Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Walt Disney World Resort Videos from AllEars

Trying to decide where to stay on-property at WDW but overwhelmed by all of the choices? Not sure what a particular resort is like? Here is a cracking resource from AllEars to help you make your decision - video clips of each of the WDW resorts! AllEars' collection includes resort overview videos as well as videos showcasing the interior of guest rooms.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Epcot: Christkindlmarkt at Germany Pavilion

If you've ever had the chance to visit Germany or Austria during the Christmas season, you'll be familiar with the wonderful tradition of ChristKindlmarkts, or Christmas Markets. The Germany Pavilion at Epcot has its own min-version during the Christmas season, complete with  gluhwein and Radeberger pilsener. Check out the Disney Food Blog for more information.  It was a little too warm to properly enjoy gluhwein (hot, spiced wine) while we were there, but the pilsener hit the spot!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lego Imagination Center at Downtown Disney

If you've got kids (or adults) in your traveling party that love Legos, you must check out Downtown Disney's Lego Imagination Center, where you can view, build and buy all sorts of amazing Lego creations. Our son loved it so much we visited it twice!

Golden Oak Outpost Dining Update

Well, it looks like one of our favorite quick service dining spots may no longer be a satisfying option. The Golden Oak Outpost appears to now only be serving hotdogs and fries. Further, when we visited last week, the Outpost didn't appear to be even open...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hidden Mickeys at the Polynesian Resort

Off-Limit Attractions for Expectant Mothers at WDW

Here's a list of the attractions at the WDW theme parks that explicitely state that expectant mothers should not ride.

Animal Kingdom:
-Expedition Everest
-Kali River Rapids
-Kilimanjaro Safari

-Primeval Whirl


-Mission Space
-Test Track

Magic Kingdom:
-Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
-Space Mountain
-Splash Mountain
-Tomorrowland Speedway

Hollywood Studios:
-Rock N Roller Coaster
-Star Tours
-Tower of Terror

Of course, you should always check with your physician regarding any other constraints, don't over do it and use common sense when touring the parks while pregnant. For more advice, click here.

Complimentary WiFi expanding at WDW Resorts

Disney has recently expanded the coverage of free WiFi at its resorts to cover some of the resorts' public areas. Find out more here.

Dining Review: Kringla Bakeri (EP)

The Kringla Bakeri in the Norway Pavilion is hands down a MUST stop snack spot at EPCOT. In particular, you've got to try the Norway School Bread. This sweet treat is a delicious, custard-filled dessert along the lines of a creme-filled donut.

Photo courtesy of the Disney Food Blog
If you love the school bread want to attempt to make it at home, here's the recipe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

it's a small world Storybook App Available on iTunes

There's a fun new iTunes sotrybook app from Disney - it's a small world, featuring the classic song and animation. Relieve the memories of your recent trip or get in the spirit for your next!

Christmas at Disney: Gingerbread

If you're fortunate enough to visit WDW at Christmas, be sure to take the time to visit the resorts (and the Liberty Inn at Epcot's American Pavilion) to take in all of the gingerbread creations.  You can find gingerbread creations at several of the resorts (Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Beach Club, Boardwalk) and the Liberty Inn. We spent two days touring of the various resorts to view the gingerbread creations and the other Christmas decorations, dividing the days between the Magic Kingdom (Monorail) resorts and the Boardwalk-area resorts.

Beach Club Resort Gingerbread Carousel

Boardwalk Resort Gingerbread Gazeebo

Contemporary Resort

Grand Floridian life-size Gingerbread House

Liberty Inn at the American Pavilion (Epcot)

Beach Club Gingerbread Carousel

Boardwalk Gingerbread Gazeebo

Dining Review: Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (MK)

Pecos Bill's was one of those QSRs that my family used to eat at all the time when we visited WDW growing-up; however, I had not eaten there in my adult life. The restaurant, located in Frontierland just down the hill from Splash Mountain and as you begin to make the turn to head into Adventureland, is a pretty solid place to grab a barbecue sandwich or burger and fries. The interior of the restaurant is very spacious and well-done from a decor perspective - some portions have undergone refurbishment and others are currently being refurbed. If you're in the Frontierland area of the Magic Kingdom and looking for a counter service meal, this is a good option, especially now that the Golden Oak Outpost has been reduced to serving only hot dogs and fries, and given that the other solid option around the corner in Adventureland, Tortuga Tavern, is not always open.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Fantasyland Construction Update

Here are somev new images of the Magic Kingdom Fantasyland expansion; taken from Dumbo, of course! Things appear to be moving along quickly, and workers seem to be working around the clock or (at least until late into the evening).  Definitely a lot of progress since we snapped some images back in May.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Be Our Guest" Restaurant - Coming Late 2012

Looks like the new Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant is slated to open late next year. To find out more, check out the Disney Food Blog. The restaurant is part of the Magic Kingdom Fantastyland expansion.
Concept Art for Be our Guest

Tip: Dropped Ice Cream? Get a Replacement for Free!

Here's a great and perhaps little-known tip. If your Mickey ice cream bar (or presumably any other Disney ice cream novelty) hits the ground (in our son's case after the first bite), return to the location where you purchased it and explain the situation. They will give you a new one for free. Big thank you to the Cast Member who saw our son's ice cream fall of the stick and on to the ground as we were getting ready to watch a Magic Kingdom parade and gave us this advice. Crisis averted!

Dining Review: Liberty Tree Tavern (MK)

We've found a new favorite table-service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom - Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square (just across from the Liberty Square Riverboat dock). This place is great, especially if (a) you love colonial theming (e.g., Colonial Williamsburg) and/or (b) you love delicious, Thanksgiving-style food. In our case, it's both!  
The Pilgrim's Feast (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans) was a large quantity of food for a small (as Disney goes) price - $14.99.
The kid's mac and cheese and chicken noodle soup were also very flavorful and came out in good-sized portions.
Throw on an appetizer such as the Tavern Fried Cheese, and you're all set. In fact, we at there for lunch and were all set for the rest of the day. We HIGHLY recommend this restaurant. Both the food and atmosphere are great, and far surpass other Magic Kingdom table-service offerings such as Tony's Town Square.

Monday, December 12, 2011

T-Rex Cafe at Downtown Disney

So, this isn't really a dining review. It's more of a warning. This restaurant is very well done when it comes to theming, with life-like dinosaurs, scenery, etc. Unfortunately, that can make it a bit unsettling for younger children. We thought our 3.5 year old son would love it, being that he is into dinosaurs. However, he ended up being so frightened by the loud dinosaurs, storm sequence, etc. that we left the restaurant before we had even ordered our food. Our son doesn't usually get frightened by these types of things, so it must have been really scary for him. Maybe we will try again on a future trip to Disney. Or maybe not. The menu wasn't all that appealing in my opinion and everything seemed quite over-priced. My wife and I were more than happy to head to Earl of Sandwich instead. Again, great theming, and that's really the main draw, so if you think your kid(s) will be frightened, don't bother.

Disney Snacks - Chocolate BonBon Cupcake from the Boardwalk Bakery

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas at Disney: Downtown Disney

If you're at Disney World for Christmas, be sure to take some time to visit Downtown Disney for some dining and shopping. Like the rest of WDW, Downtown Disney is decorated for the holidays, including hosting one of the 9 "Great Trees." 
Be sure to check out the "Holiday Sandwich" at Earl of Sandwich - it's an odd combination of holiday-type ingredients (think the entire Thanksgiving/Christmas spread between slices of bread), but it is incredibly delicious.

And, you can even find Santa Claus! Honestly, this Santa was the absolutely friendliest Santa we've met - he spent several minutes talking with our son, despite the fact that it was about 8pm, it was raining, and there was a long line of people after us.

Dining Review: Chef Mickey's Character Breakfast (Contemporary Resort)

There's no doubt about it: Chef Mickey's is a classic Disney character dining experience from classic characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto) to classic setting (the Contemporary Resort). Not to mention the famous Mickey waffles! We knew the experience would be well worth the hefty price tag ($35.14 for adults; $19.16 for kids 3-9), but the food was actually really delicious and there was a wide selection (I'm pretty sure I ate about half a dozen potato products).  And, it's a great and fairly relaxing way to meet and greet Mickey and the gang as the characters each come by your table.
Just a (small) sampling of the food available on the buffet!
Mickey waffles - hope my son doesn't expect me to start making these at home...

We DEFINITELY recommend Chef Mickey's character breakfast at the Contemporary Resort. FYI, for those of you who aren't big breakfast eaters, they do dinner as well. While it is generally safer to book as early as possible, as this is one of the more popular dining experiences at WDW, you can luck-in to snagging a reservation on short notice (our plans changed because of weather and we called the night before and got a reservation). However, note that under the new ADR policy for certain signature and character dining experiences, you will need to put down a credit card to hold your reservation and will be charged if you don't cancel within the required time frame.

Christmas at Disney: the 9 Great Christmas Trees

If you're at Disney for Christmas, be sure to make time to check out the nine great Christmas trees on property, which can be found at the four parks, Downtown Disney, The Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, the Wilderness Lodge, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The trees are absolutely georgeous and well worth the time time visit.
Grand Floridian Resort
Magic Kingdom

Wilderness Lodge

Comtemporary Resort

Downtown Disney


Animal Kingdom Lodge
Above are photos of the seven great trees we were able to visit. You can find the remaining two great trees at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Considerations for Traveling to WDW with Another Family

Considering traveling to Disney World with another family or group of friends? Sounds like a really fun idea, right? Well, you might want to consider these factors outlined by Touring Plans on what things you should consider before booking your trip (e.g., do the kids (and adults) get along, what are the touring styles of the different families, etc.). While it may well end up being a great idea, keeping these considerations in mind as you plan your trip will help ensure that everyone's Disney vacation is a magical one.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Star Wars Weekends 2012

For those Star Wars fans out there, Disney had just released its schedule for Star Wars Weekends 2012. Find out more infomration here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Up! Characters coming to AK

It looks like characters from Disney/Pixar's Up! will soon be appearing at Disney's Animal Kingdom. These characters, who have previously appeared sporadically at Hollywood Studios, will replace some of the characters no longer making appearances at Animal Kingdom (including Jiminy Cricket).