!

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors

What can you buy for the same $700 you would be able to buy a cabana at the Magic Kingdom for? The Orlando Sentinel takes a look.

Curious about the new drone technology being used in Disney Springs’ new holiday show? Learn how fireworks may soon become passe. What do you think of this new technology and its potential use? Read the rest of this entry »

2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Dates Announced

by on November 25, 2016

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

©Rikki Niblett

This year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has just ended, but we now know when the 2017 festival will occur. Next year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival is slated to take place for a record number of days – 75 days total; it will now occur from August 31 until November 13.

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival not only features incredible new and favorite dishes at the marketplace kiosks, but guests can also experience seminars, concerts, events, private meals, celebrity chefs, and more.

Each year, the Festival is a blast and as more details get released, I’ll make sure to let you know them!