Your subscriptions support new blog articles and research. Please consider

subscribing.

today.


Pandora – Everything You Need To Know

by on March 21, 2017
Filed under: Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World (FL) 8 Comments

Pandora – Everything You Need To Know

Disney’s collaboration with James Cameron, Pandora – World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom park is the biggest expansion we’ve seen at Walt Disney World since New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. It was first announced in 2011 (yeah, it blew our minds that it’s been nearly 6 years too).

Want more Pandora, and then some? Listen to The Disney Dish Podcast with Jim Hill, produced by TouringPlans. Find episode 123 on iTunes or on all fine podcast apps.

We also recommend this video from Brian McNichols on Pandora touring strategies. It was made before we knew details about how FastPass+ will work with the new attractions, but the advice is still sound.

Check out our Pandora page for the latest news on Animal Kingdom’s newest land and attractions.

When will Pandora open?

The official opening date is May 27, 2017. However, media is invited on the 22nd, and the land should be in soft open. When an attraction is in soft open, it’s accessible to guests, but can be closed at any time for testing. This lets Disney work out the kinks of something new before its grand opening. Disney Vacation Club owners, Annual Passholders, and Cast Members can expect their own previews of Pandora, possible as early as the last week of April. We will post more information to the blog when we hear it.

What attractions does Pandora have?

Read the rest of this entry »

Details About Satu’li Canteen in Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on March 20, 2017
Filed under: Animal Kingdom, Recent News 1 Comment

©Disney

One of the most common questions that people have been asking since the announcement of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is what kind of food do the Na’vi eat? With today’s sneak peek, we have an idea of what the Satu’li Canteen in Pandora – The World of Avatar will offer.

As previously stated, the fast-casual dining experience will be offering dishes filled with wholesome grains, fresh vegetables, and hearty proteins. Dishes will be familiar flavors with unique twists. Here, Guests will be able to do a create your own bowl option that allows for maximum customization. Guests will start with a base of either quinoa and vegetable salad; mixed whole-grain rice; red-and sweet potato hash; or romaine and kale salad. They will then be able to add whichever protein option they would like – either slow-roasted beef, sustainable fish, wood-grilled chicken, or chili-spiced fried tofu. The bowl will then be topped with charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette, or a cream herb dressing.  Read the rest of this entry »

Captain’s Grille Coasts By With Fine Fare

by on March 20, 2017
Filed under: Dining, Walt Disney World (FL) 3 Comments

Captain's Grille Review

Note: from mid-May 2017 to fall 2017, Captain’s Grille will be going through a refurbishment. During that time, it will relocate to Ariel’s at Disney’s Beach Club. The breakfast buffet will not be available during that time, though there will still be an a la carte option in the morning.

Some of the most popular restaurants for Walt Disney World resort guests lie just around the corner in their own resorts, providing a close option for a meal any time of day before or after a long day of park-hopping. Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort fits this bill – set just off the main lobby, it’s open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, ready to serve any visitor with a wide variety of menu options. I dropped in for dinner recently to check out whether this restaurant is worth a stop during your next trip.

First Impressions

Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX: Planet Hollywood Observatory – 6 Crazy Road Stops on the Highway to Flavortown

by on March 18, 2017
Filed under: Disney Springs, Saturday Six 9 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at PLANET HOLLYWOOD OBSERVATORY!    After every trip to Walt Disney World, TouringPlans sends its members a survey to see how satisfied they were with each part of their vacation. In 2016, we received more than 122,000 responses on WDW restaurants. To put that number in perspective, TouringPlans has more surveys on WDW restaurants than Yelp and TripAdvisor combined.

In total, there were 909 options that readers could give a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” to and these included everything from table service restaurants such as the Grand Floridian’s Victoria & Albert’s to the turkey leg cart in Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland and everything in between. In the list of over 900 WDW venues where a person could get food, Planet Hollywood in Disney Springs came in dead last.

But that was the old Planet Hollywood. In January of this year, the newly reimagined Planet Hollywood Observatory opened with a menu partly inspired by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. That’s right, Flavortown was coming to Disney.

Just as Finding Nemo taught us all drains lead to the ocean, in Orlando all roads lead to Flavortown. (photo by Kinny Brown)

With Downtown Disney’s recent transformation into Disney Springs, the area now boasts not just the greatest collection of restaurants at Walt Disney World, but possibly in all of Orlando. Restaurants such as Homecomin’, Morimoto Asia, and The BOATHOUSE have joined longtime favorites Raglan Road, the House of Blues, and Wolfgang Puck Express to deliver a murderer’s row of fantastic dining experiences. 

Would the reimagined Planet Hollywood Observatory completely change the restaurant and put it up there with the best of the best?

In a word: no. But, in a lot more words the Planet Hollywood Observatory is completely next level bonkers in a way that you need to experience. At Disney we’ve eaten ice cream out of 10 gallon cowboy hats, seen poop snacks at Animal Kingdom, and have even order the infamous Pop Tart sandwich at Pop Century and we still weren’t prepared for what we saw at the Observatory. Today we’re going to take a look at the most unique options at the Observatory, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – High Roller Platter Served in a Ferris Wheel

Talk about a “wow factor” right away, the High Roller Platter appetizer comes out a giant ferris wheel that will draw attention from anyone sitting near you. It is visually spectacular and includes chicken crunch, Texas tostados, Buffalo wings, five cheese dip, and peri-peri shrimp. The ferris wheel itself does not move, but it is an incredible visual. ($34.99)

(photo by Brian Carey)

Read the rest of this entry »

Family-Friendly Flower and Garden Festival Favorites

by on March 17, 2017
Filed under: Dining, Epcot, Walt Disney World (FL) 2 Comments

flower and garden festival favorites

As I mentioned in my review of all of the new 2017 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival items, the number of great options to sample has exploded in recent years as the festival has grown to include fresh and seasonal food offerings. Today, though, I want to visit a few family-friendly returning festival favorites that kids and parents alike will enjoy (with a few options snuck in just for the adults). As always, click on each photo to see a larger view of each delicious dish.

Lotus House

  • Beijing-style Candied Strawberries ($5.50)

Lotus House: Spicy chicken lettuce wrap (new item) and Beijing candied strawberries (returning favorite).While not the most out-of-the-box treat you can sample at Flower and Garden, these strawberries are sure to be a hit with kids (and kids-at-heart) who like to play with their food. A crunchy coating of sugar is fun to crack open with sweet strawberries underneath – simple, but fun and tasty.

Bauernmarkt

  • Roasted Bratwurst with Curry Ketchup and Paprika-Spiced Chips ($5.00)

Bauernmarkt (clockwise top L-R): Schofferhoefer Zitrone (returning favorite), currywurst with paprika chips (returning favorite), Potato pancake with house-made applesauce (new), potato pancakes with caramelized ham and onions (new), warm cheese strudel with berries (new).Currywurst is a pretty popular German snack, and a more unique take on bratwurst than what you can normally sample in the Germany pavilion, so this is always a treat during festival seasons. The curry ketchup is slightly tangy and earthy, a fun new flavor kids will enjoy trying in this small plate. While not a huge portion, this is definitely enough for a hearty snack.

  • Schofferhoefer Zitrone Weizen Mix ($4.25)

A treat for adults, this specialty beer is a cousin of the ridiculously popular “grapefruit beer” also served in the Germany pavilion. A seasonal variation, this one focuses on a bright lemon flavor, a truly refreshing drink to enjoy during an afternoon stroll around World Showcase.

The Smokehouse

Read the rest of this entry »

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of March 17, 2017

by on March 17, 2017
Filed under: In Case You Missed It

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Are you wearing your green today?

So, who is going to see Beauty and the Beast this weekend? I certainly am and I’m dragging my husband with me!

We have some great articles this week, including a video game collection that you are going to want to pick up, a unique visit by Josh Gad on “The Tonight Show” and more. Read on for all the details!

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

 

Are you curious as to how Disney creates the food that they do? Or maybe why every restaurant involves some sort of backstory? Maybe you want to know how long the taste test process lasts. This fantastic in-depth look of the Flavor Lab from Delish shares all that and so much more.

Have you tried Tiffins yet? It is by far one of my favorite restaurants I’ve eaten at in Walt Disney World. But I’m not the only one who thinks the food is fantastic. So does USA Today. Have you dined here yet? What did you think? Read the rest of this entry »

Julia’s Best Week Ever, March 16, 2017: Hooray for Hollywood! (Please Clap)

by on March 16, 2017
Filed under: Best Week Ever, Hollywood Studios 4 Comments

Does it seem a bit like Disney’s Hollywood Studios is that free add-on that you get when you order an As Seen On TV item? Visit Walt Disney World now, and we’ll throw in Disney’s Hollywood Studios! When you get down to it, though, the Studios still has a lot to offer, at least for a half day park. At least that’s what we told ourselves when we got up early Saturday morning to squeeze in as much fun as we could in a half day there.

When we arrived, the Citizens of Hollywood had been kind enough to roll out the red carpet for us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Crowd Calendar Updates

by on March 16, 2017
Filed under: Crowd Blog, Disneyland (CA) 8 Comments

The weather in Southern California is wreaking havoc on crowd patterns at Disneyland Resort. Rain has been so heavy in the first quarter of 2017 that the parks have closed early on some days. The effect on crowds is significant because is reduces the crowds on the poor weather days but creates a big, disproportionate bounce-back effect when the sun comes out. So, it is time to update the Disneyland Crowd Calendar.

Hidden under all the volatility due to weather is an overall increase in wait times. The increase has been evident in recent months, especially at Disneyland Park.

The first 50 days of 2017 are unique in the history of Disneyland Crowds

Here is a look at the first 50 days of 2017 compared to what we usually see at Disneyland Resort. Wait times are significantly up but only on certain days. Overall the volatility (range of average daily wait times) is way up too. There are some recent signs that the crowds are returning to normal so we will be watching closely. In the meantime, these latest trends necessitate an update.

What Leads to Updates in the Disneyland Crowd Calendar?

Our crowd calendar models look at hundreds of factors when considering how busy Disneyland Resort will be on any day. Some factors are based on how the economy is doing – things like the U.S. unemployment rate, the Consumer Price Index, and so on. Other factors track the operating schedule. Of those, here’s a list of the things that change often and tend to influence the crowd calendar numbers: Read the rest of this entry »

Ask It: Best Boat Ride in Epcot

by on March 15, 2017
Filed under: Epcot, Just For Fun 25 Comments

Happy Wednesday! Time for another round of Ask It.

Last week we asked you:

What is your favorite Epcot boat ride?

All I can say is wow…. people really love boat rides in Epcot. With more than a thousand votes, there was one boat that left all others struggling in its wake.

Here’s the final results in order from least to greatest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pro Tips – Things You Shouldn’t Pay For at Walt Disney World

by on March 15, 2017
Filed under: Money Matters, Walt Disney World (FL) 33 Comments

save money at Disney by avoiding these common purchases

A few days ago Tammy Whiting wrote a great article about Things You Shouldn’t Pay for on a Disney Cruise. Today I take that idea and apply it to Walt Disney World! Here are some purchases to avoid to save money at Disney.

Some of you might think, “Hey Claire, everything is expensive at the Disney parks! You just have to deal with it!” I agree with your statement, but there are always things that are just a little too ridiculous, or a little too much like a nickel-and-dime scheme, or WAY too expensive to warrant even being put on the shelf or promoted by the company!

So if you’re trying to afford that great Disney vacation and are thinking of ways to reduce the overall budget, here are some things you can definitely ignore:

Save Money at Disney – Don’t Fall for Preferred Parking

Walt Disney World’s parking is huge and sprawling. They have always accomodated the early riser and the late arriver by shuttling people with their tram system to roughly the spot where their vehicle is located. If you are close enough to the entrance, you can just hoof it to the security checkpoint.

save money at Disney - don't pay for preferred parking

A rental car minus a Disney resort = extra cash for parking. Photo – Claire Nat

Disney’s commuting guests have grown accustomed to this arrangement. However, one year ago Disney decided to provide an up charge by giving guests really, really great parking spaces for just $20 more!

I need to remind you that parking for a Disney park in Florida is already $20, so if you want the best spot in the Mouse House you have to double your parking payment. $40 paid for the day and you haven’t even made it to the entrance yet! Read the rest of this entry »