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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of December 19, 2014

by on December 19, 2014 1 Comment

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In Case You Missed It!

In Case You Missed It!

I’ve got the presents wrapped, the cookies are baking (mmm…my specialty….Potato Chip Cookies…yes, they are a thing…and, yes, they are delicious), and Christmas movies are playing on the TV. The Holiday season is in full swing around my house, and I’m actually ready for it.

This week’s edition shares some of the other potential tenants for Disney Springs, a found, previously lost Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short, and more!

Since this is my last edition of “In Case You Missed It” before the holiday, let me say that I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, or Happy Holidays (if you prefer), and I hope that you get to spend the next week with people that you love. (Or in my case, people that I tolerate…just kidding…I love my family. ;) )

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

 

This week’s hot rumor…will Disney be updating Star Tours with new footage based off of the upcoming movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens? It would make sense, given how easy it seems it would be to add footage to this attraction.

So while we got the announcement this week that STK Orlando was headed to Disney Springs, here is a look at some of the other potential shops that will very well make their way to the shopping and dining district. Which one excites you most? Read the rest of this entry »

25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 19: La Fin du Monde Ale in Epcot

by on December 19, 2014 1 Comment

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The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY NINETEEN: La Fin du Monde Ale at the Canada Pavilion (Epcot)

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A La Fin du Monde in front of the Hotel du Canada in Epcot. (photo by Brandon Glover

 

La Fin du Monde is a beer for people who enjoy their beer. With a 9% ABV, La Fin du Monde packs a punch, but is light enough and full of flavor so that you are not overwhelmed. It is a Belgian Trappist-style tripel beer, with aeromatic hints of apple and clove. The taste is champagne-like, with flavors of light bananas, pear, cinnamon, and orange peel. While La Fin du Monde is available at several locations on WDW property, there’s only one place for us, the outdoor beer cart at the Canada Pavilion in Epcot. Why? La Fin du Monde is the premier beer from one of Canada’s most famous craft breweries, and is hard to find out draught even outside of Walt Disney World. So what could be better than enjoying one in it’s native county?  We love to mix it up when Drinking Around The World, as there are so many unique and interesting options across World Showcase, but trust us when we say to order the La Fin du Monde over the LaBatt Blue in Canada each and every time.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 18: Buffalos and Bacon at The Cowfish

by on December 18, 2014

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The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY EIGHTEEN: Buffalos and Bacon at The Cowfish (Universal CityWalk)

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Buffalos and Bacon at The Cowfish. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

The Cowfish was the final piece of Universal CityWalk’s recent renovation, and it has immediately become the restaurant of choice for many theme park fans. The Cowfish has surprised pretty much everyone with its innovative menu, unique burgers, and their signature Burgushi concept (which includes sushi using burger components, and sandwiches using sushi components.) Come for the food, but stay for the drinks as The Cowfish offers an amazing amount of cocktails, imported beer, and spiked shakes. Our recommendation? Buffalos and Bacon.Why? Because what drink doesn’t get better with bacon? Ingredients: Buffalo Trace bourbon, cherry liqueur, angostura and orange bitters, honey, candied bacon

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Reasons a Cabana on Castaway Cay is Worth Trying to Get

by on December 18, 2014 6 Comments

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If you’ve been lucky enough to score a cabana on Castaway Cay when your Disney Cruise Line vacation stops at their little slice of paradise in the Bahamas, you can skip this blog post and go on to the next one. I’m betting you know how amazing they are and already know everything I’m about to say. If, however, you are on the fence about getting one, this post is for you!

First I’ll give you the bad news. The cabanas are expensive! $549 for 6 guests at the family beach and $399 for four guests at the adult beach, Serenity Bay. You can add 4 more guests at the family beach, or two at the adult beach. Each additional guest will cost $50. If that didn’t scare you off, here’s more bad news. They’re almost impossible to get! Concierge guests usually snatch these up before most guests ever get a shot at them. That should tell you something about how awesome they are though! They do show up for everyone else from time to time though! People cancel their cruise, change their minds on cabanas, etc. So if you want one, keep trying! And here are some reasons why you should. Read the rest of this entry »

Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: December 18, 2014

by on December 18, 2014 2 Comments

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1Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re visiting the Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to check out a Cars suite. Then we’re stopping in the Magic Kingdom to see some parade taping fun, eating at Liberty Tree Tavern, and playing in the park. Lastly, we’re heading to Downtown Disney and even dropping by Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort! Phew – I’m tired already! Let’s get going! :)

I was really looking forward to checking into our Cars suite. I’d previously stayed in The Lion King section, but since I love Cars Land I thought this would be my new favorite. After a stop by the front desk to switch rooms (we’d been in The Little Mermaid section earlier in the week), we were off to the races. Or were we? You’ll have to read more to find out!  Read the rest of this entry »

STK Orlando Announced for Disney Springs

by on December 17, 2014 6 Comments

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STK707059The rumors were indeed true…a new restaurant, brought to life by The ONE Group, called STK Orlando will be taking residence in the new Disney Springs.

STK Orlando will blend a modern steakhouse with a chic lounge to make for a superior fine dining experience. The restaurant will feature two dining floors, including a main level and the only rooftop dining venue in Disney Springs, plus a lounge that will feature a DJ who is on hand to create an electric vibe.

“We are thrilled to join the Disney Springs family with the launch of STK Orlando,” said Jonathan Segal, CEO of The ONE Group. “The combination of an innovative menu and high-energy atmosphere has driven the success of STK, and we believe it will be an ideal addition to Disney Springs, and will help further cement its status as a place for friends and family to gather for fine dining and entertainment.”

In addition to steak, STK’s other specialties include dishes like Parmesan Truffle Fries, Lil BRG’s, Shrimp Rice Krispies, Sweet Corn Pudding, and Jump Lump Crab Salad.

There are multiple STK locations worldwide, including New York, Atlanta (hmm…a research trip may be in order), Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Miami, and London.

The restaurant will open in The Landing section of the updated shopping and dining complex in Spring 2015.

Two additional restaurants have officially been announced for Disney Springs–Morimoto Asia and The BOATHOUSE. With the first deadline date for Disney Springs rapidly approaching (Spring 2015) I would expect we’ll be hearing details on additional new restaurants and shops slated to open with the first phase of Disney Springs’ re-branding soon.

25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 17: Balsamic Grande at Disney Cruise Line’s Palo

by on December 17, 2014 3 Comments

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The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY SEVENTEEN: Balsamic Grand at Palo (Disney Cruise Line)

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Balsamic Grand at Palo. (photo by William Hirsch)

 

There were many aspects of the Disney Cruise that I sailed on earlier this year which gave me a better understanding of why so many people become “addicted” to cruising. One of the areas that stood out to me the most was the overall level of service that guests receive while on the ship, and the pinnacle of that service was at the ship’s upscale Italian restaurant Palo. To summarize: an amazing dining experience, one of the best I have had anywhere, land or sea. The signature cocktail of Palo is the Balsamic Grande, and it is the perfect drink to begin the journey you are about to take within this gorgeous restaurant.  Ingredients: 5 fresh strawberries, divided, 1 1/2 ounces agave nectar, 1/2 ounce balsamic vinegar (aged 8 years), and 5 ounces Grey Goose Vodka Muddle strawberries with agave and balsamic vinegar in a mixing glass. Add vodka and ice; shake and strain into chilled martini glass.

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My Disney World Christmas Vacation Traditions

by on December 17, 2014

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The most magical place on earth gets a little more magical around this time of year when the parks and resorts deck the halls with holiday finery and give Disney fans a reason to take one more Walt Disney World vacation! My family and I love to take a trip to Disney World around the holidays, and we have created a few festive traditions over the years. Check out a few of my Disney World Vacation Christmas Traditions.

Downtown Disney's Days of Christmas Store

Downtown Disney’s Days of Christmas Store

Buying a New Ornament

It just wouldn’t be right to leave Disney World around Christmastime without a new ornament to add to our tree. My favorite place to shop for ornaments is the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. I love how it feels like we’re walking through an old, colonial home. For a wider variety of Christmas décor, we like to drop by Disney’s Days of Christmas Store at Downtown Disney, where it really does feel like Christmas all year round.

Holidays Around the World

Epcot’s World Showcase is one of my favorite corners of Disney World, and I especially enjoy Holidays Around the World this time of year, where performances educate guests about the different holiday traditions of their respective countries. It’s a lot of fun to hear and see how other countries celebrate the holidays. Our favorites would be Father Christmas at the United Kingdom and the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers at the American Adventure. The special holiday treats and the chance to do a little Christmas shopping is pretty great too. After all, there’s no chance that what you’re buying as a gift is something someone already has when you shop at the stores in the Norway or China or Morocco pavilions.

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One-Day/Two-Parks; A Universal Orlando Trip Report

by on December 17, 2014 13 Comments

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The gate to the Studios.

The gate to the Studios.

…in which our intrepid couple travels outside the Disney bubble and lives to tell about it.

Step 1 – Transportation from Walt Disney World to Universal and Park Tickets

While planning for a particularly long vacation to Walt Disney World, my husband and I decided to squeeze in a day over at Universal Orlando Resort to try out a one-day / two-park touring plan of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Instantly we were faced with the question, “How do we get there?” We were planning on taking Disney’s Magical Express from the airport and would not have a car while on vacation. Would we dare to use the public transportation and hop a bus? We had seen a harrowing,(although hilarious) YouTube video of a British couple who took this route. It didn’t work out so well for them, and they splurged for a cab ride on the way back. Yes, busing was out of the question. We were on a time limit and didn’t have the three hours it took these poor folks just to get to the park. Well, with rental car and busing out of the question, that left us with a taxi.

We did our homework and priced up the fares using the Mears Transportation website. It didn’t seem too terrible, and this is really what we were leaning towards, until I read in the fine print that even if stuck in traffic, the meter is running. We wanted to be on the roadways during rush hour traffic. This probably was not a good plan either. Well, what to do? Do we just forget about Universal? No! Where there is a will, there is a way. And after more research we discovered that some of the travel agencies that sell tickets also sell transportation packages. Now we’re talking! Read the rest of this entry »

Ring in the New Year at Walt Disney World

by on December 16, 2014 4 Comments

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©Disney

©Disney

The time is upon us when we are close to bidding yet another year goodbye. Those who are lucky enough to be in Walt Disney World on December 31 can bring in the year 2015 with style by celebrating the festive holiday at either the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Each park has different fun and exciting activities that will help everyone to celebrate good times. (Come on! Let’s celebrate! Kool and the Gang? Anybody?)

Let’s start at the Magic Kingdom, which will be offering New Year’s Eve fireworks on not one, but two nights! Guests can catch the special fireworks extravaganza, “Fantasy in the Sky” at 11:50 p.m. on both December 30 and 31. (Holiday Wishes will also be performed at 7:30 p.m.)

Over at Epcot, you’ll be able to celebrate in World Showcase, with bands, DJs, and more! Dance under flame effects and a smoke-billowing dragon in China; dance to a British blast to the past in United Kingdom; jam to Euro-pop and watch as lasers fly in Italy; on the America Gardens Stage, groove to a Latin band or party with a DJ; finally, enjoy a DJ and light show at the Future World Fountain Stage. The evening will wrap up with IllmiNations: Reflections of Earth. There will be two showings of the fantastic show: one at 6:00 p.m. and one at 11:40 p.m. The 11:40 p.m. showing will also feature a special tag and countdown to ring in the New Year. Read the rest of this entry »