Feb 15

Latest News in Dining Around Disney World

She’s back! Laurie gives us the latest update on several dining locations and more.
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SAD NEWS!! Starring Rolls on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios has closed. There is no word on what will become of the location. 💔 Saddest news is that the 2005, yes it is that old, Club Penguin will be DELETED and replaced with Club Penguin Island. BOOO!!! Also say farewell to the Muppet balloon at Hollywood Studios.
GOOD NEWS! The margarita stand in Mexico pavilion in Epcot is being replaced with a Choza tequila sponsored bar that will also serve empañadas, tacos, and guacamole. Magic Kingdom has added alcoholic beverages to the menus at Tony’s Town Square, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Skipper Canteen, and Liberty Tree Tavern.
HALLELUJAH!!!!!!! Cosmic Ray’s has discontinued the bays. No more having to wait in one line for a sandwich and one for a burger when there is a central kitchen. The menu remains about the same. One line for all your dining!
COMING SOON!!! The Polite Pig will be coming to Disney Springs this year. They offer wood fired grill fare. The Edison and possibly other spots will open someday maybe this year. The third addition to Disney Springs is Master Sommelier George Miolotes and his Wine Bar George that will be a wine connoisseur’s heaven.
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Jiko has added perch from Lake Victoria, Durham Ranch elk loin, lamb tagine, and buttery-sweet scallops that are paired with Berkshire pork belly chutney. A new appetizer is the Manti Dumplings that are filled with boar, bison and elk and accompanied by spicy tomato sauce and saffron yogurt. The new (6 months) Chef Daniel Sicilian is offering seasonal side dishes as well as offering menu items based on what is available in the market. Another new Chef is Michael Craig who will be offering a Tanzanian chocolate mousse, pistachio financier (a type of cake), pink peppercorn meringue, cacao nib crunch and pineapple dessert. An interesting and tasty sounding dish is the sweet potato cheesecake with sweet apple chutney.
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Finally, after nearly two years of construction, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge has added the Geyser Point Bar & Grill. Cedar beams and natural stonework make for a comfortable place along the water to rest after a long day in the parks. Adults will find themed drinks and items from Pacific Northwest breweries, vintners, and distilleries. This will be a “small plates” type of menu that features crispy fried oysters with miso tartar sauce; cheesy barbecue brisket with house-made chips; “Shrimp on a Wire” with miso-lime vinaigrette, togarashi spices, shishito peppers and chili-aioli; and a handcrafted charcuterie. They will have a walk up window. They are open for all meals. Breakfast includes scrambled eggs with sausage and bacon, crab cakes Benedict, and maple-cinnamon pancakes.
The quick-service lunch and dinner menu, available at the walk-up window includes:
Bison burger with Tillamook Cheddar, sweet onion straws and marionberry barbecue sauce
Classic bacon burger with Tillamook Cheddar
House-smoked turkey sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise
Lump crab cake sandwich with house-made Canadian bacon and spicy cabbage-carrot slaw
Grilled salmon BLT with lemon-caper mayonnaise
Salad with grilled Portobello, zucchini, roasted red peppers, tomato and multi-grain salad with goat cheese dressing
Grilled chicken or salmon with arugula and romaine, apples, seasonal berries, hazelnuts and red wine vinaigrette
Seasonal fruit plate with lavender honey yogurt.
For dessert there’s seasonal pie and a chocolate brownie mousse with caramel popcorn and toasted meringue.
Kids’ all-day menu:
Grilled chicken strips with dipping sauces, apple or veggie sticks
Finger Food Sampler with sliced smoked turkey, Tillamook Cheddar, spiced apple jam, grape tomatoes and sourdough crisps.
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The Lily is back as Paddlefish with awesome seafood as well as steak. They are out of the Levy chain so expect special diet friendly dining. They are the only place serving en papillote style fish. They offer mussels, shrimp, oysters, clams, and lobsters in an array of presentations. The boils are red potatoes, corn and choice of seafood boiled up like in New England.
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Guy Fierri has join Planet Hollywood in the menu designing part of the grand reopening. The Stargazer Lounge will feature Florida breweries and will offer signature drinks. There will be outdoor seating with views of Disney Springs. Look for old favorites and new Fierri inspired dishes. A night at the observatory has taken on a new meaning.
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Trattoria Al Forno will be offering a character breakfast this Spring. There are no details other than Tangled and Ariel characters in a “Bon voyage” theme.
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Hollywood & Vine will continue to offer a Playhouse Disney Character breakfast from 8 am to 10:20 am. On May 14th the Minnie’s Seasonal Dine will start at 11:20 am. Watch as the theme will change to Spring. ABC Commissary has guests order food, sit down, and they deliver the food to the table. The menu is very tight so check to see if like what is served.
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Magic Kingdom has new breakfast options. Casey’s Corner will be serving muffins, bagels and a croissant donut. Plaza Ice Cream Parlor will serve Mickey waffles, Kelloggs cereal and donuts. Kids will love the donut sundae, a donut topped with ice cream, hot fudge, apple, whipped cream, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips and a cherry. Sleepy Hollow has the new egg, ham and tomato waffle sandwich as well as the fruit and chocolate-hazelnut waffle sandwich. Golden Oak has dropped the waffle fries and only offers regular fries and chicken nuggets.
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Keep an eye open for holiday dining as Cape May will do a Mother’s Day and an Easter Brunch. Maple flavored popcorn can be found in Frontierland. Casey’s Corner will have monthly specialty hot dogs such as the barbecue slaw dog. Captains Grille at the Yacht Club will be at Ariel’s in the same building from May, 2017 until Autumn, 2017. Last December Sanaa added typical breakfast fare with an African flare. The Contemporary and Yacht Club will offer guests a quick meal for breakfast menu placed with the menu inside the room service info. This is a test for now.
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Pandora will be the newest land in Animal Kingdom. What is know is the names are Satu’li Canteen (restaurant) and Pongu Pongu (adult drinks). Kiosks, quick service, lounge, or table service is not known. Rivers of Life show packages are a great deal and allow guest to try Tiffins and other restaurants. The night time is very limited in hours so it is best to do the package to save time.
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Gasparilla Grille at the Grand Floridian now offers stations (bays). The sandwich bar offers sandwiches, such as roast beef, ham, and turkey. They are made fresh like at Subway but not subs. There is a salad bar as well. In the mornings there is a station that will serve yogurt with a variety of toppings available. The hot sandwich and pizza station features in-house pizza dough. There will be gourmet burgers, mahi mahi Reuben sandwich, and a chicken and Brie sandwich. There will be a station offering baked goods such as coconut pot de crème, almond fruit tart, and in-house yummy treats. Also they will offer typical coffeehouse drinks.

Aug 04

Blaze Pizza in Disney Springs – Allergy Friendly?

Blaze Pizza – NOT CELIAC SAFE
Not safe for allergies

I spoke to an expert who confirmed the following:

1. The ovens contain wheat dust.
2. The pans are not dedicated to gluten free.
3. The press for GF is next to wheat pizzas.
4. They clean a regular press, sometimes, instead of a gluten free press.
5. Pizza dust is all over employees.
6. Employees touch the regular dough then put their hands in the bins of toppings.

Vegans and allergies
The employees take a topping from one bin then reach into other bins with that same hand. Much like Subway restaurants there is cross contamination. Meat residue gets on the “vegan” veggies. A person who is allergic to pork, tomatoes, onions, or dairy might find microscopic traces of allergens. The pizza sits on the counter edge so that toppings fall into the bins.

To make a truly allergy free or vegan pizza they would have to start with new bins of toppings and sauces. They are working on removing many bad things in their food like HFCS and artificial dyes. However, I would hate to wait for them to change gloves, wipe down counters, and bring out new bins. I have watched videos so that I know this to be true. The salads are premise and sit in bins which means no substitutes. They could make a salad from fresh. The convenience is gone if you are celiac, special diets, or Vegan.

They are a good value, good food, and good service from what I hear. I will not review them as I cannot eat there safely. I will not recommend them for the same reason. Homecoming and Bongos are safe and work with guests.

Aug 04

Pokemon Go – important

By Laurie.

Pokemon Go is based on GPS which may use outdated info. Poke Spots and Poke Gyms are assigned to churches, landmarks, and businesses usually. In time these locations may close, disappear, become unsafe, or change use. These locations can be swamps, burnt out buildings, meth labs, gang houses, or other criminal based activities. There could be guard dogs, gun toting lunatics, or sexual predators at the location. Lures are used to attract Pokemon for half an hour. Some can be attached to Pokemon Spots and others to the game character so that people gather in one location hoping for a rare Pokemon. A search on Google will find Poke Spots like the Neon Zebra that is an adult bar and my favorite, Shipwreck: the Alkimos that is a long swim if you dare to try to visit. Sadly graveyards, 9/11 memorials, and other places of remembrance are now playgrounds for Pokemon players. There is no way to easily add spots like the Salvation Army or removing unsafe sites or graveyards. The system needs to change so that players don’t bother people.

No Trespassing
Treat the game like a real life treasure hunt. Don’t go onto people’s lawns to catch a Golbat or go into the kitchen at your local diner for a Ponyta. People are going backstage at Disney World in search of Pokemon. Don’t park at a business just for Pokemon as that is rude. Do not climb over chains and fences into forbidden areas. There is rumor that Disney plans to tweak its filters on free wifi to block Pokemon sites. Don’t use graveyards and holocaust sites for Pokemon as you should respect the dead. As a Christian I would never visit a satanic site or a brothel even for the rarest Pokemon.

OUCH
Pokemon critters, spots, and gyms are assigned without much concern for public safety. People get hurt when they fail to see sidewalk cracks, branches, poles, holes, traffic, people, animals, and other objects. People risk their jobs by playing the game on company time or by taking pictures of Pokemon where cameras are not allowed. Islam banned Pokemon as a form of gambling when Pokemon was on Gameboy long ago. People are forgoing real life duties and family for Pokemon hunting. I watched a pickup almost hit a guy on a motorcycle because of Pokemon. Many minor incidents go unreported but I have been in downtown Winter Haven watching road rage, poor manners, and unsafe driving.

Mind Your Manners and Children
New York plans to ban sexual predators from having Pokemon Go. An old ruse is for a predator to have a puppy and ask for help finding the owner. Imagine a man telling a Pokemon obsessed kid that there is a Sandshrew near by. Spots with lures attract people even in the dead of night because lures on Poke Stops have a better chance of finding rare Pokemon. Stay in your car if you must go to an unsafe lure site. Is that lure site a happy family friendly site or is it a dark street in the middle of the bad part of town?

Remind kids about meeting strangers, chatting online with strangers, and dealing with people in general. Some predators find a location then study area information so they can easily befriend victims. But he talked about the local hardware store, grocer, park, and my school just like he lived there. Make sure kids don’t share too much information. Once a girl was starting to cut herself so I called her school. I knew her age and school as she shared it in a chat room. Even adults have to be careful. Be safe online.

DISRESPECT
The one thing I hate about Pokemon Go is the assignment of locations to sacred places like graveyards, Auschwitz death camps, and war memorials. People and governments could lead to bans or restrictions. Armies are prohibiting Pokemon game play as are Islamic leaders. People are concerned about sexual predators and criminals using the site. Businesses are also cracking down on gamers at the work place. Pokemon Go must curtail certain activities or face strict regulations on all augmented reality programs.

Imagine going to a concert and 5 people have Master Chef on IPads. The volume is cranked up and they chat away about the show. You cannot hear the concert and the iPads are disturbing your view. Could that happen? NO!! Yet people go to amusement parks, museums, and malls to play Pokemon. While a little girl is enraptured in It’s a Small World there are adults sitting in front of her catching Pokemon. In front of her adults chat about Pokemon as the little girl strains to hear the dolls sing. MARK MY WORD – continued disrespect of the dead and of historic monuments, rude behavior, and safety issues could lead to new strict laws or even bans on playing Pokemon Go.

 

Jul 28

Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine

Laurie gives us a great review of the new restaurant in Disney Springs – Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming.

 

The Disney Springs backstory drastically changed when Town Center was added. Now the creek is 13840390_10153932197548883_1896979375_owhere people settled in the 1850’s, then Marketplace opened up, then the arcade and The Landing. Sprinkles, Homecoming, and D-Luxe Burgers are in farmhouses that were converted to businesses.

I rolled my scooter up to a flat entry area where staff opened the door for me. I was in awe at the glass house with ceiling to floor glass. The check in desk was a huge solid wood fortress which I feel is great because the staff have lots of room for supplies and menus. WOOD FLOORS!! On the left is a beautiful bar surrounded by banquette seats and armless chairs.

13838043_10153932197583883_405446019_oThis has to be the biggest Florida room ever. Instead of screens, there is glass walls. I can imagine a chef lost on the creek when he sees this old ranch house. He uses lots of wrought iron and burlap for decorating. I stopped and stared at the burlap on the chandeliers, then noticed the feed sack design on the furniture. Hardwood floors make it easy to keep the place clean. 13833323_10153932197578883_915768614_o

The tables are spaced out to allow some elbow room. Overall the seating, lighting, flooring, and spacing makes this a disabled friendly place. They offered to let me take my scooter to my table. The place has a beautiful riverside painting with a gorgeous egret. All around are moonshine jugs and crates.

The best dish was the Hamilton Burger with two fine-ground burger patties, white cheddar cheese, grilled onions, tomato slices, bread and butter pickles, and a chow chow pickled relish. I used my own bread but Chef Smith is working with local food writers and site owners to find vegan and gluten free options. I loved two perfect patties topped with a subtle cheese. The pecan smoked bacon was meaty with smoky hints for one of the best bacon I have ever had. The grind is an issue for me but still this gets top five WDW burgers. The blend of juicy beef, subtle cheese, and veggies that does not bore the palate. This is the pride of Hamilton County, FL which is where Jasper is located.

13835591_10153932197653883_879824797_oThe two side dishes were soft in texture so let them know if you want almost raw sweet taters and greens. I had a cast iron pot full of kale, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, and onions. This tangy dish was ideal muse to the sweet tater cube while both are perfect with any entree. The touch of cane sugar pools at the bottom so one can eat just sweet tater cubes or slather the cubes with sugar cane goodness.

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I liked the shrimp cocktail though a bit spicy it was a perfect blend of shrimp, avocados, onions, tomatoes, and secret sauce. Another spicy dish was authentic chunky grits with Tasso ham gravy and shrimp. This is not cheese grits or the commonly served corn purée. It reminds me of my Dad’s grits.

I strongly recommend Homecoming to all guests. The creek view is realistic and there is a patio for dining. There is a bar that serves Florida alcoholic beverages and moonshine. One can come for a drink with friends without a reservation. This Florida Room is designed for all types of guests and their needs and desires. They have chicken and donuts, biscuits, chicken and dumpling soup, fish, chopped pork, salads, hush puppies, desserts made in Jasper, Jasper board, anything fried, and sweet tea. Kids can have cheeseburgers, fish sticks chicken, and tenderloin with mashed potatoes, greens, veggies, and donuts with ice cream.  There are a few take away dishes like fried chicken. I want to sit on the porch while eating the Jasper Board, chopped salad, steak with palmetto butter, mashed taters, sweet taters, greens, and ice cream topped off with sweet tea. That would be a perfect day, indeed.

13844036_10153932197648883_1615008133_oCharles Smith grew up in Jasper, Florida which is 170+ years old. The area mainly consisted of Georgians and other Southerners looking for land, elbow room, and prosperity. After years working for celebrities and establishing himself as a top chef, there came a time when he went home for good. He goes by the name of Art Smith and is renown for civil rights, rebuilding Jasper, and teaching kids how to cook.

Jun 01

Animal Kingdom – After Dark

Want to know more about the Rivers of Light Theater and the Jungle Book Show?  Find out what Laurie thinks after she saw the show this past weekend.

13323955_10153795247073883_453819948_oRivers of Light Theater was meant to be used like at World of Color without stages and parked barges. Disney had 6 weeks to make a show from the water up. They have many old routines and shows to rely on but this was including water screens and Asian performances. The screens have improved and they are tweaking everything to optimize guest experiences.

I loved the show with sitars, drums, and India’s style of music. There were flaws in seeing the show based on location. The stage or an actor may block the view or the angle may make a screen hard to see. Mist from the water screens heads downwind so be prepared to get wet if you are in that area.

ENTERTAINMENT!!! It has awesome musicians and performers. I recommend the show for at least one time. I will see it again. It helps to know the storyline either from the new movie or the cartoon version.
Sunset in the summer is around 8 or 9 pm. 13288143_10153795247123883_741215504_oThis leaves 3 hours for the Jungle Book show, Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safari. Kali Rapids is a short water ride that can be skipped at night. The street performances are excellent time wasters. Everest at night is something not to be missed. I liked the safari but it was not AWESOME so I could skip that. Fastpass guests line up in the Kali Rapids area so that reduces the time walking.

When exiting the show into Asia do not turn at Flights of Wonder. The crowd turned while 20 guests were meandering through Africa. Harambe Village was empty. At the last bridge out of Discovery Island do take the left path. 5 people watching as I sped downhill at full speed on my scooter.

I strongly recommend the Tusker House breakfast or lunch package. The few dollars extra gets you a Fastpass equivalent, buffet, and characters. Tiffins is a bargain as well based on what they charge. These meal packages allow you to get early Fastpass then more Fastpass. Also the street performances are awesome and some have fun guest participation. Grab a bite and rest a while. Before dark you can hear and see so many wonderful things. I like Flame Tree and I bring baggies for burgers and snacks to take to a cool spot in the shade as the entertainers perform.

13288251_10153795246993883_1048853045_oThe best thing was the light projection show on the Tree of Life. I was going home at park closing when there on the tree was fish and Nemo. Grab something from Flame Tree then watch the show. There are 4 versions.

May 19

Dining with Allergies – Are There Safe Restaurants at Disney?

Thank you Laura for compiling a list of your favorite places that your family has enjoyed eating at with no reactions!  Food allergies are very serious for many people and I am so glad that Disney takes these seriously.

IMG_7579We have dined at many places with our girls who have severe food allergies to peanuts and sesame seeds. We also avoid tree nuts, fresh egg and fresh diary and we avoid all products labeled with may contain or processed in a shared facility, equip. etc. Below are listed all of the places we have taken them and we have successfully made it thus far with no reactions!

The food has been top notch and the chefs were amazing. We always avoid restaurants at home that have our major allergens present in the restaurant—so no Asian or Mexican places usually. At Disney, that all changes. I was hesitant at first but after interacting with the chefs at a few places I knew this was different than anywhere else. My fears were set aside and we have had amazing food and experiences with our girls because of it and the care they take to make sure we are safe.

I will first recommend you find the Facebook Group called “Disney Chefs Rock Food Allergies”. I don’t run the board or get any “kick back” from any of their services, but the page is without a doubt the most helpful source of information I have found with dining questions, planning safe meals, etc. SO many knowledgeable people who have been there done that and can help! It’s truly an amazing supportive community!

Kiosks and Quick Service

All kiosks and quick service restaurants have a binder that will list out the allergens and possible cross contamination for all top 8 food allergies. If you have a sesame seed allergy or others that fall below the top 8, you will need to go though the ingredient lines. They generally take photos of the packaging so you can read it first hand. ALWAYS ask to see the binder–they are required to show it to you! If a cast member refuses, ask for a manager!

Table Service

For Table Service restaurants note the food allergies when you book the reservations in My Disney Experience under “special requests”. It will be flagged immediately on your reservation. You can also contact “special diets” before you go and chat with them about your options–especially if you have multiple allergies.

–Take wipes to wipe down tables and chairs before you sit down.
–Make sure your server knows immediately that you have food allergies and they should send the chef out to talk to you before any ordering of any kind is done. If they don’t mention the chef coming ASK to see him/her! This is proper ordering protocol for table service and even some quick service!
–The chefs are amazing. They will make you something safe even if you don’t see anything on the menu that looks safe or sounds good (hello picky kids!) It is their job and their pleasure to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable dining experience!
–If you do not feel comfortable with something or want to double check if your meal is allergen free-ASK. If something looks sketchy or mixed up notify them immediately. Everyone makes mistakes so keep your guard up and keep the communication open with the staff.

Allergy Menus

They will have allergy menus at all restaurants–QS and TS. THESE ARE NOT YOUR ONLY OPTIONS!!! They are ok if you have 1 allergy. But if you have multiple it gets confusing because they are not done very well. ALWAYS ask the chefs to clarify and/or look at the binder. There have been many times something is not listed on the allergy menu that is actually safe for us so always ask and don’t feel pressured to just order off that menu.IMG_9844

No matter what, ALWAYS flag your allergies when ordering, even if it’s a “safe” food just so they know to handle it with care and avoid possible cross-contamination.

Favorite Snacks:
Mickey Pretzels
Popcorn
Dole Whips (Magic Kingdom, Polynesian Resort)
Churros
Croissants from Gaston’s Tavern
Lafoo’s Brew Gaston’s Tavern

Quick Service
Roaring Fork (Wilderness Lodge)
Capt. Cooks (Polynesian Village Resort)
Cosmic Rays (Magic Kingdom)
La Cantina de san Angel (Epcot–Mexico Pavilion)
Electric Umbrella (Epcot)
Sommerfest (Epcot–Germany Pavilion)
Pizza Planet (Hollywood Studios)
Backlot Express (Hollywood Studios)
Flametree BBQ (Animal Kingdom)

Table Service
Yak and Yeti (Animal Kingdom)
Tusker House (Animal Kingdom)
Rainforest Cafe (Downtown Disney or Animal Kingdom)
T-Rex Cafe (Downtown Disney)
Whispering Canyon (Wilderness Lodge)
Ohana (Polynesian Village Resort)
Kona Cafe (Polynesian Village Resort)
The Wave (Contemporary Resort)
Jungle Cruise Navigation/ Skipper’s Canteen (Magic Kingdom)
Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
Be our Guest (Magic Kingdom)
Captain’s Grill (Yacht Club Resort)
Cape May Cafe (Beach Club Resort)
Garden Grill (Epcot)

We have only run into one place that I would recommend that you stay clear of with nut allergies, and that is Pecos Bill quick service in Magic Kingdom. Seems like a great safe option but we recently learned that all of their meat marinade may contain all nuts! I discovered the ingredient label in the food binder and we promptly walked back to Cosmic Rays. So disappointing!

May 16

Coming Soon to Walt Disney World – Part 3

Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and whatever I forgot to add earlier – by Laurie

DisneyQuest is not closing. The NBA backed out of the deal. The building is oddly designed on the inside even though the outside is a plain box. Floors 3 – 5 have a core area and two side rooms. Currently there are cafes in that core on the 4th and 5th floors. This core has elevators and bathrooms. What business other than a church would want a building divided into small areas. They could do gourmet cafes and bars on each floor but Disney Springs has too many restaurants. Until Disney can find a solution they are stuck with DisneyQuest. They offer evening discounts often.

Animal Kingdom (AK) will be changing to a late night schedule like other parks on May 27th. From much of the park guests will see the Tree of Life covered in projections of images in the Tree of Life Awakens nightly event. Projections have been used before to put images on Spaceship Earth and other buildings.
Discovery Island Carnivale will be a street party with dancing and music. In Africa is Harambe Parti with entertainers and acrobats. This should be where the giant puppets from Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade will appear. People push large metal frames shaped like animals while manipulating the characters so they move. This will be in the evenings.

May 27th sees Tiffins and the Nomad Bar opening in Discovery Island. The bar will offer appetizers and Tiffins will offer table service dining. Both will offer exotic food but Nomad Bar will offer exotic bar food like ribs and wings.

The nighttime safari will offer a twilight appearance. The grand finale is along the Discovery River in Asia. The Jungle Book will be the theme of the new Rivers of Light show until the real show is up and running. Only 5000 FP and dinner package seats will leave guests scrambling for a view along the river. It will be like World of Color in Disney’s California Adventure. Out west, where guests have a theater for viewing and all around, the show is waterfront seats and standing. Disabled and kids should be prepared for camping out as there are few spots offering kids and the disable without camping out.

I hoped and prayed for things to not be what they are at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) but with a sad heart I tell you that the water tower is gone. The Muppets, Writers Stop, and the Sci Fi diner are all that will remain of backstage, backlot, and most of the original park. Why cry? MGM Studios was a few shows, the tour, and the Great Movie Ride. This demolition is like removing Main Street or Future World. We rocked with Mulch, Sweat, and Shears while kids played around the fire hydrant. Though they were newer additions we loved the stunt show, shops, pretzels, Osbourne Lights, and that feeling of being on a big city street.

What is a shame is that the playground, Coke bottle mister, fire hydrant play area, pretzels, food vendors, shops, and street performances are not being replaced. For those without an annual pass, CM admission, or park hopper ticket there is only a half day park for the cost of a full day park. Olaf, Mickey, and Minnie will get a meet and greet but we can see Mickey elsewhere in the parks. They have not added anything to replace shops or places like Herbie’s, the Pretzel Garden, High Octane, and Studio Catering. There are no new attractions offering 15,000 guests per day something to replace the stunt show. STAR WARS is not a replacement because over the past years they had Star Wars Weekend and Summer entertainment. Launch Bay replaces Watto’s Grotto but not all the other lost venues. Walt got booted from One Man’s Dream that now is a movie preview center. Kylo Ren has 10 minute wait on busy days so how about some characters that interact with characters.

As we told you, Pixar Avenue is a dead end with nothing but a quiet area, Green Army Men, and a smoker’s area. Nothing has been added to this area to replace things lost. Sunset Boulevard is a dead end street. Muppet Courtyard is a dead end. WORST OF ALL … About an hour before fireworks is the closure of Pixar Avenue, Commissary Lane, the Great Movie Ride, the area between the stage and the Great Movie Ride, Launch Bay, and Animation Courtyard. This is the same schedule as for fireworks in the past.

The Star Wars show will project images against the theater as the stage, in theory, retracts the screens. There will be a dessert party that costs more than dinner, tax, tip, and dessert at some nice restaurants. Dessert parties tend to serve mass produced goods and there is no seating to disabled and kids cannot see. The vegan and special diet offerings are usually store bought snacks like a hard cookie.
I told the manager about the dead end so they now have a big sign telling people to turn around. Also it reads that there is a smoking area ahead. Now for some activities and snacks down there. As for how long to spend at DHS that is up to you. After the shows and rides there is just the Star Wars show and Fantasmic. Maybe one should sleep in and do Fantasmic and fireworks at night. We, the writers, photographers, and site owners try to encourage readers to come to WDW for a full day of fun. I can waste time on silly things that interest few people. Even I could not make DHS a full day. The only way for a full day is to start at opening for Toy Story Mania then see everything offered, no matter how bored you get.

Fulton’s Crab House in Disney Springs has lost part of the signage and they are stripping her of her showboat ornate architectural details. She will be a big boxy coastal cruiser when they are done.
DVC is coming to Fort Wilderness eventually. Rumor is that River Country will return but there is no way Disney can afford to change the water system and repair the park. Discovery Island also died and won’t come back.

Overall this Summer is going to be packed with nighttime fireworks, shows, and entertainment a long with new or improved attractions. You will stroll along shops in Disney Springs like San Antonio’s Riverwalk. Like my hometown there will musicians to entertain you while you bring food and drinks from local shops. Spend the Summer with friends near a concert with cocktails, cupcakes, gelato, and donuts. Did you forget or lose something? Disney Springs will carry almost everything you need for your travel needs as well as awesome gifts for the holidays. Animal Kingdom will be a full day of rides and shows as well as animals and education then PARTY THE NIGHT AWAY!! Olaf was right about Summer.

May 16

Coming Soon to Walt Disney World Part 2

– MK, Epcot and Fulton’s

The Levy company announced the other day that Fulton’s in Disney Springs will become Paddlefish. They will feature seafood and offer a rooftop deck for guests take in the view. Stay tuned for more details later this year.

The Magic Kingdom (MK) has some major things going on. Anna and Elsa are being booted from Fantasyland when their new meet and greet opens up in Epcot. Fastpass (FP) distribution had stopped as of May 27th. It is not known as to whom will take the vacated meet and greet. August, 2016 will see Princesa Elena of Avalor at the MK for meet and greets. Elena is a Latina teen who will appear on Disney Jr Live in her own show. Princess Aurora has moved to Fantasyland near a wall.

Wishes used to have a Fastpass viewing area but FP have been discontinued as part of the Shanghai issues. Now guests must pay $59 for adults and $35 for children. Guests who book in advance will stay on the viewing area at Tommorowland while those booking the same day will be sent to the old FP viewing area. At 10:30 am guests may book a same day reservation. There are few tasty treats for guests with dietary limits. I rather used that money on another day for Boma which has unlimited desserts.
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire opens this summer. Mickey and his friends are inviting Naveen, Tiana, Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Flynn, Rapunzel, Louis to the Faire. So far no set date but be there early as some guests will block the view of kids and the disabled.

RUMOR: Skipper Canteen to get a new menu with the stranger things being sent to Tiffins. The menu is very exotic while park guests tend to be rice, beans, taters, and meat fans. I prefer beans and rice over papaya slaw. This is a rumor from an unstable source. Either you will find exotic dishes or boring mess hall grub, no major issue.

Epcot mainly is focusing on Norway and Soarin’ but a few other things may happen. Be prepared for heavy crowds in Norway and the Land as well as dining to be harder to get in those areas. Soarin’ Around the World reopens on June 17th and FP are available to those with hotel reservations right now. The most important change is the use of digital technology which allows the addition and deletion of scenes. There will be no more worn and scratched images. Like modern movie houses the films can easily be changed. Scenes include Monument Valley and North Mitten or South Mitten; the Great Wall of China; Sidney Harbour; and the Swiss Alps. This building will be packed all day. The lower level has been modified to improve traffic.

Turtle Talk with Crush will have Dory added and cameos by Marlin and Nemo. “Finding Dory” stars about six months after “Finding Nemo”. Dory asks Marlin and Nemo to help her find her parents, Charlie and Jenny. Along the way her past is revealed and they have adventures. This opens June 17th and there may be a preview in DHS or elsewhere as well as activities at Animal Kingdom.

FROZEN NORWAY

In June the sisters will open up a ride and a meet and greet at the Royal Summerhus. The ride will take you to Elsa’s ice castle and Troll Valley. The Stave Church reopens on May 27th for refurbishment. But no one knows the date yet for when the Frozen ride will open.

This leave Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. There is no word on the Lion Guard movie that was to be at the Land.

May 16

Coming Soon to Walt Disney World

– by Laurie

Part 1 – Disney Springs

‪#‎AwakenSummer‬ was a “media event” for a few people of whom most are not Disney media. The rest of us had to wait for the WDW site to release the information I am sharing with you. I also have sources to add more information. One person not invited has been publishing Disney and other travel guides for 20 years, owns a major site and a much loved app, and is beloved by all who meet him. I am so sorry that I cannot share what was at the event.

This is not a refurbishment schedule but a lot of told you so, bragging on my part (Laurie). These openings will be mostly May and June but stretch into the next two years. We will start with Disney Springs. Town Center is the last area to open and stretches from Harley Davidson (Westside) to the Lego Store and World of Disney. From the lake, heading south are The Landing, Town Center, a parking garage and bus depot, and finally Buena Vista Boulevard. Access is from a bridge that leads to the lower level of STK. this path follows the creek around to the Pleasure Island path that passes Morimoto and Raglan Road. This north path ends at Portobello and the path from Westside to Marketplace. South of STK is a bridge to Town Center as well as the old Pleasure Island bridge by Raglan Road.

The south side will have restaurants with creek side patios. On the west is an arcade type building and two other buildings. South of that is a long row of buildings and in the middle is the bridge to the parking garage which leads from the Paradise Island Bridge. This area will have quick service and table service restaurants as well as lots of shops. Now for the time line.

The Daily Poutine opens May 15th and will include Canadian poutine which is French fries covered in gravy and topped with cheese curds. They will offer Latin, Italian, traditional, and French Variations.
B. B. Wolfe opens May 15th with sausages. They will offer a Bavarian sandwich, vegetarian sausage, and chorizo. They will have creek side dining.

Aristocrepes opens May 22nd and other both savory and sweet crepes. They feature smoked salmon, roast beef, vegetarian, turkey, key lime, strawberries Romanoff and s’mores crepes with adult drinks available.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is moving to the south end of Once Upon a Toy. The current site was tucked in a corner and often people were standing outside the shop. This will free up retail space. No word on when they move or reopen as they will keep the current location open until the move. Happy 10th Anniversary.

No specific information has been shared, but May 15th is the “grand opening” for Town Center. Between now and 2048 will be the unveiling of STK, Andrew Meieran’s underground nightclub and two restaurants, and all of Disney Springs. The consensus is that most of Disney Springs will be open by July. The bus drop at Town Center looks ready to open and is much needed. Definitely the garage will be open by the end of Summer. Patisserie is a French and Belgian bakery run by a master pastry chef, by law that word cannot be used on a bakery without that baker. They probably will reuse chocolate like the Ganachery which means cross contamination. D-Luxe Burgers claims to be allergy friendly but no vegan offerings and no soy free fries may be a sad meal for some guests.

Shops

ALEX AND ANI • American Threads • Anthropologie • Coca-Cola Store • Columbia Sportswear • Edward Beiner • Everything But Water • francesca’s • Free People • JOHNNY WAS • Johnston & Murphy • kate spade new york • Kipling • LACOSTE • Lilly Pulitzer • L’Occitane En Provence • Lucky Brand • Luxury of Time by Diamonds International • M·A·C Cosmetics • Melissa Shoes • Na Hoku • Oakley • PANDORA • Sephora • Shore • Sperry • Tommy Bahama • TROPHY ROOM • UGG • Under Armour • UNIQLO • UNOde50 • Vince Camuto • Vera Bradley • Volcom • Zara

FOOD

Amorette’s Patisserie (Disney shop)
Aristocrepes
B. B. Wolfe
Blaze Pizza
D-Luxe Burger (Disney Owned)
Daily Poutine
Edison
Frontera Fresca
Homecoming – Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine
Sprinkles

May 16

Shanghai’s affect on Walt Disney World

By Laurie Smith

150 years ago the verb SHANGHAI came into use as a way of saying kidnapped and kidnapping. 300 years ago crimpers were men whose business was to kidnap men and sell them to ships. They operated out of the seediest parts of London and their “blood money” allowed them to hire runners and bribe officials and the police. A nice man offers cheap alcohol and the next thing one knew they were in a lock house waiting to board a ship. 150 years ago crimpers set up shop in American and British coastal towns. Crimpers were now called Ships Masters and Boarding Masters. They ran boarding houses for seaman whom often were taken from ships to be sold to other ships. Now, they were paid per man no matter how sickly the man was. The victim’s advance pay was given to the boarding master to buy clothes and other items but the boarding master kept the money and sold the clothes to the victim at a high cost. SHANGHAI lasted until 100 years ago then slowly it was just another word for kidnapping.

How does a brutal criminal empire come to play in current life? The boarding masters rivaled Tammany Hall for being the most corrupt form of business to where in California the crimpers were elected to office. Disney Corporation as well as other companies plan for mistakes, strikes, bad weather, and other delays. It is a short list of things that parks promised and did not deliver on time. Companies can plan for all of this but few have met the corruption and shoddy workmanship as seen in Shanghai. It is not uncommon for rumors to fly and grow in the Disney community but this is fact based.

The vice-mayor of Shanghai, Ai Baojun, is under investigation by the China Anti Graft agency. His responsibilities are tourism and social stability. The death of 36 people during a New Year event has left questions on how crowds are handled at large events. Bank president, Yang Shenlin, his mistress and son face charges of corruption. Generals Guo and Xu are accused of millions of dollars of graft money while anti-graft agencies are downplaying how much graft is going on so that the Communist Party does not look bad.

Disney has to start increasing revenue while decrease expenditures to fatten their coffers in case things go bad in Shanghai. It is hard enough to to find documentation of delays and problems in the American projects let alone in China. It is like a restaurant chain with 10 stores and one is a catastrophe. The 9 good stores must contribute to saving the one failure. Various people in the Disney media community are reporting things that add up to a new vile word, SHANGHAI. We, the media, are used to annual ticket price increases and quarterly food price increases. A 1% cut in food at 100,000 servings leaves 1,000 servings to be sold which then leaves 10 servings which leaves .1 servings. That tiny cut allows them to turn $300,000 into $303,030.30 earned. Who notices half a French fry or a few drops of soda pop gone?
Disneyland has seen a 20% labor cost cut in employees that do not generate profit. Profit generators are ride operators, vendors, and ticket takers. Janitors don’t make the park money so they are expendable. Across the board at both coasts the employees are seeing schedules with 1 – 3 hours cut. Olaf, Mickey and Minnie are replacing 6 lost characters at the Studios. Long term street performers at the studios were let go. There was a loss of characters meets, 3 at Epcot and 1 at Magic Kingdom which saves the cost of costume maintenance, the character friend, and the character. They removed the Walt Disney World curb side hotel greeters.

From the minute you book a trip until you leave Walt Disney World there will be tiny changes. Reductions in bus driver hours may add 5 minutes to your wait. Will you miss a smiling face welcoming guests at the curb? That 5 extra minutes at check in is not noticed nor a change in the quality of toiletries. Nobody complains about one less French fry or one less pickle. Those who have been to the parks will remember but most guests won’t notice these changes. Disney is hoping you won’t notice that you are paying more for less.

Current Summer schedules have Magic Kingdom closing at 10 pm while Hollywood Studios often closes at 8:30 pm. Watch for only one parade and early closures of restaurants. Schedules can change for the better. Just don’t be upset if the water park is closed at 5 pm or a show’s last performance is early. Keep checking hours so you can plan accordingly. Skip dessert parties and other events unless it is like Club Villain or character meals. The cost is best used on meals and souvenirs. Animal Kingdom schedules do not show late night rides, yet. I end a tale of doom and gloom with a reminder that you can adapt and plan so that you still have an awesome vacation.

 

May 04

Ideas to Help Prepare for Your Disney World Trip

Disney-world-tripI found Mess For Less on Facebook who has some great ideas on how to get prepared for your upcoming Walt Disney World trip.  Check it out:  Kids Activities to Prepare For a Disney World Trip.    Some of the activites included a Life of Walt Disney Lap Book, Summer Adventure Book, Princess Coloring Book, It’s a Small World Geography and much more.  Her blog post also lead me to another great homeschool site Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, which is where Mess For Less got her ideas from.  Be sure to go check them both out!

May 04

How to Make a Half Day Park into a Full Day Park

How do you make a half day park into a full day?  Magic Kingdom has fireworks, parades, and Wishes that make guests want to stay until the park closes.  Epcot has struggled with only Illuminations as an evening entertainment. People have things they must partake in then some lesser things to do if they have time. Without the night being packed with entertainment there is no need to stay and see the less popular things.

Animal Kingdom is going to become a full day park this Spring.  They have added Harambe Market and expanded Harambe Village.  Tiffins is a sit down restaurant going in behind Pizzafari. Tamu Tamu now does desserts and snacks. Zuri’s Sweets, Thirsty River Bar and Good Eats opened up between Africa and Asia but unfortunately are not allergen friendly. The special diets cart was moved while the old location became Smiling Crocodile. There was the addition of Isle of Java at the entrance to Dinoland. Starbucks took over a shop in Discovery Island. Riverside Outpost is a huge shop that has greatly improved the guest’s shopping experience. All these changes in shopping and dining are giving guests a reason to stay in the park a little bit longer.

Pizzafari uses handcrafted dough instead of their frozen pizzas. Flame Tree reopened with an allergy friendly menu and a delicious light watermelon and feta salad. Menus are adding chickpea salad, samosas, falafel, hummus, watermelon and feta salad, lobster mac and cheese, and smoky cheddar grits. It is nice to eat something besides a burger and fries. Flame Tree received a porch covering and more seating.

What a park needs is that big evening event to keep there all day. Animal Kingdom is adding Rivers of Light show and night time safaris. Guests will do Expedition Everest and all the good attractions then hang around the rest of the day on the trails, at the Conservation Station, and in the Boneyard. They will stay for Flights of Wonder. I cannot wait for the new changes coming.

BAD NEWS

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has lost all hope of being a full day park. I can spend a whole day in the park but I am a rare bird. One must understand how the changes affect the park. There are four areas if one assumes total lockdown and no access to Streets of America.

1. Star Tours, Muppets, Momma Melrose, Indiana Stunt Show, Frozen Sing Along, and Echo Lake. Backlot Express is the only quick service site.

2. The hub with the Great Movie Ride. Behind the Great Movie Ride is the path to Pixar Avenue, Toy Story Mania, and One Man’s Dream. To the right is Little Mermaid, Playhouse Junior, and the Launch Bay. In this area is a dance stage.

3. Sunset Boulevard at the end is Fantasmic, Tower of Terror, Club Disney which closes except for special days, Beauty and the Beast show, and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster. This is another good place for quick service dining.

4. There is a path from the hub to Star Tours that helps bypass Echo Lake Traffic. This has the ABC Commissary for quick service.

It is best to get Sunset Boulevard done last as you have 5 things to do and 4 are not to be missed. Toy Story Mania can be a side trip from Star Tours to Sunset Boulevard. While the Great Movie Ride can go from an hour wait down to ten minutes late at night. Part of planning for this half day park is the location of attractions and food. The hub, number 2, has the most things that can be seen with little waiting. Star Tours is the only FP worthy thing in that area. Frozen usually lets in all guests into that show or the next show.

There will be a new meet and greet next to the bathrooms and the Frozen Sing Along. Club Disney should have been made into a meet and greet area outside but is closing indefinitely except for peak times or events. Sadly I believe and know that there is no hope of DHS becoming a full day park unless one spends all that time in every attracion, street performance, and show. Fireworks can be seen from Epcot and almost all of the Studios. It is best to grab a cold drink and snacks while resting far from the hub. The music is important to fireworks but from Epcot they were still breathtaking. I prefer the repercussions and music but these are the best fireworks in WDW.

May 04

Disney Hollywood Studios Tips and Tricks

By Laurie

On April 15th I went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS). I packed lightweight shorts and top because it might rain. A major issue in Florida is hypothermia because people prepare for a warm evening without rain or wind. Florida has deluges that can soak a man in a few minutes. The downpour is usually accompanied by strong winds that can turn a person into a block of ice. When you are cold and wet you slow down and don’t care about what the schedule is. You just want to curl up in a warm corner. I have a zippered jacket or sweatshirt for another change so I can stay dry in the worst storms.

I packed two sandwiches, two potato chip bags, and two cans of diet Coke. If I get chilled or exhausted I have instant fuel to keep me going. I packed a bag to cover my scooter tiller because scooters can quit working when wet. I arrived at DHS at 8:30 am after an hour drive as there was an accident along the way. I had bags open and magic band ready as I breezed through security and the entrance.

DHS lets guest in early so they can rent wheels, visit Guest Relations, get food and drinks, shop, visit the nurse, and get time guides. The cast members (CMs) form a rope midway up the street. Choose wisely your spot. Left goes up Keystone to Jedi Training signup, Muppets, and Star Tours. Right side turns onto Sunset Boulevard and guests are not allowed into the Animation Courtyard, no sneaky moves are allowed. I stayed in the center and headed toward the Animation Courtyard where we went through the arches and turned left. I stayed right so I just passed next to the wall and One Man’s Dream. Aim for a set of pavers one away from the wall as this will have you in line. I was boarding Toy Story Mania at 9:08 am.

IMPORTANT TRICK

I dropped my Fastpass (FP) for Toy Story Mania for the afternoon. As soon as I knew I did not need that FP it was replaced with another ride. As soon as you are scanned for the last FP you get on MDE and book a fourth FP. This gives you a better chance at what you want. If you cannot use a FP then immediately delete it and get another one like I did.

I was to be at the Frozen Sing Along around 10:30 am so I checked out the dead end then doubled back. One Man’s Dream can be seen any time, has no line, is indoors, and just off the main path, so, I saved this until later. However, I heard a CM say that there was no line for Mickey at the former Jack Sparrow building. I did that since the line would later be too long. Sometimes I do something as it is out of the way but I try to save as much as possible for later in the day.

Pixar Avenue goes on for a long ways and ends in a quiet area, smoker area, and Green Army Men meet and greet. It is possible for this area to add characters, carts, and stroller parking. Back to Frozen Sing Along and tips. The audience fills in 3/4 of the seats then the left side, including front row seats then lastly any remaining disabled seats. If they have just one seat they will try to fill it with a single person so don’t be afraid to ask for a front row single seat. There is a steep ramp outside to hold guests. Try to be at least five from the door and as low as possible for best spots. About the 6 – 10th person in each row will end up in the middle.

DHS3My next FP was for Star Tours. I saw the Jedi Training then did Star Tours. I was about 10 minutes into my FP return window. I had to check out the Muppets and Muppet Courtyard. As we predicted this area is a dead end. The last stop was Writers Stop which has high tables for guests waiting for Sci Fi. Currently they are keeping the old theme and bakery case. Jedi Training had a rope and disabled guests and kids often cannot see the show. Sign ups are done at rope drop.

By 1 pm I was ready for Indiana Jones stunt show with my third FP but a FP is not needed for the stunt show unless you want the center seats or seating down front. Spaces for scooters and wheelchairs are limited but there are seats one row down.

Backlot Express does not have soy-free side dishes so I went to the Brown Derby Lounge for lunch. I had the Cobb salad appetizer, dinner roll, iced tea, tip and tax for $18 which is about the same as lunch at Backlot Express. It is a light and delicious filling lunch that is way better than a burger.

While in lines, waiting for a show to start, or at meal time one should work on their schedule. I was able to hit Voyage of the Little Mermaid just before it started. I regret doing the Star Wars shows at the stage. They have refused to listen to guest complaints over the past decade. Kids and disabled will not see the show unless they are on the rope an hour before the show. I loved watching Plasma and her Stormtroopers but hated the stage show. They move the line forward so I was shoved back. It features quick character appearances and clips from the movies. The screen was of poor quality so I was left befuddled by snips of scenes that look like other scenes. YouTube at home has better clips of scenes. Watch Plasma then leave as the second show is boring.

I parked my scooter and checked the outlet. I have a plug with a light so that I know if the outlet has power. I missed Playhouse Jr. Live, but a sweet CM took me in a side door. I rocked as I cooled down after being in the sun too long. The music is easy on the ears, the show is cute, and the kids are fun to watch. I headed to Launch Bay for the movie that has clips from all the Star Wars movies and far better than that stage show. I met the autistic Kylo Ren who is so misunderstood. I wanted to do other stuff like Beauty and the Beast but needed a time out. Don’t push yourself or your group as you end up unhappy.

I left Launch Bay when the rain started and soon came the high winds. I dropped Beauty and the Beast, Fantasmic, and the fireworks as there was no way I would last 3 hours in the rain. I saw the preview of Jungle Book at One Man’s Theater which is one movie to watch. My last stop was the Great Movie Ride. I hope you learned some tips from this report. I cannot stress how important planning is for a trip and adaptability as well.

Coming soon will be reports on things happening Memorial Day, June 17, and later. Some like the Star Wars cantina and Pixar meets will be a year away. Others will be the end of the year. This Summer brings to DHS a character greet in the Frozen Sing Along building toward Star Tours. Also a big spectacular projection show against the Great Movie Ride.

Mar 03

Yellow Lines? Memories of an Old Mouse Fan

Laurie remembers how it was when she was a kid…….

I started on outings as an infant.  Mom and Grandma would walk to the store so I was exposed to people 58 years ago. I feel children need to start very young with outings to be exposed to the world.  I did the Pike, fairs, zoos, and the city park.  At age 3, I went to Disneyland for the first time.  This was a lot different than today.

Dad would check the car and make sure there was over half a tank of gasoline.  He had cash and camera ready.  Mom had me in an ironed dress.  We wore our best clothes. Dad drove on side streets about 11 miles to Disneyland. This was before many freeways existed and it was easier to use side streets. Most cars had no seatbelts and GPS, antilock brakes, and airbags were not around.

I don’t remember the first visit.  I dreaded the tram ride because you sat facing the street.  No doors or belts to keep you from falling out.  Unloading the car was simple, as we had Mom’s big purse, a stroller, camera, maybe a camera bag, and jackets or sweaters.  There were no phones, chargers, cords, backpacks, fanny packs, and luggage to weigh down a person.  I was a fat kid so I used a stroller.

There were fewer signs in those days. We did not need to be told how to behave in public. There were no gates in rides, like the Bobsleds, nor yellow safety lines to stand behind. We knew not to stand up on rides, watch the kids, and stay off the railings.  Look at photos to see the changes over time.

The disable often stayed at home. Nobody knew Mom and I were autistic. There weren’t gluten free, allergy friendly foods, artificial sweeteners, and snacks like today. Today, we have fruit snacks, trail mix, and power bars. Back then, there was only wheelchairs and often stairs to limit access. The lack of modern medicine made it hard for a person to leave home, unlike Nebulizers and insulin pumps.

We used tickets which saved money because Mom did not do rides. Tom Sawyer Island was unsafe, but nobody cared.  We did not need rails, trimmed outcroppings, and signs.  We were explorers out to have fun.  We did not mind that the park was small.  The best thing was that we were a family, not mindless creatures staring at blinking and whirring machines.  We always are tuna sandwiches at the Pirate Ship. They were special for some reason.  We would sit on barrels in a tropical pirate hideaway.  Gone is the Polynesian dinner show that served exotic meals including ice cream. Gone are the Native Americans that us kids loved because we were invited to dance.  I had moccasins from the trading post.

I miss those days, but love Walt Disney World.  I quit Disneyland in 2012 when Mom died.  I miss the innocence and stress free days when we did not need tape on the ground to remind us to be a good citizen. I do not miss turnstiles and disabled access that makes it easier for strollers and wheelchairs to get around. I wish we did not need people shouting for us to move to the end of the row. I miss the burros at Knott’s Berry Farm and the mules at Disneyland.  I sit melancholy in tears as I remember a simple time with loved ones. Yet, I know there is a big bright world waiting for me.

Jan 04

WDW Dining Reviews – 12/31/15

Laurie brings us her latest dining reviews.  See what she has to say about Coral Reef, Flame Tree, Jock’s and the long awaited Skipper Canteen……

You may be the only person with your set of dietary limitations, but you still matter to Disney. I speak to chefs about issues I see in restaurants. Over time I have seen changes made to restaurants that I will cover today. Special Diets department at WDW and DLR can help you dine with a wider selection of food and beverages. Some diets like soft food are rare but can easily be accommodated by chefs while others are nearly impossible. Now lets see some things that have changed in the past three years.

Coral Reef

I put off my review for later and am happy I did. At the time there were major kitchen errors such as poor knife skills. The manager was running errands for guests instead of managing. IMG_9675[1]The place needed cleaning and the busser was poorly trained. Overall I could not recommend the restaurant as one would have been happier eating at Sunshine Seasons. It was one of my harshest reviews. Over time, I spoke with Kim and other chefs who must have spread the word as Kim’s boss took over the restaurant. The managers manage, bussers know how to set up a table, the place shines, and the food is vastly improved. I can now gladly recommend Coral Reef.

Flame Tree

Early in 2012, I was offered plain ribs and a dry salad. I told the manager that I was disappointed that I had no sides or I would eat there often due to their delicious ribs. I could not eat the beans or the barbecue sauce because of soy. I went back this past December and was in shock. The manager showed me that the beans only have a corn warning. I can now have a gluten and soy free meal without limitations. I can now have ribs, chicken, pulled pork sandwich, turkey sandwich, turkey leg, and beans. I had the most awesome ribs with baked beans that I would eat every week if I could. Not vegan friendly yet. The best thing has to be the watermelon, basil, feta, and balsamic vinaigrette salad. I am so in love with that kind of salad. As you can see, they listened to us guests. 5 STARS

Jock’s The Hangar Bar

I spoke with Bill, the blue badge award winning chef, about the lack of gluten and soy free items. WOW! December I was in Disney Springs researching when I stopped at Jock’s. Chef Bill came out and made my day. I can have Good Dates, plain burger meat sliders with pizza crust, Snack of Ra using Udi’s pizza crust instead of naan bread, Shrimp BLT on pizza crust, kids pizza, and brats. I love the five bratwurst with German mustard, and pickled slaw with tangy pickles. This is now my emergency spot to eat. Cheap and tasty.  There is patio seating and two low barstools which one now has my name and dibs. 5 STARS

Skipper Canteen

Skipper5Last Monday the park was crowded, so I decided to try this new restaurant. Would they offer plain meat, white rice, and dry salad? One needs to know the backstory before entering the home. I may elaborate a wee bit. Imagine young Dr. Falls and his bride leaving Victorian England to save Africans. They arrive on a coastal port where they meet a skipper who takes them deep into the heart of Africa. Over time the men become friends and the skippers take under their care the couple. The couple build an elaborate Victorian home for expatriates and foreigners who need civilization. A few of the skippers are experienced home cooks or chefs, who like other skippers, use their skills to help the Doctor entertain guests. In time, the Doctor and his wife die with a will leaving everything to the skippers. As you walk into the home you will see the mess hall that once must have had elegant balls. Upstairs are offices for the skippers. Through the bookcase you enter a private area for a secret club. Your hostess goes into great deal and points out the butterfly booth. I could go on and on about the books, artwork, architecture, comfortable seating, and carpets.

Skipper2They handed me a huge special diets menu that looked like a dossier. The main issue was not gluten but the soy. Chef Matt and I decided on the fish collar and green papaya salad, bread, and arepas with Monkey Bites. $11 for the fish collar was more than enough for a meal. It reminds me of a chop instead of the usual fish filets. This was pure fish broiled until the skin was crispy. SkipperThis was one of the strangest and best fish dishes I have ever had. The green papaya and carrot salad was a bit spicy, tangy, and crunchy. I was very happy with that dish and would eat it again. The fenugreek honey was not enough as it was so delicious I wanted a whole pot of it. The arepas came with tostones which are a corn cake that is very soft and doughy in the middle. The idea is to fill the tostones with the savory beef. There was a salsa, a couple leaves of cilantro, black beans, and queso freso. I would prefer wrapping this up in a corn tortilla. Overall an excellent dish worth eating again. The savory beef with the salsa and queso freso was a perfect bite.

The grand finale came from the kid menu. Monkey Bites are two inch sections of banana dipped in chocolate, M&M style sunflower seeds, pistachio spongecake, and whipped cream. Skipper4The fake spongecake tasted like real spongecake. This is one of the best desserts in all of WDW. This was one of the best meals and at $27 it was a cheap and filling meal.

In summation, I highly recommend the Skipper Canteen. Disabled guests and special diets guests will find what they need. They even have Halal lamb. They have a wide variety of vegan dishes and can custom make dishes for guests with difficult diets. They offer steak and fish for those not into foreign cuisine. They can take from the kid menu some red potatoes to a make a meat and taters dish. They offer curry stew, rice noodle bowls, steak salad, lamb chops, and pork tenderloin with most accompanied with fresh vegetables and rice. The menu is rather tight which means chefs become familiar with a few dishes instead of trying to remember a wide variety of dishes. Monkey Bites is the best dessert but I have heard the cakes are delicious. The best appetizer in WDW may be the fish collar but they also have shu mai, hot and sour soup, and a salad. I will be back many more times. BEST NEW RESTAURANT 2015