Disney’s Art of Animation Resort Ink and Paint Shop
Is shopping a big part of your Walt Disney World Vacation? It’s a big part of mine! I love browsing the numerous stores throughout the Disney World Resort looking for a piece of the magic to bring home, but have you ever noticed that so much of the merchandise lining the shelves of one store is the same as what you find at the next? I mean, I love plush and pins and t-shirts too, but not when it’s in every store. Fortunately, there are a few places scattered around Disney World where you can discover some hard to find souvenirs which is why for today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite Disney World stores for unique merchandise!
Animal Kingdom Lodge Pillow for $24.95
Zawadi Marketplace– Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort’s gift shop is a big favorite among Disney World guests! It’s large and very open; and in addition to your standard gift shop items, has a selection of handmade African art, collectibles, and even books about wildlife. Some items, including plush toys that I’ve seen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park can also be found here too. Now I’m a big fan of the Disney World Resorts and kind of consider them like second homes, so naturally I love a wide selection of resort exclusive merchandise and Zawadi Marketplace has a lot in the form of tees, cups, magnets, artwork, and even home décor.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a Salute to All Nations (But Mostly America). July 4th weekend brings out the patriotism in all of us, and nothing is more American than our favorite theme parks. Created with the opening of Disneyland in 1955, theme parks — along with comic books and jazz music — are one of the rare forms of art that we in the USA have given to the citizens of Earth. Thankfully, they are all so good that the world forgives us for everything else we’ve given them such as Zima, reality television, and the KFC Double Down. So raise Old Glory up to full staff, put Real American on the CD mp3 player, and let’s dive into some theme park American goodness starting with…
Located at the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, the Voices of Liberty are an 8 person a cappella group that will have your heart swelling with pride as they belt out some of the most well known songs paying tribute to our country’s rich history. The playlist includes: “America the Beautiful,” “This Land is Your Land,” “This is My Country,” “You Raise Me Up,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” And you just may hear a song from a little movie called Frozen…
Grab your passport and your poncho, because we’re continuing the rainy refrain from last column with a Best Week Ever visit to Epcot, or as I now call it, Wetcot. Recently, I’ve been on a mission to photograph the menus for every single eatery — table service, quick service, and vendor cart — inside the Walt Disney World parks, as part of our ongoing effort to provide you with the most complete and current WDW menu information anywhere on the internet. (If you think tracking down every food venue across four parks sounds stressful, pity Laurel’s poor fingers as she inputs thousands of items into our database.) But despite my practical purpose in visiting Epcot last week, I couldn’t help but pause for a moment to appreciate some of the park’s overlooked wonders, thanks to the wrath of Mother Nature.
It all started with cheerful blue skies, fluffy clouds, and blazing sunshine as I arrived in early afternoon. Don’t be fooled: this is Central Florida, where the weather can turn on you twice as fast as a spinning teacup.
Here’s what wait times were like in Epcot as I was riding the tram in. Not too ridiculous, considering that this day was predicted as a 9 out of 10 on our crowd calendar.
I had to chuckle as I spotted this construction wall signage near the tram drop-off. Perhaps it’s a not-so-subtle signal to the folks transforming Maelstrom into Frozen Ever After?
Each year during our summer Disney World vacation, we create our own version of the “Amazing Race” where we compete in challenges while racing around Walt Disney World. In the last article, I included a complete version of a race that my family had used in the past and mentioned that I was working on another one. We received an overwhelming response to the post and many requests that I share my newest race. So for all of you fellow Disney World and “Amazing Race” fans, please read on for my latest and greatest “Amazing Race Around World Showcase”!
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Snacks in Epcot’s World Showcase. By now you know we love theme park snacks. From the iconic Mickey Bar and Dole Whip at the Magic Kingdom to the outrageous Brain Freezin’ D’oh-nut Sundae in Springfield USA, we can’t get enough. Today we are going to the holy land of all dining in Walt Disney World, Epcot’s World Showcase. Yes, you know about the incredible restaurants like Via Napoli and bars such as La Cava del Tequila, but we are going to take a look at the underrated dining aspect of World Showcase: the snack department. Everyone has their favorite, so let’s start off the list with….
# 6 – Hand Twisted Pretzel – (Germany)
No offense to the Mickey pretzel but this is THE pretzel to get in Walt Disney World. A hand twisted pretzel in Germany is in fact almost the perfect snack because it’s; A) Easy to eat while touring the park B) Big enough to share C) Is something almost everyone in your party can enjoy D) Goes great with an ice cold beer. Good news on the last point because as luck would have it Germany is also one of the best places to get a beer in World Showcase. How convenient! While we recommend the Oktoberfest brew, you can’t go wrong with the Grapefruit Beer either.
Pretzel and beer? Who wouldn’t be smiling. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Hand twisted pretzel and Altenmunster Oktoberfest. (photo by Brandon Glover)
I love a good Disney tour. It’s so cool getting to go behind the magic and take a look at things that most Guests normally don’t get to see.
So, I’m super stoked about this brand new tour that has been introduced at Epcot called World Showcase: DestiNations. Its goal is to bring culture, history, and Disney magic to life. During this five hour tour, Guests will get to see what inspired the Disney animators in the creation of beloved movie classics. The tour is an all walking tour that highlights the gorgeous architecture and world history, includes a cultural demonstration at one of the pavilions, and the best part is that Guests can also partake in a dining experience at Restaurant Marrakesh.
The cost for the tour is $109 and it takes place daily, departing at 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Park admission is required, and guests must be aged 16 and over. The tour can be booked by calling (407) 939-5277.
The level of detail that Disney Imagineers put into the theming of the parks is astonishing. If I can be perfectly content just sitting in an area and soaking in all the details, then that to me is a wonderfully themed area of a Disney park. The same goes for Disney dining. Obviously, food quality comes first but with the premium that you’re going to pay at Disney, I always try to eat at restaurants that are immersive and give me that feeling that I’ve actually entered the setting that the Imagineers were trying to convey. If you have that same desire to be transported away during your next Disney dining experience then you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find a list of my personal five best themed restaurants at Disney World. Each of these restaurants has excellent theming that will surely enhance your meal. Luckily, the food happens to be great at each of them as well.
5. Flame Tree Barbecue
Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the…snakes?
Starting off our list is the only quick service entry and the only outdoor entry on our list. Located in Animal Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue is my favorite place to eat a meal outdoors in the parks. Animal Kingdom is already a beautiful park so it’s no surprise that Flame Tree lives up to its park’s reputation. There are both covered seating areas and more sunny areas that are overlooking the water with Everest in the distance. There’s also a beautiful pond/pool towards the back of the seating area as well. Along with the great views, the covered areas I mentioned before are cool looking and come complete with a surprisingly “real” Circle of Life theme. Each patio features a predator eating its prey, which shows that Disney can take the kid gloves off every once in a while without going over the top. When it comes down to it, Flame Tree has arguably the best counter service food and best outdoor seating areas in the parks, which make it my fifth most atmospheric restaurant at Disney World. Note: Flame Tree is currently closed during Rivers of Light construction at Animal Kingdom, though some of its seating is open and you can find your smoked meats other places in the park.
Jenna, an awesome reader of the TouringPlans blog, told me how she traveled to Walt Disney World with her family, ranging in ages 2-82 years old. She expressed how the group wanted to stay together the entire time, but it was hard to think of different attractions the whole group could do together and enjoy.
After hearing Jenna’s story, she inspired me to put together this list of activities and attractions that would appeal to a group of all ages.
You’ll notice that I did NOT include any attractions where a guest would have to get in and out of an attraction vehicle. I did this for two reasons:
A. You won’t have to worry about height restrictions!
B. If someone is confined to a wheel chair or electric scooter, that person will not have to stand or do any walking to get on the attraction.
Whether you’re attempting to drink around the world or simply want to stop in at one of your favorite spots in World Showcase, there’s no denying that Epcot is a great place to kick back and have a few. A lot of that has to do with the fact that you can take in the sights and sounds of different cultures from around the world in a single day. Many park guests have made it their mission to have a drink in every single one of the World Showcase countries in one day, which isn’t a task to take lightly. If you’d rather just sample a drink or two and need help prioritizing which countries to hit up, you’re in the right place. Below you’ll find my list of the best countries to drink in at World Showcase in Epcot. When I originally set out to do this list, I was going to rank all the pavilions from best to worst but found that a lot of my descriptions were the same because frankly there isn’t that much to do in a lot them drinking wise besides take in the architecture, walk around the gift shop and move on. With that in mind, I decided to limit the list to the five best pavilions.
I based my rankings on five categories. Each category is scored on a 5-point scale, so there is a total possible score of 25 points. The categories are:
This category focuses on the amount of different drinks available in the pavilion and whether or not they’re any good.
Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’ll be visiting Epcot to test FastPass+, stopping by Downtown Disney for some delicious dining, and finishing up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I can’t believe I fit so much fun into one weekend! You know I do it all for you, so let’s get moving!
We arrived at Epcot in time for rope drop, which we’re doing less and less now that FastPass+ is working so well. Since we were really just there to test the system and shop, we didn’t run to Test Track or Soarin’. Instead we sauntered up to Spaceship Earth and confidently scanned our MagicBands… and were turned away! For the first time since using the system I was told my FastPass+ wasn’t there and I needed to stop by a kiosk or join the standby line. Up to this point we’ve always been allowed into the FastPass+ line on the honor system. Since it was so early we were able to ride with a walk on wait, but want to hear about how our trip to the FastPass+ kiosk went? Be sure to click to read more!