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Bodh’aktan To Perform at Epcot’s Canada Pavilion

by on September 20, 2016 4 Comments

Bodh’aktan

©Bodh’aktan

The revolving door of performers for the Canada Pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot is continuing, but this time it appears that Disney is bringing back a Celtic rock band. No, it’s not Off Kilter. This new band is known as Bodh’aktan.

According to this article, Disney has been attempting to work with this band for years, but due to the their busy schedule, an agreement was unable to be met. That agreement has finally come to fruition, as Bodh’aktan will be performing for 20 days in both October and January.

The band was formed in 2011 and their music fuses elements of celtic, trad-Quebecois, polka, punk, Irish folk, Breton and Maritime into their sets.

Bodh’aktan will perform on The Mill Stage five days a week and will perform 20 minutes each hour.

TouringPlans LIVE: Kids Edition – TODAY – Tuesday, Sept 20 at 8pm

by on September 20, 2016

If you have a question for the Bloom children, ask in the comments below

Many of you have seen Brian’s regular Thursday afternoon chats LIVE on Facebook (1pm EDT…be there!). This week we have an extra-special event for you; our own Steve Bloom has volunteered his children–Rachel and Isaac–to host their very own live show.

Beginning at 8pm EDT on Tuesday, Rachel and Isaac will be answering your questions LIVE on Facebook. We know you have a lot of questions about what kids really think about theme park attractions, dining, getting up early, all day touring, and tons of other stuff. Now is your chance to ask some real, honest-to-goodness kids.

Rachel (14) and Isaac (12) have been to Walt Disney World at least twice per year their whole lives and have visited Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and just got back from a family trip to Aulani in Hawaii. They will be there Tuesday night waiting to answer all of your questions.

While you’re waiting for the Q&A to begin, go ahead and ask questions that you would like to see Rachel and Isaac answer in the comments below.

Booking and Flying Southwest Airlines

by on September 20, 2016 27 Comments

Anytime I discuss travel that involves flying, I love to mention Southwest Airlines as an option. They’re sometimes easy to forget since their prices typically don’t appear on search engines like Kayak or Google Flights (both are great tools for comparing flight prices by the way!). But as one of the largest airlines flying in and out of Orlando International Airport, Southwest Airlines is an excellent option when planning a Walt Disney World vacation. Because their offering is so different from many of the other major airlines (low fares, no bag fees, and no assigned seats), I thought we’d take some time to talk about what it’s like to book and fly Southwest Airlines. If you’re lucky, I may even add some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, so let’s get started!

This chart from Southwest.com explains the differences between fares

This chart from Southwest.com explains the differences between fares

Booking: Online booking is incredibly easy. You plug in your starting airport, your destination, date or dates (depending on whether you’re purchasing one-way or round trip), and the number of people. On the next screen, you’ll see three different prices for all the flights available for those dates: Business Select, Anytime, and Wanna Get Away.

From this page, you can also click on other dates near the dates you originally selected to check their prices as well, or you can access the Low Fare Calendar.

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Get a Peek of Doctor Strange at Disney Parks

by on September 19, 2016

©Disney

Doctor Strange

Beginning October 7, Guests will be able to see a sneak peek of the upcoming film Doctor Strange.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests can make a stop at One Man’s Dream’s theater while while Guests at Disney California Adventure will get to see this advance look in 3D with in-theater effects at the Sunset Showcase Theater (formerly Crown Jewel Theater) in Hollywood Land. The sneak peek will last about 10 minutes.

Guests are invited to come see why the impossibilities are endless, when they experience Doctor Strange in theaters on November 4.

In-Park Ticket Sales Test Occurring at Tomorrowland Light & Power Co

by on September 19, 2016

Guests can visit the Tomorrowland Light and Power Co. shop located near Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom as part of a test where they will be able to make changes to their park tickets.

ticket-sales

©Rikki Niblett

 

Guests will not only be able to upgrade their tickets by adding additional days, as well as the Park Hopper and the Water Park Fun and More options, upgrade tickets to an Annual Pass, purchase tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and replace lost tickets. Additional services available by these Guest Relations Cast Members include making dining reservations, as well as booking other events.

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Five things you might not know about Animal Kingdom Lodge

by on September 19, 2016 9 Comments

If you’ve never walked through Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, either as a guest or just a visitor, you’re missing some of the Imagineers’ best work on Walt Disney World property.

Yes, the location is a bit further off the beaten path than other Deluxe Resorts, but that could be considered intentional. It’s set apart because it’s unlike any other resort on property, both aesthetically and culturally.  When you enter the Animal Kingdom Lodge, you entering a place where the Disney characters have been pushed to the background and the African continent is front and center.

So in that spirit, here are five things you might not know about the Animal Kingdom Lodge that help make it well worth a stay or visit.

Authentic African art

The Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to the largest collection of African art outside of the African continent. Many of the most impressive pieces, like the 16-foot-tall Igbo Ijele mask, are in the lobby. You can find even more pieces of art just walking the corridors of the resort. Between Jambo House and Kidani Village, more than 800 artifacts are on display, making the entire resort a museum of sorts. Take the time to browse the displays, many of which have descriptions and countries of origins listed.

Igbo Ijele mask in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby, featuring chandeliers designed to look like Maasai shields.

Igbo Ijele mask in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby, featuring chandeliers designed to look like Maasai shields.

An African garment adorns a corner in one of the hallways of African Kingdom Lodge.

An African garment adorns a corner in one of the hallways of African Kingdom Lodge.

It’s not just the sights of all the artwork. The sounds of the African background music played throughout the resort transports visitors as well. After returning from a stay at the Lodge, you might just find yourself scouring the Internet for the music you heard. Here’s a listing compiled by the AKL Resort site with links to purchase many of the songs on the resort background loop. Read the rest of this entry »

As Annual Pass Prices Increase, Theme Parks Add Perks

by on September 18, 2016 4 Comments

Not too long ago we saw Walt Disney World drastically change their annual pass structure adding new features and a wide variety of blackout dates. Universal Orlando has followed suit. They also recently announced new annual pass features like early park admission. Universal has also rolled out a new seasonal annual pass which is the most budget friendly but also has the most blackout dates, and the least amount of perks.

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Universal Orlando loves their AP Holders – photo from Universal Orlando

It’s not all bad news, however, Besides adding features to the annual passes themselves, all of the major theme parks offer various perks and benefits throughout the year. It seems as though this year there are more perks than ever before–perhaps this is because the prices are higher than they’ve ever been. Some guests who are on vacation are purchasing an annual pass rather than a multi-day ticket, even if they’re only going to visit once in a given year. For locals like me it is often seen as a mandatory purchase in order to do Orlando living right.

Let’s take a look at some of the really fun benefits and perks that are being offered to annual pass holders at each of the major theme parks. It is important to note that for the purposes of this blog post I will not be discussing the features that are already included in your annual pass such as free parking, but rather I will focus on different, added-on perks that are offered throughout the year.

Walt Disney World

Perhaps the Walt Disney World Resort faces the greatest of expectations. Because of their four theme parks vs. two at Universal Orlando and one theme park plus water park at SeaWorld Orlando, the Walt Disney World annual passes are the most expensive. This typically raises the expectations of consumers, creating stronger desires for more bang for their buck.

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Pieces of Disney Merchandise That Don’t Exist (But Totally Should!)

by on September 17, 2016 15 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Pieces of Disney Merchandise That Don’t Exist (But Totally Should!) Regular readers of this fine blog know very well that we are huge fans of theme park merchandise. Whether it’s the best souvenirs at Walt Disney World or Universal, theme park related comic books, or even our favorite souvenir cups, if the theme parks make it, there’s a good chance we’re going to buy it. But sometimes we see theme park merch that just needs a little extra magic to be truly great. Today we’ve worked hand in hand with the SATURDAY SIX Research and Development team based out of Pearland, Texas and came up with six pieces of Disney merchandise that we’d REALLY like to see. So sit back, hug your Duffy the Disney Bear as tight as you can, and let’s begin our list with…

# 6 – Lego Cinderella Castle Set with Vacation Ruining Accessory

When Disney released the official Lego Cinderella Castle set, it sent many a theme park fan’s heart aflutter. Finally, we all got a chance to recreate one of the world’s most iconic buildings in our very own home. However, one thing was missing. At first it was hard to put our finger on it, but something just wasn’t right. After a while we realized what was wrong; this Lego set was missing an obnoxiously large crane in the background that can ruin all the pictures your Lego figures try to take! So what about a set that includes the well known crane that is affectionately nicknamed “Ichabod?”

lego_disney_castle_crane

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo! Now your Lego mini-figures can have the same frustrating time taking a castle photo as you! (photo by Matt Cleary)

# 5 – Toy Food for the EPCOT Food & Wine Garbage Can Salt and Pepper Shakers

Not since the Turkey Leg phenomenon have we been so confounded by Disney merchandise than the recent slew of WDW garbage can themed salt and pepper shakers. Readers of our sister blog series: the Magic, the Memories, and Merch! know that salt and pepper shakers themed to garbage cans of the Magic Kingdom appeared in the Disney Outlet Stores this summer. With the 2016 edition of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival starting this very week, one of the pieces of new merchandise is miniature EPCOT Food & Wine garbage cans. But anyone who has been to the overcrowded Food & Wine in recent years knows that these garbage cans act more as defacto tables for people trying to eat than actual receptacles for trash. So let’s complete this ensemble by also offering miniature food items to place on the top of these garbage cans to give them a sense of authenticity.

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EPCOT Food & Wine garbage can salt and pepper shakers. Now with actual “food & wine” to scale! (photo by Michael Sheehy and Matt Cleary)

SATSIX_FoodAndWineLogo

Many guests know of the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s, but true insiders know what the “Blogger’s Table” in EPCOT is. (photo by Michael Sheehy)

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of September 16, 2016

by on September 16, 2016

ICYMIIt’s here! My stomach has been preparing for this time of year. The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is now upon us. Two glorious months of eating delicious food and drinking great beverages. Who’s ready and what are you looking forward to experiencing at this year’s event?

You know what else is here? Halloween Horror Nights! Who is looking forward to getting their wits scared out of them? Which house looks the best this year?

This week, see what to expect from black-ish‘s season premiere filmed at Walt Disney World, Woody and Dory together (?), and more!

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

 

Two Cast Members have been selected as the new Walt Disney World ambassadors. This is a honored position where these individuals will represent their co-workers and the company.

Both Disney and Universal won 2016 Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards. Find out which ones they took home. What do you think of the rankings? Read the rest of this entry »

Every New Dish at the 2016 Epcot Food And Wine Festival Reviewed!

by on September 16, 2016 4 Comments

Food and Wine 2016 EntranceThe 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is finally here! I was lucky enough to spend festival kick-off day sampling every (yes, I tried them all!) new and modified dish at the festival this year, to see which dishes were must-dos or must-skips for all of you. Here you’ll find photos and my thoughts on all of these new items, organized as you travel around the world (in the same order they are listed in the festival passport). Below my reviews, you’ll see a few hot takes – I’ve ranked all of these new items based on whether I’d try them again this festival season. As always, click on any photo to see the larger version of each dish. Don’t forget, you can check out full menus and prices from every booth here to start your planning now.

The Dishes

  • Craft Beer's Piggy WingsCraft Beers: Piggy Wings – Fried Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds ($4.25)

Sticky, sweet, and sour, these are definitely good BBQ wings, but you’ll only get to taste two of them per order. Perfect with a beer (or three in a flight), these are worth the purchase if you need a snack to munch on while enjoying a little free air conditioning, but I wouldn’t make a special stop here just to try them.

  • The Chew Collective: Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, and Feta Cheese ($5.00)

At the end of the day, this dish is exactly as billed: it’s a few pieces of grilled steak on a salad. The apricots and feta bring some necessary freshness and texture, but ultimately, this dish needed a sauce to make it all come together. The Chew Collective's Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse (L) and Grilled Beef Skewer (R)Kids who like plain steak may want to steal a bite from mom and dad on this dish.

  • The Chew Collective: Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle ($5.00)

This dish tastes exactly like someone crushed up a package of Nutter Butters (which is definitely a good thing, to me). Rich and slightly salty from the peanut butter, the white chocolate and caramel provide a bit of offsetting sweetness. Everyone (who can eat this) will love this dessert, and though it’s a small portion for the price, it’s worth a shot. Read the rest of this entry »