Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Disney Exchange- Episode 24 - What To Do On The First Day of Your Walt Disney World Vacation

By Nick 

Podcast: Play in new window | Download  

-The Disney Exchange is David Hodges, Lisa Green, and me, Nicholas Maglio  

-Main Topic: What To Do On The First Day of Your Walt Disney World Vacation

-You get to hear a bit of what goes into the podcast recording as the show begins. Then it doesn't. Then it does.

-Episode 23 was extremely popular. Did you hear it? You should! And please feel free to listen to every other episode too.


-Dave looks like Kronk? Dave goes on to talk about his weekend at Walt Disney World during their Coolest Summer Ever 24 hour event on May 22nd.

Photo: Dave

-Dave goes on to talk about his day at Disney's Hollywood Studios the next day and how much he enjoyed the Star Wars Weekends Legends of the Force Motorcade.

-Dave goes on to tell about his meal at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom.

Photo: Dave

-We finally get to our main topic. Lisa and I talk about our first day tips, tricks, and experiences such as how we get from the airport to the park and what time we usually get in.

-Dave drives. 

-We talk about where we go and what we do after check in.

-We talk Annual Pass/Florida Resident passes.

-Downtown Disney as a first day alternative to going to the park is discussed. Ladies and gentleman: The Amphicar.

-Wheel of Distiny topic: Favorite Disney Sidekick

I call Chopper from Star Wars Rebels Crusher. Sorry Chopper, and Dave shows how odd different he thinks.

-Thank you for listening to The Disney Exchange
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You can check out past episodes of The Disney Exchange podcast as well as Blog Posts at

Lonely Hulk!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Tips For Going Bag Free at Walt Disney World

By: Lisa Green 

Think how much time you’d save if you could avoid the bag check lines at Walt Disney World park entrances!  Be among the first to ride Toy Story Midway Mania before the standby line is more than 60 minutes long!  I often spend a day or two traveling light – footloose and bag-free – on my vacation and, unless you’re still in the diaper bag phase of life, with a little careful planning and the right wardrobe choices, you too can waltz right on in and bypass those nice folks at the bag-check tables.

You will need pockets for this to work.  I divvy up all the items we need to carry among everyone in our group – Cargo shorts, skorts, capris – whatever you like – the more pockets the better!

Travel Sunscreen

TEN Small Things (to help you tour bag-free):

1 & 2) Mini sunscreen and lip balm – these two are absolute necessities.  Applying the first coat of sunscreen liberally before leaving your room in the morning is a must.  After lunch, a quick touch-up helps ensure you remain burn-free.  Lip balm with a high (at least 30) SPF or a clear zinc stick for lips and face is a great investment!

3) Small camera, no case – Just carry it around by the strap and snap away!

Small Digital Camera

4) Pins for trading - Love Disney pin trading?  It’s not comfortable to always have a pin-filled lanyard around your neck all day – especially on days without breaks or super-hot, humid ones.  On a bag-free day, pin a few pins on a cap or visor or just pocket a couple for emergency trading purposes.

5 & 6) Cap and sunglasses – When the summer sun is beating down, I must have at least a visor and some shades.  Added bonus with the cap – no need to worry about carrying any hair styling tools – nobody’s going to see your hair!

7 & 8) Cell phone (and portable charger) – If you plan on frequenting your My Disney Experience mobile app to keep up with, book, or change your FastPass+ selections and ADRs, you will want a portable charger (around $40) or be tied to a charging station for a period of time.  The chargers are usually about the same size as a cell phone – easy to carry and use on the fly.

9) $2.50 – more figurative than literal, this item refers to the fact that being bag-free comes with a price…in this case, the price of a bottle of water.  I like bottled water versus any other beverage on a hot day.  When I’ve opted not to bring any drinks or snacks into the park with me, I’ve got to suck it up and pay for them.  I’m okay with that.  Sometimes you spend a little money to save a little time.

10) Bag of first aid/medical necessities.  We have a small plastic container that works well, but we’ve also used a mini-ziplock bag to hold an assortment of “in case of emergency” items – travel packs of ibuprofen, antacid, bandages, blister relief etc.  This tiny first aid kit fits easily into a pocket (and has come in handy many times).

Travel Bandages

Believe it or not, we’ve also carefully (and aggressively!) folded rain ponchos to fit into cargo pockets as well!  I still take a small backpack on many days to carry water, snacks, and character autograph items and pens, but from time to time, I just want to get a jump on the day.  Sometimes, no matter how light the bag is, it just feels like a burden and I need a break!  Whatever your reasons for wanting to be bag-free, I hope you found some useful tips here today.

Cargo Pocket

What are your best suggestions for leaving a bag behind?

This article was originally posted on Lisa's Living a Disney Life Blog.
She can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Please be sure to check out Lisa along with me and David Hodges on The Disney Exchange Podcast!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine

By Nick 

On a recent trip with 2 friends to Walt Disney World, we went to Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine, which is in Disney's Hollywood Studios through June 14th.

We started off this galactic dining experience getting photos with Jedi Mickey himself!

 Me, Mickey, Joe and Josh

As we were being brought to our table, we were handed our Lightsabers. Okay, they were pieces of paper that we rolled up, choosing either the blue side for the good guys or red for the bad, and securing this with provided rubber bands.

This is a buffet, and like the normal buffet at Hollywood and Vine, which my wife and I visited in January and enjoyed very much, there is a wide range of interesting choices mixed in with more standard fair. Several of the items are named in honor of Star Wars characters, such as the salad greens below, renamed "Greedos Fresh Green Mix."

Continuing down the buffet, we get other items, such as Yoda's Edamame Salad, Obi-Wan Insalata Caprese and, seriously, my favorite dish from the entire meal, R2-D2s Cantaloupe Salad, which had, obviously, Cantaloupe, pancetta, greens, and, I believe, a vinagarette. I really need to contact Disney and try to get the recipe, it was terrific.

Moving along we get to entree items like Princess Leia's Sweet and Sour Pork (a bit dry), and Ahsoka's Orange Chicken (very tasty).

There is a carving station that served Kessel Run Roasted Strip Loin and Dexter Jettster's (Obi's diner owning friend from Episode 2) Herb Roasted Turkey.

The"Padawan Kid's Buffet" serves Kanans Corn Dogs, Chewbaccas Chicken Tenders and other kid friendly foods.

As you dine, favorite Disney characters come around dressed like favorite Star Wars characters, like Chip and Dale as Ewoks.

If you miss one, don't fear, they come around frequently, and a Cast Member will make sure you've seen everyone, like Darth Goofy...

...and Stormtrooper Donald!

On to what many consider the most important part of any meal, dessert! One of the best were the
Darth Vadar Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake.

I didn't try the tarts as I was saving room for the cupcakes.

My favorite dessert was Aunt Beru's Blue Milk Ice Cream. It tasted like cotton candy!

We opted for the Fantasmic package, which gave us guaranteed seats for the show, and cost $63.99 for adults, and $38.99 for children aged 3-9.

I highly recommend this experience. True, it is not cheap, but it's a lot of fun, and the food is really very good. It's 3 of my favorite things in one. Disney, Star Wars, and food! May The Force be with you!

Princess Leia Minnie and me

Thursday, May 28, 2015

STAR WARS Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! at Sci-Fi

By Nick

On the last morning of my trip with 2 buddies to Walt Disney World to check out Star Wars Weekends, we had breakfast at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast runs through June 14th, and features Star Wars characters, such as Darth Vader and Boba Fett, who greet you as you enter.

Boba Fett, Josh, me, Joe, Darth Vader

If you haven't been to Sci-Fi, it is set up like a drive in theater on a lovely evening, complete with classic cars, which serve as your tables.

During normal operating hours, a movie loop featuring cheesy Sci-Fi movies is played, but during this event Star Wars clips, trivia and previews were up on the big screen.

We were shown to our car. The odd setup of the vehicles allows only 2 people per seat, so Josh and Joe sat up front, while I was in the back. This is fine, but isn't really conducive to conversation.

We were given menus, and as we perused these, a plate of pastries was brought out. Since I was in the back seat, I had a plate to myself!

The pastries were really good, especially the Vanilla Cream Turnover, which has Vader's face on them.

For a drink, I ordered the Blue Milk. You just have to. It's basically a slightly blueberry flavored milk.

I ordered the Greek Yogurt (Yoda?) Parfait with Fresh Berries and Granola. I wasn't a big fan.

For the main course, Joe and I had The Kessel Run which is Grilled Beef Tenderloin on Baby Spinach with Bacon and Cheddar Custard on a roasted tomato and cheesy horseradish potatoes. It was really very, very good. The steak was perfectly prepared, and all the tastes melded well. It was maybe one of the best breakfast selections I've ever had at WDW!

Josh had the Ackbar Surprise, Smoked Paprika-dusted shrimp, pan-seared and served with cheesy grits, which he enjoyed.

 During the meal, Stormtroopers patrol the restaurant, posing with guests, and conducting occasional interrogations.

One of the funniest things I saw during the entire trip was a Stormtrooper watching the clip from the original Star Wars, just after Darth Vader strikes Obi Wan down, and Luke shouts and starts shooting at the Stormtroopers. As he watched the scene play out, and saw his fellow Troopers constantly miss, he gestured as if to say "But they're RIGHT THERE." He shook his head and covered his eyes, and, as the gang onscreen escaped in the Millennium Falcon, he threw his hands up in frustration. I was too busy enjoying this show to get a photo.

I did get a photo of another humorous interaction at a neighboring table. As part of the cost of the meal, each person is given a small light up Lightsaber, which can be set to either blue (good) or red (bad).
A Stormtrooper noticed a young man had his set to blue. He walked over and pointed at it, motioning the kid to hand him the saber, which he did. The Trooper set it to red, and handed it back. Nice.

Along with the Stormtroopers, that bounty hunter with really bad eyesight, Greedo, comes around, as do Jawas looking for a trade. One wanted to trade me a light bracelet for my iPhone. I declined.

The Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast is $49.99 per adult and $31.99 per child age 3 to 9, (tax is included, gratuity is not.

I would do this again, but if had just one to choose, I'd do Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine, which I will review tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where in Walt Disney World: There is a Really Big Spider on That Light!

By Nick

On all my visits to this particular spot in Walt Disney World, I've never noticed this light. Maybe that isn't just a decoration, but a real spider?! Where in Walt Disney World is this? The answer is below; no peeking!

ɯopbuıʞ ןɐɯıuɐ s,ʎǝusıp uı ǝnɔǝqɹɐq ǝǝɹʇ ǝɯɐןɟ ɹoɟ ɐǝɹɐ buıʇɐǝs ǝɥʇ uı

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Star Wars Legends of the Force Motorcade at Disney's Hollywood Studios

By Nick

This story is a cautionary tale. Some folks assume that because I write a blog and have Disney Podcast that I am an expert on all things Disney. This is absolutely not true.
I often prefer not to do research when I'm about to do something new.
Sometimes this makes for a wonderful, surprise filled experience. Other times, things don't work out as expected.

On my recent trip to Walt Disney World with 2 friends to experience the first few days of this year's Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios, we had a plan as to what we wanted to do. We had our ADRs for several dining experiences, including The Rebel Hangar Lounge, Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine, and the Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast.

We also wanted to make sure we got into Darth's Mall, the merchandise area, see the Symphony in the Stars Fireworks, and watch the Legends of the Force Motorcade.

On Friday May 15th, we got to DHS half an hour early, got in and hit a couple of the shops in Darth's Mall, rode a few rides, and at 1030am found what we thought was a good spot for the 11am Motorcade over by Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, next to Oasis Canteen.

A little after 11, several waves of Stormtroopers, Rebels, and other assorted denizens of the Star Wars Universe came walking by.

And then Cast Members came up and started removing the ropes and tape, and the crowd started to disperse.

I looked at my friends and said "That was it? Where is the Motorcade? Where are the Disney characters?"
As we walked towards the front of the park, we couldn't help but notice the commotion directed  towards the stage in front of The Chinese Theater.

The Star War legends were being introduced!

Clearly, the parade went up Hollywood Boulevard to the stage, and sure enough, this is made clear on the Star Wars Weekend Event Guide, which I had neglected to read!

Luckily, all was not lost. As we were walking out we heard an announcement that the Star Wars Legends of the Force Motorcade was coming back down Hollywood Boulevard! We hopped on the curb in front of Keystone Clothiers, and had a great vantage point.

Still, I would have liked to have seen the whole parade, and I take full responsibility for not paying closer attention, and not doing a little pre-trip prep.

If there is an event or experience you are interested in, it's great to be pleasantly surprised, but sometimes a little planning goes a long way.

This article originally posted to The Disney Exchange, home of The Disney Exchange Podcast which I co-host with Lisa Green and David Hodges.