Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Walt Disney World, January 2017, Part 3

By Nick

Monday 1/23/17 

I woke up very early and couldn't get back to sleep because I was excited for our 8 am Keys to the Kingdom Tour!

Because we were told to be early, I had us at the bus stop by 6:45am. Not only was a bus there waiting, but we had it all to ourselves. And, unlike every other time we'd caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom from the Boardwalk, it did not stop at the Swan and Dolphin, so we arrived at about 5 after 7, where we were told the gates wouldn't open until 7:30!

We took a walk to the Contemporary and back, just to kill time, and returned to the front gates just as the security guards started checking bags. After about 15 minutes of waiting underneath the train station, we were walking into a relatively empty Magic Kingdom.

We checked in at the Town Square Theater, got name badges, were given headsets, and made our lunch selections.

At 8am we were brought outside where we met our guide, Dana. We were told no photos were allowed as we would be going backstage at several points.

If you plan on taking this tour and want to be surprised, read no further. In other words:

Spoilers ahead!

The tour lasted about 5 hours. After taking a tour up Main Street, learning about some of the names on the windows, we entered Adventureland and rode the Jungle Cruise and learned some interesting facts about this Disneyland original, rode the Haunted Mansion, got to see the floats backstage, and spent time walking through the utilidors beneath the Magic Kingdom, our favorite part. But, if you are a Disneyphile, most of the information you'll hear throughout the tour is probably already known to you.
Lunch was included. I was at first disappointed it wasn't at Columbia Harbour House, but really enjoyed my meal at Tomorrowland Terrace.
I feel it was worth it for the cost. Without a discount, it is $99. We saved 15% with our Annual Pass.

We returned to the Boardwalk Resort, and found a very nice surprise in our room! Cookies!
A nice card was included. Barbie said, "I wonder..." went to the fridge, and, yep, milk!

We have no proof, because the card simply reads "Welcome to the Boardwalk Villas, we hope your stay is magical." and isn't signed, but believe this was the Cast Member Barbie had given a button to the day before (see part 2) repaying her kindness.

After splitting a cookie, we went to Epcot to meet with our friend Marilyn. I made a stop at the Rose and Crown on the way, and got a Black and Tan.

Barbie and I also stopped at the Masterpiece Kitchen food booth, part of Epcot's International Festival of the Arts (see part 1) and had the Smoked Salmon Tartare and Wild Mushroom Risotto. Both were ok. Perhaps my palate isn't refined enough, but I found many of the Salmon dishes flavors overpowered each other, and couldn't find a taste combination that I found truly satisfactory. Plus, and I am not usually one to nitpick about prices, these 2 relatively small portions were $12 (salmon) and $9!

After meeting Marilyn, the 3 of us walked over to the Odyssey, where we all got the Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnuts, and I had the Neapolitan Beer Flight, consisting of a chocolate stout, vanilla porter, and a strawberry ale. Delicious!

We finished our snacks and made our way to the front of the park to say hello to our friend Kathy, a Cast Member at Epcot's main entry.

Kathy, me, Barbie and Marilyn

Marylin planned on seeing the Broadway Concert Series at the America Gardens Theater, so the 3 of us started walking back to World Showcase, when I spotted 2 more friends walking in the same direction! 

 Kelly and Karen

We said our goodbyes to Marylin and talked a little while with Karen and Kelly before Barbie and I started back towards the Boardwalk

On the way out of International Gateway we heard our names being called! Readers of the blog and listeners of The Disney Exchange Podcast had spotted us and wanted to say hello!

 Sheila and Warren

As we were speaking with Sheila and Warren, another friend, Kory and his friend Andrea walked by, so we spoke with them for awhile also! Kory, I can't believe I didn't get a picture of us!

We got back to the room early and called it a night.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Don't Do That at Walt Disney World - Episode 115 of The Disney Exchange

The Disney Exchange is Lisa, Dave and me, Nick

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

We start off thanking our listener Kathy who left us a new 5 Star review on iTunes, and Lisa answers
a question she mailed in concerning Club Level Rooms at the Beach Club. Well, technically we start off the show talking about chips, but then really and truly discuss Disney.

We "seamlessly" transition into our main topic of things that people do that make us crazy at Walt Disney World, also known as pet peeves, including the ever popular kids on shoulders, litterbugs, and personal space invaders.

The Wheel of Distiny topic this week: BB8 is going to be appearing at Star Wars Launch Bay in Disney's Hollywood Studios. What is your favorite Star Wars Droid?

You can send us an email at info@thedisneyexchange and reach out with show suggestions, submit Wheel of Distiny topics, or request a listener number on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedisneyexchange, Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneyexchange

If you would be so kind as to leave us a 5 star review on any of the social media sites, such as Facebook or iTunes, we'd really appreciate it. Thank you!

Thank you for listening to The Disney Exchange!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mickey Pants Sundae

by Gaylin

At the Plaza Ice Cream Parlour on Mainstreet, in the Magic Kingdom, you can get a good treat and a great souvenir. A souvenir I have always wanted! I meant to get one on my last trip to Walt Disney World, when I had someone to share it with but we forgot. This time I decided that for the sake of research and my need for the souvenir, I would go it alone.

What am I talking about?

Mickey's Kitchen Sink Sundae or as I call it the Mickey Pants Sundae.  I think it is pretty reasonable to get this great souvenir and a big treat for $14.99.

Here is my sundae, one scoop of chocolate and one of vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce and even though I said no whipped cream, I ended up with it anyways. Darn.

For the sake of research, I did my best but I could not finish all of this. I did dig out all the fudge sauce as it was really good, so was the chocolate ice cream. The vanilla was kind of tasteless.

I was worried I wouldn't get it home intact, that the handles or faucet would break off but I did it! Now I just have to find something special enough to put in the pants bowl!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rockin' The Dots!

by Gaylin

Shortly before I left for vacation, Nick messaged me that it was National Polka Dot day on January 22 and would I like to meet him and Barbie at Disney Springs to Rock the Polka Dots with Minnie. 

I went right out the same day to shop for something polka dotted. How sad that my wardrobe was polka dot free. I found a sweater and was all set.

We met first thing in the morning, Barbie and I wearing our dots and went shopping. As soon as the stores started to open, a cast member came out of a shop and handed Barbie and me Rock the Dots buttons. Yay, I love buttons! 

I think it is pretty easy to tell that we are having fun.

Just by chance we were in the right place at the right time to come across the Rock the Dots dance party, with none other than Minnie herself!

Minnie even has her own DJ. He had everyone grooving to the music, especially the little kids. I am so glad we got here for this event.

Another surprise was that some of the stores were offering a discount for people wearing polka dots and the Rock the Dots pin. Cool!

If I am ever back in Disney Springs for National Polka Dot day, you can be guaranteed that I will be proudly rocking my dots.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Walt Disney World, January 2017, Part 2

By Nick

Sunday 1/22/17 
We slept in. Okay, 7am IS sleeping in for me. We dropped our bags at bell services (for the reason for the room move, please see part one) and grabbed breakfast at the Boardwalk Bakery before hopping a bus to Disney Springs.

We arrived around 9:30am, and had much of Town Center to ourselves. It was National Polka Dot Day, and Disney was celebrating with a promotion called Rock the Dots. Guests were encouraged to dress in polka dots, and many Disney Springs establishments were giving out buttons and offering discounts to those Rockin' the Dots.

We met Gaylin and proceeded around DS visiting shops before being treated to lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express. Thank you again Gaylin!

Next we made a stop at Amorette's Pattisserie, where Gaylin picked up a delicious gluten free snack.

We walked back towards Town Center on the way to the Coca Cola Store, and who do we see walking in the same direction, but Minnie Mouse! She was making her way to the Rockin' the Dots dance party!

After a little dance with Minnie, we headed to the Coca Cola Store. The place is really big, and contains just about everything a fan of our favorite soda can think of. AND you can get a photo with The Bear!

We took a bus back to the Boardwalk around 3, and I went to the desk to inquire if perhaps I just didn't get texted that the room was ready (it's happened) and was told that it still was not.

The Cast Member noticed Barbie and Gaylin's attire and buttons and said she was heading over to Disney Springs after her shift to hopefully get a button. Barbie had an extra, and gave it to her. We believe this little act of kindness was paid forward the next day (stop back for part 3)!

We sat in the lobby for a little while, and happened to see friends Heather and Rich as they were waiting for Tragical Magical Express back to the airport. Great to meet you both again!

After 20 minutes, and still no room, we decided to just head to Epcot.

It started to rain lightly, and then pour just as we approached Japan, so we ducked inside the Mitsukoshi Department Store.

When we left it had cleared up, so we took advantage of a couple of the photo ops the International Festival of the Arts afforded.

The only FastPass we had was for Frozen Ever After. We'd missed it in October due to Hurricane Matthew, so I was looking forward to it. It is not a long ride, and certainly not, in my opinion, worth the extremely long lines, but if you have a FP to use, it's enjoyable.

When we got off the ride, we spent time in the shop, as it had started to rain again...

... and waited for a break to go over to Mexico, where Donald was waiting in his finest Mexican attire!

We walked down to Spaceship Earth, which had zero wait, so took a ride before saying goodnight to Gaylin.

Barbie and I walked back towards International Gateway rather briskly as the forecast was for extreme thunder storms and even tornado watches!

By the time we got to Great Britain, we were starved, so made a decision to grab a quick bite at Yorkshire County Fish and Chips.
No sooner had we popped the last chip in our mouths, it started to rain lightly.

We made it back to the BW just in time to avoid the deluge! Our room had a good view for the storm!

As one band of rain went by around 7:45pm, the Magic Kingdom apparently decided to present Wishes a little early, and Illuminations went off very early at Epcot!

The rain started back up not to long after, on and off all evening. But this led to some lovely days afterwards!

Please stop back tomorrow to see Gaylin's post on Rockin' the Dots!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Disney Parks Tickets - Episode 114 of The Disney Exchange Podcast

The Disney Exchange is Lisa Green, Dave Hodges, and me, Nick

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

The main topic this week is Disney Park Tickets, but before we get into that, Dave talks about his recent trip to Walt Disney World, including dining highlights, his love of musical theater and art, and his favorite new Festival at Epcot, the International Festival of the Arts.

We talk about the latest ticket price increases at Walt Disney World, Annual Pass prices, our recommendations for the type of ticket you should purchase depending on your length of stay, and touch upon Disneylands AP prices as well!

We also talk about Rivers of Light debuting at long last!

Wheel of Distiny Topic: Wishes is being replaced, are you upset or looking forward to the new show, "Happily Ever After?"

You can send us an email at info@thedisneyexchange and reach out with show suggestions, submit Wheel of Distiny topics, or request a listener number (remember those?) on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedisneyexchange, Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneyexchange

If you would be so kind as to leave us a 5 star review on any of the social media sites or iTunes, we'd really appreciate it. Thank you!

Thank you for listening to The Disney Exchange!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tiffins, a Wonderful Meal

by Gaylin

One of the great things to do on a vacation, is have a special meal. I was able to get an ADR at Tiffins for my first day at the Animal Kingdom and had a long time from booking the reservation to the actual meal to look forward to eating there.

I was not let down! The restaurant is lovely, the cast members terrific and the food!!! As I sat down, I was handed an official, leather-bound allergy menu. I was thrilled, I had a choice of entrees.

I chose this:

Excuse the fact that I have taken a forkful from this photo but I was very hungry and took  a bite before I took a photo . . .

The pork was perfectly cooked and wonderfully seasoned, by the time I was finished, I had used the bites of pork to wipe all the mole sauce off the plate. So very good. This was the first tamale I had ever had, the flavour was really good but it needed a bit more seasoning or a bit of some sauce inside it to bring out the flavour. There was pork in the tamale but it was lacking in salt. The hominy succotash, another first for me, was also flavourful but needed just a bit more something to round out the taste. Minor problems, believe me, I ate it all!

Again, I was thrilled that I had more than one choice for dessert. With food allergies, I am used to getting told, I am sorry - we having nothing you can eat . . . would you like ice cream. (No)

This was my dessert:
I made the right choice, see . . .

This dessert was the perfect balance of sweet, with the ganache and banana, tart, with the raspberry sauce and pomegranate seeds and savoury - Egyptian sea salt on the ganache. The cocoa nib tulle - slightly bitter and a great crunch. This is possibly the best dessert I have had in my life. 

Would I go back to Tiffins. Yes, absolutely.

Not just wonderful food. The decor in the restaurant is beautiful and after a hectic theme park day, lovely and quiet as well. As I was eating my meal and reading on my Kindle, the manager of the restaurant came by, after asking if I was enjoying my meal, he mentioned that the restaurant wasn't busy that night and if I wanted, I could stay and read as long as I wanted to. My kind of restaurant.

If you are thinking of going to Tiffins, please look at the menu online and pay attention to the prices. This is not a restaurant to go to if you are on a budget. A definite splurge. Hopefully, it is a splurge I can afford every time I go to Walt Disney World!