Jul 19

My Favorite Food and Drinks under $20

What if your dear friend offers you anything your heart desires that is up to $20. What would you choose? Laurie is listing some of her favorites and hoping she can run into some friends to share these yummy epicurean delights.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

1. Chicken tenders, potato chips, and Diet Coke
2. Dad’s Brownie at the Tune-In Lounge with iced tea
3. Wedge Salad at the Tune-In Lounge with a chocolate milkshake
4. Popcorn, Mickey Bar, and Diet Coke while watching fireworks and singing LET IT GO!
5. Dessert Sampler or Cobb Salad at Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, though for $16 there is the sliders that are awesome

Magic Kingdom

1. Hot dog, chips, and Diet Coke at Casey’s Refreshment Corner.
2. Club sandwich with iced tea at the Plaza Restaurant
3. I bring plastic bags for this one. Roasted corn and baked potato from Liberty Market, cheeseburger or chicken nuggets with Diet coke from Pecos Bill’s for a gourmet meal as I watch the Electrical Parade.
4. Rib dinner with mashed taters, cucumber salad, and Diet Coke at Cosmic Ray’s.
5. Dill Pickle, yup, just a pickle as those remind me of my mother who had to have one every trip.

Animal Kingdom

1. Babycakes at the kiosk near Flame Tree.
2. Miniature Mr. Goodbars and other loose candy in the shop at Dinoland.
3. Pizza at Pizzafari with a Diet Coke
4. Rocky Mountain caramel corn from the kiosk near Flame Tree
5. Popcorn and a Diet Coke

Epcot

1. Pork chop with beans, rice, and ice tea, substitute fish or chicken as all are awesome at Sunshine Seasons
2. Kaki Gori in Japan Pavilion
3. Ginger Caramel ice cream at Joy of Tea
4. The best ice cream in WDW, for me, is at Crepes des Chefs de France
5. Covered Bridge chips in the store in Canada pavilion, love them!

Downtown Disney

1. Raglan road for ice tea and onion rings or shrimp
2. Sports Beans by Jelly Belly at Fit 2 Run!!
3. Butter Chicken from Namaste Cafe food truck with Diet Coke.
4. Candy Cauldron, turn me loose!
5. World of Disney snack attack!

Elsewhere

1. Hess gas stations have everything I couid desire in snacking.
2. Beaches and Cream for a cheeseburger and chocolate shake.  (Tabitha’s favorite here is No Way Jose Sundae).
3. Typhoon Lagoon for chicken strips, chips, and mug full of Diet Coke.
4. Pop Century to be spoiled by Fred. He makes me huge sandwiches with chips or roasted taters and bottle of water for under $12 so add a hot fudge sundae to my order.
5. Art of Animation is the same way, FOOD!!

Jul 19

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival – Start Planning Now

Laurie tells us how she enjoys the Food and Wine Festival and gives you tips on making the most of your time there.  See what she has to say.

IMG_3531Each group and individual tackles the Festival in their own way so I am presenting you with a checklist of things you need to do. It is up to you on whether you want to spend the day eating, doing attractions, or watching seminars. Assign one person to get a Festival guide, park guide, and a times guide so that there are fewer people getting guides and less congestion. Get 2 if you like souvenirs or write on guides as I do. In the park will be areas with passports to have stamped. Many times there is a person to stamp your passport without you waiting in line.

How much time are you going to spend at the Festival Center? The Festival Center is located next to Mission: Space. There are free samples of Ghiradelli Chocolate, shops, and a snack bar. Noon to 8 pm there are bottle signings, seminars, and pay to participate seminars. Are you going to stay there 8 hours or skip it?

What, if any, events and seminars do you plan to do? Pay to participate seminars have a nosh or tasting included but you can stand at the back for free without the food and drinks. There are events such as Sweet Sunday that take several hours and lots of cash that you sign up for in advance. People tend to forget that getting to the Festival Center, waiting for the seminar to run its course, and exiting the Festival Center takes time that some folks rather use on attractions and eating at the Festival. You need to be realistic on your schedule.

What to eat? There will be previews and reviews as well as item descriptions online. It costs over $500 to try every bit of food and there is no way you can do them all. You can print out the Festival map and circle the ones you want to see and add labels of dishes you want to see. I watched people milling around in a daze with so much being offered. There will be crowds that make it hard to decide what to choose so plan ahead.

Finally there is Eat to the Beat. I skip most of the concerts because of my taste in music. There is the Chase Lounge to check out if you are a cardholder. There is too much to see and do in one day let alone a week. I have the guide from last year so here is what happened on November 1, 2013. Wine/Beverage seminars from noon to 5 pm; 10 am was Robert Irvine in a two hour pay to view session, I stood in the back for that one for free; 3 book signings, half hour seminar on butter; half hour with Nimola; 1 – 8 pm were culinary demonstrations; and a 45 minute mixology seminar at 6:45 pm. Premier offerings were a Mexican tequilla lunch at noon and a French lunch with champagne at noon. As you see there was more than one thing going on at any time. The Festival can be daunting but with planning you can get the most out of the Festival.

 

Jul 18

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Good News for Frozen Fans

Laurie has more tidbits for everyone.  I was also there to check out Oaken’s Trading Post and the Sing-along.  It was great!  Be sure to get over there and see all they have to offer.

I was not able to check out the Premiere Theatre lines on my last trip but rumor is that the lines are not as bad as opening day.

Oaken’s Trading Post: There are two lines and you have to make sure you are in the right one. Left goes to Funland where there are cupcakes, cookies, yummy treats, and beverages as well as a snow play area, photopass photographer for fun photos, photo ops, and the skating rink. photo 1 (3)The right side sends you to the store. People get mad when they cannot get a cupcake from the store or merchandise from Funland. Lines range from walking right in to 20 minute waits.

The ice skating rink is cleared to use the Zamboni machine. There are staff members from the owner of the ice rink to assist guests. In the far corner from the door is the area to enter the rink, cubbyholes to store items, and benches for changing into skates. It is best to not try to go past the skating rental area as it is a dead end. You can watch from other locations without people blocking your way. As you enter you see the photo area, snacks, skate rental and benches. Ahead of you is a line to play in the snow. THAT IS IT!! Kids love playing in the snow, most of them that is. There are performers on the ice from time to time.

Not all locations will have merchandise that you want in stock. Not all locations will have all the drinks and cupcakes you want. The stage has lots of room except during the parade and the finale. The stage has a path down front so guests can go from one side to the other. photo (9)The premium dessert party is to the left. It is best to get there at 8:30 if you want a good view of the stage as fireworks go off. You can get a great view of the fireworks from either side of the stage but must see the live portion on a big screen.

photo 2 (5)There are Olaf cupcakes and candied apples, frosted snowflake cookies, chocolate covered Sven cookies, brownie and cake pops, blue Mickey head shaped rice treat on a stick, and a decorated snowball rice treat. For those preferring a warm treat there are Mickey pretzels and churros. I am not sure what brand of hot cocoa they use but usually it is the stuff in an envelope.

Throughout the park you will find cookies and rice treats with a picture of the sisters or Olaf. Arendell Punch can be found at snack carts and at 4 pm the more expensive Let It Glow with magic cube. It is a very nice punch as is the Olaf slushie that comes in a souvenir cup. Adults can enjoy a Summer Berry Margarita and a Blue Dream cocktail. Hollywood Scoops on Sunset Blvd. offers a snowflake cookie sandwich in your choice of ice cream, be warned it is a lot of ice cream and will not look like the photo.

Overall the crowds are back to normal and the only things to worry about for Frozen is a good spot at the parade, stage show, and fireworks. Grab a ticket early as you can then hit Toy Story Mania on a fastpass or go camp out a spot for the parade. I put out a list of closures at Studios to guide you and it still stands as published.

Jul 18

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Refurbishments

Exciting news for Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort!  This resort was in need of an update and new beds.
Most rooms are getting new beds except those with king sized beds and the pirate themed rooms. They will have two queen sized beds and one of those small fold out beds as seen at Port Orleans Resort. That will allow 4 adults and a short person or child to sleep in the room. Keep an eye out for work schedules while the islands are getting refurbished. Ask for a queen sized bed to make sure you get an updated room and ask about what areas will be worked on so you do not end up sleeping in a construction zone. Stop by Shutters for seafood corn dogs and see their updated menu.

An excellent unofficial source for information on the Caribbean Beach Resort is at http://www.disneycaribbeanbeach.com/.

If you get one of the newly refurbished rooms, let us know what you thought.

Jul 17

Best Eats at Downtown Disney

It is my pleasure to welcome Anaiis Lopez.  She will be writing for me from time to time too!  See what she has to say about the best places to eat at Downtown Disney.

Downtown Disney is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon or evening at Disney-great for the day you arrive, or whenever you have a rest day while visiting the parks. I am going to be listing the best/most popular restaurants, from fan favorites to new arrivals.

#13: The smokehouse at House Of Blues –  this Quick Service stand is fairly new, serving tasty barbecue.

#12: Wetzel’s Pretzels – This place serves pretty good pretzels, ranging from basic salted, to pretzel dogs and more. They recently moved from lakefront near World of Disney to DisneyQuest, directly across from LaNouba. Awesome, but skip and get a Mickey pretzel instead.

#11: Starbucks – basically like your ordinary Starbucks. The West side location has a specialty coffee bar, and the offerings are pretty good. Good for those who need their SB fix- or those who dislike NesCafe.

IMG_5830#10: Goofy’s Candy Co –  Amazing! I love GCC. They have awesome Disney snacks, candy, and a Goofy’s Glaciers area. My favorite snack here is the build your own Marshmallow/apple/Pretzel. Most of the snacks here are a snack credit on the dining plan!

#9: AMC Dine in theaters – The concept is pretty cool- you go into a theater, pick your seat and a server comes and takes your order, gets you popcorn refills, etc, but a bit on the pricey side. The food here is pretty upscale-ranging from pizza, to sushi and steak.

#8: Bongos/Bongos Express  – Bongos is one of the best restaurants in Downtown Disney. The menu has a Latin twist to it and great food, and the atmosphere is lively, with live music often playing and a 2nd story balcony where you can people watch.

#7: Rainforest Cafe/Lava Bar  – Rainforest Cafe is a animal themed chain restaurant with great theming, good food and interesting scenery. A bit on the pricey side, but you are sure to have a “wild” time! Ask to be seated next to a fish tank. It is a bit noisy inside, so I wouldn’t recommend it for really little kids, or those who get startled by loud noises and thundering.

The Lava Bar is the outside addition to RC, it has a beautiful view of the lake and a pretty good menu. A solid alternative if you can’t get RC. The menus in the Lava Bar have a cool “jel” embedded in the menus to make it seem like “lava”.

#6: Planet Hollywood – Superb theming, too pricey and “meh” food. Skip unless you have a big movie fan in your group.

#5: Paradiso 37- Great for adults and teens/Tweens, the menu might be a big “adventurous” for kids. South American style menu. Lively atmosphere and great views.

#4: Ghiraedelli – If there is one place you MUST stop at here in Downtown Disney, it’s Ghirardelli. sundaeThe ice cream is heavenly and the best part is the…. FREE SAMPLES! Often they hand out seasonal/limited edition flavors, or just chocolate with caramel. Either is fine by me! At the 2014 Flower and Garden festival, they even had a exhibit and had samples at the end!

1#3: Raglan Road/Cookes Of Dublin Raglan Road is an Irish Pub themed restaurant, with Irish dancers and musicians performing nightly. The food is delicious! Raglan Road is also very well known for being very accommodating to those with food allergies- the gluten free/dairy free fish n’ chips are amazing! Cookes of Dublin is the quick service equivalent on RR.

 

#2: Disney Food Trucks – The Disney Food Trucks are a new concept by Disney, awesome foods served in moving food trucks that often relocate around Downtown Disney. My favorite is Fantasy Fare. They have the Disneyland Corndogs- superb! The house made chips are also delicious.

#1: Earl Of Sandwich – Oh my goodness. The sandwiches here are simply devine! While a bit on the pricey side, the sandwiches are truly worth it here. The soups are also great, as is dessert! They also have amazing brownies and brownie sandwiches. If you join the Upper Crust club, you get a free brownie just for signing up, and a free sandwich on your birthday!

A bit about me:  I am a teen who loves disney! I am an Orlando resident, and a Annual Passholder! My favorite park is Epcot, and I hope to be visiting Disneyland soon!

Jul 06

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Early Closures and Frustrations

Laurie was there to see all of the new additions to Hollywood Studios (the “Frozen” additions).  She gives us an update on what is closing early and what you need to look out for.

The following are closing early: 

Starring Rolls – 4 PM; Studio Catering – 5:30 PM; Min and Bill’s – 6 PM; Backlot Express – 8 PM; ABC Commissary – 8:30 PM; and Pizza Planet – 8:30 PM.

Fireworks are causing the early closure of some of those restaurants. Studio Catering is by the Backlot Tour and High Octane refreshment stand is next to Studio Catering. Tune-In Lounge and Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge are open to 9:30 PM and Rosie’s on Sunset Blvd. is open until park closure.
By 9 pm all of Pixar Place Mickey Avenue, and Commissary Lane are closed. At 7 pm the Backlot Tour and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area close; The Great Movie Ride closes at 8 pm; and at 8:30 pm Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream and Toy Story Mania close. Any guest in line for Toy Story Mania at 8:15 pm will get to ride. Wandering Oaken closes at 8 pm and had a 2 hour wait.Oaken

Plan ahead if you want to shop in those areas. Unless the park is open until 11 pm or later they will not reopen those areas. All of the food kiosks around the hat were closed at about 8:30 pm, with most reopening after the fireworks. There was a long line for the temporary drink stand, so be prepared. The area behind the stage and to either side will remain closed until the Fire Marshall says they may reopen. Laurie watched someone with a flashlight walking around in circles as he looked for embers. The firemen and Cast Members take this very seriously.

Frozen stuff is awesome, but does cause congestion and early closures of 3 streets. This is monsoon season so be prepared for high winds and rain. The park still is easy to get around and the line at Rosie’s was about 7 minutes. Cast Members are making sure that traffic keeps moving. They had arrows made of tape on Sunset Blvd.