Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Walt Disney World Buddy Trip 2016, Part 4 ; After Hours at the Magic Kingdom

By Nick

Who: Me and my friends Joe and Josh
Where: Walt Disney World, stayed Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village 

Part 4
Thursday, May 12th Continued

After dinner at Be Our Guest, we went to Guest Services to pick up our lanyards for the After Hours at the Magic Kingdom event, which gave us exclusive access to the park from 11pm-2am. This was a gift from our new friends Alison and Jim! We then made our way up Main Street to a spot to watch the Celebrate the Magic castle show and Wishes.

Left to Right: Alison, Josh, Joe, me, Jim

By then it was almost 1030pm. 
We rode the People Mover, watching the park empty out. 

Just a few minutes before the park closed, we went to Space Mountain

Now, I haven't ridden that in years because the last time I did I felt a bit motion sick, but, maybe because I'd been going on 5-6 hours sleep since about 730am and I was delirious by this point, or the excitement and adrenaline, or a combination of everything, I enjoyed it thoroughly, and didn't feel a bit ill.

So we immediately rode again!

During the event, there were ice cream carts serving frozen treats and Coca Cola products all over the park, and everything was included free! 

We hit Buzz's Space Ranger Spin, Pooh, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder, Pirates and the Jungle Cruise, some rides more than once, all with little to zero wait!

It was amazing to see the park so empty, we really felt that we had the park to ourselves! It was a surreal experience.

The only time we waited more than 5 minutes was at Princess Fairytale Hall.

Amazingly, I stayed awake the entire day. Anyone that knows me or frequent readers of this blog will know the I'm NOT a night owl, but the thrill of being in the Magic Kingdom at that time of night, and the feeling that it was open just for us, kept me pumped until the very end.

I can't thank Jim and Alison enough for this wonderful gift!

Please stop back soon for part 5!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Walt Disney World Buddy Trip 2016, Part 3

By Nick 

Who: Me and my friends Joe and Josh 
Where: Walt Disney World, stayed Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village  

Part 3
Thursday, May 12th   

Despite getting to sleep very late the night before, we woke up early and made it to Disney's Hollywood Studios a little after rope drop.

We headed to Toy Story Midway Mania, but the line was already over 45 minutes, so we went to Star Wars Launch Bay, and got pictures with Chewbacca and Kylo Ren.

I'm just gonna come out and say it. I find Kylo Ren to be an interesting character, but I feel the meet and greet to be awkward. He is just more intimidating somehow than even Darth Vader. Am I the only one that feels that way?

Halfway through our Star Wars experience, I received a text from our new friends Alison and Jim with a photo of tickets to the After Hours Magic at the Magic Kingdom event for that evening that they had bought for us! 

We were floored by such an incredibly generous gift! 

We went on to see the First Order Troop March, and after a quick snack at the Backlot Express, met up with Jim and Alison just as the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far Far Away stage show was beginning. 

Afterwards we all went and got photos with Olaf at the Celebrity Spotlight.

Josh, Joe and I headed to Epcot on a Friendship Boat for a late lunch/early dinner at Biergarten.

We walked around World Showcase to try and digest the huge meal we just ate before heading to Future World. We rode Spaceship Earth, and while Josh and Joe rode Mission Space, I met up with my friend Betsy for a quick hello.

We headed to the Magic Kingdom, which took forever as the Monorail was down between the Ticket and Transportation Center, so we had to wait for a ferry. 

When we finally arrived at the MK after what felt like about 6 hours, we contacted Alison and Jim and met up with them at Be Our Guest

We were initially only meeting to get our passes for that evening, as Alison and Jim had ADRs for Be Our Guest, but then Alison suggested we join them! She went to the check in station and was able to add us on!

The After Hours at the Magic Kingdom event deserves a whole separate post, so please stop back tomorrow for Part 4!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Episode of 84 of The Disney Exchange - Epcot Food and Wine Kiosks

By Nick 

Podcast: Play in new window | Download 

084 The Disney Exchange -Epcot Food and Wine Kiosks. The Disney Exchange is Lisa, Dave and me. This week we welcome back special guest Heather Brainerd!

Lisa starts off with a shout out in French. If you speak French, please let Dave and me know what she said. It was probably something about us. Or she was complimenting me. I should put that in my next contract; every week Lisa should compliment me in a different language!

This week we go through each of the food marketplaces that have been announced for the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival!

Heather goes through the Gluten Free options at each of the kiosks. Heather suggests this great site for dealing with food allergies at Walt Disney World :

Heather, I am sorry listening to me talk about my shellfish allergy has apparently caused you to catch this unfortunate affliction.

I also apologize to every nation for my absolutely awful attempt at pronouncing food items from your respective country.

Dave explains steamed buns and describes a Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel.

Steamed bun
 Photos: Dave

Listener Poll: Is it cheating to get your passport stamped at a food kiosk if you do not get an item from that kiosk?

Photo: Lisa

Please enjoy some photos of returning foods:

From New Zealand : Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney and Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs


Scotland's Fresh Potato Pancake with Scottish Smoked Salmon and Herbed Sour Cream and Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Aged Stout


Patagonia: Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée


Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato from Brazil.


Sorry the photo is blurry, but THIS is the Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies from Brazil.


The Wheel of Distiny topic this week was suggested by my wife Barbie: What is your favorite Country Bear?


You can find Heather on her podcast, The Disney Duo which she co-hosts with her son Cale, as well as on her blog:
If you want to hear more of Heather right here on The Disney Exchange, check out Episode 13, Episode 26 and Episode 27.

You can find us at : Facebook:, Twitter:  or email us at: info@thedisneyexchange  

Thanks for listening to The Disney Exchange Podcast!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Getting Psyched for Food & Wine


When I choose articles for Saturdays with Lisa, I usually go back into her archives, but this post from her Living a Disney Life Blog from just a couple of weeks ago is too perfect, as we have been planning our trip to Walt Disney World which overlaps with Lisa's for a couple of days, and the last episode,  of  The Disney Exchange Podcast , which Lisa co-hosts with our friend Dave and me, have dealt with Food and Wine planning. - Nick

By Lisa Green

My countdown calendar finally feels like it’s moving.  The days are ticking by ahead of our long-awaited return to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  I couldn’t be more excited!  This may only be my second visit during Food & Wine, but I feel like a seasoned veteran after our weeklong 25th Anniversary celebration at F&W in 2014.  This year we’ll be a party of seven and our plans are really shaping up.  With only two-and-a-half months to go, it feels right around the corner.  It’s Friday today and that means a Friday Five is in order.  Dear Readers, I give to you…

WDW Vacation – Getting Psyched for Food & Wine

  1. Pick a week and book it! – This is the first phase of excitement.  Thinking about going changes after you know exactly when you’ll be there and where you’ll be staying – makes it real and you can set your countdown calendar!  Because I’m a planner I’m also, in this very early stage of vacation prep, starting to think about where we’d like to eat when we’re not enjoying the Food & Wine offerings.  Which brings us to… 
  2. Make some ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) 180 days out – “Some” being the important key here.  I think you can over-book dining reservations which may detract from the joy of strolling around World Showcase sampling all the excellent flavors that Food & Wine has to offer.  I like to ensure plenty of festival time, so I book just few carefully chosen reservations that will leave us a plenty of free afternoons and evenings for hopping from country to country on an international culinary tour.  Once those ADRs are booked, I feel more like I know what our touring plans will be each day and that makes me even more exited!
  3. Wait impatiently for the booths and menus to be announced – I’ve searched everyday for weeks and finally the kiosk and menu info is available – This is a major factor in getting psyched for the trip!  Sure, it’s fun to see what musical groups will be playing during our visit, but that’s not (for us) the primary draw.  You can print out those menus and narrow down all the food and beverage choices to the all important Top-Ten-Must-Try list (yours could be whatever number you like).  I’m not too picky, so I’m leaving room to be flexible and spontaneous in food selection.  It’s not imperative to have a list, but it sure is fun to strategize a festival food plan.  Yes, more excitement!  Check out this year’s lineup here
  4. Book those FastPasses ASAP – If you’re staying on property, this means there are only 60 days left before your vacation!  My strategy for Epcot is all about making sure we don’t have to come and go repeatedly from World Showcase once we start our feasting.  On this trip, we’ve got one whole day reserved for Animal Kingdom and I’m excited about having breakfast at Tusker House and dinner at Tiffins…while maximizing attraction enjoyment in between.  On most of the other days, we’ll be park-hopping to keep Epcot part of the action as often as possible.      
  5. Reminisce or surf the web (or both) –  I like looking back at pictures and blog posts from our last trip to Food & Wine.  I also like reading about other people’s trips as well as food reviews, booth rankings, and touring tips.  This will keep me entertained and build excitement right up until the day we leave for vacation.    Are you headed to Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival this year?  What are you doing to get psyched for the trip?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Walt Disney World Buddy Trip 2016, Part 2

By Nick

Who: Me and my friends Joe and Josh
Where: Walt Disney World, stayed Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village 

Part 2
Wednesday, May 11th  

Up early, and after breakfast at The Mara we made it to the Magic Kingdom shortly after rope drop. 

Joe, Nick and Josh

It was already pretty hot, so we made a decision to head to the back of the park and ride Splash Mountain. It was the first time in all my trips I chose to go to Frontierland first, and I have to say it was a revelation! It was nearly empty!

We got photos with Chip 'n' Dale, rode Splash Mountain, then Big Thunder twice before riding SM again, all by 1015am!

We walked over to Pirates and used our FastPasses, followed by a walk through Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

By then it was almost 11 and we decided to have lunch at Skipper Canteen. Not only was it a very good meal, but we had a really great time talking to our server, Bridgette. 

Next up was Haunted Mansion, Seven Dwarfs and the Railroad.

We walked around the park for awhile, grabbed ice cream at the Plaza and found a spot for the Festival of Fantasy Parade.

Afterwards I was able to meet up with my friend Molly. It was the last day of her Disney College Program, and I was happy to catch her!

We headed back to the room, and while Josh took a nap, Joe and I headed for the pool. A very nice couple held the elevator for us, and we wound up chatting with them, as they were also on their way to the pool. We got a table and some cocktails, and talked to Alison and Jim for hours. We were joined by Josh, and after awhile decided to go to dinner together.

As we headed back to our rooms, we were amazed to discover we were next door neighbors!

Because we weren't in the mood to travel, we went to Sanaa, where we managed to get a table in the lounge.

After a great meal and great company, we said good night, but it certainly wouldn't be the last time we would see our wonderful new friends! 

Part 1 can be found here :

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Grim Grinning Ghosts

By Nick

Disney is releasing several great books about The Haunted Mansion over the next few months, and I have ordered them all from Amazon.

This illustrated book featuring the beloved song Grim Grinning Ghosts (GGG) arrived just a few days ago.

The cover features the Hitchhiking Ghosts in front of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.

The book is beautifully illustrated and has the lyrics to GGG.


It even comes with a CD so you can sing along!

I just yesterday received another HM book, and will share that in a future post.
Hurry baaaack. Hurry baaaack.