Archive for March, 2009

Contemporary Update

by on March 19, 2009

The Bay Lake Tower is nearly ready for guests. Workers are busy moving upwards in the tower and furnishing the remaining room.

The sky bridge connecting the old building to the new is nearly complete. Work to put on glass panels to seperate the interior of the walkway from the elements has begun recently.

Down on the ground level, guests going to the Mgic Kingdom are experiecing a new walkway of their own. The maze of construction fences and refurbishment walls to the park include small elevated bridges, rough/uneven surfaces, and a distinct lack of directional signage. We suggest taking the monorail until construction is complete in this area.

American Idol Isn’t Half Bad

by on March 19, 2009

The American Idol experience is up and running daily shows at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. Our intrepid reporters braved the experience to report back with some good news.

First off, don’t worry about having to arrive terribly early for a show unless it’s a peak day on the crowd calendar. The waiting area opens up roughly 45 minutes before the show and slowly begins to fill. Only in the final 10-15 minutes to showtime does it appear to become “full” on a normal day and often more guests are admitted once the show has begun loading into the main theater. An entertaining preshow plays on overhead screens and runs in a constant loop which is times in sequence with the show itself. It does include full blown Coca Cola commercials in case anyone in your party is squeamish when it comes to crass product advertising.

Inside the main theater the seats are comfortable if a bit cramped and the hosts even explain a proper voting technique to not poke the person next to you in the eye with your elbow. The stage is a dazzling scale-down replica of the real American Idol stage. We were impressed with the technical quality of the whole presentation.

The experience, much to our surpise, is worth the hour of your life (30minutes of show plus waiting and loading). The cast is energetic and the guest talent is often surprisingly good. If hearing someone belt out Disney tunes then perhaps this attraction isn’t for you, but does make a nice addition to the a park themed to showbiz.

A Better Spot

by on March 19, 2009

Character Spot at Epcot has added televisions playing trivia and classic Disney cartoons to its long queue. It’s certainly more entertaining, but it’s still a very long wait if you don’t visit it during the early morning or evening just prior to closing.

AED’s In Parks

by on March 19, 2009

The project we mentioned a few months ago to add new defibrillators to the parks is begin to show up. These new units are placed in readily accessible areas like this one found in the plaza near Mission: SPACE.

McDonald No More

by on March 19, 2009

Restaurants in the parks featuring McDonalds fries and food will no longer offer them. Some are closing briefly for minor overhauls while others are merely changing out their menu boards. All are reopening without McDonalds branded offerings.

Kouzzina To Replace Spoodles

by on March 19, 2009

From Disney PR: Chef Cat Cora and Disney are joining together to open an exciting new family dining restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. Kouzzina by Cat Cora will feature a menu of Mediterranean-style cuisine that pays tribute to the chef’s Greek roots.

The restaurant, to be owned and operated by Disney, is scheduled to open by fall 2009 in the space currently occupied by Spoodles.

“I am pleased to welcome Cat Cora and her engaging new concept for Kouzzina to the Walt Disney World Resort,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “This collaboration between Cat and Disney represents a significant step in our ongoing commitment to offer unique culinary experiences and choices for our guests.”

Birthday Fun Card Restrictions

by on March 19, 2009

A note for any annual passholders who may opt for the Birthday Fun Card while visiting WDW instead of the free birthday admission ticket. The card is only valid for merchandise once you leave the ticket window – if you want to use the value of the card to renew/upgrade your annual pass you must do so right then and there. Walk away and you can only use the card to buy merchandise up to its $75 value at participating locations. It is not good for ticket purchases once you walk away from the window.

Updates for 2009 Christmas Season

by on March 19, 2009

Nothing says “Springtime” like planning for Christmas. We have updated our calendar to reflect the announcement of official dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights and Holidays Around the World for the 2009 Holiday Season.

Magic Kingdom Park Hours Extended

by on March 18, 2009

Disney has extended the Magic Kingdom’s operating schedule through the next few days, to better handle spring break crowds. The Magic Kingdom will be closing at 10 pm on March 17, 18 and 20, 11 pm on March 19, and midnight on March 21-22.

My Stay At The Polynesian Resort

by on March 16, 2009

My friends and I had to opportunity to stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort in December. We had a great time at one of WDW’s most beloved hotels on property. The tropical atmosphere is enchanting and is a welcome respite from the busy parks. With its tiki torches, lush greenery, and deluxe accommodations, the resort is sure to please. This resort is one of the most relaxing places I’ve experienced on the Disney property.

But if sitting still isn’t your thing, recreational activities are plentiful at this resort. The pool at this resort is quite an attraction in itself. I can’t think of anywhere else featuring a water slide with an erupting volcano. There are also several different kinds of watercraft available for rent at the marina. Guests can also lounge on the beaches of Seven Seas Lagoon, but no swimming is permitted in the man made lake. Hammocks and palm trees dot the shoreline providing an excellent viewing spot for the Magic Kingdom’s evening fireworks. Unfortunately being that it was December, it was a bit too chilly to experience any of these activities, but I’ll be sure to report back when I have the chance. Hungry? The Polynesian features two table service restaurants, Kona Café (one of my favorites!) and O’Hana as well as Captain Cook’s, the counter service eatery on the ground floor. If you’d like to catch a show while you eat try the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. We hit the Tambu Lounge one night and had great time. It wasn’t crowded around 1 am (all the sane people were asleep after being in the park all day) and the bartenders were friendly and helpful with recommendations. There is also a pool bar, but we didn’t get to make a stop there. In later blogs I’ll discuss these locations in more depth.

And now for a bit about the rooms. We booked a standard room since we figured we wouldn’t have much time to enjoy the view. We wound up in Tokelau, which was a great location; close to the Great Ceremonial House as well as the bus stops, quiet pool, and TTC. The room was spacious enough for three adults to be comfortable with use of the day bed. At first I was concerned at there only being one sink, but we seemed to manage just fine. The small refrigerator in the room made it easy to keep bottles of water (or whatever else you’d like) cold and ready for the next day in the parks. It was also nice to have nicer sheets, towels, and a real hair dryer. We felt spoiled and wondered if we could ever go back to a value resort again!

While I love most things about this resort, I think my favorite amenity was being on the monorail! If you ask me, the Polynesian has a leg up on the other monorail resorts because you can walk to the TTC. If guests want to spend the day at Epcot, just walk to the TTC without having to go all the way around the loop and then transfer, like they would have to at the other resorts. Additionally, boat service is available to the Magic Kingdom. It offers a lovely view from the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon. Since we couldn’t take the monorail everywhere, we had to try the buses as well. We rarely waited long and the buses were rarely crowded during our entire stay. The only transportation issue I had came at the end of the trip when I had to check in for my flight. It took forever and the scene seemed like a disorganized mess. I’ve had far better service at the airline check in counters at value resorts.

Overall, we had a wonderful stay at the Polynesian Resort. I highly recommend it to anyone who can swing financially swing it. One of the great things about being a 20-something Disney traveler is you get to split the cost of accommodations with your friends!

Next time I’ll take a look at the first of many ways to stop and smell the roses while touring WDW….