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Dani’s Best Week Ever October 6, 2016: Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and staying on Disney property

by on October 6, 2016

A few weeks ago during my last Best Week Ever post, I discussed how I am learning a lot about fear. This week I am experiencing a lesson in enjoying the moment. This week provided some best ever moments and yet I don’t feel like I really took the time to savor it all and enjoy. I experienced Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the DVC Member event, stayed the night at Beach Club Villas, woke up and checked into Bay Lake Tower for the night, enjoyed Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and capped it all off with cocktails and fireworks at Top of the World Lounge.

Even though I feel like I didn’t really soak it up, I get to share it with you, helping it to make one the my Best Weeks Ever! And since many of us in Florida, and at the Atlantic Coast, are getting ready to face Hurricane Matthew, let’s take a break from storm prep and bask in some pixie dust.


Disney’s Beach Club Villas

DVC Member event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

img_4294Disney Vacation Club is celebrating its 25th year of existence. This year members have seen a slew of perks and free events roll out to them not only in order to mark the special occasion, but to help boost member satisfaction as well.  During a few nights in September DVC Members enjoyed Animal Kingdom all to themselves from 9:30 PM – 12:30 PM.

While I worked, my parents enjoyed Disney’s Beach Club Resort and then checked us in for the event, at the hotel lobby. This enabled us to have our event wristbands ahead of time and although it may not have saved us a ton of time, we simply had one less thing to worry about. Once inside the park we stopped at one of the many tables being manned by an event Cast Member who handed us each a card to get into the night time Kilimanjaro Safari between 9:00 PM – 9:30 PM and two tickets each to play the midway games in Dino-rama in Dinoland USA.


We headed straight for Nomad Lounge. I bragged about this place to my parents and wanted them to experience what has become my favorite lounge inside any Walt Disney World theme park. Nomad Lounge now has an updated food menu; you can check out my quick review about it here.



My parents relished the décor and adventurous spirit of Nomad Lounge. The perfect balance between sophistication and casual approach-ability is struck here. Starting our evening here set the tone for a pleasant and memorable night together.

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Hurricane Matthew: Fort Wilderness Voluntary Evacuation — Disney World Not Accepting Reservations This Week

by on October 5, 2016 8 Comments

The wonderfully helpful Annette Johnson from Mouse Trip Travel sent us this information:

Guest staying at Disney’s Fort Wilderness were contacted by Fort Wilderness staff yesterday and were strongly encouraged to voluntarily evacuate to an available room at one of the Disney World moderate hotels or a family suite at Disney’s Art of Animation resort. They were told that, depending on what Hurricane Matthew does, Disney may have to house the passengers from two of the Disney Cruise ships so they could voluntarily move now when they were guaranteed a room or wait until mandatory evacuations where there may or may not be rooms available and they could end up on a cot in one of the Disney ballrooms.

Fort Wilderness cast members were going from site to site talking to the guests there. If the guests were not available, a letter on Fort Wilderness stationery was left that reads:

October 4, 2016

Dear Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Guest,

WE stopped by your campsite, and we’re sorry that we missed you. As you may be aware, we continue to closely monitor the progress of Hurricane Matthew.

Due to the potential inclement weather beginning Thursday evening, we ask that all Campsite Guests contact the Reception Outpost. We would like to re-confirm your plans for the next two evenings and assist you with arranging alternate accommodations.

For your continued comfort, we strongly recommend that you contact us at your earliest convenience by visiting us in person at the Reception Outpost, dialing 17 from the nearest comfort station house phone, or dialing 407-824-2727 from an outside line.

We look forward to assisting you.


John Stafford
General Manager
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Guests scheduled to check into Fort Wilderness in the next couple of days are being told that they are monitoring the situation are advised to call today. Disney is required to evacuate Fort Wilderness when winds reach 30 mph. Since it looks like winds will probably exceed that, they will most likely be contacting incoming Fort Wilderness guests by phone to make alternate arrangements ahead of their arrival. Disney booking engines are not allowing guests to book any new reservation for the next few days and guest services confirmed that they are not allowing any new bookings into that period to keep rooms available for current guests that must be moved to new accommodations and for the possibility that they may need to house some Disney Cruise Line Guests.

Should that need to ask guests to remain at their resort, Guest Services said they will be offering activities like character meet-and-greets at the resorts to help pass the time.

Nomad Lounge is now better than ever before

by on October 5, 2016

Nomad Lounge, along with Tiffins Restaurant, is the place that Disney’s Animal Kingdom needed. It is casual yet sophisticated, incredibly detailed and inviting, and offers a great selection of inventive cocktails. And now, Nomad Lounge is even better with a new menu that is more approachable and provides better value.

I recently visited with my parents, who hadn’t been to Animal Kingdom in a few years. We sat at the bar, soaking in all the details, discussed the past and the future of this, my favorite park. We made a meal out of four of the dishes on Nomad Lounge’s food menu. Here’s a quick review of some of the new menu items.




img_4329Wagyu Beef Sliders ($14.00)

Sliders are a popular small plate on many a lounge menu. Easy to share, easy to eat, and typically satisfying, they make a great choice. Two sliders are presented with a handful of small roasted potatoes. The patty is seasoned well and very juicy and tender. A rich tomato jam is spread on the top bun, adding a savory flavor, and an inexpensive way for Disney to add a vegetable element to this slider without the cost of actual fresh veggies. The bun is dense, with a sweet flavor.

These three flavors: the seasoned beef, the tomato jam, and the sweet bun come together to make a nice blend. However, I would prefer the patty to be regular ground beef rather than Wagyu because to me this high quality blend of beef gets lost in slider form, and I’d rather pay $10 – $11 for two sliders as opposed to $14.

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – August 2016

by on October 5, 2016 4 Comments

[Disney World Crowd Calendar Reports are back after a lengthy hiatus to fix an issue with some of our crowd calendar calculations. Here is a report for the month of August with a report for September coming soon.]

How Crowded Was Disney World August 7 - 13, 2016?

How Crowded Was Disney World August 7 – 13, 2016?

Crowds at Walt Disney World in early August lagged behind what we saw during the same period last year, especially in the second half of the week. Animal Kingdom was the most unpredictable park of the week with low wait times dragging the resort wide crowd level down a few points most days. Crowd levels at the other three parks were close to predicted levels almost every day.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day between August 7 and August 13, 2016:

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TouringPlansTV: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort + Video

by on October 4, 2016

Photo - T.J. Van Fechtmann

Wilderness Lodge Resort

This week’s episode of TouringPlansTV is all about Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. This is located in the Magic Kingdom area of Walt Disney World. Read the rest of this entry »

Disney PhotoPass at runDisney races

by on October 4, 2016 3 Comments

As a runDisney addict, I love getting as many pictures as I can during the races. Starting with the Star Wars Dark Side race weekend at Walt Disney World, Disney PhotoPass became the official photo provider for runDisney, instead of MarathonFoto. I have now participated in two runDisney race weekends since the change, one at Walt Disney World and one at Disneyland. Here’s a rundown on how Disney PhotoPass works with the races.

runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon

In the official race guide and on the back of your bib is a code for each race, where you add your bib number to the end. Then, you enter this into the My Disney Experience App, the Disneyland app, or The code is usually the year, race weekend abbreviation, race distance, and your bib number. For example, the code for the Star Wars Dark Side Half was 2016-DARK-HLFx-xxxx, where the x is your bib number. You have a separate code for each race, even if you are doing a challenge during the weekend.

The best part of this change is that if you have an Annual Pass that includes Disney PhotoPass pictures, or have purchased Memory Maker at Walt Disney World or Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland, then your runDisney pictures are included as well! With MarathonFoto, you had to pay separately for each race (with a small discount if you were doing a multiple race challenge), as well as for each person. So if you ran with family or friends, and weren’t always together during the race, you had to pay separately each time if you wanted all those pictures. Now, you can enter everyone’s code under one account. This is a huge cost savings.
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Muppet Mobile Lab Returns to Epcot

by on October 3, 2016 1 Comment

A few years ago, (2007 to be exact) Disney introduced the Muppet Mobile Lab into Epcot. The Muppet Mobile Lab was unique, bringing Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his lovable assistant Beaker into the parks to conduct experiments and perform scientific demonstrations. It was a free-roving, entertainment experience that featured two audio animatronics, rolling around on a wheeled apparatus, performing interactions with guests around the park. It was fun, but it disappeared quietly from Epcot never to be seen again at the park. That is until today. For a limited time, Guests who visit Future World may run into the Mobile Muppet Lab.

The Muppet Mobile Lab was initially a part of Disney’s “Living Character Initiative.” These attractions allowed Guests to interact with the characters in real time. Attractions that were from this time period that are still around in the parks include Turtle Talk with Crush and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that this is a test, there are no set showtimes, but if you love The Muppets and will be in Epcot, make sure to keep your eye out for Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew!

New Perks for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders

by on October 3, 2016 11 Comments

Walt Disney World Annual Passholders

©Rikki Niblett

It’s a good time to be a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder. With the 45th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort taking place this past weekend, Disney announced that they would be offering their AP holders special perks to celebrate.

To start with, Guests who purchase a 12-month pass will actually be able to enjoy 13 months of Passholder benefits. New passes must be purchased between Oct. 2, 2016 and Jan. 3, 2017.

In addition, Passholders will receive new dining and merchandise benefits. Passholders will receive 10 percent off food and nonalcoholic beverages at select table-service restaurants at theme parks and Disney resort hotels. In addition, Disney is bringing back the 20 percent discount on purchases at Disney owned-and-operated merchandise locations. These new benefits will continue even after the anniversary comes to an end on Sept. 30, 2017.

Speaking of restaurants receiving discounts, to celebrate the 45th Anniversary, 45 select restaurants will offer a 20% off discount during all available meal periods. This includes some counter service theme park restaurants for the first time! This offer runs from now until September 30, 2017.

Here is a look at the restaurants where discounts will be available for Passholders, as well as how much the discount will be: Read the rest of this entry »

Indoor Children’s Play Areas in Epcot

by on October 3, 2016 5 Comments

As much as I love walking around the parks, sometimes you just need an air conditioned retreat. With kids in tow, it can be even more imperative to escape indoors. And though it’s typically not considered the most kid friendly of the Walt Disney World parks, Epcot has plenty of great indoor play areas for kids of all ages to let loose. If you’re looking for a reprieve from that Florida heat, humidity, sun, or even an afternoon rain shower, here are some great locations in Epcot for kids to burn off some excess energy.

Home of the Figment-centric interactive games

ImageWorks – home of the Figment-centric interactive games

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Queues at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on October 1, 2016 2 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Queues at the Universal Orlando Resort. If there is one thing all theme park fans can agree with, it’s that we hate lines. Even people who aren’t theme park fans often return from an Orlando vacation with a similar thought: theme park lines are the worst. Thankfully our Disney and Universal overlords have spent the last decade completely transforming the queue experience. Disney, putting Billions into MyDisneyExperience and FastPass+, are attempting to get guests to spend less time in lines (in hopes that we have more time in places where we spend money.) Universal has gone in a slightly different direction, creating queues that guests actually want to spend more time in. The concept of “feeling rushed” in a theme park line may seem incomprehensible to anyone who has waited an hour in the Florida humidity for it’s a small world or suffered through the mind-numbing banality of the Soarin’ queue, but believe it or not, it’s true.

But which of Universal’s queues are the best? We polled some of the biggest names in Universal fandom (including Seth Kubersky – author of the Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando – Orlando United, Parkscope, the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast and more) and have tabulated the results. So sit back, look out for the neuralyzer at the end, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – Men In Black: Alien Attack

The queue for Men In Black: Alien Attack checks off several items we consider crucial to having a good queue, not the least of which is that you are in air conditioning for a long time. That may seem like a minor thing until you’ve almost experienced the sensation of melting while waiting outside for The Simpsons Ride or Rip, Ride, Rockit. It also recreates several areas that many guests will fondly remember from the first Men in Black film. But one of our favorite parts of this queue is that you can actually experience it hands on with a tour of the Immigration Room. Guests aren’t guaranteed this opportunity, but after riding you can ask a Team Member if you can take a tour. This will allow you some unbelievably great photo opportunities, along with a chance to see so many incredible details that Universal Creative has put into this room that the average guest will never see.


Immigration room at Men In Black: Alien Attack. (photo by Travis Terrell)


Men In Black: Alien Attack. (photo by Brandon Glover)


Men in Black: Alien Attack. (photo by Brandon Glover)


The Weapons Room. (photo by Travis Terrell)

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