Posts Tagged ‘Downtown Disney’

SATURDAY SIX Looks at TOWN CENTER in Disney Springs: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

by on May 21, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Town Center in Disney Springs. The great Jim Hill often says about Disney Cruise Line, “You start building a new ship in one economy, and you finish it in a completely different economy.” The same can be said about building things at Walt Disney World except for one thing, it takes even longer. Years ago Downtown Disney was – to be kind – a mess. The parking situation was the absolute worst in Orlando. The two main areas (West Side and The Marketplace) were bookends to a ghost town once Pleasure Island closed in 2008. Finally, in 2013 Disney bit the bullet and announced the area would be completely refurbished and rebranded as Disney Springs.

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Welcome to Disney Springs. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Disney Springs had some growing pains during the first couple years, but it finally turned the corner in 2015 when the first of two parking garages opened along with The Landing (which includes The BOATHOUSE, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, and Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC among other venues.) On May 15, 2016 the final phase of Disney Springs began to open with the launch of Town Center. Many guests gave up going to Downtown Disney during the construction and they will not recognize the place once they come back. In the words of Tony Stark in the recent smash hit Civil War, “You’re in dire need of an upgrade, systemic, top to bottom, 100 point restoration” and that’s exactly what Disney fans got. Today we’re going to look at our favorite parts of Town Center, along with some things that could be a bit better. Let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 – The Area Looks Beautiful at Night

Downtown Disney was many things over the years, but you’re probably not going to find too many people who thought that it was “pretty.” With the opening of Town Center, Disney Springs is now aesthetically pleasing to the eye, both during the day and night. The water features and lighting package of Town Center make it a wonderful place to spend time in as the actual springs are gorgeous.

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Morimoto Asia as seen from The Town Center. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Town Center at night. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Drinks You Must Try At Disney Springs

by on May 14, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at 6 Drinks You Must Try At Disney Springs. Tomorrow, May 15th, is a gigantic day in the evolution of Disney Springs. The Town Center will officially be opening with a whole bunch of new restaurants and retail stores. The Lime parking garage will also start accepting guests, joining the Orange garage, dedicated ramps from I-4, and multiple pedestrian bridges that have been built over the last several years. Disney Springs, which was once the absolute worst place to get to on Disney property (and there wasn’t even a close second) has now become the easiest. We here at the SATURDAY SIX want to make a toast to this momentous occasion, and to do so we’re going to take a look at some drinks you need to try next time you go to Disney Springs. So sit back, remember to always use a coaster, and let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 –  P37 Swirl (Sangria Margarita) at Paradiso 37

The 37 in Paradiso 37‘s name references the 37 countries that make up North, Central, and South America. During the last couple years that Disney Springs has expanded, Paradiso 37 has also increased in size with a large amount of indoor and outdoor seating. You’re going to find a very large drink menu to choose from, but the restaurant’s specialties are tequila, sangrias, and the “coldest beer in the world.” One of their signature drinks is the P37 Swirl, which combines a frozen margarita mixed with frozen sangria. Very tasty, with neither drink overpowering the other, making it a solid choice while dealing with the Florida summer.

Our frozen P37 Margarita swirled with our famous Red Sangria. $10

P37 Swirl at Paradiso 37 in Disney Springs

P37 Swirl. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Now, longtime SATURDAY SIX readers know we certainly weren’t going to pass up the opportunity to try a unique beer. Pardiso 37 has the P37 Lager, which is served at 29 degrees Farenheit (for our non-American readers, that’s like minus 100 degrees Celsius, give or take.) It’s actually a great tasting beer. Not sure how much the temperature adds to it, but it’s a neat gimmick.

P37 Lager in Disney Springs.

P37 Lager, the coldest beer in Orlando. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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P37 Lager, the official beer of Mr. Freeze, (photo by Brandon Glover)

While watching us act like lunatics taking pictures of beer (only the best for you, Dear Reader) a manager showed up with a trio of drinks to try. These included the Prickly Pear Margarita (Don Julio silver tequila, prickly pear syrup, fresh lime juice, and sour mix,) Red Sangria (Premium red wine and brandy combined with pomegranate, guava, and cranberry juice) and White Sangria (Sauvignon Blanc wine, Club Caribe pineapple rum combine with mango and orange). Because of how many tequilas and sangrias that Paradiso 37 has, it’s your go to place at WDW for either.

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Margarita and sangrias (photo by Brandon Glover)

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The Egg-Stravaganza Easter Egg Hunt Returns to Epcot and Disneyland

by on February 12, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

It’s almost that time again. It’s almost time to celebrate Easter in Walt Disney World and Disneyland. For the past few years, Disney has rolled out a special Easter egg hunt which allows guests to search around either Disneyland Resort or the Walt Disney World Resort, trying to find eggs that are uniquely designed to look like Disney characters. This year, the fun will take place at Epcot in Walt Disney World and at Disney California Adventure, Disneyland, and new for 2016, Downtown Disney in Disneyland Resort. Guests will be able to participate in this egg-cellent from March 2-27 (or while supplies last.)

Here’s how it will work: Guests will be able to purchase a map for $5.95, plus tax. With each map stickers are provided that match up with the actual character-themed eggs that can be found in each of the the parks (or Downtown Disney.)  Guests are then able to search via the map’s general locations and when an actual egg is found, the Guest will then place the character egg sticker on the map where the was located. Once all the eggs have been discovered, Guests should return their map to the redemption station for a fun prize.

Here’s a glimpse of what the maps will look like:

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty Two: Candy Apple Cotton-Tini at T-REX Cafe

by on December 22, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY TWENTY TWO: Candy Apple Cotton-Tini at T-REX Cafe

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Candy Apple Cotton-Tini, BEFORE, at T-Rex Care. (photo by Brandon Glover)

T-REX Cafe in Disney Springs is a true dining experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Over-the-top theme park quality theming, an excavation site where guests can dig up fossils, Build-A Dino, the awesome Chocolate Extinction dessert and more, T-Rex cafe is the restaurant your kids always dreamed of. While foodies may find a better meal at the nearby Morimoto Asia or the BOATHOUSE, those looking for an adult beverage are going to be more than happy at the massive Watering Hole bar. The gigantic fishtanks are gorgeous, and the huge octopus above the bar (and the jelly fish lighting fixtures) is impressive. T-REX has a good selection of signature drinks, but for today’s selection we are going with the most theatrical.

Cotton-Tinis are exclusive to T-REX and combine cotton candy, a staple of theme parks, with alcohol. This is a true marriage made in heaven. T-REX offers three varieties, but we went with the Candy Apple Cotton-Tini (also available are Cosmo-Paleo and Tropical versions). Cotton candy is put into the glass, while the bartender mixes the cocktail in a shaker. The cocktail is then poured over the cotton candy and you get to see the liquid completely absorb the candy. It is a very sweet tasting drink and don’t be surprised to see a good amount of sugar at the bottom of the glass when you are done. As a bonus, you get to keep the shaker as well!

Ingredients: Finlandia vodka, DeKuyper sour apple pucker Schnapps and a splash of sweet and sour.

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Candy Apple Cotton-Tini, AFTER. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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10 Possible Extra Costs Onboard a Disney Cruise

by on December 18, 2015

It’s that time of year when we are all thinking about money!  Oops, I mean gift giving!  But money is usually a part of that right?  So let’s talk money onboard a Disney Cruise.

I am often asked how much money you should budget to spend onboard.  My answer is – that totally depends.  I’ve been on cruises where my final bill was over $1000, and I’ve been on cruises where my final bill was $11.  How much you spend onboard will truly be up to you.

Note that I am not including gratuities in this discussion.  Gratuities are an unavoidable expense (unless you are truly channeling the spirit of Scrooge), but you can prepay them before you board.  See my Tips on Tipping blog post for some clarification there.

So let me try to help you plan!  Here are 10 ways Disney Cruise Lines tries to tempt you into spending even more onboard!

x1001. Excursions – The first chance to spend money onboard actually starts before you even get onboard! You can book excursions online as soon as your booking window opens, and they will be charged to your onboard account. You can cancel your excursions up until 3 days prior to your cruise departure date.  If you change your mind onboard, Disney will often let you change excursions as long as the price stays the same or goes up. Depending on the ports you are visiting, you could drop a lot of dough here.  The operative word there is “could”.  Excursions are in no way mandatory and there are other options.  Many ports have nearby beaches you could take a taxi to and/or fun towns to walk around in.  You could also book excursions directly with the tour operators and save money that way.  Finally, you could just stay onboard!  You’re on a beautiful ship with plenty to do!  Nobody is making you get off!  Well not until the end anyway.  Sadly, I can promise you that they will make you get off on the end.

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Nine: Cool-headed Monkey at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar

by on December 9, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where the drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY NINE: Cool-headed Monkey at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Disney Springs)

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Cool-headed Monkey at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The new additions to Disney Springs so far have been terrific. Earlier on this list we have discussed how we were blown away by The BOATHOUSE, but Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar may be the biggest surprise. Disney’s recent attempts to make food and drink experiences from the Star Wars brand have been, at best, unique. A bar based around a character from the Indiana Jones films that no one remembers could have been a complete disaster, but instead it’s actually kinda good. Actually, it’s really good. While not as elaborately themed as Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, Jock Lindsey’s has a much better food menu and generally has much less of a wait to get into.

Our recommendation for the Hangar Bar is the Cool-headed Monkey. One of the most memorable moments from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a dinner scene in which our heroes were served a meal consisting of snakes, live bugs, and monkey brains. The brains were served out of what appeared to be the head of a monkey, causing one character to faint. This is where we should point out that Temple of Doom is by far the darkest of all the Indiana Jones films and is usually the one people like or dislike the most. In a great touch, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar has a drink and souvenir mug to commemorate this classic film moment with the Cool-headed Monkey.

Ingredients: Starr African Rum, Van Der Hum Tangerine Liqueur, fresh Lime Juice, Watermelon, and Pineapple Juice

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Cool-headed Monkey. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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10 Ways To Have Free Family Fun At Disney World

by on December 7, 2015

Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure

Enjoying a little free family fun!

Walt Disney World can be expensive. You know that, I know that. But what if I were to tell you that there are lots of ways to add some magic to your Disney World vacation for absolutely free? That’s right folks, I’m going to share with you 10 of my favorite ways to have family fun around the resort without spending an extra penny.

So without further ado, let’s enjoy some free family fun and save some money!

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

Location: Magic Kingdom

The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an enchanting interactive game where you use spell cards at magic portals to defeat Disney villains. Kids and gamers alike love this experience, especially because they can collect and keep the spell cards.

A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas

Location: Magic Kingdom

During A Pirate’s Adventure join Captain Jack Sparrow on an interactive adventure raiding hidden treasures throughout Adventureland. There are five different missions, each taking about 20 minutes to complete. There is no time limit on the missions, so they can be started and stopped at your leisure. This is a lot of fun for the whole family and each adventure sets off some exciting special effects scattered throughout Adventureland; especially great at night.

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SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2015

by on November 26, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX  is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2015 was another great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, we ask that all Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…

# 6 – Selfie Stick Ban at Walt Disney World

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no_more_selfie_sticks_pamphlet_sethIf you noticed any #Millenials or narcissists wearing black armbands this summer, it was because after banning selfie sticks on Disney attractions earlier in the spring, Walt Disney World completely banned the use of selfie sticks at the parks. Seemingly out of nowhere, the edict came down right after another high profile news story of Disney California Adventure’s California Screamin’ roller coaster being stopped mid ride because of a guest using a selfie stick. On June 26th, WDW guests were given a pamphlet at the parking plaza explaining the selfie stick ban, signage was displayed on the walkways to the parks along with bag check explaining the new policy.

The selfie stick ban was definitely a controversial move to be sure. Universal had earlier become more strict on preventing selfie sticks on rides, but Disney outright stopped people from even entering the park with them. Now we joked earlier about only kids and narcissists using them, the truth is that selfie sticks have become increasingly popular across almost all demographics. While people using selfie sticks inside the parks can be a nuisance, they were starting to become a serious safety factor on attractions. You may have seen what is called an Envelope of Protection as Imagineers test out the attractions. This device makes sure that all the attractions are safe for every rider, basically simulating the possible reach of every guest in the ride vehicle. This is why while it may seem like your may lose your arms in Space Mountain if you hold them up during the ride, but in actuality you are nowhere close to hitting anything. What the Envelope of Protection doesn’t take into account though, is guests holding on to anything that extends their reach.

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4 Reasons We Love The Landing at Disney Springs

by on November 2, 2015

It is difficult for me to admit what I’m about to say — The Landing truly gives Disney Springs its identity. That’s so hard because after all, The Landing at Disney Springs sits on hallowed ground, the former site of one of my favorite places: Pleasure Island. But those days are sadly over and it is time to welcome a whole new experience. Sure, there are still a few finishing touches to come, but there’s lots to enjoy too. As a Pleasure Island fan who is still getting over its closure, I feel compelled (perhaps as my own grieving process) to share why I enjoy The Landing at Disney Springs.

©Disney

©Disney

Waterfront dining

One of the reasons the name and setting of Downtown Disney evolved into Disney Springs is its ideal setting along a glistening lake. None of the previous three sections of Downtown Disney (West Side, Pleasure Island, and the Marketplace) ever really took advantage of the waterfront location. The Landing has changed that.

Three distinct dining destinations feature the lakeside location as a showstopping amenity. Clearly The BOATHOUSE is champion of making the most of the waterfront with the crowning jewel being their Dockside Bar. A stroll down a pier, right alongside the Amphibicar launch, leads to a rectangular bar with seating for about twenty plus about 10 or so high-top tables. Rich dark woods, glistening from fresh polish, brass and nautical accents give an air of casual sophistication. As the various watercraft slowly move through the water, it is difficult to not feel like a member of the privileged few who have found their way to an exclusive, yet welcoming yacht club.

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Frontera Fresco Restaurant to Open at Disney Springs

by on October 22, 2015

Frontera FrescoThe newest restaurant has been announced for Disney Springs and it’s Frontera Fresco, which is being brought to life by celebrity chef, Rick Bayless.

Fontera Fresco will offer authentic Mexican dishes that will include hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads, fresh guacamole, and Mexican-based meat entrees. Specialties will be made with fresh, local ingredients and based off of time-honored recipes.

Of course, this is a Mexican restaurant, so yes, there will be margaritas, as well as beers, wines, and cocktails for Guests to enjoy.

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