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The Best (and the Worst!) Pizza in Disney World

Disney Food Blog - April 03, 2014 - 12:44 am

Ahhhh…Pizza. I can’t go too many days without indulging in a slice, even when I’m in Walt Disney World. But one thing’s for sure — you and I both know that not all pizza is created equal — and this is definitely true when it comes to Disney.

Today, we’re awarding some Pizza Pie Superlatives. From Best to Worst and Everything In Between, let’s take a look at a few.

And when we’re finished with the awards, I’ve love to hear if you agree! Leave us a comment with your best and worst!

Best All-Around Pizza in Disney World

If you’ve been reading Disney Food Blog for any amount of time, the winner in this category will come as no shock to you. The hands-down best pizza in all of Disney World are the pies you find at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion.

With authentic ingredients right down to the flour, tomatoes, and water they use, these are some serious pies that come closest to the real deal from Naples, Italy. They also taste the most like my favorite New York Style pizza (Lombardi’s!!!!) — the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned!

Quattro Fromaggi Pizza from Via Napoli

You can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas you order here, whether you’re getting a personal size, or you’re sharing with the table.

Build Your Own Pizza with Prosciutto (and/or Other Ingredients…Whatever)

We give high marks to the Quattro Formaggi White Pizza, as well as the Build Your Own with Prosciutto. But really, there are no wrong choices here!

Worst Disney World Pizza

When it comes to pizza that you can safely — no, you definitely should — skip, we’ll chalk this up to…nearly every counter service location in Disney World that serves pizza (just wait, Wolfgang Puck Express fans, we’ve got you covered later in the post). But to give you a frame of reference, we’ll throw Pizza Planet in Disney’s Hollywood Studios under the delivery truck.

Honestly, your kids will love this place. But the pizza here is less, well, pizza-like, and more like a big, puffy, pizza pillow, with just a smidgen of toppings that identify it as pizza.

I mean, the toppings are kinda the point, right? And what am I supposed to do with all that not-good-enough-to-eat-alone bread?

Pepperoni Pizza

Want my advice? Skip the pizza here altogether while you enjoy the super fun setting and video games!

Video Games and Seating Area

And if you’ve just gotta get a bite here, go for their killer Cappuccino Chocolate Cupcake instead.

Best Disney World Pizza to Start Your Day

Do you like to start your day with a little leftover pizza from the night before? Well, at Disney, they have something even better — Breakfast Pizza!

Piled high with breakfast favorites like egg and ham, you’ll find one of our favorite versions on the bountiful breakfast buffet at Trail’s End at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. With colorful veggies, it’s like an omelet on a pizza crust! Healthiness!

Breakfast Pizza at Trail’s End

Other spots we’ve spied breakfast pizza include breakfast at Crystal Palace and the morning meal at Chef Mickey’s. We’ve also had a fun version in some of the resort food courts, like Everything Pop Food Court at Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

Breakfast Pizza at Everything Pop Food Court

There are lots of other spots, too, though, so keep your eyes peeled if pizza for breakfast sounds good to you! And if you can’t wait until your next Disney visit to have the dish, check out our handy Chef Mickey’s breakfast pizza recipe for making it at home!

Most Convenient Disney World Pizza

Sometimes, a day at the parks can prove to be a little too much fun for even the basics — like sitting upright in a booth and eating.

And that’s when Disney Resort Pizza Delivery comes in handy! This is one of my favorite tips from The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining.

Pop Century’s “Peace of Pizza” Delivery Menu!

Nearly every Disney resort — from value locations like Pop Century to moderate and deluxe resorts — offer pizza delivery, either as a standalone dining option, or as part of the room service menu.

Art of Animation Resort Pizza Delivery

Trust me — after a day of running to and fro making the most of every second at Walt Disney World, this can be a heaven-sent option. And as a bonus — cold pizza for breakfast if you’d like to sleep in!

Best Disney World Counter Service Pizza

Before Via Napoli arrived, my favorite spot for pizza enjoyment at Disney World was Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney.

I love Puck’s for its insanely good, better-than-counter-service food anyway. But their pizza (which Puck is known for) is just amazing — especially when compared to the disappointing dish that usually serves as Disney counter service pizza. (See above for how I really feel.)

Pepperoni Pizza at Wolfgang Puck Express

The thin crust is part of the reason I dig this pie so much. But the toppings are always in perfect proportion to the crust as well (and plentiful!).

Amazing Crust — Up Close

And I’m thinking the secret to the success is the wood burning oven they use, which reminds me of other spots that made our “Best of” list. You’ll find similar ovens at Via Napoli, as well as California Grill and Jiko. Which brings me to our next set of favorites…

Best Disney World Flatbread

Pizza’s thinner and even crispier cousin also rates a mention on our list. We’ve had some truly incredible Flatbreads in and around Disney World. But two of our favorites tie in this category, and you’ll find them at California Grill and Jiko.

During our last visit to California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Oven-Dried Tomato Flatbread was a standout. With tangy oven-dried tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella, the dish is simple, but perfectly executed.

Oven-Dried Tomato Flatbread at California Grill

And I’m still dreaming of this Flank Steak Flatbread that I enjoyed on a recent trip to Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge!

Flank Steak Flatbread at Jiko

But keep in mind — both of these popular signature restaurants like to change things up with the seasons – which means you might not see the same options when you arrive for your next advance dining reservation. Every flatbread we’ve had at either spot has been fantastic, though. So order with confidence!

Most Unusual Disney World Pizza

Our final award goes to Splitsville Luxury Lanes. This newly opened entertainment mecca has quickly become a great spot for bowling or dancing the night away! And their menu is enormous, offering a variety of dishes, from sushi to pizza and everything in between. But today, we’re celebrating it as our pick for the Most Unusual Pie.

I’m talking about their amazing Firehouse Pizza, which combines some of my favorite flavors — Buffalo chicken wings in all their glory — into one pizza experience.

Firehouse Pizza at Splitsville

Loaded with diced chicken tenders, mozzarella and bleu cheeses, and a drizzle of ranch dressing, it has everything. And it’s appropriately named, since you might need a firefighter to put out the flames inspired by that spicy Buffalo sauce! You won’t find me complaining, though.

There you have it — the Good, the Bad, and the Unusual when it comes to Pizza in all its permutations at Walt Disney World!

And now I want to hear from YOU! What Pizza Pie Superlatives do you think we should add to the list? Weigh in with your “Best”, “Worst”, and “Most” suggestions below in comments!

Disney Food Blog Fans, be sure to:


Orlando Restaurant Picks

Related posts:

  1. Disney Food for Families: Great Disney World Restaurants for Boys
  2. The Most Popular Disney World Restaurants (and Alternatives When They’re Full)
  3. Best Disney World Restaurants for First Time Disney Visitors


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'Disney Diaries' Blog: Hunting Hidden Mickeys at Disney's Hollywood Studios

icFlorida.com - April 02, 2014 - 03:00 am

As you marvel at the sights and sounds in Disney's Hollywood Studios, stay alert for Hidden Mickeys!  I learned of a new Hidden image just inside the park entrance, on the front porch of Sid Cahuenga's Antiques and Curios Store.

Look for the Dalmatian statue to the left of ...
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'Disney Diaries' Blog: Hunting Hidden Mickeys during the Holidays

icFlorida.com - April 02, 2014 - 03:00 am

If you visit Disney World during the holidays, stay alert for seasonal Hidden Mickeys (and other Hidden Characters!). These images appear only at certain times during the year.

For example, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is showcased every year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The spectacular light show ...
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Star Wars character dining to debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Attractions Magazine - April 01, 2014 - 12:36 pm

Fans of Star Wars Weekends now have the opportunity to take part in character dining experiences during this year’s event from May 4 – June 15, 2014, where they can encounter Darth Vader, Jedi Mickey, and more. To start the day, guests can head to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant for the “Star Wars Dine-In […]
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Walt Disney World Crowd Report March 23 to 29, 2014

TouringPlans.com Blog - April 01, 2014 - 11:11 am

By Fred Hazelton

Crowds were larger last week than we expected although we did predict high crowds most days. The Animal Kingdom hit a crowd level ’10′ while other parks hit a level ’9′ on some days. Some bad weather likely affected wait times later in the week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up day-to-day last week.

The Crowd Report

The Walt Disney World Crowd Report March 23, 2014 to March 29, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday was the first of five days last week where wait times exceeded what we expected. Hollywood Studios was a level ’6′ on our scale as predicted but the other three parks were underestimated by one level (Magic Kingdom), two levels (Animal Kingdom) and three levels (Epcot) respectively. Epcot’s level ’8′ was particularly surprising with a 24-minute average posted wait at Spaceship Earth.

Monday, March 24, 2014

On Monday, it was The Studios that surprised us thanks to higher than expected average wait times at Toy Story Mania (108 minutes), Tower of Terror (84 minutes) and Great Movie Ride (30 minutes). We predicted ’6′, The Studios ended up at a level ’9′. Our predictions did well at the other parks, each missing by only one index level, including a predicted resort-wide level ’7′ that ended up one level too low.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday ended up as the most crowded day of the week which is a rare statement for Walt Disney World. No park had a crowd level lower than ’8′ and the Animal Kingdom reached level ’10′ (we predicted ’8′). Magic Kingdom was an ’8′ as predicted and The Studios also hit a level ’8′, one above our prediction of ’7′. Epcot ended up a level ’9′, two levels higher than the ’7′ we predicted.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our resort-wide prediction of a level ’8′ was one level too low on Wednesday thanks to higher than expected wait times at Epcot (was an ’8′, predicted ’6′) and The Studios (was a ’9′, predicted ’7′). Animal Kingdom remained very crowded as well with a crowd level ’9′. Our prediction of a level ’8′ at Magic Kingdom was very close to what we observed. Only Big Thunder Mountain (72 minutes) and Haunted Mansion (50 minutes) had wait times significantly higher than we predicted.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday’s crowds were the most surprising of the week with the resort-wide crowd level two levels higher than the ’7′ we predicted. That happens only 15% of the time since we launched our new crowd calendar. Thursdays predictions at Magic Kingdom (8) and Animal Kingdom (9) were accurate within our normal range but both Epcot and The Studios surprised us with crowd levels three levels higher than the ’6′s we predicted. At Epcot it was Soarin’ (107 minutes, predicted 77) and Mission: Space (36 minutes, predicted 19) while at The Studios it was Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (102 minutes, predicted 57) and Toy Story Mania (103 minutes, predicted 83) that caused the increases.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Predictions did well on Friday. Although Epcot had a higher crowd level than expected, our resort-wide prediction of a level ’7′ was accurate. We predicted The Studios at a ’5′ and Animal Kingdom ’7′ but observed the reverse. Some bad weather likely influenced the wait times at many attractions on Thursday and Friday.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Resort-wide crowd levels dipped below our predictions for the first time of the week on Saturday, thanks to a crowd level ’5′ at the Magic Kingdom. All other parks were within one of our predictions. In fact, The Studios which hosted Extra Magic Hour morning had a crowd level ’6′ as predicted.

What to Expect This Week March 30 to April 6, 2014

We expect that last week’s crowds may end up being the peak of Spring Break. We expect very crowded parks between now and Easter but likely not to the extent that we saw last week. This is why we feel touring plans are most important this time of year because crowds tend to surprise us more often than most other times of the year. Mix that in with unpredictable weather and planning becomes difficult. A touring plan will protect you against any crowd and if you use Lines to optimize your plan while in the park, you can rest assured you are doing the most to beat the crowds!

To see Walt Disney World Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.

To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.

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Walt Disney World Crowd Report March 23 to 29, 2014 is a post from the TouringPlans.com Blog. Signup for a premium subscription today! Or get news via Email, Twitter, & Facebook.


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Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 30, 2014

Disney Food Blog - March 30, 2014 - 12:55 am

Lots of big news this week, but the two biggest items included two new dining options coming to Disney World…and one being taken away!

Share yer waffles with this guy!

For those of you who are Star Wars fans, we know you’ve been dreaming about dining in a Star Wars themed restaurant for years! Well, we don’t have the cantina for you…yet…but you CAN dine with your favorite Star Wars characters! Read about it here!

And Kouzzina fans need to get back to that restaurant ASAP, as it will be closing on September 30th to make way for a different dining experience.

Click on the links below for more food news from Disney!

Disney Food News

Of course, there’s more! Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including restaurant closures, updates, and more!

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

We asked for top dining picks for Epcot, and DFB reader @dor1973 tweeted a pic from Via Napoli. It’s a priceless photo; just look at the expressions on these young diners!

Pizza!

Our readers continue to amaze us with their food photos. Jennifer tweeted “Thanks so much for your blog & tips to make my vacation better. The boozy dole whip helped too!” Great shot of spiked Dole Whip!!

Adult Dole Whip

We can’t wait to see what our readers share with us next!

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014 e-Book Deal

The fully updated DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014 e-Book is an instantly downloadable PDF guide, featuring over 450 full-color pages of photographs, information, and advice about our favorite subjects — food and dining in Walt Disney World.

It’s guaranteed to help you navigate your way to delicious dining on your next trip! And if you’re ready to get yours now, head on over to DFBGuide.com to pick it up!!

For our Grand Launch Sale, use code: 2014 to get a $4 discount for a limited time! And at the end of this post, we have details on even more savings!

Here Are Just Some Of What You Get With Our 2014 Guide:
  • Over 450 Pages of Disney Dining and Planning information, tips, reviews, and recommendations!
  • An in-depth Disney Dining Restaurant Reviews section, covering all Disney restaurants, food kiosks, bars, and lounges
  • An updated Disney Dining Plan section and price analysis for 2014
  • NEW Disney food and restaurant photos
  • An updated Disney Snacks chapter, including our list of dozens of must-try snacks AND our Top 11 Must-Have Snacks for 2014.
  • An updated section on birthday parties and specialty cakes in Disney World
  • A comprehensive, 10-page chapter of What’s New in Disney World in 2014, including new restaurants, menu updates, and more
  • Details about how the My Magic+ Planning System and FastPass+ will affect your vacation planning
  • Our picks for the 11 Great Snacks you must try this year
  • Scavenger Hunts, Trivia, and Top 5 List updates
  • Bingo Cards
  • Updates on all pertinent facts such as dining hours, prices, resources, phone numbers, and restaurant closures/openings
  • All new restaurant additions, closures, refurbishments, and added dining experiences
  • And much more!

But, of course we’re offering a discount for our Grand Launch week!! Again, to celebrate the launch and to thank you for your support of the blog, we’ll be offering the Guide for $4 off its standard rate for a limited time! Order your copy now at DFBGuide.com and use code: 2014 for your discount!

If you purchased the 2013 Guide and would like to purchase the 2014 Guide, we’ve got a special discount for repeat purchasers. Email me here to get a limited-time, one-use, exclusive discount code to purchase the 2014 Guide at a $6 discount. Please include the email address you used to purchase the 2013 Guide in the body of your email.

For more detailed information and screen shots from the e-Book, head over to DFBGuide.com! With a 100% money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose! Want Even Greater Savings? Here’s How!

Great three awesome e-Books bundled for over 30% off! Limited time only…

Bundle for greater savings!

Our DFB Guide & Snacks Bundle offers:

  1. The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014, PLUS
  2. The DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks,
  3. The DFB Guide to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom Snacks, AND
  4. The DFB Guide to Epcot Snacks

All three are being sold together for the first time –and for a massively discounted price. Just $35.95 instead of the regular price of nearly $60.00.

Our Snack Guides vibrantly display and review over 500 Disney World snacks (!!), but also showcase some of our favorite under-the-radar treats and eats in the parks. Get your DFB Guide & Snacks Bundle — including the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014, the DFB Guide to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom Snacks, the DFB Guide to Epcot Snacks, and the DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks — for over 40% off here.

Find out more about the DFB Guide & Snack Bundle here!

Thanks for your support of the DFB!

A favorite from Sunshine Tree Terrace!

On to the Round-Up!

Mickey Fix highlights an adorable, ceramic Orange Bird figure! If you love Citrus Swirls (yes, I do!!), this merch is a must!

Walt Disney World for Grown Ups showcases the story behind Dinosaur Gertie’s in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

AllEars highlights the best take-home foods from Walt Disney World.

Eating (and Drinking) Around the World dines aboard the Disney Dream.

USA TODAY features best Orlando restaurants for foodies!

MousePlanet announces the end of breakfast at Flo’s V8 Cafe at Cars Land in Disney California Adventure.

Disney Food Blog Fans, be sure to:


Orlando Restaurant Picks

Related posts:

  1. Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 2, 2014
  2. Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 16, 2014
  3. Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 9, 2014


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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 29, 2014 - 12:00 pm

By Derek Burgan

We’ve made it to March, home of Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day, two of the biggest holidays of the year that involve adult beverages. Is it any surprise that with all that alcohol flowing that March is also home to If Pets Had Thumbs Day? While you ponder that existential question, we’re gearing up for our monthly trip to the Disney Outlet Store! This week we’ll be wearing our I Love the Lone Ranger t-shirt, applying our Stitch-in-a-bikini hat pin, and slipping our Mickey Waffle Air Freshener onto the view mirror. Now that we are geared up, it’s time to hit the outlets!

While the month of February had Valentine’s Day, there were almost no items related to the romantic holiday except this Be My Valentine Duffy Bear.

If Strawberry Shortcake and the bear from the movie Ted had a baby, it would probably look like this.

I thought these Bolt plush were really cute, and I don’t understand how these Crush and Squirt plush are at the outlets. I think they are a fantastic bargain.

If you’ve been to the World of Disney store or the larger gift shops at the parks, you’ve probably run into these Disney-Characters-as-Babies plush. Part of me wants to say it’s weird, but I grew up on Muppet Babies, so there is a bit of charm there for me.

Although I think she is hardly recognizable as “Boo” from the Monsters, Inc. movie, this “Baby Boo” has an adorable mini-monster plush with her.

Enough with the cuteness and on to the things nightmares are created from. Feast your eyes on this Rock ‘n’ Roll Roller Coaster shirt featuring Steven Tyler, himself. I’d say this was a nightshirt, but good luck trying to ever sleep again wearing this. Originally $36.95, it is selling for $ 19.95. I only got one thing to say to that: Dream On.

I’m writing this article at 3:30AM because I’ll never be able to sleep again thanks to this shirt…

Believe it or not, there was another Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster shirt on the racks. This one was long sleeved and only $14.95.

Another WDW attraction shirt, this this one for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. I love seeing attraction merchandise at the parks, and it joins event-specific merch (like Food & Wine) and DVC stuff as my favorites.

Originally $19.95, now $9.95

This Buzz Lightyear photo frame was also available ($24.95 marked down to $11.99). Is the fact that it has four “screws” on supposed to represent the part of Buzz where you replace the batteries?

Another attraction piece as this photo frame comes from Splash Mountain. It’s semi-creepy, actually, but I love it. Like the Buzz Lightyear frame, it was originally $24.95 but it sells for $12.99, a dollar more than the Buzz one. I would love to know the reasoning behind some of the prices at the outlets.

I like the idea of the classic Mickey Ears hat, but I think rapid expansion is delivering some really weird stuff, including this Donald Duck version, complete with tail.

Among the Disney things that I collect are the Disney/Star Wars mash-up action figures, and seeing them at the outlet gives me the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. This month was all highs as I picked up a Goofy-as-Chewbacca for $4.99 (originally $8.95) and a Star Wars Weekends exclusive Bean Bunny-as-Wicket for $2.99 (reduced from $14.99). Great deals, and I needed both for my collection. The lows come from when I see the action figures I already bought at full price show up at the outlet, like Rizzo-as-Yoda from Star Wars Weekends 2012.

 

These Chip & Dale-as-Ewoks plush are also from last year’s Star Wars Weekends. Originally $27.95, now $16.95.

Speaking of Disney and Star Wars, this insanely priced “Return of the Mouse” poster was reduced to just under $200. You read that right: $200, and IT WAS REDUCED TO THAT PRICE. I’m a huge Disney fan and a huge Star Wars fan, and this poster doesn’t even make sense. I guess because “Jedi” and “Mouse” have almost the same number of letters? I do like the Hidden Mickey Death Star. In a previous edition of this column a reader speculated that Disney gigantically inflates the price of art so that it can dramatically cut the price and make it seem like you are getting a deal. And now I’m wondering why the print was limited to 95. Why 95?! I’m going too deep into this rabbit hole, time to jump out before I lose my mind.

Wait, what is this? A Lone Ranger coffee table book?!!!

I only have one thing to say about that…

Thank you to Andy Castro for the Big Al picture, as it encapsulates in two words what would take me literally a thousand to write.

Let’s go to something I love. Christmas! This Goofy sweater was fantastic.

A cute Mickey and Minnie one…

And then a football with ears. At least a dozen if not two dozen people had to “ok” this from concept to final product, and it still made it’s way into the stores. Inconceivable! At least we finally found an item that makes those old SI football phones look like a good idea in comparison.

If you like your Mickey Mouse dark and brooding, this sweatshirt is for you. Originally $46.95, now $32.99.

From Epcot’s World Showcase comes this shirt.

Here comes a line of shirts targeting the college sports crowd. I’m assuming they were originally sold at the Team Mickey store at Downtown Disney, which is thankfully being turned into a store worth going to, with the Marketplace Co op opening up this summer.

The shirts below are for women. A college co-ed who is into Disney and sports? Take my advice and put a ring on that finger.

But if you see a girl wearing this Darth Tater shirt, I don’t care how big of a Star Wars fan you are, run.

The longer you stare at this Mickey Giraffe shirt, the more you will become mesmerized. Originally $29.95, now $14.99.

This is one creature even animal lovers don’t mind poachers taking a shot at.

The official shirt of the Disney Blogging Community is $21.99 (reduced from $54.95!).

Rare to see any Oswald products at the outlet. This women’s shirt was originally $29.95 and can be yours for $17.99.

Not sure the picture gets across the stunningly high quality in this soccer jersey. Soccer ranks somewhere between lacrosse and watching paint dry in my list of things to enjoy, but I like this jersey a lot.

Fitted NFL hats were half price. I picked up a San Diego Chargers hat and was surprised to find out my head was a “medium large,” as most who know me would surely guess my head was easily an XXL.

Women’s Mickey Jeans. $9.99. Get a load of these.

Eiffel Tower salt and pepper shakers. Seriously, who is the market for this?!!!

Some Mickey Kitchen items were available, including this serving tray. Originally $16.95, now $6.99.

And these hand towels. Is that supposed to Mickey running away from a fire on the stove? In my mind that’s what it is. Originally $16.95, now $8.99. And now I have an idea. Disney branded smoke detectors that scream “OH BOY!” instead of the loud beeping. PATENT PENDING.

Sometimes I honestly think I dream these items. Here are $100 champagne flutes reduced to only $50. I didn’t ask if that price was for one or both. The fact that it says “flute” makes me think it’s just one. I bet whoever is drinking out of this has an Eiffel Tower salt and pepper shaker on his table.

Anyone need a 3 foot by 5 foot flag of Mexico?

I’m honestly surprised to see all these “it’s a small world” items show up at clearance prices so fast.

Okay, what you see below is a Goofy-with-a-mohawk bandana. Like I could make that up.

Not to be outdone, here’s a Mickey Ears baseball cap with this weird afro. WHAT IS GOING ON?!!!

I mentioned before how much I like seeing DVC items at the outlet. Aulani DVC? That’s like the holy grail. These key rings were originally $12.00, now $6.99.

So many questionable things about this Miss Piggy figure, but the biggest is “why $41.99?” Interesting discount. From the Muppets Least Wanted collection.

This Rapunzel glowing lantern looked pretty cool. Originally $24.95, now $17.99.

Here’s an Old Tyme Mickey Mouse baseball shirt. I know it’s supposed to be the style of the early 1900s, but when I saw this shirt, the first thing that came to my mind was that even the Mickey Mouse baseball player is “juiced.”

Seriously, look at the Mickey baseball player compared to the Mickey basketball player. This Mouse has been taking some PEDs. Shirts were $12.99, reduced from $29.95.

Is it already time to go to my favorite part of the store?

Here’s the vinylmation that was for the 2013 Unleash the Villains event at Disney Hollywood Studios (a.k.a. #IgerWatch). If you can make sense of it, please explain to me in great detail. Imagine all the cool and great villains they brought out to the party (including Oogie Boogie, the Big Band Wolf and Pain & Panic), and this is the vinylmation that encapsulates all of them.

I remember when the Disney Parks Blog talked about this night terrors-inducing, super-size Mickey vinylmation and thinking quite honestly it was the scariest piece of merchandise I have ever seen in my life. Low and behold this figure, which had a limited run of only 500, has shown up at the outlets. I bought # 41/500. I spent $14.99 for it. Want to know the original cost? Take a look at the figure and make a guess. I’ll reveal the price after.

 

$49.95. Can you imagine?! $49.95!! I know that I should be concerned about Crimea, health care reform, and the pollution in China, but it’s stuff like this that keeps me up at night.

But that wasn’t even the highlight of the trip. I now present to you the ultimate piece of Disney Outlet Merchandise. An item that combines almost every element that leads to being unsellable to a human being. Please pay your respects to the runDisney “medal” for your Disney vinylmation.

It may ring up as 99 cents at the register, but it’s priceless to our soul.

There are actually two Disney outlet stores in Orlando. Both are in Orlando Premium Outlet shopping complexes, and they are called Disney’s Character Warehouse, presumably because The Land Of Misfit Toys was already trademarked. There is one Character Warehouse located on International Drive close to Universal Studios (4951 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819), and the other is on Vineland Avenue, right across I-4 near the exits to Disney World (8200 Vineland Ave, Orlando, FL 32821). For this edition of MMM, we went to the location near Disney.

Previous editions of Magic, Memories and Merch: July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014, & February 2014.

If you liked what you read here, you may enjoy THE SATURDAY SIX articles every week on the TouringPlans.com blog, as well as the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store is a post from the TouringPlans.com Blog. Signup for a premium subscription today! Or get news via Email, Twitter, & Facebook.


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Episode 1324 - Unofficial Guide Reader Surveys: Counter Service For AK/DHS

WDW Today Podcast - March 28, 2014 - 10:00 am

Today, we share the results of the 2013 Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World's reader surveys regarding counter service restaurants at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios
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Snack Series: The Mickey Marshmallow Wand

Disney Food Blog - March 28, 2014 - 12:31 am

There are several stops around both Disney World and Disneyland with bakery cases that are full-to-overflowing with eye-catching goodies. In Disney World, these spots include Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Confectionery, Prairie Outpost and Supply, and Big Top Treats; Hollywood Studios’ Sweet Spells; and Downtown Disney’s Goofy’s Candy Company and the Candy Cauldron.

In Disneyland, they include Marceline’s Confectionery, Pooh Corner, Trolley Treats, and the Candy Palace.

Bakery Case

A snack often found in these cases is the Marshmallow Wand. And we mention them on DFB fairly often because they change with the seasons.

Decorated Marshmallow Wands

Their decorative colors, sprinkles, and designs are one of the first things to signify some sort of celebration. We’ve seen them dressed up for the Winter Holidays

Marshmallow Snowmen Wands

… and Halloween!

Ghost Marshmallows

Halloween Sprinkled Marshmallows

They’ve been decorated with conversation hearts for Valentine’s Day.

And they take part in the Wearing O’ the Green on St. Patrick’s Day!

Green Snacks for St. Patrick’s Day

Recently, they even received a blue makeover to honor the Blu-Ray and DVD release of the Disney movie, “Frozen.”

Blue “Frozen” Marshmallow Wands

(Though, we’re sorry, Marshmallow Wands, but this little guy sorta stole your thunder…)

Olaf Candy Apples

All that said, you know something? We’ve never actually reviewed Marshmallow Wands here on DFB! So TODAY is the day that we change that :).

As you’ve already seen here, depending on the time of year, or even just the day of your visit, you may have a choice of a few Marshmallow Wands decorated in various ways. They typically cost $4.99 and are included as a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

I couldn’t resist the Mickey Mouse Marshmallow Wand. A classic!

Mickey Mouse Marshmallow Wand

Now, let me say that I rarely eat marshmallows. In general, I don’t really see the point unless I’m camping and it’s time to make a S’more (I take mine charred to the point of totally burnt, please – and you?).  Because of my lackluster opinion of marshmallows, I thought I might find the Marshmallow Wand to be rather ho-hum, cute though it may be.

This simple snack delivered more than I expected. The chocolate coating completely encompassed the marshmallow and reminded me of a dipped cone, giving a satisfying crunch when you first sink your teeth in. The flavor coupled with the marshmallow, of course, brings to mind S’mores once more.

Closeup of Chocolate Shell

My wand, as you can see, was also sprinkled in colored, glittering sugar, which added a further layer to the texture.

Glittery Sugar

If you prefer even more crunch, you can often find these covered in small, hard-shell chocolate or peanut butter candies.

The marshmallow inside – to my surprise – was actually pretty great as far as marshmallows go . It was soft and fresh. I think you can even tell that from the pictures.

Soft Marshmallow Filling

Soft Marshmallow Filling

Yes, it’s a total sugar pile. Yes, it’s a vacation thing . And, YES, you’re left with a souvenir at the end… a twisty Mickey straw! How clever, right? Two treats for the price of one.

Mickey Straw

It’s yummy, more often than not it’s festive, AND it gives you something to keep. All in all, not a bad deal . Way to earn your kudos, Marshmallow Wand!

Have you tried a Marshmallow Wand? Please let us know your thoughts with a comment!

Disney Food Blog Fans, be sure to:


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Related posts:

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  2. Snack Series: Walt Disney World Jumps on the Cake Pop Bandwagon
  3. Snack Series: The Mickey Premium Bar


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An Hour-by-Hour Look at Disney Park Crowd Levels

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 27, 2014 - 02:00 pm

By Steve Bloom

When touring a Disney theme park, two good ideas are to arrive early and take a mid-day break outside of the theme parks. Even on crowded days, arriving early means that you’ll have relatively low waits for a couple of hours, because most people sleep in on vacation. And a mid-day break means you’ll miss the hottest, most crowded part of the day.

To make this point visually, we’ve created a set of sample charts showing how the crowds build during the day, for sample days at Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom.

If you move your mouse over each box, you will see the hourly crowd value. For reference, the daily park crowd level is listed on the right of the charts.

The April chart for Animal Kingdom show the expected crowd for Easter week:

Animal Kingdom April 2014


Here’s November at Hollywood Studios:

Hollywood Studios November 2014

When the Magic Kingdom closes early for parties, those days typically have lower crows levels. The adjacent days have higher crowds as guest see more value in their park ticket when the Magic Kingdom stays open later and has fireworks:

Magic Kingdom December 2014

 

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Disney World Ticket Type Primer

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 27, 2014 - 10:08 am

By Erin Foster

First time visitors to Walt Disney World are often overwhelmed by the number and variety of ticket options. Here’s a run-down of what’s available so that you can make the best choice for your family’s needs.

One Day Admission: Magic Kingdom Park

What is this?: A one-day pass into the Magic Kingdom park. You can enter and leave the MK as often as you like during that day.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit just the Magic Kingdom and you’re only in the area for one day.

One Day Admission: Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios

What is this?: A one-day pass into either Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can enter and leave your one chosen park as often as you like during that day. This ticket is priced slightly lower than the Magic Kingdom one day admission.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit just one of Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios and you’re only in the area for one day.

Things to know: The pricing for a one day Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or DHS ticket is slightly lower than the pricing for a one day MK ticket.

Multi-Day “Magic Your Way” Base Ticket

What is this?: Multi-day admission to any of Disney’s four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios). You can visit only one of these four parks each day, but can enter and leave that park as often as you like.

  • Multi-day tickets are available for durations ranging from 2-10 days.
  • You may use the ticket to visit any combination of parks. For example, you could go to just the Magic Kingdom for ten days in a row. You could visit Epcot and Hollywood Studios several times, but not the Magic Kingdom, whatever works for you.
  • You have 14-days from the first use of this ticket to consume all the park admissions. These do not have to be consecutive days.

Why would I need this?: You’re interesting in visiting the Disney parks for more than one day in a 14-day period. You don’t need or want to visit multiple parks per day. You’re a good planner or want to economize on vacation spending.

Things to know: You can add days to a multi-day ticket and be charged just the incremental cost of the upgrade. Do this at any WDW ticket window or guest relations office.

Park Hopper Add-On

What is this?: An extra feature you can purchase as an add-on to any single-day or multi-day Disney theme park ticket. The Park Hopper feature allows to you enter more than one of Disney’s theme parks per day. You can read more about Park Hopper features on our Park Hopper FAQ.

Why would I need this?: You want to have visit more than one of Disney’s theme parks in a single day or you’d like to have the flexibility to do so. Possible reasons for this might include the desire to visit all four parks during a three-day or shorter trip or the desire to revisit just a few favorite attractions at one park many times over the course of a longer trip.

Things to know: You can add the Park Hopper option at any point during your trip. However, this is a flat rate product regardless of whether you’re hopping for 2 days or 10. To get the maximum benefit, purchase early in your trip. Annual passes include park hopping as a standard feature. Depending on your circumstances, guests visiting Walt Disney World for more than 7 or 8 days may want to consider whether an annual pass is a better option than just adding the Park Hopper. Pricing varies depending on whether you also purchase the Water Park Fun & More add-on (below).

Water Park Single Day Admission

What is this?: A one-day admission to either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach (but not both). You can leave and reenter the water park as often as you like during a single day.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit a water park during just one day. You are not going to also visit DisneyQuest during this vacation.

DisneyQuest Single Day Admission

What is this?: A one-day admission to the DisneyQuest indoor arcade at Downtown Disney. You can leave and reenter DisneyQuest as often as you like during a single day.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit DisneyQuest during just one day. You are not going to also visit a water park during this vacation.

Water Park Fun & More Add-On

What is this?: An extra feature you can purchase as an add-on to any single-day or multi-day Disney theme park ticket. The Water Park Fun & More option allows you to visit Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, DisneyQuest, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens mini-golf courses (during select hours) or the 9-hole Oak Trail golf course. Admissions are allotted based on the number of days in the base ticket to which the Water Park Fun & More option is added. Learn more from our WPF&M FAQ.

Why would I need this?: You want to visit a water park or DisneyQuest more than once during your visit. You want to extend your vacation without spending more time or money to visit the four main theme parks.

Things to know: You can add the WPF&M option at any point during your trip. If you have concerns about the weather impacting your water park visits, it may make sense to hold off on adding this option until you’re at WDW and see the most updated forecasts. Pricing varies depending on whether you also purchase the Water Park Fun & More add-on (above).

No Expiration Add-On

What is this?: An extra feature you can purchase as an add-on to any multi-day Disney theme park ticket. The no-expire option allows unused park admissions to remain valid indefinitely.

Why would I need this?: You’ve purchased a multi-day theme park ticket and cannot use all the admissions during a single trip. You’re trying to acquire theme park admissions in advance of an anticipated theme park price hike.

Things to know: Unused tickets are good until first use. This means that all single-day theme park tickets are effectively no-expire. All Disney World theme park tickets sold prior to 2005 had the no-expire option automatically included; after 2005 this feature was available only for an extra fee. Beginning in 2013, the no-expire option became available for purchase at the WDW parks and resorts or through authorized WDW ticket wholesalers; you cannot purchase this via the DisneyWorld.com website. You can purchase the no-expire add-on at any point during your trip at a park ticket window or guest relations office. The price is dependent on your original ticket length, not the number of days remaining on the ticket. Do the math to math sure that buying this option actually makes sense.

Event Ticket (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Night of Joy, Post RunDisney race party, etc.)

What is this?: A single admission to one of Disney’s evening special event parties.

Why would I need this?: You want to experience the special event.

Things to know: A regular single or multi-day Magic Your Way ticket will not get you into one of these “hard ticket” special events; they are completely independent of theme park purchases. If you have an event ticket, you do not also need to use a regular theme park admission to attend the event.

Annual Pass

What is this?: Admission to any of Disney’s four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios) for 365 days. Park hopping is allowed. In addition to theme park admission, annual pass holders are entitled to an array of other benefits including free parking at the theme parks, FastPass+ reservation ability, and select room/restaurant/merchandise discounts.

Why would I need this?: You’ll be visiting the Disney theme parks many times over the course of a year. Utilizing the annual pass discounts will bring down the overall cost of your trip.

Premium Annual Pass

What is this?: Basically, it’s an annual pass with the Water Park Fun & More add-on.

Why would I need this?: You want to spend lots of time visiting the water parks and DisneyQuest as well as the theme parks during the course of a year.

Premier Passport

What is this?: It’s a Disney World Premium Annual Pass plus a Disneyland Annual Pass.

Why would I need this?: You’re spending time at the Disney theme parks on both coasts.

Things to know: The Premier Passport allows access to the Disneyland Annual Passholder discounts. These include many discounts unavailable at Disney World. Financially, a Premier Passport purchase may make sense for a Disney World passholder who is only spending a few days at Disneyland.

Disney Quest Annual Pass

What is this?: Admission to DisneyQuest for 365 days.

Why would I need this?: You’re a big fan of DisneyQuest, but don’t want to do anything else at Disney World.

Things to know: If you’re going to visit DisneyQuest more than twice in a year, but not the theme parks, then a DQ annual pass may make sense.

Water Park Annual Pass

What is this?: Admission to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach for 365 days.

Why would I need this?: You’re a big fan of the WaterParks, but don’t want to do anything else at Disney World.

Things to know: If you’re going to visit a water park more than twice in a year, but not the theme parks, then a water park annual pass may make sense. The water park annual pass allows park hopping between Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.

UK Resident Tickets

What is this?: UK residents have access to special ticket offers such as 14 and 21 day tickets that are unavailable to residents of other countries.

Why would I need this?: You’re a Brit interested in staying at Walt Disney World for an extended period of time.

Things to know: UK offers are only available for purchase by guests with UK identification.

Florida Resident Tickets

What is this?: Florida residents have access to special ticket offers such as pricing discounts or seasonal annual passes that are unavailable to residents of other states/countries.

Why would I need this?: You’re a local who enjoys visiting the parks and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money doing so.

Things to know?: Many versions of Florida resident tickets include blackout dates and times. Florida offers are only available for purchase by guests with Florida identification.

Military Tickets

What is this?: Active and retired US military personnel have access to special ticket offers such as reduced pricing that are unavailable to non-military guests.

Why would I need this?: You’re a military family and you’d like to take advantage of a discount offer.

Things to know?: Tickets may need to be purchased through a military base or other designed special location. Military ID is required and restrictions may apply.

Convention Tickets

What is this?: Guests visiting Walt Disney World as part of an on-site convention may be eligible for a reduced cost partial-day ticket for theme park entry.

Why would I need this?: You’re a conventioneer without much free time, but you do want to enjoy the parks for an evening or two.

Things to know?: Convention ID will be required for purchase. Convention tickets may only be purchased at the convention site or through the convention administrator.

Are you a first time Disney World visitor? Do you find ticket selection confusing? Do you think you made a ticket purchase mistake during a Disney visit? Let us know in the comments below.

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Star Wars Character Meals to Take Place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios During Star Wars Weekends

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 26, 2014 - 11:05 am

By Rikki Niblett

©Disney

Are you a fan of Star Wars and character meals? Well, if you are, for the first time ever, select Star Wars characters will take part in not one, but two, different character meal opportunities at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from May 4 to June 15.

Guests will be able to partake in either a breakfast option that will be available at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater or a dinner option that will be available at Hollywood & Vine.

The best news is that these character meals won’t just take place during Star Wars Weekends. Instead, they are scheduled to occur throughout the whole week!

Here’s a look at your options:

The Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine

Takes place at Hollywood and Vine for dinner. This meal will have guests meeting Disney characters dressed as their favorite Star Wars character. Guests will get to meet Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, Stormtrooper Donald, and Ewoks Chip & Dale. Dinner starts at 4:15pm and lasts until park close. The prices are $55.99 for adults ages 10 and up (or $59.99 with Fantasmic! Dinner Package), and $33.99 for children ages 3-9 (or $36.99 with Fantasmic! Dinner Package). Guests will receive a digital download copy of their photograph with Chip and Dale.

Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast

This meal will take place at the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to noon. At this meal guests may meet Stormtroopers, Jawa, Greedo, Boba Fett, and Darth Vader. Best of all, it appears that instead of showing classic sci-fi movie clips, the theater will show Star Wars clips! Pricing is $47.99 for adults ages 10 and up and $29.99 for children ages 3-9. This meal also includes a digital photo of your party.

To make reservations for either of these meals, I suggest you call (407) WDW-DINE.

This is going to be an extremely popular experience. so make your reservations as soon as possible.

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News!! Star Wars Themed Character Meals at Disney World During Star Wars Weekends

Disney Food Blog - March 26, 2014 - 12:52 am

Yes. You heard us correctly.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will feature new Star Wars themed character meals for a limited time only!

When Star Wars Character Meals begin on May 4th, dinner at the Hollywood & Vine restaurant and breakfast at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater will offer these galactic experiences through June 15, 2014. Note that the character meals are available all week — not just on weekends!

Meet These Awesome Friends at Star Wars Themed Character Meals This Year!

Booking begins March 26! These will be popular so we recommend dialing (407) 939-5277 at lightspeed.

The Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine

At Hollywood and Vine, dinner will feature Disney characters wearing their Star Wars best! You may get the chance to meet Ewok Chip & Dale, Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, and/or Stormtrooper Donald. Dinner seatings start at 4:15pm and go until park close (8pm-9:30pm) for $55.99 adults and $33.99 kids 3-9.

Make your Star Wars experience extra special with a Fantasmic dinner package for adults $59.99; kids 3-9 are $36.99. The meals include a digital download of a photograph with Chip and Dale! Sweet.

Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast

Sci-Fi will offer breakfast reservations from 8am until noon — so fun! The cost is $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for young padawans. This also includes a digital photo of your party on a commemorative PhotoPass card.

Characters for breakfast include Stormtroopers, Jawa, Greedo, Boba Fett, and DARTH VADER.

Share yer waffles with this guy!

Instead of the usual science fiction movie clips, the restaurant’s big screen will feature

trailers, clips, and music from Star Wars!

To make an advance dining reservation for these Star Wars Weekends, call (407) 939-5277 from 7am to 11pm Eastern Time. A credit card guarantee is required at time of booking.

Both experiences are 2 credits on the Disney Dining Plan.

All info is subject to change, but bookings are going fast! Stay tuned to Disney Food Blog for updates!

So Star Wars fans; do you want to dine with Darth Vader? Let us know in the comments below! We’re already dialing… .

Disney Food Blog Fans, be sure to:


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Related posts:

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Time Traveling: The American Idol Experience

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 23, 2014 - 06:00 am

By Daisy Lauren

Wow – it’s been a while since we’ve been time traveling, hasn’t it? Finally, the other day, while I was walking through Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I felt the past calling out from The American Idol Experience. I remembered the other two great shows that lived there before and wanted to share them with you. Before we get started, it’s a good idea to point out that these are mostly my memories. I do tend to prefer the sugary sweet things in life, and I fondly remember my past at Disney. If you remember it differently, please leave your comments below! I’d love to hear what everyone else thought about these old shows.

Doug Live!

If you stepped into a time machine and traveled back to March of 1999, you’d find Doug Live! performed several times a day in this theater. I’ve heard the show described as “nightmarish,” but it was one of my all time favorites. Doug was a Nickelodeon cartoon until Disney purchased the show’s production company in 1996. The cartoon hit the air waves in 1991 and focused on a young, awkward teenage boy and his dog. That was right around the time I was a young, awkward, not quite teenage girl with a cat. You can see how I became a fan! The stage show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was energetic, bright, and full of memorable situations from the cartoon. At the beginning of each show, a host would come out and select adults to perform later in the show as Doug’s favorite band, The Beets. Two seats were reserved in the front row for the actors to sit in during the “concert”. The show was staged in a very creative way, and huge projection walls were used to transport you through the story. If you never saw this show, it’s easy to find on YouTube. It’s worth taking a look at this very short-lived piece of Disney history. Doug Live! closed abruptly in May of 2001, leaving this theater vacant for nearly eight years. I heard several rumors as to why it closed with short notice, but I’m not sure any of them are credible. In any case, this is a show I still miss and hope many of you had a chance to enjoy!

Superstar Television

Going back further in time you’d find yourself in 1989, and Superstar Television would be one of the absolute must see attractions in the park. This show took guests and made them the stars of popular television shows using green screen technology. The show was a journey through time, starting with the very early days of television and the morning news. then going though a standard programming day that ended with modern late night shows. I can remember standing in line for this very popular show and being very impressed that people really looked like they were in TV shows. It’s laughable now, looking back at it! But don’t take my word for it, check out this high quality video. (Speaking of laughable, check out the hair on the host!) The show really gets started about four minutes into that video in case you want to get right to the good stuff. Superstar Television performed its last show in 1999. I remember this was one of the first attractions whose closing made me was genuinely sad. Since guests were used in the show, every performance was a little different. I’m glad there’s at least one video out there preserving this long lost attraction.

So what do you remember from these pieces of Disney history? Did you ever get to see these shows? Do they sound like fun? Also, what would you like to see next for the American Idol theater? Personally, I have a Princess and the Frog stage show perfected in my mind. It would be so pretty in that theater! What are your ideas? I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say. Thanks so much for reading!

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More Adventures with Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+: DHS & DAK Edition

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 22, 2014 - 12:00 pm

By Seth Kubersky

Welcome back to the continuing saga of Walt Disney World’s recent roll-out of Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+ privileges to the general public. As explained in our last episode, all WDW annual passholders should now be able to make up to 7 days of FastPass+ reservations within the next 30 days through the My Disney Experience website and apps. Last time, we looked at how I set up my first week of FastPass+ selections, and saw how my first intinerary turned out at Epcot (TLDR: not perfect, but pretty good).

For this followup, follow me to Walt Disney World two least-popular parks for examples of how advance FastPass+ may (or may not) work to your advantage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios FastPass+

Much like my day at Epcot, I arrived at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios parking lot a little after 1:00 p.m.


While waiting for the tram, I logged into my MDE account to confirm the FastPass+ returns times I has chosen a few days earlier, check current standby times, and see what other options were still available at that time of day.

Upon entering the park, I walked straight up Sunset Boulevard to my first destination: The Hollywood Tower Hotel.

The posted wait for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was 20 minutes. With FastPass+, my total wait until entering the elevator, including the preshow video in the library, was just over 4 minutes.

Upon exiting, I noticed that the old FASTPASS shelter has been converted to FastPass+ assistance kiosks.

Next door, the down side of FastPass+ can be seen, as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster‘s often-short single rider line was inundated in guests who might have used a FastPass+ instead, if not for the tier system. I waited just over 30 minutes to board as a single rider, versus a 45 minute posted standby queue. Without the tier restrictions, you might chose to use FastPass+ here rather than Tower of Terror or Star Tours, but currently that would preclude obtaining a more-valuable Toy Story Mania or Fantasmic! reservation.

While waiting, I noticed that there were still same-day FastPass+ times available for top attractions like Toy Story Mania.

Intermission time! For lunch, I paid my first visit to the Brown Derby Lounge. This al fresco annex to the indoor table service restaurant has its own exclusive cocktails and small-plate menu, but you can also order from the full Hollywood Brown Derby menu. Best of all, you don’t need an ADR to eat here — just decent weather and a little patience.

The lounge patio is open seating, and I initially had trouble getting the attention of a server. Eventually, my waitress turned things around with pleasant (if not especially prompt) service.

The bourbon-based Jack Diamond cocktail I ordered hit the spot with classic Hollywood style; it also packed a punch, being nearly all liquor aside from the cherry.

My meal of mussels wasn’t as successful. Dubbed “big ones,” the shellfish were of a good size, though far from the largest I’ve seen, and the butter-based broth they were boiled in was heavenly. But nearly half the bivalves in my bowl failed to open their shells during cooking, which any chef will tell you is a sure warning sign not to ingest.

The kitchen thanked me for alerting them to the issue and graciously compensated me on my bill. But next time I’m at the Brown Derby, I’ll stick to the Cobb salad…

Now back to our regularly scheduled attractions. My first post-lunch appointment was at Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. FastPass+ turned the 30 minute posted wait into under ten.

The Star Tours FastPass+ scanners have customized sound effects.

Since I had some time to kill before my final FastPass+ appointment, I stopped in for my umpteenth viewing of MuppetVision 3D. There was no difference between standby and FastPass+ here, making it an amazingly inefficient use of someone’s reservation.

Finally, I finished my DHS vist at Toy Story Mania. Much like Soarin’, I am very rarely at the park at rope drop, and am therefore usually unable to ride this attraction in Disney World because of the absurd standby queue it attracts (unlike its less-crowded California sibling). With my FastPass+ reservation, I was happily exacerbating my carpal tunnel syndrome in pursuit of a stuffed beaver after only ten minutes, instead of the 80 posted above the standby entrance.

Final tally: I took in all four of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ must-do E-Tickets, plus my personal favorite theater show and a table-service meal, in almost exactly three hours.

Disney’s Animal Kindgdom FastPass+

I made my third day of reservations for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a park at which I rarely made much use of FASTPASS in the past. Again, I arrived at the park around 1:00 p.m. (are you sensing a pattern yet?) and walked into waiting for the next show of It’s Tough to Be a Bug — another spectacularly silly spot to squander one of your 3 precious FastPass+ opportunities.

My Animal Kingdom FastPast+ reservations for the afternoon.

Don’t waste a FastPass+ going to the right of this sign!

The Tree of Life (and the Nets of Death).

Upon exiting the Tree of Life theater, I hiked briskly through Asia and Africa to my first FastPass+ appointment at Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Posted standby wait: 20 minutes. Actual FastPass+ wait: 6 minutes.

An unruly giraffe stretched my safari out to nearly twice its normal length, but I got some great close encounters with the fauna, including uncommonly clear sightings of monkeys and the male lion.

The safari whetted my appetite for wildlife, so I strolled through the Pangani Forest to say hello to the adorably ugly naked mole rats, as well as the family of gorillas.

African cultural display near the meerkat area in Pangani Forest.

At this point, it was time to meet up with Len Testa and Laurel Stewart, who were in town for the week doing research. We had some fun attempting to communicate with Russell and Dug’s “Bark-o-lator” at the pair’s meet & greet near the ITTBAB theater entrance.

It was past time for lunch, so I took one for the Touring Plans team and ordered the buffalo chicken waffle sandwich now being offered at Trilo-Bites near the gateway to DinoLand U.S.A.

I’m normally a sucker for chicken and waffle sandwiches, but the combination of pungent bleu cheese dressing and spicy-sour buffalo chicken seasoning overwhelmed the slight sweetness of the freshly-baked waffles, resulting in a sickly contrast of flavors. I suggest holding out for Cletus‘ at Simpsons’ Fast Food Boulevard instead.

Far too quickly after finishing my meal, it was time to hustle to the Himalayas before my Expedition Everest return window closed.

As it turns out, I was about 5 minutes late for my FastPass+ appointment, but my pass registered with no problem, thanks to an unpublicized 15 minute grace period automatically built in to every reservation.

Since I always make time for my feathered friends, I stopped for a duck selfie on my way to my last attraction

.

Quick: which one is the cartoon character?

My final FastPass+ of the day was also my first “epic fail” experience with the system. When I arrived at DINOSAUR, the standby wait was posted as 40 minutes.

Unfortunately, I found myself waiting over 25 minutes in the FastPass+ return line, as the attraction appeared to be processing far fewer guests per hour than the mechanically-similar Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland does.

I noticed numerous ride vehicles dispatched with half-empty rows; it’s a shame Walt Disney World can’t devise a way to offer single rider access at this attraction as Disneyland does for Indy.

When I finally made it back from the Cretaceous period, I was a little behind my intended itinerary. But I still managed to enjoy every Animal Kingdom E-Ticket that doesn’t get you soaked, a show, an animal exhibit, and some indigestion, all within a 3½ hour span.

Final Thoughts

I was a self-admitted skeptic of FastPass+ plus before annual passholders had the ability to make advance reservations, but now I’m becoming a believer. Unlike out-of-town visitors who attend a park from rope-drop to closing, local resident annual passholders like myself often like to drop into Disney for a few hours in the afternoon.

Under the old FASTPASS, top attractions were often sold out before I even arrived, or those that were left were too late int the day for me to use. FastPass+ seems tailor-made for guests like me, who can now show up minutes before our scheduled appointments, and experience three E-Tickets in as many hours with minimal waiting.

Even if you aren’t a hit-and-run visitor like myself, you can still take advantage of my technique if you purchase a parkhopper. Make FastPass+ reservations for one park in early/mid afternoon, when queues will be at their peak. Then visit a different park at rope drop, experiencing the top attractions there with short standby lines, and leaving for the second park where you have reservations when waits begin to build.

Come back soon as I explore using annual passholder advance FastPass+ reservations at the Magic Kingdom, including the new Festival of Fantasy parade. In the mean time, leave your comments and questions on FastPass+ below!

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Roger Federer Meets Mickey and Minnie at Walt Disney World

The Disney Blog - March 22, 2014 - 04:54 am

It’s been a busy week for famous people visiting Walt Disney World. In addition to the Tina Fey and Katie Holmes photos posted earlier this week, I’ve heard about a half dozen other celebrities in the parks with their families. One of them was tennis legend Roger Federer. In this photo from March 17, 2014, Federer poses with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the Magic Kingdom. The Swiss-born Federer holds the men’s world record for most Grand Slam tournaments won with 17, and has spent 302 weeks as the world’s number-one ranked male tennis player. Federer is in Florida as one of the top seeds competing in the Sony Open in suburban Miami this week.

(Photo courtesy Disney. Matt Stroshane, photographer)


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Adventures at Epcot with Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 21, 2014 - 12:00 pm

By Seth Kubersky

Walt Disney World regulars rejoiced last week, as the rollout of advance reservation FastPass+ features finally reached all WDW annual passholders. That means that all Disney World annual passholders should be able to access the My Disney Experience website or mobile app and make FastPass+ bookings up to 30 days ahead of time. Previously, I shared my experiences using FastPass+ as an annual passholder making same-day reservations using in-park kiosks, as off-site guests still must do (at least for now). Now, I’m going to detail my personal adventures with week #1 of Annual Passholder advance FastPass+ reservations.

Getting Started with Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+

First of all, if you haven’t already, log into MyDisneyExperience.com and set up an account. Be sure to link your account to your valid annual pass using the ID number on the back of your pass, or voucher number if you have not yet redeemed an online purchase.

Next, visit the Magic Band page to customize your RFID wristband. You can select a color and name, verify your shipping address, and receive confirmation that your order has been received.

According to the webpage, Magic Bands should start shipping to annual passholders shortly.

Until your Magic Band arrives, you can continue to use your RFID-enabled credit-card-sized annual pass to enter the parks and activate FastPass+ sensors.

If you carry a smartphone in the parks, be sure to download the Apple or Android app. The iPad app is probably the most efficient platform for scheduling and adjusting FastPass+ reservations, but the website and phone apps work fairly well.

Making Advance FastPass+ Reservations

As we’ve covered before, making annual passholder advance FastPass+ reservations though My Disney Experience works exactly the same as it does for guests staying in onsite hotels. The only difference is that annual passholders who do not have a current hotel reservation may only book 7 days of advance FastPass+ reservations at a time, out of the next 30 days. That is based on a rolling 30 day calendar, so if you wanted you could make a new reservation every day, up to a total of 7 booked days at a time. (If you have a hotel reservation number tied to your account, you can reserve FastPass+ for as many days as you have booked in the hotel within a 60 day window).

Here’s a visual example, showing how I selected my first few days of FastPass+ reservations:

First, tap the calendar to select the date you want to make FastPass+ reservations for.

When the correct date is shown above, select Make or Manage FastPass+

Next, pick your park.

Now, select up to 3 attractions. If you select fewer than 3, the computer will pick the rest for you, so you might as well chose them all.

The system will suggest up to 4 options for FastPass+ return times. Select the one you like best, and it will be added to you My Plans screen.

If you don’t like one of your FastPass+ choices, tap on it to modify it.

You can replace all your choices, or simply adjust the time or attraction for a single reservation.

It’s easy to see all the available time slots for each attraction, a big improvement over the original FastPass take it or leave it method.

You can also see all your FastPass+ bookings in your My Reservations tab.

 

Day 1: Epcot FastPass+

My first first-hand annual passholder advance FastPass+ experience occured on Thursday afternoon at Epcot. I arrived around 1:00 p.m. and was parked in the the next-to-last spot in the next-to-last row, thanks to a healthy crowd for the newly-opened 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

The first sight I encountered after passing under Spaceship Earth was the epic double-sided queue that has been erected for the FastPass+ kiosks located around the central pin-trading station between the two Innovention wings.

The line seemed to be moving well, thanks to an overwhelming number of tablet-wielding cast members. But you still may want to seek out the less-visible kiosk clusters located in each Innovention breezeway. Better yet, the FastPass+ kiosks in World Showcase always seem relatively uncrowded, likely because there are barely any attractions that offer FastPass+ in that half of the park.

My first stop was The Land, where I used my Soarin’ FastPass+ to soar past a 120 minute posted standby wait in only 8 minutes (including the video preshow).

I haven’t experienced this attraction at Epcot in years, because I’m generally unwilling to sprint for a FastPass at rope drop. FastPass+ changes all that, since I can now sleep in and still ride without an interminable wait. Sadly, the film used in Epcot’s Soarin’ attraction is now so badly scractched (even compared to its less-than-pristine cousin in Disney California Adventure) that I can’t see myself returning until the massive vertical streaks marring the image are removed.

After Soarin’, I sat in on a showing of Captain EO (always assuming it will be retired before I return to the park), followed by a short stroll past some of the Flower and Garden displays.

Incidentally, the best part of this year’s festival is easily the expanded eats, with additional “outdoor kitchen” vending stand turning the even into a mini-Food & Wine Festival.

From the Buttercup Cottage near the UK Pavilion, I liked the pastry-wrapped pork and apple sausage roll, but loved the chese biscuit stuffed with smoked salmon tartare! Even better, I had Off Kilter to serenade me while I ate.

Another delicious discovery was the ghost pepper-dusted tilapia from the Urban Farm Eats stand. The shockingly large slice of fish wasn’t quite as scorching as its name would suggest, but it still packed a mouth-tingling kick.

Next, I considered hopping in Test Track‘s single rider queue, but 40 minutes was longer than I’d like to wait for it — especially considering the similar but superior Radiator Springs Racers usualy moves singles through in 20 to 30 minutes.

The FastPass+ return line looks long but it was moving much more quickly than the standby one.

At this point, it was time to use my second FastPass+ at Mission: SPACE. It was a less efficient experience than Soarin’, because a “brief technical delay” (read: upset stomach) temporarily halted the Orange Team queue and extended my total wait to about 25 minutes, nearly the orginal posted standby.

After my expedition to the red planet, I was ready to ride the big silver one. Spaceship Earth had a 20 minute posted standby, but I was seated in my time machine in about a tenth that time.

Unfortunately, another unexpected delay halted my Judi Dench-guided journey, stranding me with the alphabet-inventing Phonecians for a quarter hour or so. It’s probably my fault for forgetting to thank them…

By the time I emerged, a substantial line had backed up in both the standby and FastPass+ Return queues. This can happen whenever there is a breakdown, but remember that you can adjust your return window at any time up until you active the FastPass+ sensor. If the return queue is congested, check your My Disney Experience app for an alternate time slot, if still available.

Even with my unexpectedly extended stay in the ancient era, I still departed Epcot by 4:30 p.m. In under 3 1/2 hours inside the park, I experienced four attractions, saw some live entertainment and festival decor, and ate lunch. While I have done the same in the past under the old FastPass, I would never have been able to ride Soarin’ at all under this scenario before having annual passholder advance FastPass+ reservation abilities.

Tune in soon for more thrilling tales of my annual passholder advance FastPass+ adventures at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

 

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"Kingdom Keepers" Author Ridley Pearson at Walt Disney World March 26-27

AllEars - March 21, 2014 - 12:00 am

Author Ridley Pearson will make two appearances at Walt Disney World to promote the last installment of his popular "Kingdom Keepers" series. On March 26, the author will be signing books from 4 to 6 p.m. at Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney Marketplace. The next day, March 27, Pearson will visit Writer's Stop at Hollywood Studios from 9 to 11 a.m.
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Mark Hamill Will Appear At Star Wars Weekends for the First Time

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 20, 2014 - 05:04 pm

By Rikki Niblett

©Disney

Did you all just hear that collective gasp? No…it wasn’t because of a busted March Madness bracket…it’s because for the first time ever, Mark Hamill (otherwise known in the Star Wars saga as Luke Skywalker) will appear during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The actor will make his debut during the fourth weekend of Star Wars Weekends, June 6-8.

Fans will have the opportunity to see him in the daily “Legends of the Force” Star Wars-themed motorcade and in a featured talk show, which will likely be held at the Premiere Theater. (The location isn’t official, as of yet. Just speculation on my part.). Hamill will not participate in any autograph signings.

Could this be a great indicator of how amazing Star Wars Weekends will be this year? We’ve already learned that there will be a new fireworks show this year. Only time will tell as to how Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm will further enhance these fantastic fun-filled weekends.

This year, Star Wars Weekends will take place during five consecutive weekends (Friday-Sunday), from May 16 to June 15.

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Luke Skywalker, AKA Mark Hamill, confirmed for Star Wars Weekends June 6-8

The Disney Blog - March 20, 2014 - 04:40 pm

Big news on the intergalactic newswire today. Luke Skywalker, aka actor Mark Hamill, will be making his first ever appearance at a Disney Star Wars Weekends event. He’ll be one of the celebrity guests on June 6-8.

Celebrity guests appear daily in the “Legends of the Force” Star Wars-themed motorcade and in a featured talk show. There might also be other opportunities, but probably not autograph sessions. Instead look for some other special opportunities. Anything Hamill does will likely draw long lines and a big  crowd, so plan to arrive early to secure your spot. They might want to consider using the Indiana Jones arena instead of Premier Theater for his events.

Can’t make it to Star Wars Weekend IV, there are five weekends in total this year:

  • Weekend I: May 16 – 18, 2014
  • Weekend II: May 23 – 25, 2014
  • Weekend III: May 30 – June 1, 2014
  • Weekend IV: June 6 – 8, 2014
  • Weekend V: June 13 – 15, 2014

My hope is that Mark Hamill isn’t the only big announcement Disney World has to make concerning Star Wars. With the acquisition of Lucasfilm, Episode VII in production, and the potential for a whole Star Wars land coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney really needs to kick it up a notch. Hamill’s appearances is a great first step. But I’m hoping for more. What would you like Disney to announce at the upcoming Star Wars Weekends?


Luke Skywalker, AKA Mark Hamill, confirmed for Star Wars Weekends June 6-8 originally posted on
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Tina Fey meets Muppet CoStar at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Disney Blog - March 19, 2014 - 05:30 pm

Saturday Night Live alum Tina Fey has a co-star role in Muppets Most Wanted. it makes perfect sense that she would visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios and meet with one of her co-stars – Sweetums.

Look ma its synergy!


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What’s New Around Walt Disney World: March 19, 2014!

Disney Food Blog - March 19, 2014 - 12:00 pm

It’s time to take another stroll around Disney World and see what’s new and awesome! We’ve got parade pics, Olaf apples, Gaston-themed headwear, and more! Won’t you please join us ?

Fun “Frozen” Finds

Everything’s coming up “Frozen” at Walt Disney World to celebrate the release of the movie on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Blue “Frozen” Treats

Olaf the Snowman has been bestowed a true Disney character honor… He’s now a Candy Apple!

Olaf Candy Apples

Keep an eye out for him in candy locations like Sweet Spells, Main Street Confectionery, Candy Cauldron, and Goofy’s Candy Company… I’m hoping he’s here for the long haul!

You may also spy some favorite treats in a blue hue for a very limited time, including Mickey Krispy Treats and Marshmallow Wands.

Blue “Frozen” Marshmallow Wands

Downtown Disney

A recent walk around Downtown Disney revealed that  the Disney Food Trucks are making their way around. Previously housed primarily between Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues (and occasionally spotted in the grassy area next to Bongos Cuban Cafe), the Food Trucks we’re spotted in new and different places around the West Side.

For instance, the World Showcase of Flavors truck was parked across from Splitsville.

World Showcase of Flavors Food Truck across from Splitsville

And Fantasy Fare has been spotted over in the Marketplace (this is the spot next to World of Disney where Santa’s Chalet can be found during the holidays).

Fantasy Fare Food Truck next to World of Disney

However, the one thing certain about the Food Trucks is that they are ever-changing . And we know something new is coming thanks to these Food Truck Park signs found around Downtown Disney.

Food Truck Park coming to Downtown Disney Orlando

What’s to come? Only time will tell!

The first sure sign of spring at Disney World is the Flower & Garden Festival. But a smaller sign is seeing all the things available to stuff your Easter basket at Ghirardelli.

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

Ghirardelli Easter Merchandise

The Starbucks construction site on the Marketplace side is really starting to take shape. You can now see the triangular top peeking out above the walls, matching the “Coming Soon” artwork.

Starbucks Construction

Artwork on construction walls for Starbucks

And as new things arrive, we also say goodbye to a few things, too… . We bid adieu to Pollo Campero, Bodie’s All-American, and Babycakes NYC in the Marketplace today.

Pollo Campero and Bodie’s All-American

Be sure to keep an eye out for Babycakes selections in the refrigerated section in select Resorts!

You’ll find the Downtown Snow Company kiosk on the path from Marketplace to Pleasure Island.

Downtown Snow Company

This modest little stand serves Shaved Ice and Cinnamon Glazed Roasted Nuts. On my last trip, I spotted a flavor-filled update to the Shaved Ice options. I’ve got to find out what “Wedding Cake” Shaved Ice tastes like!

Downtown Snow Company Shaved Ice Flavors

Over on the West Side, The Smokehouse has posted official operating hours, which fluctuated a bit during opening weeks.

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse Hours

You’ll be able to grab a Smoked Turkey Leg or Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm. I’d recommend an evening visit, since there’s a higher chance you might catch some live music!

Magic Kingdom

Well, you know we adore the Cake Cups over at the Cheshire Café, so we couldn’t resist giving you one more glance at the two new flavorsWhite Chocolate Rabbit and Queen of Hearts Strawberry Shortcake!

White Chocolate Rabbit and Queen of Hearts Strawberry Shortcake Cake Cups

Oh… and there’s the small matter of the new Festival of Fantasy Parade.

Festival of Fantasy Tangled Float

Festival of Fantasy Parade

Festival of Fantasy Maleficent Float

Still… Cake Cups!!! 

A few weeks ago, we took a look at the recently renovated indoor seating at Casey’s Corner. Now, the outdoor seating refurbishment has been revealed, offering more umbrella-covered spots from which to view the new parade, or just enjoy a hot dog with a perfect view of the Castle.

Outdoor Seating at Casey’s Corner

Gaston’s Tavern and Be Our Guest Restaurant Merchandise

For anyone looking to channel their inner-Gaston, this nifty hat can now be yours… complete with antlers!

Gaston’s Tavern Hat

I actually found this at Hollywood Studios, but I’m guessing it’s a pretty safe bet that you can also get it at Bonjour Village Gifts, right next to the place it honors: Gaston’s Tavern (the price is $21.95).

Gaston’s Tavern Hats

While it was difficult to tear my eyes away from that hat, I also noticed this Tapestry Throw featuring the lovely mosaic from the movie which was stunningly replicated at Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Beauty and the Beast Tapestry Throw

Beauty and the Beast Tapestry Throw (image on packaging)

Hollywood Studios

Okay, now this may not exactly be “news,” but it was news to me! I’ll confess, I haven’t seen Fantasmic! over at Hollywood Studios in about a year.

Fantasmic!

Since it had been a while, I wanted to celebrate the occasion with a Mickey Pretzel. When I walked back to the snack stands, I couldn’t help but take a peek at the full menu. To my surprise, you can enjoy a Bread Cone during Fantasmic! Choices are Mac & Cheese and Fiesta Chili-Cheese.

Fantasmic! Snack Stand Menu

This is noteworthy because Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner removed Bread Cones from the menu in favor of Turkey Legs and Pork Shanks a while back (so, Min & Bill’s is where you can grab a Turkey Leg when Toluca Turkey Legs is closed).

Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner

Min & Bill’s Menu

And Marketplace Snacks in Downtown Disney removed Bread Cones months ago to offer an Italian Caprese Wrap and a Grilled Vegetable Sandwich instead.

Marketplace Snacks in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney

Marketplace Snacks Menu

So, it’s good to know that Bread Cones are still in existence somewhere in Disney World… just the thing to nosh while watching Mickey take on Maleficent!

Epcot

While the Flower & Garden Festival remains the big food story at Epcot, one small change has also taken place. The Donkey Cart that can occasionally be spotted in the Italy Pavilion is now offering Lemon Sorbet and Spumone Gelato.

Stand in Epcot’s Italy

Italy Cart Menu

The liqueurs and sparkling wines remain; however, the Pizelle has been removed from the menu for now.

Resorts

Café Rix over in Coronado Springs has switched back entirely to a cold grab-and-go lunch and dinner menu, after offering a limited hot menu for a while.

Cafe Rix Sign

Cafe Rix Menu

This change comes in light of having a new option for hot lunch (and breakfast!) over at the recently opened Las Ventanas.

That’s it for this round! Until next time, Eat and Be Happy!

Have you spotted anything new during a recent trip around the World? We’d love to hear about it in a comment!

Disney Food Blog Fans, be sure to:


Orlando Restaurant Picks

Related posts:

  1. What’s New Around Disney World and Disneyland for March 8, 2014!
  2. Top 5 Must-Try NEW Restaurants in Walt Disney World for 2014
  3. What’s New in Walt Disney World: February 22nd, 2014


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Minnie Mouse Meets Katie Holmes

The Disney Blog - March 19, 2014 - 10:19 am

Katie Holmes has come a long way from Dawson’s Creek. Actually not too far, as that show was filmed up in North Carolina. Minnie Mouse donned her special polka-dot heart dress to poses with Holmes in the New York Street area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

I wonder where Suri was?

(Photo courtesy Disney/ David Roark/Disney, photographer)


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Maleficent Sneak Peek Coming To Walt Disney World and Disneyland

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 18, 2014 - 05:10 pm

By Rikki Niblett

©Disney

The upcoming movie Maleficent premieres in movie theaters around the country starting on May 30, but those who are anxious to learn more about this film will soon be able to do so at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts.

Starting April 18, a special extended sneak peek will take place at Disney California Adventure in the Bug’s Life Theater and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the ABC Sound Studio (the former location of Sounds Dangerous). The preview will be shown daily.

This is similar to what took place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios last year, when Disney was promoting The Lone Ranger.

Who’s excited for Maleficent?

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Photo Finds: Universal, Disney and a trip to downtown Orlando – March 18, 2014

Attractions Magazine - March 18, 2014 - 11:46 am

By Mikey Monheit On this week’s show, we go to Universal for #Potterwatch then over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and then to Downtown Orlando to look around Lake Eola Park and the Amway Center. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgWPF-rlG30
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Safety First: First Aid Locations at Walt Disney World

TouringPlans.com Blog - March 16, 2014 - 06:00 am

By Daisy Lauren

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First Aid at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Nobody wants to think that about ending up ill or injured while at the happiest place on Earth. I know I didn’t anticipate it when it happened to me several years ago. Even though I wasn’t the one on a stretcher, it didn’t make the situation any less frightening. While at first aid I realized that I’d never set foot in the building until I urgently needed help. I imagine most people don’t even think about first aid in the parks until they are in a similar circumstance. Since that first visit I’ve made sure that I’m familiar with Disney World’s first aid locations and the services they offer. Today I thought I’d share a little information with everyone in the hope that you never need to use it!

So what is offered at first aid? The honest answer is that very little is offered medically at first aid stations in the parks. What you can expect are over the counter drugs and remedies. This might be a common request like a band-aid, or something less common like contact lens solution or a contact lens case. If you find yourself needing something, it’s a fair bet they might have it at first aid. Even better, anything offered there is given free of charge. I’m certainly not suggesting that you should use first aid as your personal convenience shop! But if you’ve forgotten something you really need to enjoy your time at the parks, you should stop by and see if they can help.

But I’m hurt – what good is first aid? First aid also has a nurse on staff who can begin the triage process if needed and call for emergency assistance. Since Disney has its own Reedy Creek Fire Department respond, an ambulance normally arrives in less than seven minutes. If your situation isn’t quite this urgent, first aid can assist with setting up an appointment with local urgent care clinics. Disney provides complimentary transportation to and from these appointments. These clinics offer common services you’d normally find at an emergency room. Think broken bones and cuts requiring stitches. But they can also help with a case of the sniffles, bug bites, and just about anything else. Even better, they are able to fill prescriptions on-site so you can get back to your vacation.

Here’s where you can find first aid in each park.

  • Magic Kingdom: Between Casey’s Corner and The Crystal Palace just off Main Street in the direction of Adventureland
  • Epcot: Odyssey Center, which is the building with restrooms between Test Track and the Mexico Pavilion
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Between Guest Services and Sid Cahuenga’s, near the entrance
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Behind the MyMagic+ Service Center in Discovery Island, near the bridge to Africa
  • Typhoon Lagoon: Just behind Leaning Palms
  • Blizzard Beach: Beside Lottawatta Lodge

Waiting Room at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

How about help coming to you? If you’re staying on property at a Disney resort, an in-room medical visit can be arranged by calling the front desk at any time, day or night.

Any cast member can help. If you’re seriously ill, remember you don’t need to make it all the way to first aid. Any cast member can get you the medical help that you need. Don’t be shy asking for assistance! 

I hope this information is helpful for anyone visiting Disney World. Do you have any tips here that I’ve missed? Do you have a story about visiting first aid and how they were able to help you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Thanks so much for reading, and stay safe out there!

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Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 16, 2014

Disney Food Blog - March 16, 2014 - 12:55 am

Have you seen the awesome new Disney food-themed merch slated to hit the shelves at Disney World’s new Marketplace Co-Op shop?

We love the ceramic Dole Whips and Aloha Isle glasses! You’ll also find some great retro themed Tiki room goodies.

And don’t forget to check out the incredible atmosphere (including an interactive chalkboard!!) at Disneyland’s brand new Downtown Disney Starbucks!

Jump on board and follow along for even more awesome Disney Food news, pictures, and posts here on the DFB Disney Food Round-Up!

Click on the links below for more food news from Disney!

Disney Food News

Of course, there’s more! Check out all the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including restaurant closures, and more!

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or from Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

It’s always a good day for a candy apple from Disney. Facebook friend Pam shared this fun photo!

Gorgeous candy apples from Disney

Disney Food Blog readers are always on the look-out for Mickey-shaped food. Heather enjoyed a Mickey brownie with ice cream at the Disney Café by Harrods in London. Adorable!

Mickey brownie and ice cream

We can’t wait to see what our readers share with us next!

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014 e-Book Deal

The fully updated DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2014 e-Book is an instantly downloadable PDF guide, featuring over 450 full-color pages of photographs, information, and advice about our favorite subjects — food and dining in Walt Disney World.

It’s guaranteed to help you navigate your way to delicious dining on your next trip! And if you’re ready to get yours now, head on over to DFBGuide.com to pick it up!!

For our Grand Launch Sale, use code: 2014 to get a $4 discount for a limited time! And at the end of this post, we have details on even more savings!

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  • An updated Disney Snacks chapter, including our list of dozens of must-try snacks AND our Top 11 Must-Have Snacks for 2014.
  • An updated section on birthday parties and specialty cakes in Disney World
  • A comprehensive, 10-page chapter of What’s New in Disney World in 2014, including new restaurants, menu updates, and more
  • Details about how the My Magic+ Planning System and FastPass+ will affect your vacation planning
  • Our picks for the 11 Great Snacks you must try this year
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But, of course we’re offering a discount for our Grand Launch week!! Again, to celebrate the launch and to thank you for your support of the blog, we’ll be offering the Guide for $4 off its standard rate for a limited time! Order your copy now at DFBGuide.com and use code: 2014 for your discount!

If you purchased the 2013 Guide and would like to purchase the 2014 Guide, we’ve got a special discount for repeat purchasers. Email me here to get a limited-time, one-use, exclusive discount code to purchase the 2014 Guide at a $6 discount. Please include the email address you used to purchase the 2013 Guide in the body of your email.

For more detailed information and screen shots from the e-Book, head over to DFBGuide.com! With a 100% money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose! Want Even Greater Savings? Here’s How!

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Star Wars Coffee

On to the Round-Up!

Mickey Fix features Star Wars Dark Side Coffee!

disZine highlights new Muppets merchandise — including coffee mugs! Look for them in Disney Parks soon.

Daveland showcases Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Saloon. Don’t miss the Pepsi-Cola curtain; this venue’s sponsor was Pepsi until 1990.

Eating (and Drinking) Around the World takes a tour through Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival.

AllEars takes a look at the history of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.

Nerdy Nummies cooks with Miss Piggy; check out the Muppets cookies!

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Disney Food Blog Fans, be sure to:


Orlando Restaurant Picks

Related posts:

  1. Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 2, 2014
  2. Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 9, 2014
  3. Disney Food Post Round-Up: January 5, 2014


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Three Great Disney Pie Recipes for Pi Day!

Disney Food Blog - March 14, 2014 - 04:30 pm

Well, it’s Pi Day! And we’ve got three of our favorite Disney pie recipes for you to try this weekend as you celebrate all things pie (as I KNOW you’ll be doing)!

Chicken Pot Pie from 50′s Prime Time Cafe

Here’s a good one if you’re still stuck in the Polar Vortex! 50′s Prime Time Cafe‘s Chicken Pot Pie is the perfect comfort food…and it might just taste better than Mom’s!

Chicken Pot Pie at 50s Prime Time Cafe

But don’t tell her WE said that! Here’s the recipe… .

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie from BoardWalk Bakery

This gorgeous pie features sweet, salty, and more in the perfect little package. So much flavor in one tiny treat!

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie

You can find it at the BoardWalk Bakery in Disney World, or do-it-yourself! Here’s the recipe!

Fisherman’s Pie from the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

A favorite of Disney guests, the Fisherman’s Pie from Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival Ireland Booth is a true winner!

Lobster and Scallop Fisherman’s Pie

Savory, seafoody, and perfect for this weekend! See the recipe here.

There you have it! Three awesome Disney pie recipes for this pi-riffic weekend! Enjoy! And be sure to send us pictures if you try your hand at these!

What’s your favorite Disney pie? Let us know in the comments below!

Disney Food Blog Fans, be sure to:


Orlando Restaurant Picks

Related posts:

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  2. Disney Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie From 50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  3. DIY Disney: Disney Recipes for Your Summer Picnic


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News! “Food Truck Park” Coming to Disney World’s Downtown Disney in Summer 2014

Disney Food Blog - March 14, 2014 - 01:28 pm

You’ve been watching us for months review the four new food trucks in Disney World’s Downtown Disney!

Disney Food Trucks Logo

Disney stormed onto the trendy food truck scene as part of Downtown Disney’s makeover into Disney Springs, bringing World Showcase of Flavors, featuring goodies from the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and Epcot Flower and Garden Festival; Superstar Catering, bringing eats from Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Namaste Café, showcasing treats from Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge; and Fantasy Fare, a bright red delight bringing menu items from Disney’s Magic Kingdoms all over the world (including hand-dipped corn dogs from Disneyland)!

Time to line-up at Superstar Catering

For the first few months, the trucks were found in various spots around Downtown Disney — and even in the Parks during particularly busy holiday periods. We haven’t been able to find a definitive schedule or location for them, in fact!

But maybe that’s changing! We recently spotted this sign in Downtown Disney!

Food Truck Park coming to Downtown Disney Orlando

Yep! Looks like the trucks may be finding a permanent home. According to reader Dan K., there are several of the signs around Downtown Disney featuring different colors and different food trucks, so we’re still not 100% sure where the Truck Park will finally be situated.

We’ll keep following the story for ya, but until this Summer, you can still find the trucks at Downtown Disney dishing up yummy eats on the go!

Which Disney Food Truck would you most like to try? Let us know in the comments below!

Disney Food Blog Fans, be sure to:


Orlando Restaurant Picks

Related posts:

  1. News! and Review: Downtown Disney’s Superstar Catering Food Truck
  2. News! and Review: Downtown Disney’s Namaste Cafe Food Truck
  3. Review: Fantasy Fare Food Truck brings Hand-dipped Corn Dogs to Downtown Disney!


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Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Graces the Magic Kingdom

The Disney Blog - March 14, 2014 - 01:17 pm

From the moment the first notes played out over the parade route, audiences were in love with the new Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom. At the very end of the route crowds broke out into spontaneous and sustained applause for both the creators and performers of this fantastic parade. I think they have a real hit on their hands.

Yes. The parade does involve a few ‘recycled’ elements. But that is a long honored tradition among Disney theme parks, something that dates back to the ‘never throw it away’ mentality of Hollywood studios where much of the original creative team for Disneyland were poached. Also, like most of Disney’s recent parades, you could ask for maybe another unit or two of floats. But at nine units and 100 dancers and performers, the parade feels as large as the Magic Kingdom. It really takes multiple viewings to take in everything. So it’s a shame that it only performs once per day.

I hope you will be able to make it to the Magic Kingdom to see it in person yourself. But if that’s not on the agenda, here’s my full video of the parade from its second day.

I also had the opportunity to interview a few of the creative team responsible for Disney Festival of Fantasy. Among the things I learned, two of the floats have special tributes to previous Magic Kingdom parades, each of the floats has a hidden mickey on it, even some of the costumes feature hidden mickeys. Two of the floats were imported from Japan. Tokyo Disneyland’s Jubilation parade donated the Princess Garden unit and the Finale unit.

Below the break, I have more photos, a description of each parade unit, and that interview with the creative team.

I was very pleased to get a few moments to talk to Randy Wojcik, Executive Producer, and Steven Davison, Creative Director, for Disney Parks and Entertainment. Both have a great history with the company. My first encounter with Davison was when he helped develop the first “Believe… There’s Magic In the Stars” fireworks at Disneyland, he also helped develop “it’s a small world holiday.” He hasn’t had a real ‘miss’ since.

Here’s the float-by-float breakdown with Disney’s official description in purple and then my comments below:

The Princess Garden – This pageantry of princesses celebrates Disney royalty. Cinderella, Tiana and Belle accompanied by their respective princes, ride in a garden of topiaries with woodland creatures, birds and more. Cinderella’s dress playfully twirls like a turntable, while Swan Court couples lead the 50-foot-long majestic float, capped off with a special appearance by Anna and Elsa from Disney’s hit animated feature, “Frozen.”

This is one of two floats imported from Japan. It comes off as a very lush tribute to Disney princesses, however, there are only four on the float. The older mirrored float could hold six or seven and their princes. Luckily, the rest of the parade features a few more of those favorites from the court. I have not found the Hidden Mickey yet, although I’m told its in the snowflakes in the Elsa & Anna section. Said section, spins slowly during the parade, so depending on how it’s spinning and where you’re sitting you may only catch a short glimpse of the Frozen sisters.

Tangled – A massive long ship on the high seas showcases Flynn Rider and Rapunzel in search of adventure and another Best. Day. Ever! Rapunzel’s iconic tresses weave throughout this 36-foot-long float decked out with swaying pendulums carrying dastardly thugs.

This is the most kinetic of the floats by far. It has an incredible amount of detail on it. It also features a very funny performer ahead of the float. The ‘mime’ got lots of laughs from the crowd during both viewings of the parade. Note that the swinging motion stops as it winds its way past city hall. So if you want a good picture of Flynn Rider, hang out near the Harmony Barber shop. He’ll be practically at a stand still.

The Little Mermaid – Ariel and her friends sit atop a colorfully kinetic seashell music box that boasts an enchanting musical jubilee. There’s no shortage of whimsy on this Under the Sea float with conga dancing fish kicking up their fins and bubbles galore. Shimmering fabrics and intricately designed costumes for the Lion Fish, Coral Fish, Seashell and Sea Horse performers are runway-inspired.

This float has one of two (three really) tributes to previous parades. Sebastian had a former life on the under the sea section of Spectromagic. The costumes created for this unit are amazing, but the float itself is sort of underwhelming. Also, I think Ariel is too high up in the air. Most of the kids on the curb won’t get a good chance to interact with her.

Peter Pan – Straight from Never Land come Peter Pan and Wendy soaring high aboard the famous Jolly Roger pirate ship complete with smoke effects and special surprises. A rainbow arch shines over Skull Rock and Tinker Bell nestled among giant flowers, while Captain Hook takes center stage on a swinging anchor. “Newsies-inspired” Lost Boys kick up their heels to high-energy choreography.

I love the Newsies element added to the choreography of the Lost Boys. In fact, all the the parts of the float are great, but they don’t come together for me. Having Tinker Bell on the back was a nice surprise, but I would like to see interaction between Smee, Hook, and the Lost Boys. Also, the height of this float means that Peter and Wendy are a long ways above the kids on the curb. The trailing croc float has been featured in a few Magic Kingdom parades before, most recently the Boo To You parade at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Brave – Celtic couples and a vessel shaped like an enormous bagpipe announce the arrival of Merida perched high on her majestic crown. Scottish dancers step to melodies of the Great Highlands in celebration of the popular Disney*Pixar film, “Brave.”

This float has the least going on of all the floats. But the dancing and music make up for it. Also note the three brothers, in bear cub form, are on the float. So keep an eye out for their antics.

Sleeping Beauty – The heroic Prince Phillip battles a Steampunk-inspired Dragon as the wicked Maleficent. This float stretches 53 feet in length and 26 feet tall with a prickly spinning wheel dead center of the float. With fiery eyes and glowing effects the spectacular dragon was built on an articulating chassis allowing the float to bend and flex as it moves along the parade route – a first for Disney parades. This float was designed in a partnership with Tony Award-winner Michael Curry. There’s Prince Phillip, thorn-inspired stilt performers, dramatic raven dancers, plus the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather glide along the parade route.

Yes, there’s a fire-breathing dragon in the parade and it’s mega-cool. My biggest problem with this float is the stilt walkers and ravens are so impressive in size and design, that you have to look past them to see the also wonderful action between Prince Phillip (in person) and Maleficent (in dragon). For safety reasons, the dragon won’t ignite when there are trees or buildings too near. So pick a clear spot along the route if you want a chance to see the fire.

Also, I mentioned that every float has a hidden mickey. Maleficent’s is on the elbow of the left fore-leg. Do you see it?

Finale and Mickey’s Airship – The parade culminates with a 90-foot-long magical caravan of characters featuring Pinocchio, Dumbo, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Mad Hatter, Pluto and more in a splashy carnival of color. There’s Pegasus horses, dancing hippos and sassy Bubble Girls with cotton-candy-like hair celebrating Storybook Circus in New Fantasyland. Sporting zany new costumes Mickey and Minnie Mouse sit sky high in Mickey’s Airship — a giant hot air balloon that rounds out Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade.

The 90-foot-long finale float is the second that was brought over from Jubilation parade in Tokyo Disneyland. There were minimal changes made, but they did add Figaro and Cleo from Pinocchio to the float. The pair previously existed on the white float from Celebrate a Dream Come True parade.

The Mickey’s Airship float is new to Festival of Fantasy.

If you look close at the second performer from the left, you’ll see a green balloon with two red balloons adjacent. That’s one of the costumes with a hidden Mickey of its own.

If you want to see more pics, hop on over to my Flickr gallery from the parade. I’ll be updating it with more pics as I see the parade again.


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