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Menu Monday: Whispering Canyon Café Breakfast Review

by on July 20, 2015 4 Comments

Today we are visiting one of my favorite on property breakfast experiences:  Whispering Canyon Café.  I say experience because it is so much more than just a place to eat.  Whispering Canyon is a place to laugh and have a good time.  It is a character breakfast of sorts, but not with your traditional Disney characters and at no additional cost; No Princesses, Mickey, or other Fab Five member here.  The characters I am referring to are the wonderful Cast Member waiters and waitresses.  They bring the restaurant alive, and keep our family coming back for more.

What:  Whispering Canyon Café
Where:  located directly off the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge
When:  Breakfast is served every day 7:30-11:30am
“The goings-on can get a little loud, and that’s just the way we like it.”

To play or not to play.

To play or not to play.

Our last waitress, M.T., was a real hoot.  We had a blast with her sarcastic humor.  She knew how to work her “audiences” as well.  She could read the patrons at her table perfectly and acted accordingly.  The table to our left was a family with 3 children.  She joked with the children and even put one of them “in jail”.  The large table to our right was not in the mood for fun.  They had clearly just come to eat breakfast and not partake in any of the shenanigans.  M.T. reacted accordingly and they got your normal no-fun-all-business waitress.  They were perfectly content.  We have a darker sense of humor and she seemed to tune right in to it.  We were in stiches before our order was even taken.

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Menu Monday: Boma Breakfast Review

by on July 20, 2015 4 Comments

Boma SignLooking for the best breakfast spot in all of Disney World? Look no further than the Boma breakfast buffet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Nestled in a quiet spot on the first floor of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House, you will find this hidden gem. Known for its delicious as well as adventurous dinner buffet complete with the famous Zebra Domes, many guests are unaware that a spectacular breakfast is also served here. The Boma breakfast buffet offers an amazing variety of tasty foods so even the most picky of eaters, like myself, can find plenty of things to try. Boma is my family’s favorite breakfast place in Disney World and when we visited again last month, it did not disappoint!

Thinking of checking it out for yourself on your next Disney World vacation? Read on for everything you need to know about the Boma breakfast buffet.

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SATURDAY SIX SHARK SPECIAL: Six Reasons Universal Fans Are Gonna Love Sharknado 3

by on July 18, 2015 2 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons Universal Fans Are Gonna LOVE Sharknado 3. Unlike some other “Studios” in Orlando (wink wink), Universal Studios Florida continues to be a working production studio for film and television. What do The Godfather, Jaws, and E.T. have in common? None of them were filmed at USF, but you know what was? Bring It On: In It To Win It, Psycho IV: The Beginning, and Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective. That legacy of fine filmmaking continues this very week as on Wednesday, July 22nd at 9/8c the Syfy network will air Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! which had several scenes shot at the Universal Orlando Resort!

For this special edition of the SATURDAY SIX we had to look beyond our usual gang of theme park titans and instead pluck an expert who can not only cut his chops at Universal and Disney, but also wines and dines with the Hollywood Elite. Allow us to introduce BANKS LEE. You probably know Banks from his various duties including host of Attractions Magazine: The Show, treasured podcast guest, videographer, editor, and actor. That’s right, actor. And one of the things Banks used his thespian skills in was a little movie named Sharknado 3.

SHARKANDO_SATSIX_LOGO

Strap yourselves in folks, as we are handing the SATURDAY SIX reigns over to Banks as he tells us exactly why Universal fans are going to LOVE Sharknado 3, starting with…

# 6 – Bruce the Shark gets a cameo

Honestly, how could you have a Sharknado film take place at Universal without having the symbol of the iconic Jaws ride and beloved Amity area make a cameo? Though there was a chance of it not happening. According to the director Anthony Ferrante, in order to film a scene at the Bruce photo-op, they had to get permission from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Thankfully Amblin gave the production crew clearance to film the world’s most famous shark, and the scene will also feature another cameo in the form of Jerry Springer playing a manic tourist.

SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO! -- Pictured: Jerry Springer as Manic Tourist -- (Photo by: Raymond Liu/Syfy)

SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO! — Pictured: Jerry Springer as Manic Tourist and Bruce the shark as “Bruce the shark.” — (Photo by: Raymond Liu/Syfy)

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Disney’s OLD KEY WEST Resort

by on July 18, 2015 9 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Disney’s Old Key West Resort. One of Walt Disney World’s biggest strengths against all of its competitors is the wide variety of unique resorts it has on property to offer guests. We’ve covered several here on the SATURDAY SIX including Value Resorts such as Art of Animation and Pop Century, Moderate Resorts with Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, and Deluxe Resorts including the Contemporary. While our reviews on both Animal Kingdom Lodge and BoardWalk Inn & Villas included a Disney Vacation Club component, today we are going to take a look at our first DVC exclusive resort with Old Key West.

OldKeyWest_MainSIgn

 

In fact, Old Key West was the very first Disney Vacation Club resort built at WDW. Originally named Disney’s Vacation Club Resort in 1991, it wasn’t until 1996 when the name was changed to Old Key West. With its pastel colored buildings and lush vegetation throughout, the resort definitely stands out from the other hotels on property. When Walt Disney said “Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland…the blessing of size” he may have been foreshadowing Old Key West, as the resort itself is massive.

OKW_ConchFlats

Welcome to Conch Flats, the mythical town of Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

 

With the sprawling size comes some downsides, including many rooms being quite far away from the check-in area and several of the resort’s amenities. There is an internal bus system, and the grounds are gorgeous to walk across, but it may be a shock to guests who have not stayed at such a large resort. Thankfully the TouringPlans Hotel Room Request will help make getting a room closer to front easier, but it is still something to consider. That said, the size of Old Key West is also a positive, as it is one of the best places at WDW to spend time at outside of the parks because there is so much to do. So sit back, grab a plate of conch fritters and an ice cold margarita and let’s begin counting down our top six reasons we love OKW starting with…

# 6 – The Sandcastle Pool Area

Anyone who travels with their family on vacation knows how important pools are when it comes to selecting a resort. For our family, pools with slides now rank above any E-Ticket attraction or dining experience at WDW. Old Key West has a total of 4 pools spread out across property, but the Sandcastle Pool located by the front of the resort is where you want to be. In this area you’ll find the main pool along with its incredible 125 foot waterslide and a plethora of  nearby activities. There are several play areas for the younger set, a whirlpool spa, a sandy beach, and even a themed sauna!

OldKeyWest_pool1

The Sandcastle Pool at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

OldKeyWest_pool2

Theming around the Sandcastle Pool.

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of July 17, 2015

by on July 17, 2015 5 Comments

ICYMIHappy Birthday Disneyland!  It’s a glorious day! What is your favorite memory from visiting Disneyland? I personally have quite a few, but I think my favorite is when I finally got on my first Disneyland attraction, Peter Pan’s Flight! I was so excited to finally be there.

This week, we have a non-spoiler review of Ant-Man, looks at Shanghai Disneyland and a celebration of the park that started it all.

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

 

Speaking of Disneyland’s 60th, The Wall Street Journal takes a fond look back at the park we all know and love that started it all.

Also, here are 60 things you may not know about Disneyland. Read the rest of this entry »

Planned Spontaneity: MyMagic+ for the Spur-of-the-Moment Vacationer

by on July 17, 2015 41 Comments

Fastpasses

Ahhh, the good old days!

MyMagic+. Love it or hate it, it’s the reality of Walt Disney World vacations. Whether you are making dining reservations at 180 days or FastPass+ selections at 60 days, MyMagic+ is enough to make your average spontaneous vacation-goer break out in hives. Like me, I’m sure you’ve heard — an possibly participate it — talk of the good old days, where paper FASTPASSES were king and you could always find a walk-up reservation. Alas, we live in the now, and right now planning ahead is the name of the game. So, what is an impulsive tourist to do?

I’m going to preface my answer by first calling myself out as the type-A, uber planner that I am. I’m absolutely thrilled to have joined the Touring Plans team, in part because Touring Plans has fed my Walt Disney World planning obsession for years. It’s true, I think MyMagic+ is about as awesome as your average Disney cupcake, but I understand that I might be the minority on this one. (Don’t judge me!) But just because I am a planner, that doesn’t mean my traveling party is, so I’ve managed to develop a formula for leveraging MyMagic+ to its fullest advantage while leaving in room for those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types.

Festival of Fantasy Circus Swing

Looking to fly by the seat of your pants?

At this point I’m sure you’re asking, “What is this magical Disney secret?! Open those gates so I may unlock your secrets and exploit your riches!” (Humor me, people.) Are you ready for the big reveal? My huge secret to Disney happiness? This is it: I PLAN FOR SPONTANEITY. Before you start calling me crazy, follow my train of thought on this one. I know that if I want to eat at the restaurants I want, I have to make the reservations far in advance. I know that if I want to ride the rides I want, I have to book my FastPass+ selections as soon as the window opens. No matter what, these two things hold true. So if I want to have an unscheduled block of time to do whatever I decide in the moment, I have to plan for it.

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my approach, and while it may not be perfect, it is pretty serviceable, if I do say so myself. I’ll walk you through my method step-by-step, and perhaps you’ll find some aspects that will work for your traveling party! Read the rest of this entry »

World of Color Celebrate Review

by on July 16, 2015 2 Comments

World of Color Celebrate Review

Read our Unofficial review of DCA’s new World of Color Celebrate show starring…wait for it…Neil Patrick Harris (photos by Seth Kubersky).

Nearly two months after after Anaheim kicked off its Diamond Celebration, Disneyland‘s 60th birthday has officially arrived. By now, several members of the Touring Plans team — including Seth Kubersky and Guy Selga — have had a chance to experience the new anniversary nighttime entertainments from multiple angles, so in honor of Disneyland’s big day we’re sharing a sneak preview of the new reviews that we are including in the upcoming Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016. If you missed our previously published Paint the Night coverage, and Disneyland Forever Fireworks review, check them out now. Then read on for our in-depth review of of the newly revamped World of Color show:

World of Color Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney

Authors’ Rating: 4 stars

World of Color Celebrate! Description and Comments

 

The 1,200 high-pressure water nozzles installed under the surface of DCA’s Paradise Bay are the infrastructure for Disney’s $75-million attempt to keep guests in the park (and spending money) until closing time. If you’ve seen or heard about the spectacular fountain show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, World of Color – Celebrate is similar but larger, with more special effects and themed to Disney movies.

 

Though the original version of World of Color was still wildly popular, in honor of Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary it was completely overhauled and given the new subtitle ‘Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney.’ This new ‘special edition’ of World of Color is explicitly a tribute to Walt Disney the man and his “dreams of Disneyland,” and incorporates classic animated images with live-action footage of Uncle Walt and a new musical score, along with clips from dozens of Disney films, attractions, and characters in its 22-minute performance.
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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – July 5 to 11, 2015

by on July 16, 2015

Florida thunderstorms kept Universal Orlando Resort a little less crowded than normal during the first part of last week. However, for the first time in a few months, Universal crowds reached historical levels. Between Monday and Saturday last week we saw Universal wait times get closer to historical averages than we’ve seen in a while. Crowd levels at Universal Studios predicted by the Universal Crowd Calendar were within one index of what we observed every day except Sunday last week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

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Disneyland Forever Fireworks Review

by on July 16, 2015 1 Comment

Disneyland Forever

Learn the best way to experience the Disneyland Forever fireworks in our new 60th Anniversary entertainment review. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Nearly two months after after Anaheim kicked off its Diamond Celebration, Disneyland‘s 60th birthday has officially arrived. By now, several members of the Touring Plans team — including Seth Kubersky and Guy Selga — have had a chance to experience the new anniversary nighttime entertainments from multiple angles, so in honor of Disneyland’s big day we’re sharing a sneak preview of the new reviews that we’re including in the upcoming Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016. If you missed our previously published Paint the Night coverage, check it out now. Then read on for our in-depth review of of the all-new Disneyland Forever fireworks:

Disneyland Forever

Authors’ Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Disneyland Forever Description and Comments

As part of its Diamond anniversary celebration, Disneyland retired the popular Remember…Dreams Come True fireworks spectacular (originally created for the park’s 50th birthday) in favor of the all-new Disneyland Forever show. Created by extravaganza expert Steve Davison, who designed Wishes and World of Color, his latest production runs the full gamut of special effects: a rousing score, castle lighting, lasers, and an impressive flight from the fairy Tinker Bell – not to mention spectacular fireworks effects. After an introduction evoking the orange tree groves that originally covered Anaheim, the show sails through memorable musical vignettes from beloved Disney movies.

 

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – July 5 to 11, 2015

by on July 16, 2015 1 Comment

Thundershowers kept crowds quite low for the days following the July 4th holiday last Saturday. Like New Year’s Day, the crowds following an evening celebration can be fairly light but this year they were especially light after July 4th. By mid-week we saw crowds return to expected levels. The Disney World Crowd Calendar predictions for Magic Kingdom continue to be excellent with only one day missing by more than one index level – on Saturday.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:

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