Posts Tagged ‘Epcot’

Disney Changes FastPass+ Tiers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot

by on June 10, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Disney is still constantly tweaking FastPass+ selections that are available for guests, and a brand new tweak is currently on the horizon. Beginning Monday, June 16, Disney will change up the tiers of attractions available for guests at both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here is a look at what will be affected.

At Epcot, originally, Living With the Land was a Tier 2 attraction, while the Epcot Character Spot and Maelstrom were Tier 1 options.

Beginning June 16, Epcot’s tier system will be as follows:

Tier 1 (Choose One)

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Epcot IllumiNations: Is It Worth Your FastPass+?

by on June 2, 2014

IMG_0965There’s something wildly appealing about special viewing for fireworks. Whenever we travel to Disneyland we always book packages that include exclusive spots to see the evening finales. But even as a local I was excited to see what FastPass+ viewing for IllumiNations would offer. Most of all I wanted to know if it was really worth burning one of your valuable tier one FastPass+ choices. So this week I set out to find out if IllumiNations is really worth your FastPass+.

I arrived on a Wednesday night around 7:15pm to very low crowds. Looking at the photo on the left, you can tell the park was pretty empty. My FastPass+ window for arrival was set between 8:35pm – 8:55pm. I had some time to kill, so I hopped a ride on Spaceship Earth with no wait before taking a leisurely walk back to the World Showcase.

Along the way I formulated a plan to try something completely new to me. You’ll have to forgive me if I take a little detour from the subject at hand, but have you tried a cronut? I hadn’t, and now I’m sad I waited so long! They’re available at Refreshment Port on your way to Canada when entering the World Showcase. Half donut, half croissant – but all delicious! You really have to try one the next time you’re here. You’ll be glad you did!

After finishing my snack I decided to find this FastPass+ viewing area. I lucked out because I was already in Canada. The entrance is on the right hand side of the Port of Entry gift shop you see when first entering that side of World Showcase. That’s where my luck ended, because at just a little after 8:00pm the line already stretched pretty far!

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Personalized Souvenirs of Walt Disney World

by on May 30, 2014

As a child with a strange name I longed to find personalized key chains and pencils when souvenir hunting. Even though it was never there, I always hunted through the racks hoping against hope that one day my name would magically appear. Maybe that’s why I’ve scoured Walt Disney World to find the best personalized souvenirs to remember your trip! If you, too, have a weird name, then have no fear, we’ve got you covered.

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Mickey Ears to fit every style!

Mickey Ears: This is an easy one, but anyone can get their his or her name embroidered on a pair of Mickey Ears. Disney has also lightened up on the policies about what can be put on ears these days. I’ll never forget a few years ago when a cast member actually said she had to see my drivers license to put my name on my hat! Locations are available to personalize hats in all four parks and Downtown Disney. Remember, now that fancier fonts available, you normally have to come back later in the day to pick up your personalized hat.

Parasols: While this option can get pricey fast, what little girl doesn’t want one of these? Not only can they be personalized with names, but I’ve even seen art work from Frozen starting to appear on these cute, little umbrellas. Several colors are available. Be sure to stop by early in the day to allow time for the paint to dry on your unique and personalized work of art. You can find these for sale in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom and France in Epcot.

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SATURDAY SIX Special Edition: A Theme Park Tribute to America

by on May 26, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX for Memorial Day is a very special one. A Theme Park Tribute to America. It is thanks to our brave members of the military, both past and present, for the great country we live in and the freedom we have to visit some of the world’s greatest theme parks. Today we’re going into the Orlando parks and looking some of the tributes to America and its soldiers.

# 6 – Spirit of America Fife & Drum corps (Epcot)

fife3

Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps (photo by Brandon Glover)

Who knows where we would be today without the soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps perform a patriotic tribute to them in front of the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot. With marching music and military formations, the Fife & Drum corps evoke the spirit of the Continental Army. Whether it’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “God Bless America,” or “Grand Old Flag,” the four man band (plus a flag bearer) will have your heart pounding in pride.

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Updates to Epcot’s Ride Ratings for the 2015 Unofficial Guide

by on May 21, 2014

Illuminations_BrickerThe Unofficial Guide team got together last month to update our authors’ rating for all of the rides, shows, and attractions in Walt Disney World. I’ve already reported on the criteria for our 5-star rating system and changes to Hollywood Studios’ attractions. Now it’s time for Epcot.

Here’s a list of the Epcot attractions whose authors’ ratings have changed in the 2015 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and a short explanation for the change:

Epcot Character Spot *** Has Mickey, Minnie and Pluto all in one spot, which is good. But not as themed as, say, Princess Fairytale Hall or other meet-and-greets, and a bit more chaotic than most. That doesn’t bother our readers, though, who give it 4.2 stars on average.

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth **** 1/2 It was surprising to see that we hadn’t ever rated IllumiNations, Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. The Studios’ Fantasmic! is Bob’s favorite evening show, and others prefer the Magic Kingdom’s Wishes. But IllumiNations is my favorite. It’s got big visual images, an iconic floating globe that’s both a spherical television and fire-throwing grill. Plus the soundtrack, Gavin Greenaway’s Reflections of Earth, is the best audio accompaniment to any Disney show. (It’s also part of the soundtrack that U.S. Customs and Border Protection plays while you’re waiting in line to enter the country.) Finally, it harkens back to a time when Disney creative didn’t just drag out its animated characters – or the words magic, dream, wishes, and celebrate- to entertain its theme park guests.

Off Kilter *** 1/2 Another surprise in that we’ve not previously rated this Celtic rock band, this group of kilt-clad musicians has been entertaining Epcot audiences since 1997. We’re all big fans of live music, and Off Kilter combines guitar, keyboard, and bagpipes into cover tunes of rock classics, traditional Celtic music, and original songs. Every set is loud, fast, and innovative – the way music should be. Check out Off Kilter’s website here.

That’s it for Epcot’s changes. What attractions would you change? Let us know in the comments below.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Theme Park Bars in Orlando

by on May 17, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers the Top Six Theme Park Bars in Orlando. Reading the recent Epcot After Hours Wind Down reviews got the staff of Saturday Six thinking about the best theme park bars in town, so we grabbed our iPad and pulled up the Walt Disney World Bars and Lounges eGuide as a reference, cashed in our 30 day A.A. chips, and hit the parks to make our final judgements. What follows are the very best of your watering hole options inside the theme parks….

# 6 – Duff Gardens (Universal Studios Florida)

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Some of the 7 Duffs topiaries in front of Duff Gardens (photo by Brandon Glover)

Duff Gardens is one of the newer entries in the parks, making its debut at Universal Studios Florida in August of 2013. The variety of drinks served here is limited (various Duff beers, coke products, Buzz Cola, and the Flaming Moe) but what Duff Gardens lacks in overall drink options, it makes up for in atmosphere and location. The topiaries of the 7 Duffs (Tipsy, Queasy, Surly, Sleazy, Edgy, Dizzy and Remorseful) are incredible. There is a photo op with Duffman and guests are steps away from the wonderful statue of Jebediah Springfield. There is signage within the bar that has the trademark Simpsons wit while cleverly mocking traditional beer advertisements. There is plenty of seating at the bar and there are even more tables bordering the nearby lagoon. Grabbing a couple tacos from Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck and a Duff beer on tap from Duff Gardens is one of our favorite theme park meals.

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New Patagonia Marketplace to Debut at 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on May 15, 2014

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

©Disney

We are currently in the final days of the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, so our attention now immediately turns to Epcot’s other yearly festival, the incredible Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

The festival is a celebration of wonderful delicacies from around the globe. This year will be the 19th annual event, and it is scheduled to open earlier than ever, beginning on Friday, September 19, lasting through Monday, November 10 – an unprecedented 53 days.

As is always the case during these events, quite a few brand new experiences will be introduced with this year’s Festival.

First we’ll start with the Marketplace Booths, which are one of the most popular features of this event. An all new booth will debut called the Patagonia Marketplace, showcasing items from both Argentina and Chile. Dishes will include fresh, sustainable roasted Verlasso salmon, quinoa salad and arugula chimichurri. Also, the Florida Local Marketplace will be renamed the Farm Fresh Marketplace and will serve local flavors, like the new and delicious-sounding “Bacon and Eggs” dish featuring applewood-smoked, pepper-coated bacon, sweet corn, potatoes, Hollandaise, and pickled jalapeños. Other booths will see brand new menu items, including the Brazil Marketplace, which will serve Moqueca de Pescado, a fresh tilapia dish featuring coconut lime sauce and steamed rice.

There will be 25 Marketplace Booths in total found around the World Showcase Promenade this year.

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2014 Eat to the Beat Concert Series Artists Announced

by on May 9, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is rapidly approaching, especially when you consider the extended festival dates announced for this year. (For those who have missed it, the Epcot Food & Wine Festival will run for an unprecedented 53 days, starting a week earlier than normal on September 19 and lasting until November 10.)

Part of this popular festival is the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, where popular bands and solo artists perform nightly. (Of course, once again, I will miss seeing Hanson…my tween self is very sad.)

Each year sees a number of new artists performing, and this year’s series brings Jo Dee Messina, Los Lonely Boys, and Fuel, all for the first time.

The schedule for this year’s Eat to the Beat Concert Series is:

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Escape From Tomorrow DVD and Bluray Released

by on May 5, 2014

Escape from Tomorrow DVD

A scene from Escape from Tomorrow, now available on DVD and Bluray

When Escape From Tomorrow — the creepy monochromatic movie director Randy Moore surreptitiously shot inside Disney resorts –debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it was widely speculated that Mickey’s lawyers would never allow the unauthorized flick to be widely released. As it turned out, the movie was released online last year through online services like iTunes, and (as a counter on their official website attests) the creators have not yet been sued. In fact, the cult film is now set to reach an even wider audience, as Escape From Tomorrow DVDs and Blurays are now available from retailers, and for rental through Netflix’s mail service (sadly, it is not yet offered through Netflix Streaming).

If you are uncertain whether to take the plunge on this surreal stroll through the Disney parks, you can find plenty of professional reviews online. There’s also an interesting article explaining how the movie was shot inside Disney’s parks without Mouse managment’s knowledge or permission.

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Epcot: Nine Dragons Dining Review

by on May 1, 2014

IMG_1934Anyone that read my around the world series already knows that my favorite restaurant in Epcot is Nine Dragons. I’m not sure if that happened because we’re normally able to sneak in without a reservation or because it’s one of the few places that my picky hubby will eat without complaint. I can tell you that over all the years we’ve never had a single bad meal or experience at this awesome restaurant! I’ve been surprised to read mixed reviews on this hidden gem, so I thought it was time to shine some light on one of our favorite dining spots.

So what do you do if you’re wondering around World Showcase Lagoon and find yourself starving but didn’t make that dining reservation six months in advance? Well, one option is to grab some quick service grub or a snack at one of the many seasonal – but practically becoming permanent – dining booths around the world. However, if you feel like spoiling yourself stop by the podium at Nine Dragons. While I’m sure this isn’t always the case, I can tell you we’ve never been turned away. (Of course, we’ve never tried on New Year’s Eve or an equally insane day in the parks). In most cases we’ve been seated in a matter of minutes.

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