Coming Soon to Magic Kingdom: A Pirates Adventure

The success of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom has led to a new interactive experience, A Pirates Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas in Adventureland. This was supposed to be open in the spring but has been bumped to an ambiguous “summer” opening. This looks even better than Sorcerers when you watch the video from Disney Parks Blog. Some are saying that this is a way to keep park guests busy and happy while waiting for their fastpass return times with the new Magic + system. If this is true, then I am happy that they are trying to find a way to entertain the masses between rides.

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Reservations Tricks…

I have now been able to book the impossible for our May vacation!

Right away I was able to snag a much coveted Cinderella’s Royal Table breakfast reservation and I took this as a good omen. I have been determined this trip to eat at all new restaurants (at least new to us).

I have been checking for Be Our Guest everyday for months and all of a sudden there was an opening for the evening of our arrival!! Yes it is at 9:20 pm, but we don’t arrive until 6:15 and we’re planning on heading over the new Fantasyland anyway to see what is all about. What a beginning on the surprise vacation for the kiddos!

Now, I have been calling for about a month (every day or so) to get into the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party. This is a dessert buffet with seats/viewing of the Wishes Fireworks in Magic Kingdom. I have heard many good things on the blogosphere and chat rooms about this and I wanted to check it out for myself. Finally, on April 1 it was open for the month of May and I was able to book the night of my choice. This isn’t on the dining plan so we do have to pay out-of-pocket for it but I think it will be worth the experience.

So my advice for these hard to get reservations…Be Our Guest and Royal Table are worth checking the online reservation site every day or even multiple times a day. You want to book these 180 days in advance if you can. My problem is that I very rarely book a trip that far in advance. You do have to put a credit card guarantee down, but you can cancel 24 hours in advance without penalty. Be Our Guest is more difficult because it is only dinner for the sit down, but at least you can be in the restaurant for lunch as often as you like!

Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party seems to have a very flexible booking start date. Some WDW reservation agents have told me they release it to them 4-6 weeks prior to the beginning of the month and others have said it varies even more. I tried to book starting about 8 weeks out and called every other day. When it neared to about  5 weeks before May, I started calling (407)WDW-DINE every day and finally yesterday on April 1 my work paid off. The phone reservations seemed correct that they do release those reservations starting the month prior, so keep that in mind and start bugging them about 6 weeks if TTFDP is something on your bucket list!

Penny Pressing…a fun (cheap) souvenir

Are you trying to think of ways to bring home souvenirs that won’t collect dust and you won’t have the urge to throw away after a year? I discovered the penny press a few years ago as a way to keep the kids busy while my husband was collecting the stroller. After digging into my wallet for 2 pennies and 4 quarters, I let each kid press one penny. They were so enamored with the process and the different options it kept them happy and involved for longer than it probably should have. After pressing one penny each, they continued to ask to look at it the entire trip. I didn’t think anything of it until I started to notice penny pressing machines everywhere around the parks and hotels.photo 1 In a gift shop, I found a book to hold your pennies next to the autograph books.

Now, I purposely pack a roll of pennies and 2 rolls of quarters from our Disney Fund. The kids each has a baggie in the backpack with their coins and are allowed to stop at any machine they want. They hunt high and low for penny presses. Hotels, outside bathrooms in the parks, at rides…penny press machines are everywhere and it is a fun and inexpensive thing to collect and bring home. Each penny costs 50 cents and a penny to press. They also have quarter press machines, but that is too rich for me so I just stick to the pennies.

Here is a site that can give you a list of where to find the penny press machines and what they have for the hard core collectors. I am not so hard core yet, but that may change as the kids get older…

Resorts for Grown Ups

Everyone thinks of Disney as a travel destination for parents with small children but this is not the case. There are tons of adults that love Walt Disney World and may want to enjoy the parks without the kids (or grandkids). Here are my recommendations for resort hotels that are more suitable for adults. These are based on location, amenities, restaurants/bars on site and the general grown up feeling of the resort. Yes, you will find families there but it’s Disney World and you can’t avoid that! Most of the resorts I recommend for adults are in the Deluxe category because you will find more and more families when you go to moderate and value resorts. Continue reading

Star Wars Weekends 2013

stm736501SMALLI love Star Wars and I love Star Wars Weekends. The artwork has been released for this year’s Star Wars weekend and I love it. Return of the Jedi is my favorite of the original trilogy and I have a soft spot for the Ewoks. This year is particularly special because it is the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Episode IV: Return of the Jedi. I don’t know about you but I remember seeing this one in the theatre when it was released, so now I feel old… It is also going to be interesting this year because it is the first Star Wars Weekend in which Disney now owns the Star Wars empire.

But know that this is not for the first time Disney traveler. Star Wars Weekends are hot, crowded and confusing if you don’t know your way around Hollywood Studios. If you are a seasoned veteran of WDW and you (or your children/spouse) are a fan, this is the weekend for you to visit!

The full schedule is not released but here is what is available now. Star Wars Weekends will take place May 17-June 9, every Friday, Saturday, & Sunday.

Celebrity Guests: You can get a fastpass to meet and get autographs from the celebrities.

  • James Arnold Taylor: The Official Celebrity Host for all 4 weekends. The voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Clone Wars series. He performs a one man show about voice talent.
  • Ashley Eckstein: Also a Celebrity Host for all the weekends. She is the voice of Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars. She hosts a talk show about the cartoon series. We had the privilege to meet Ashley a few years ago at SWW and she made a wonderful impression on my daughters and made them feel like it is ok for girls to like Star Wars. (I keep telling them that the boys will think it is the coolest thing someday!)
  • Ray Park: Darth Maul from Episode I: The Phantom Menace for Weekends 1 & 2. He is also a martial arts expert and in X-Men & GI Joe. He does a martial arts show during the weekend.
  • Warwick Davis: Wicket W. Warrick (my favorite Ewok) for Weekends 2 & 3

The schedule should stay the same for the most part. Character greetings and autographs from the bunches of characters from all the movies and cartoon, specialty merchandise, Jedi Training, Padawan Mind Challenge, Hyperspace Hoopla, Star Wars Stars Motorcade Parade with stormtroopers and various characters.

I will update more as soon as the information comes available, so stay tuned!

Can you find the hidden characters?

We watched Wreck It Ralph yesterday during our snow day and when you pause the movie they show you the scenes that contain characters from well known video games. I thought that was so fun and then I came across this post this morning! Big fun for any Disney fan. Thanks Kenny the Pirate!

Here is a scene from Hunchback of Notre Dame: There is a character from Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Lion King in this street scene!

hiddencharacter

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Update

It’s that time of year again to start looking towards springtime with longing. Well Walt Disney World does it up right with the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival starting March 6 and ending May 19. There is everything here to get you ready for spring, beautiful gardens, DIY and HGTV personalities presenting home improvement seminars, spring inspired food and drinks and outdoor concerts.

I can’t wait to go (though I am in it for the food and drinks more than the DIY)! Here is the schedule of events for the Festival.

UPDATE:  Here is a review of the festival food and drinks from The Disney Food Blog! Also this year, they are giving passports when you enter the festival as well. In these you can check off what you have tried on the menu and notes on your food and drink. You can also collect stamps at each booth you visit.I think it is a fun addition to make it more interactive!

UPDATE: If you traveling on the Disney Dining Plan, I have also noted which of the food items are available as a snack credit!

The HGTV and DIY Network Personalities:

NEW! Chris Lambton of HGTV’s Going Yard March 8 – 10                                          NEW! Chris Grundy of DIY Network’s Cool Tools March 15 – 17                              NEW! Egypt Sherrod of HGTV’s Property Virgins March 22 – 24                         Brandon Johnson of HGTV’s My Yard Goes Disney March 29 – 31                            Meg Caswell of HGTV’s Meg’s Great Rooms April 5 – 7                                            Jason Cameron of DIY Network’s Desperate Landscapes and Man Caves                April 12 – 14                                                                                                                NEW! Sara Peterson of Editor-in-Chief, HGTV Magazine April 19 – 21                    Carter Oosterhouse of HGTV’s Million Dollar Rooms April 26 – 28                           NEW! Casey Noble of HGTV’s Design on a Dime May 3 – 5                                        Dan Faires of HGTV’s Design Star and HGTV.com’s DanMade May 10 – 12            NEW! David Bromstad of HGTV Design Star, Color Splash, Design Star All-Stars      May 17 – 19

Flower Power Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre,                               Friday – Sunday: 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM, 8:00 PM

Micky Dolenz of The Monkeez March 8 – March 10                                           Chubby Checker & The Wildcats March 15 – March 17                                             The Guess Who March 22 – March 24                                                                  Nelson March 29 – March 31                                                                                       The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie April 5 – April 7                                                    Paul Revere & The Raiders April 12 – April 14                                                           The Village People April 19 – April 21                                                                          The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO and ELO II April 26 – April 28 Tommy Roe May 3 – May 5                                                                                    Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone May 10 – May 12                              Starship Starring Mickey Thomas May 17 – May 19

The Garden Marketplaces will be serving up delicious food and drinks while you enjoy the Festival. Some items will be a snack credit as well, if you are traveling on the dining plan. There are also items that are part of the new “TRY IT” menu as part of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative, to encourage children (and adults) to try come common foods in a new way.

UPDATE: If you traveling on the Disney Dining Plan, I have now noted which of the food items are available as a snack credit with a asterisks **

FRUITS BY THE GLASS – World Showcase Plaza

Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail Wild Berry Slush – Non Alcoholic**                         Sea Dog Blue Paw Wild Blueberry                                                                                New Planet™ 3R Raspberry Ale (Gluten Free)                                                         Florida Orange Groves, Mango Mama, Mango Wine , Blueberry Blue, Blueberry Wine DeLoach Vineyards Heritage Reserve Chardonnay & Heritage Reserve Pinot Noir

FLORIDA FRESH – World Showcase Promenade, near Mexico watermelonefgf

Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese**                                                               Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Zellwood Corn, Tomatoes, & Cilantro**                           Angel Food Cake with macerated Florida Berries        Florida Orange Groves, Hot Sun, Tomato Wine & 40 Karat, Carrot Wine Orange Blossom Pilsner Strawberry Slush** – Non Alcoholic

JARDIN DE FIESTAS – Mexico

Pork Tacos topped with Tamarindo salsa, served on a flour tortilla with Chicharrón **   Crab tostada served with Chipotle Mayo and Valentina Salsa**                                       Guava Flan**                                                                                                                Conga Fruit Punch – Non Alcoholic**                                                                          Corona Light Draft Beer                                                                                             Rosita Margarita Organic Tequila Flight

LOTUS HOUSE – China

Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries**                                                                         Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apple**                                                 Pan-Fried Vegetable Bun**                                                                                           Peach-Oolong Bubble Tea**                                                                                          Kung Fu Punch (Vodka and Triple Sec with Mango and Orange Juice)                     South Sea Storm (Guava with Light and Dark Rum)                                                    Plum Wine                                                                                                                     Tsing – Tao Beer                                                                                                      Lychee Aerated Water Peach Aerated Water**

BAUERNMARKT: Farmer’s Market – Adjacent to Germany

Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Peas and Wild Mushroom Ragout**                   German Meatloaf Sandwich with Sweet Mustard and Fried Shallots**                        Potato Pancakes with house made Apple Sauce**                                                      Florida Avenue American Wheat Ale                                                                Krombacher Hefeweizen                                                                                           Goose Island Brewing Company’s Honker Ale                                                                  Blue Point’s Toasted Lager Beer Flight                                                                       Hugo – Charles De Fere “Organic” Brut with Elderflower and Mint                  Krombacher Hefeweizen

PRIMAVERA KITCHEN – Italy

Asparagi con Aragosta all’Ortolana** (Green asparagus, lobster, garden cocktail sauce) Lasagna Primavera** (Spinach Lasagna, green peas, zucchini, mushrooms, broccolini, béchamel and fresh tomatoes, with garlic and basil leaves)                                      Panna Cotta al Limoncello** (Limoncello flavored Panna Cotta, wild berries)           Fontana Candida                                                                                                         Pinot Grigio Castello di Querceto                                                                                 Chianti Bosco del Merlo                                                                                              Prosecco                                                                                                                    White Peach Bellini                                                                                             Strawberry Rossini                                                                                                     Italian Primavera                                                                                                       Birrificio Del Ducato – Nuova Mattina (Spring Saison Ale)                                            Birrificio Le Baladin – Nora (Specialty Ale)                                                                  Birra Del Borgo – Rubus Lamponi (Specialty Wild Fruit Ale)                                        Beer Flight

THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews – The American Adventure Courtyard

Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw**                                                                           Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeño Corn Bread **                     Rocky Road Brownie Mousse**                                                                                    Mama’s Little Yella Pils (Czech style Pilsner)                                                             Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing Company                                                                   Red Ale from Orlando Brewing                                                                           Blackwater Porter                                                                                                          The Original Rib Shack                                                                                                 Red Wine & Beer Flight

HANAMI – Japan fushiefgf

Frushi** (Fresh strawberries, pineapple and cantaloupe rolled with coconut rice, atop a raspberry sauce sprinkled with toasted coconut and whipped cream)                    Chirashi Hanazushi** (Grilled Salmon, cooked shrimp and crab stick served over a bed of fragrant ginger rice with Volcano and Dynamite sauce)                                                                                                                  YakiSoba Pan** (Fresh grilled carrots, onions and cabbage with Japanese noodles and teriyaki sauce served on a bun with mayonnaise and Beni Shoga)                          Green Tea Flan** (Silky custard with macha green tea and caramel glaze)                  Yuzu Rita                                                                                                                       Fruit Sake                                                                                                                    Hana Awaka                                                                                                              Frozen Kirin Ichiban

TASTE OF MARRAKESH – Morocco

Spiced Lamb Kebab with Vegetable Couscous Salad**                                                 Harissa and Lamb Confit Chicken Drumettes with Chermoula and Cucumber Salad** Baghrir** (Moroccan pancake with honey, almonds and Argan Oil)                             Desert Rose White Sangria                                                                                          Guerrouane Red Casa Beer                                                                                          Mint Iced Tea

L’ORANGERIE – France

Tarte a la ratatouille**                                                                                                 Country style pâté served with baguette and cherry compote**                                  Caramelized peaches and rosemary and light vanilla cream**                                      Grey Goose Vodka Orange, St. Germain liquor with White and Red Cranberry Juice Muscat Pétillant, Sparkling Muscat Charles de Fère Chardonnay, White Burgundy, Macon Village Georges Duboeuf Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Beau-Rivage Kronenbourg Blanc 1664, (Fruity White Beer with Citrus Notes)

THE COTTAGE: Savories, Trifles and Tea – United Kingdom

Potato, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare and Sour Cream**                                                                                                                         Baked Goat’s Brie with Kumquat Chutney**                                                            Waterkist Farms Heirloom Tomatoes with house-made Mozzarella, Minus 8 Vinegar and Basil**                                                                                                                Chocolate Trifle**                                                                                                           Berry Trifle**                                                                                                                Ginger and Tea Trifle**                                                                                                     Trio of Trifles**                                                                                                                   Hot Teas** (Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Lemon Green Tea, Jasmine Green Tea, Spiced Apple Chai, Pumpkin Chai, Mixed Berry Black Tea, Pomegranate and Raspberry, Camomile Honey & Vanilla, Honeybush, Mandarin and Orange, Pure Peppermint, Lemon & Ginger)                                                                                   Peach Cold Brewed Iced Tea Mixed Berries Cold Brewed Iced Tea**                               Poema Cava Brut Rosé                                                                                            Chilled Rose Blush Lemonade

PINEAPPLE PROMENADE – World Showcase Promenade – near Canada

Dole® Whip Dole® Whip with Siesta Key Spiced Rum                                                     Pineapple Upside Down Cake featuring Dole® Pineapple Dole®**                          Dole® Whip Dole® Whip**                                                                                      Pineapple Fruit Cup**                                                                                                   Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade                                                                              Samuel Adams® Cream Stout

INTERMISSIONS CAFE — Festival Center                                                                Beet Lollipop                                                                                                            Grapes                                                                                                                          Fruit & Cheese Plate                                                                                                         Vegan Trio                                                                                                            Southwest Chicken Wrap                                                                                              Tuna Salad with Pita                                                                                                     Italian Salad                                                                                                                Asian Tuna Salad with Noodles                                                                                    New Planet™ 3R Raspberry Ale                                                                                  Blue Point’s Spring Fling                                                                                              Florida Orange Groves: Mango Mama, Mango Wine, Blueberry Blue, Blueberry Wine DeLoach Vineyards Heritage Reserve Chardonnay, Heritage Reserve Pinot Noir Poema Cava Brut Rosé

A list of the Character Meal Options

I have so many people ask me about the various Character Dining options in Walt Disney World. I have compiled a list with descriptions for each to make deciding easier for you! I have previously written about my favorites if you want to take a look. This is a basic list that tells you the facts, not my opinions of each (which I have many).

Character meals

(Organized by Character type)

Mickey & Friends Continue reading