Archive for July, 2015

Garden Grill to Start Serving Breakfast and Lunch

by on July 28, 2015

The LandAre you a fan of Garden Grill at The Land Pavilion at Epcot? Well, now you can enjoy two new character meals at the popular Table Service location – breakfast and lunch.

Chip n’ Dale’s Breakfast Harvest Feast will include delights like biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, Mickey waffles, and Chip’s Sticky Bun Bake. (Oh yum…I can feel the sugar coma.)

Lunch will include similar items that are currently served at dinner, like the “Living with the Land” harvest-inspired farmer’s salad, char grilled filet of beef, turkey breast, veggies, and more.

Breakfast and lunch will both be served family-style and will continue to be an all-you-care-to-enjoy meal. Breakfast and lunch offerings will begin on November 8. To make reservations, call (407) WDW-DINE.

My Favorite Disney World Stores for Unique Merchandise

by on July 28, 2015

Art of Animation Ink and Paint

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!

AKL

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.

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Details on Chase Lounge for Epcot Food and Wine Festival

by on July 27, 2015

Chase Lounge 1Chase is the official sponsor of the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, which means that once again, the Chase Lounge will be returning to the American Adventure Parlor at the American Adventure Pavilion. This lounge is found on the third floor,with its entrance found between the attraction and the gift shop.

The lounge allows guests to have a seat, relax, grab a complimentary soft drink, recharge batteries, learn about exclusive perks and benefits of the Chase Visa Card and – most importantly – soak up some much needed air conditioning! (Trust me. Touring and eating around World Showcase can be extremely HOT, especially during those peak afternoon times! Just because it’s September, October, or November doesn’t mean that you won’t feel like a puddle of goo after touring around in the blazing Florida sun.)

During last year’s festival, beer and wine were also available to purchase; however, it is unclear if this will be available at this year’s festival. Also, in previous years guests could obtain preferred viewing of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth as long as wristbands (which were distributed on a first come, first served basis) were available. No word yet on if that will be available for guests, either. I’ll make sure to keep you posted. 

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Is It Still Worth Your Time?

by on July 27, 2015

Hat demolition

The Sorcerer’s Hat is one of many recent departures from Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Another day, another closure. The Magic of Disney Animation has seen its last pen stroke, adding it to the ever-lengthening list of attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that have been shuttered without any replacements announced. Indeed, in the time it’s taken you to read this opening paragraph, Disney has probably closed 3 more attractions. With this being the state of affairs, you may be thinking that there’s no good reason to bother with Hollywood Studios in its current form and that you should cross it off your list until some time in the 2020’s — and that seems to be a popular refrain within the Disney fan community.

This perception notwithstanding, however, the reality is that most of the closures were of attractions that were already waning in popularity, while the things that have served as the backbone of the park over recent years are still alive and well. While it would be tough to argue that Hollywood Studios is a “must-do” or that you should build a vacation around it at this point in its life cycle, there remain plenty of good reasons to pay it a visit:

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Guests Can Now Choose To Opt-Out Of Receiving MagicBands

by on July 27, 2015

MagicBandAre you like me? Do you have boxes and boxes of MagicBands? Do you wish that you could opt out of receiving additional MagicBands on subsequent visits? Well now you can!

You see, before, if you had a room reservation or package you would automatically be forced to receive MagicBands, whether you needed them or not. For example, this happened a lot to people who do a lot of split stays. (You’d get a new set of MagicBands for each resort you’d be staying in during your trip.) Many people had expressed the desire to have the opportunity to opt out of receiving subsequent MagicBands.

Well now, Walt Disney World Resort Guests are able to choose to opt out of customizing and receiving a new MagicBand if they already have a MagicBand from a previous visit linked to their account on My Disney Experience. (This can only be done if the existing MagicBand is less than 1 year old, as MagicBands operational lifespan is limited and MagicBands have non-replaceable batteries in them.)

In addition, Guests with more than one reservation during the same visit will only receive one MagicBand for the whole visit if they do not customize a MagicBand for the second reservation.

To opt out, Guests can manage their MagicBand preferences through the ‘Customize Your MagicBand’ section on their My Disney Experience account by either declining a new MagicBand if they prefer to use an existing one or if they choose to reactivate a MagicBand. If you change your mind and decide that you do want the MagicBand sent to you, you will be able to do that.

 

Restaurant Inspection Report: Magic Kingdom

by on July 27, 2015

Even though my husband and I enjoy cooking, we do tend to eat out fairly frequently. The area around Walt Disney World (and Walt Disney World itself) has no shortage of restaurants to try. Tacky tourist restaurants, fine dining, family-style restaurants, and more—we’ve tried a bit of everything. So when I hear a teaser on the news about a local restaurant so bad that it had to be shut down not once, but multiple times, I tend to pay attention. While that particular restaurant was not at Walt Disney World, it did make me wonder how Disney stacks up when it comes to restaurant inspections. Thankfully, that information is available to the public, so into research mode I went.

In a perfect world, all Disney restaurants would have no violations at every inspection. But even with all the pixie dust around, Disney still exists in the real world. In general, restaurants at Disney fare no worse than restaurants anywhere else. In fact, after reading dozens of reviews about local restaurants outside of Walt Disney World and reviews inside Walt Disney World, I am very confident in the safety at any place I eat at Walt Disney World.

There still have to be the best and the worst, however. In general, the smaller the menu, the higher the inspection rating because there is less that can go wrong. When looking at the most recent inspections for the Magic Kingdom, both Cheshire Café and Storybook Treats received perfect inspections. Here’s how some of the other places stacked up.

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A Review of the Pirate’s League at Magic Kingdom

by on July 26, 2015

2015-06-24 at 08-53-17My family and I recently returned from a trip to Walt Disney World during which we had the pleasure of celebrating our son’s fourth birthday. During the intense, Disney-encouraged planning stages of the trip we were faced with the dilemma of how to make it special…okay, more special than having a birthday at Disney World, which is already kind of a big deal. Since we are character meal fiends, it wouldn’t be special enough just to add another one (although we did a whopping 7 on a 10-day trip, including two on the big day). What we settled on was the Pirate’s League at the Magic Kingdom, something we’ve seen the results of, but never tried ourselves.

Of course, part of the reason we never went total pirate was because we didn’t know how our son would handle the makeup involved in turning into a full-on scurvy dog. The other reason was because our daughter, who is 6, has been asking about the immensely popular Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for some time now. Luckily, that desire was waylaid by the discovery of the mermaid packages at the Pirate’s League, but I’m getting ahead of myself — let’s walk through the experience.

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SATURDAY CLASSIX: Six “Secrets” of the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando

by on July 25, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY CLASSIC looks at Six “Secrets” of the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando. Located in CityWalk, directly between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando is the largest Hard Rock in the entire world. With a giant collection of memorabilia that is second to maybe only the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, this particular Hard Rock venue is a dream come true for music lovers. Let’s take a look at the top six “secrets,” shall we?  (Remember, clicking on any picture will open it up in full size)

# 6– A piece of the Berlin Wall sits outside

HRC_Berlin_Wall

A segment of the Berlin Wall

This is one item that many guests haven’t noticed even if they have been to the Hard Rock Cafe many times. On the side of the building, on the walk way which leads to the Blue Man Group, sits a piece of the actual Berlin Wall. An amazing piece of history, the Hard Rock has one the few pieces of the Berlin Wall that you can see in America. There is a strong relationship between rock n’ roll and the fall of communism in the 1980s, with this slab of the Wall being a reminder of that. In related trivia, the Hard Rock Cafe in Munich, Germany has a guitar on display that was actually carved from a piece of the Wall.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Best Restaurants at Universal’s CityWalk

by on July 25, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Best Restaurants at Universal’s CityWalk. Over the last 18 months, CityWalk at the Universal Orlando Resort has undergone an amazing transformation by opening seven new dining locations. These new venues combined with the locations already onsite make for one of the best places in Orlando to experience a wide variety of unique dining. Today we are going to look at the Very Best restaurants in CityWalk and to do so we consulted a blue ribbon panel comprised of Universal podcasters and bloggers. Their votes have been tabulated, and let’s begin the countdown of good eatin’ starting with…

# 6 – Antojitos

Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food is a postmodern tribute to Mexican street culture featuring a large open kitchen framed by graffiti graphics and eye-catching neon. The downstairs area has a central bar with surrounding booths fashioned from reclaimed wood and metal. This area can get very noisy, so if you want a quieter meal, ask for one of the private rooms upstairs. Or, grab a seat on the patio or balcony to watch the CityWalk crowds go by. With the best selection of tequila this side of La Cava del Tequila, Antojitos is at it’s best while sipping on a strong margarita and enjoying house made guacamole. The restaurant has several features that are pretty much unforgettable; several tables which look like giant bird cages, a wall of tattooed plastic baby dolls, and a multi-colored mission-style facade. While I was apprehensive about that vibrant color scheme when seeing the original concept art, I find myself drawn to this area because of the eye catching colors and the huge weather vane sitting at the top. One of the most fun parts of the restaurant is the mariachi band that will alternate between traditional Mexican music and covering popular songs from today. It’s fantastic! Antojitos was the first restaurant in CityWalk to be a Universal creation and they nailed it.

Antojitos_glover

Antojitos Authentic Mexican. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Antojitos_seth

Empanadas Tres Marias at Antojitos. (photo by Seth Kubersky)

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Disney Introduces New Tour – Escape to Walt’s Wilderness

by on July 24, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Are you a fan of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort? Or do you really enjoy the outdoors? Well, then I have the tour for you with the brand new, Escape to Walt’s Wilderness Tour. This experience gives Guests a glance at the natural surroundings that became the perfect setting to accommodate Walt Disney’s grand dreams.

The adventure begins at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Marina where tour guides will take guests on-board pontoon boats for an eco-history tour of Bay Lake.

After arriving at Disney’s Fort Wilderness, Guests will head to the shore of Marshmallow Marsh for breakfast on the beach beside a giant bonfire and a enjoy camp-style breakfast that will include locally-sourced citrus salad, egg frittata, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, granola, coffee and juice. From there, the group will travel by horse-drawn wagon to the Settlement and Pioneer Hall and then will make their way over take part in an archery opportunity. (It’s time to get your inner Merida flowing!) Guests will also take a walk along the railroad tracks to learn more about Walt’s fascination with trains. Finally, Guests will head to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch horse barn to meet the celebrity horses who live and work at the Walt Disney World Resort.

In addition, A photographer will be on hand to capture photos of the group during the experience and for those who have purchased Memory Maker, those photos will be included. If you haven’t purchased Memory Maker, the photos will also be available a la carte on the Disney Photopass website.

This tour is a unique 5-hour experience that is available twice a week from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on select days and costs $109 per person, plus tax. Participants must be at least 7 years of age and availability is limited.

To book or for more information, call 407-WDW-PLAY.