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Video: 2014 Jingle Cruise at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

by on November 18, 2014 6 Comments

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2014 Jingle Cruise

All aboard the 2014 Jingle Cruise at WDW’s Magic Kingdom with two complete POV videos (images by Seth Kubersky)

‘Tis the season to deck the jungle with holly — and hammy jokes — as the 2014 Jingle Cruise is now underway at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Last week, the seasonal overlay to the Jungle Cruise returned for a second annual run, this time with some notable upgrades.

Last year’s inaugural Jingle Cruise was criticized for confining the custom scenery largely to the Jungle Cruise’s boathouse queue, and for some jokes that were staler than fruitcake. As you can see in the following Jingle Cruise POV videos, more holiday decor has been installed along the riverbanks, and the spiel has been adjusted appropriately to reflect the additions.

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Surprises #Everywhere On The Disney Dream

by on November 18, 2014 31 Comments

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I had never boarded a cruise ship prior to the TouringPlans #Everywhere event in October, which tasked my family with sailing on the Disney Dream. I had knowledge of Disney Cruise Line from colleagues, relatives, podcasts, and random people in theme parks. Plus, I did the technical work for the Disney Cruise Line portion of the TouringPlans.com website, so I’ve been exposed to plenty of facts about sailing with Disney. Still, Disney Cruise Line (and cruising, in general) was full of surprises for me, some good and some bad. I share some observations as a cruise novice below, well aware of the fact that what suprised me would not have shocked someone more familar with cruises.

Pools are boring.

There’s a pool in the shape of Mickey’s head! Doesn’t swimming in his ear sound great? Well, the pools are tiny and crowded, so you won’t do more than sit or stand. It’s neat that you can watch a movie on the giant Funnel Vision screen while wading, and my kid enjoyed splashing around in the Mickey Pool, but the pools are not at all like the pools at Disney Resort Hotels. That said, the slides are fun, and there are plenty of great swimming opportunities on Castaway Cay and on many shore excursions.

Disney Dream Deck 11

Doesn’t this look fabulous? Looks can be deceiving.

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Disney Cruise Line Testing Palo/Remy Brunch on Nassau Port Days

by on November 17, 2014 6 Comments

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Guests sailing on recent 3-day Disney Cruise Line voyages on the Dream have reported that DCL is now testing brunch service at both Remy and Palo during port days at Nassau, Bahamas. Previously, brunch at these locations had only been offered on days at sea.

Typical Palo brunch offerings.

Typical Palo brunch offerings.

Remy and Palo are the Dream’s premier restaurants, offering enhanced food, beverages, and service for an upcharge over the ship’s other dining venues. Brunch during sea days has typically been popular, often with higher demand than availability.

A few guests have reported seeing booking for this available via their DCL Planning Center online, but this is inconsistent. Others have been told about the expanded dining options while speaking with cast members on board the ship. If dining at Remy or Palo during a port day is something you’re interested in, check your Planning Center frequently and/or stop by Guest Services on your embarkation day to ask about availability.

I’m happy to see Disney attempting to provide more dining choices for guests opting to stay on board during the Nassau port call.

Please let us know if you’re offered Palo or Remy brunch during your Nassau stop on the Dream, or on any of the Disney ships. We’re eager to learn more about this new offering.

Menu Monday: Late Arrival Day Food Choices at Disney World

by on November 17, 2014 10 Comments

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Late Night Castle, perfect sight for late night dining at disney world

Even if you arrive to see this gorgeous sight, it still isn’t too late for you to find a good meal.

The Walt Disney World Resort area has tons of options for dining, from quick service restaurants, places to get snacks, or regular table service restaurants, to fancy, signature dining experiences. However, sometimes there seems to be no options other than the $2 vending machine crackers at your resort, once you’re on the property, especially if you don’t have a vehicle and are relying on Disney transportation. To avoid the stress of trying to track down dining options for your late arrival, I have gathered a listing for restaurants that stay open late, so you can avoid wandering around hungry. In addition, I listed the items available on the menu, written in plain language for easy understanding (i.e., it might be Oak-Grilled Salmon with a Selection of Winter Greens, but I’ll simplify it down to Grilled Salmon). Obviously, both hours and menus are subject to change, but you can check with Cast Members at the park or at your resort upon check in to ensure that these options are still available and open late. Here goes!

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Menu Monday: Best Counter Service Restaurants in Magic Kingdom

by on November 17, 2014 15 Comments

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Be Our Guest RestaurantPicking your favorite Walt Disney World counter/quick service restaurant is like picking your favorite child, sure on some days you may like one more than the other (come on, we’ve all been there!), but overall, you just can’t choose a favorite! Dining in Walt Disney World has become a favorite past time among repeat guests. And now, more often than not, first time guests have their own “bucket list” of restaurants to eat at or snack to try. With this increase in demand and expectation, Disney has responded by adding more restaurants and expanding the menus of their current restaurants. These adjustments also come with price increases. As Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin from ABC’s Once Upon A Time always reminds us, “all magic comes with a price” even Disney’s pixie-dusted munchies. But fear not intrepid traveler and foodie, you can indulge your taste buds and save your budget with the counter/quick service restaurants available at every Disney Park and resort. But with literally, over a hundred to choose from (seriously, 102 – I counted!), I’m here to help you select the best of the best, park by park and even among the resorts. This article will focus on the counter service options of the Magic Kingdom. The focus will be on restaurants that offer a full meal option. Though there are many additional locations I could have included in this list, I narrowed it down to exclude those counter locations that really only sell snacks. After watching hours of Master Chef and Chopped, I’ve devised a ranking system that will incorporate four criteria into the ultimate calculation for the best counter service meals.  The criteria are:

  • Best value (portion/cost ratio) = 10 points
  • Flavor = 10 points
  • Originality = 5 points
  • Atmosphere = 5 points
  • Grand total = 30 possible points

Be Our Guest – New Fantasyland

This latest addition to the Magic Kingdom dining line-up has everyone crazed to make dinner reservations or snag the elusive lunch FastPass+ option. The menu is a bit pricier than other counter service option, and it’s only available as a counter service during the lunch hours (10:30am to 2:30pm). Starting at 4pm, Be Our Guest is considered a Table Service restaurant where prices increase and the menu changes a bit. Read the rest of this entry »

Traveling with a Disney Curmudgeon

by on November 16, 2014 11 Comments

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Photo - Pixar.wikia.comThey live among us. They look just like you and me. They are….the Disney Curmudgeon.

Disney Curmudgeon (Dis·ney cur·mudg·eon): noun. 1. A person who possesses a strong dislike or disinterest of all things Disney.

I know my fair share of Disney Curmudgeons. In fact, I live with one. My husband, Michael, doesn’t share my obsession and love of everything Disney. He is a great sport (He dressed up as Smee and Mickey Mouse for me, so he must be!) and there are some aspects of Walt Disney World he really does enjoy. However, whenever I bring up a future Disney trip, his eyes say, “Really? again!?,” but his mouth smiles and says, “We can see about that honey.”

Although it may be in my nature to throw the book (and by book, I mean the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World) at him and spend hours explaining why Disney World is the best place ever, it would result in a negative outcome on both sides. Instead, working with him and catering a little more to his needs can reduce the stress and make our vacation much more enjoyable. Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort

by on November 15, 2014 8 Comments

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Contemporary Resort. After examining some of the value resorts on Disney property, including Pop Century and Art of Animation, it’s time to head straight to the top of the WDW resort food chain and see the benefits a deluxe resort brings to the table. First stop, The Contemporary. As a long time Disney fan, I have wanted to stay at The Contemporary since I was a little kid, but my parents always booked hotels off-site to save money. As an adult planning my own trips, I would often price out a stay at The Contemporary, only to end up choosing a cheaper alternative myself. I’m not a big fan of the cliche you only live once, but if there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s that the biggest regrets are not doing things when you have the chance, because those opportunities may not be around forever.  So whether it was philosophical reasons, or the fact that I felt the awesome Contemporary Resort Monorail Toy Accessory was taunting me, I decided to fulfill a near lifelong dream and book a stay at The Contemporary this year.

Now that it is crossed of the bucket list I can report back that…. I loved it. The stay confirmed several things I thought The Contemporary would be like, and opened my eyes to amenities I did not know much about before. Today we are going to countdown six takeaways from my experience, starting with…

# 6 – A Million Dollar View

Contemporary_View

View from Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

 

The views from The Contemporary A-Frame building are spectacular. One side faces Bay Lake, the other faces the Magic Kingdom.  Waking up in the morning we could see Disney’s Polynesian Resort Village, the Grand Floridian, the monorail passing by, ferry boats in the lake, the Walt Disney World Railroad, and not to mention the Magic Kingdom itself, with icons such as Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain. I’ve stayed at on-site hotels at various theme park resorts, and hotels across the United States including Las Vegas, Boston, San Diego, Times Square, and Hawaii, but this was the most amazing view I have ever had. I was able to enjoy fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant, two of my favorite things at WDW, from the room. I was speechless. I knew it would be good. I didn’t know it would be this good.

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of November 14, 2014

by on November 14, 2014 3 Comments

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In Case You Missed It!

In Case You Missed It!

Who turned off the heater outside? I know that the cold weather is just getting started, but I am already tired of it. (I moved south for a reason!) Stupid polar vortex.

Anyway…moving on to other things, this week, I was delighted to find articles to share with you that include a look at Disney’s fourth quarter earnings, what you should consider purchasing for your loved ones for Christmas from Orlando, and more!

 

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

 

Veterans Day was this week, and along with a great article posted here, I also came across another fantastic article discussing the flag retreat at Disneyland. Thank you to all those who serve in the U.S. military and if you are a Disney fan and seen (or if possible, taken part in) the flag ceremony, I hope you have the chance to it soon. Read the rest of this entry »

Details About the Candlelight Processional and Holidays Around the World at Epcot

by on November 14, 2014

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©Disney

©Disney

While the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios have already started celebrating the holiday season with their special events, we are just two weeks away from the holiday festivities beginning at Epcot. Each year, Epcot celebrates in its own unique way, showing the global reach of Christmas (and other related holidays).

The premiere portion of Epcot’s celebrations is the Candlelight Processional. This incredibly beautiful performance includes a mass choir, a 50-piece orchestra, and a celebrity narrator who all combine in a gorgeous manner to share the story of Christmas. This year’s celebrity narrators include some favorites (Neil Patrick Harris…some day I will see you perform this) and some newbies (like Jonathan Groff, the voice of Kristoff from Frozen). Here is the full list of celebrity narrators:

  • November 28 – 29: Jodi Benson
  • November 30 – December 2: Neil Patrick Harris
  • December 3 – 4: Jonathan Groff (NEW!) 
  • December 5 – 6: Whoopi Goldberg
  • December 7 – 9: Levar Burton
  • December 10 – 11: Edward James Olmos
  • December 12 – 14: Joe Morton
  • December 15 – 17: Chita Rivera
  • December 18 – 20: Ana Gasteyer (NEW!)
  • December 21 – 23: Marlee Matlin
  • December 24 – 25: Isabella Rossellini
  • December 26 – 27: Blair Underwood
  • December 28 – 30: Steven Curtis Chapman

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Fresh Details About the 2015 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

by on November 13, 2014 1 Comment

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©Disney

©Disney

While winter is still on the horizon and most of the country is currently going through some extremely cold weather, so many of us are already dreaming of spring and warmer weather! With spring comes the 22nd annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The 2015 Festival runs from March 4 through May 17, and we already know some early details about the event. There are a lot of new things on tap, as well as fantastic things that are returning once again.

For the first time (in forever), Anna and Elsa appear in topiary form at the World Showcase Plaza. In addition, the front entrance plaza will see new scene called “Goofy About Spring” and will feature a couple of new characters – two of my favorites – Chip ‘n’ Dale! Read the rest of this entry »