#Adulting · Animal Kingdom · Characters/Meet & Greets · Disney Characters · Disney Dining · Disney Princesses · Disney Shows · Disney Springs · Disney Travel Tip · Disney World Resort · Epcot · Hollywood Studios · Magic Kingdom · Meg the Travel Agent · Trip Report · Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Trip Report

July 2019

We got engaged at Disney, we Honeymooned there – it was time for another milestone trip. Our first trip in 10 years without our littles for our 10th Anniversary.

Resort Review

We arrived late afternoon to our home away from home for the weekend – the Polynesian. This was our first time staying here. We absolutely loved it and may or may not be thinking of joining DVC because of our stay here. The experience, amenities, and customer service were definitely elevated at this resort.

From the moment you check in and you get your Leis, you feel like part of their Ohana. We left our bags will Bell Services and went to check out our room. We had a balcony on the third floor in the Fiji Building (which was exactly what I requested when I called Disney with my room preferences; yay for Travel Agents!). It was beautiful. It was diagonal from the Great Ceremonial House where the restaurants, shops, & Monorail Platform are. Super close! Our view was of Bay Lake, the beach, and gardens. I spent each morning reading on that balcony and we sat out there one night to watch a beautiful storm pass through.

We enjoyed the beach & view of Magic Kingdom. Two of the nights we were able to watch the Fireworks over Magic Kingdom from the beach. Once was Happily Ever After and the other was the 4th of July Fireworks. We also saw the Electric Light Parade which I have enjoyed since I was a young child and I am SO glad they still show it each night.

We took full advantage of what the resort had to offer. We shopped in both shops at the resort. Between the two they have a wide selection of clothing, jewelry, accessories, toys, as well as things you would need that you may have forgotten at home, drinks, snacks, and more. The one thing I was looking for that I couldn’t find (a certain pair of earrings), a cast member looked in their inventory and found them for me at a shop in Epcot and had them for me the following day. Amazing service! We swam in both pools but we preferred the Lava Pool. The Oasis pool was beautiful but much more quiet. We liked the buzz and excitement of the Lave pool more. It is great that there are both options though! As for lounges & restaurants, we experienced Tambu Lounge, Capt. Cooks, & Trader Sam’s. The food and experiences were great at all 3 but my favorite would definitely be Trader Sam’s.

This is a must see for sure! We got right in without a wait which surprised me. The wait staff reacts differently to each item ordered off the menu and it becomes an experience the entire lounge takes part in. Between that and the decor, I could have spent hours there. Tip: Try to sit on a bar stool instead of on one of the couches – they have a fun surprise! Then there was transportation. I have not stayed at a Monorail resort in many years. In my opinion, it was worth every penny for that perk. It was super easy to come back for a swim mid-afternoon and took almost no time. It was great to visit other quick services and lounges along the Monorail line. We also had table service reservations at the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary so it was really nice to be so close to those. The buses for Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom were frequent so no issue there either. Transportation at the Polynesian is on point!

Just the general feel and environment that this resort offers is so great. We felt relaxed and as if we were on a beautiful lush island while staying there. It was very immersive and I hope to take the littles back on a trip in the not-so-far future.

Disney Springs

We spent the first evening snacking and sipping our way around Disney Springs. Our first stop was the DockSide Margarita Bar. We were drawn right in by the music. There was a gentleman playing all kinds of fun music. He was quite talented and especially shocked me when he started playing the conch shell as an instrument. He was great!

We headed over to Paddlefish. Formerly Fulton’s Crab House, this large (docked) paddleboat is a great place to stop for food & drinks. I highly recommend heading to the rooftop. The view from up there is great and they have some amazing Ice pops!

The Hangar Bar was next on the list – Inspired by Jock Lindsay, Indiana Jones’ Pilot. We love the fun decor and all the nods to the movies and Jock’s travels. We always stop here for the pretzel – it comes with some great beer cheese & tasty mustard. Its a nice little snack that we like to order and snack on. We sit out on the dry-docked boat that looks like it is straight out of The Jungle Cruise. There, we listened to the music at the near-by stage and watched the Amphicars come and go.

Winebar George is a great little spot. This time we stopped at “The Basket” which is basically like a little grab-and-go window. You can get the Frozcato as well as the Dole Whip so it is worth a stop!

From there we needed a bite to eat. Figuring we would check out something new, we stopped in at D-Luxe Burger. Fairly typical quick service – you order at a window, get a pager and wait for your food. In the meantime you can help yourself to a number of amazing dips for your fries and burgers. They let you add on toppings-i.e. bacon, at NO CHARGE. I was kinda shocked honestly. So we got a bunch of dips and waited for our food to arrive and guess what? These. Burgers. Rock. Oh good gracious, it was tasty – stop there if you are looking for a delicious but quick burger. You will not be disappointed!

I wanted to show the Husband some of the neat places I learned about on my most recent training trip. I took him down the hidden staircase for Enzo’s. We grabbed a quick drink here (wishing we were not so full because this Italian food looked and smelled fantastic) and then I took him through the “secret” back exit. Once through there we arrived in the Basement of The Edison. It was super crowded and the house band was real good. After that, we called it a night – wouldn’t you?!

Magic Kingdom

This is the weekend before 4th of July so this place is hoppin’! However the new fastpass+ system seemed to do a fairly decent job of spreading everyone around. We were able to do all the mountains and all the attractions we wanted to do (along with a meet-up with my favorite Princess) and we were out of there by 4! It all comes down to the way you spend your Fastpasses and which itinerary you follow. Using a few tips and tricks, it is not hard to see all that you want, even on a Holiday Weekend. One of my favorite parts of helping guests plan their trips is maximizing their time in the parks. It is kind of a Disney Science and I like to think I am not too shabby at it!

Construction is in full swing for Tron. They were not actively working during the day but so much progress has been made in just the few months since I was last here. I am getting super excited about it!

Delicious Bites worth Noting:

  • Loaded Waffle Fries from Golden Oak Outpost
  • Loaded Tots from The Friar’s Nook
  • Spicy Chicken Waffle from Sleepy Hallow

Animal Kingdom

The only part of Animal Kingdom that felt crowded was Pandora – No surprise there. We avoided Pandora because we fastpassed Flight of Passage for later in the day and went out on one of the first Safari’s of the day. I think we will try to do each trip going forward. There was SO much animal activity. We were even chased by an ostrich and the driver had to drive straight through the next habitat to get us away from him. My favorite was watching a lion and lioness play. It was like watching two furry kittens – they were having a lot of fun.

It was my mission to find and smooch on Kevin-The Snipe from Up. He can be found roaming the Kingdom. Well, he actually found me and came right up to us and pointed to our Anniversary pins and clucked a bunch. Nothing like a congratulations from a Snipe – my vacation was complete.

Delicious Bites worth Noting:

  • Mac & Cheese with Pulled Pork from Eight Spoon Cafe
  • Haystacks from Zuri Sweets Shop

We also found a neat little Nook over by Dinosaur! It is a Paleontologist’s Tent with some fun decor. The mixologist we encountered was fun and really knowledgeable. It seems to be more of an adult place but it did not say children couldn’t come in. We just liked the quiet and laid back vibe with the great theming as a background.

As usual, I took my stroll around the tree to see what new animals I could spot. I found what I think are reindeer! I will be doing my Christmas in July soon so I thought they were fitting!

Pandora was amazing, as always. It is quite breathtaking when you sit back and just consider your surroundings. Grab a beverage at Pongu Pongu and have a seat and take it all in. It is so worth taking the 5 minutes to do so.

Hollywood Studios

We got to the park 20 minutes before it opened and wound up very close to the opening line that they stop you at. We dropped back a bit because I insisted on going into the Trolley Car Cafe! We walked back to Toy Story to ride Midway Mania (already fastpassed Slinky Dog Dash for later). Wait was 5 minutes and when we came off, it was still 5 minutes. Swirling Saucers had no wait but Slinky was already up to 25 minutes. If you do not have a fastpass, go there first!

The highlight of the day was watching one of the Star Wars stage shows while facetiming our littles. We had a front row spot and I had a storm trooper come up to within a half-inch of my face. It scared the kids from 5 states away – but they loved it. I am excited to return in September and see what additional characters we can meet up with other than what they currently offer. My daughter would lose her mind if she could meet Rey and the same goes for me if I could meet Darth Maul. Can’t wait!

Delicious Bites worth Noting:

  • Peanut butter Crunch Cupcake at Trolley Car (OH my word…)
  • BBQ Brisket Melt at Woody’s Lunch Box
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Lunch Box Tart at Woody’s Lunch Box

Epcot

We had a Fastpass for Test Track so we got to the park about a half hour after opening and went right to Soarin’. It had no wait. The park was still quiet so we were able to get in a few more rides before our first Fastpass.

We caught not one, but two showings of The Jammitors. They do not perform the same act so you can see something different each time. If you have never stopped to see this short sidewalk show, you should! They are my husband’s favorite so we always see at least one showing. They give out fun little stickers that say “Junior Jammitor” which the Husband proudly wore the rest of the day…goof.

We finished up in Future World and headed for the Countries in World Showcase. We really went in depth into each country. We saw the inside of buildings and shops that we had not been able to enter for years because of impatient littles.

Special Places to check out –

  • La Cava in Mexico – the Guacamole is fantastic and it is a neat little spot off the beaten path
  • The walkways in China around the water are very pretty and they are full of fish and polywogs
  • The Fountain in Italy – a quiet and shady spot that is a peaceful spot to rest – note the grape vines full of grapes!
  • The Bazaar in Morocco – walk through all the different shops, they are so neat and different
  • The fountains & shops in France

While I have tried the phone booths in the United Kingdom as have several others, I have not gotten them to do much of anything in the past few years. While messing around with the phone, a Cast Member came up to us and said, “No, you are trying the wrong numbers. Call this number.” So we turned around to dial it and when we turned back, he was gone. We were soon delighted with a congratulatory message from Mickey and Minnie on our anniversary. THAT was some crazy Disney Magic! I love when it isn’t planned and just happens. I teared up a little.

We returned to our resort that evening to find the Magical Express folder on our door. What a sad sight! HOWEVER! We took advantage of our in-room bounceback offer and are already booked to return in September. This way I can visit Star Wars and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and relay any and all information I learn! If you have questions about where to find these offers, reach out to me!

If you would like me to assist in planning your Dream Vacation, contact me today and let’s get started!! My services are free of charge and I can help save you time and money! My passion and knowledge of Disney can really save you some stress and make your trip more enjoyable. Plus, qualifying reservations receive our Minnie Box! Our special thank you gift that is sent to you prior to departure for your trip. It is full of surprises and Magic and other wonderful things to enhance your stay.

#Adulting · Disney Dining · Disney Springs · Disney Travel Tip · Extra Magical Events · Walt Disney World

Flavors of Florida 2019: A Foodie Guide

© Disney

A whole new food and beverage experience is coming to Disney Springs. Now that Summer is here, we are celebrating with wonderful fresh flavors of fruits and citrus. Come experience some of these delicious bites and sips! This special event is going on all summer through September 2nd. Stop at any of the participating locations or the Disney Springs Welcome Center for a guide.

Personal Experiences:

This is a fantastic #Adulting Opportunity. Yes, many of these things you can grab on the go if you have littles in tow but it is far more immersive if you can do it without them. This is a great event for locals who can head over for the evening, guests traveling for a girlfriends weekend, bachelor/bachelorette parties, Disneymoons and all the other wonderful reasons adults travel to Disney. Bonus: If you are staying on Disney Property, you don’t have to worry about how you are getting back to your room after a few of these tasty beverages!

I have personally been to several of these locations and the experience is just as amazing as the food and beverages. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is one of my favorites in Disney Springs and we hit it each time we are there. The food and drinks are so different from normal fare. The building itself is so creatively built and decorated – I mean, where else can you sit in a dry-docked boat and drink out of a Monkey’s Head?? This is also a cool spot because you can watch the Amphicars launch next door.

Wine Bar George is a really neat wine bar. The food is outrageous and they help you pair anything you would like with a beverage. If you are a Dole Whip fan like myself, you will have to stop here. They have a Frozcato which is basically a alcoholic frozen Dole Whip. It is a delight!

Here is the menu, direct from Disney:

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar

  • Fountain of Youth Chicken Wings – Chicken wings served with St Augustine Datil Pepper Sauce
  • Florida Rain – Orange vodka, gin, coconut rum, blue curaçao, and sour mix
© Disney

D-Luxe Burger

  • Southern Burger – Signature beef blend patty topped with a fried green tomato, pimento cheese, lettuce, grilled onion, and bacon
  • Orange Crème Milkshake – Vanilla gelato blended with zesty orange flavors and topped with whipped cream

Amorette’s Patisserie

  • Blood Orange Mousse – Lemon chiffon cake with grapefruit gelée

The Ganachery

  • Disney Springs Dark Chocolate Bar – Dark chocolate bar with orange
  • Florida Orange Ganache Square – Dark chocolate blended with Florida orange juice and orange zest
  • Key Lime Ganache Pop – White chocolate blended with Key lime juice and fresh lime zest covered with dark chocolate 

Rainforest Cafe

  • Conch Fritters – Conch fritters served on a bed of tropical slaw with Key lime tartar sauce
  • Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen

Wine Bar George and The Basket at Wine Bar George

  • Frozcato Cookie Sandwich – Frozen pineapple frozcato sandwiched between two house-made sugar cookies
  • Frozcato – Moscato, vodka, and Dole Whip Pineapple

Polite Pig

  • Smoked Prime Rib Slider – Prime rib served with a citrus aïoli and a green papaya horseradish slaw
  • Florida Mango Frosé – Fresh mango purée, sparkling rosé, and citrus

House of Blues – The Smokehouse

  • Key Lime Pie – Key lime pie with graham cracker crust and toasted coconut
  • Sandbar Sunday Islamorada Beer Company American Pale Wheat Ale

Splitsville

  • Tuna Poke Tower – Seared ahi tuna, spicy crab mix, diced Florida avocado, and Asian slaw stacked and served with crispy wonton chips
  • Strawberry Sake Spritzer – Local strawberries, lemon juice, elderflower liqueur, and rosé-infused sake garnished with a whole strawberry and mint

YeSake

  • Fresh Tuna Tekka Don – Fresh, customizable poke bowl featuring sushi-grade tuna on a bed steamed rice topped with avocado, cucumber, seaweed salad, tempura crunch, and a zesty house-made yuzu aïoli
  • Violet Sake Slushie – Japanese sake, prickly pear, and lime topped with konpeito candy
  • Frozen Beer Shandy – Kirin draft beer with fresh-squeezed orange juice topped with frozen Kirin foam

T-REX

  • Boom Boom Alligator Tacos – Flour tortillas, fried alligator, and tropical fruit slaw topped with micro cilantro and spicy garlic sauce
  • Sailfish Brewing Co. Tag & Release Amber
  • The Ice Age – Rum, blue curaçao, piña colada purée, and orange juice

Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’

  • Key West Shrimp Cocktail – Seasoned shrimp hand tossed with avocado, mango, cucumber, and house-made cocktail sauce and served with buttermilk crackers
  • Blood Orange Madras – Blood orange moonshine, freshly muddled strawberries, pineapple purée, and cranberry juice

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill

  • Local Buratta – Buratta made in Pompeo Beach, Florida served with prosciutto, arugula, fresh peaches, and basil pesto
  • Cigar City Jai Alai IPA

Paddlefish

  • Crab Ceviche – Blue crab, avocado, bell pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime served with tortilla chips
  • Key Lime Wheat Ale

The BOATHOUSE

  • Steamed Peel and Eat Florida Shrimp – Florida shrimp dusted with Boathouse seasoning and served with drawn butter
  • Conch Republic Key Lime Wheat Ale

Pizza Ponte

  • A Zesty Slice of Florida – Pizza bianca with Florida lemon, ricotta cheese, arugula, and black pepper
  • Guyebera Citra Pale Ale

STK Orlando

  • Market or Fresh Catch Ceviche – Ceviche with passion fruit, lime, and chilis
  • La Playita Lager

Paradiso 37, Taste of The Americas

  • Florida Scorpion Shrimp Paella – Colossal gulf shrimp, mussels, pancetta, peas, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, and savory Key lime butter tossed with Calasparra rice and broiled to perfection
  • Sunset Margarita – Tequila, cointreau, and fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice

Planet Hollywood

  • Citrus Kale Salad – Superfood blend of kale, julienned broccoli, slivered Brussels sprouts and cabbage, feta, fresh grapefruit and oranges, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and agave dressing
  • Key Lime Martini – Vodka, ice cream, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup with a graham cracker crumbs rim
© Disney

Morimoto Asia

  • Orange Gator & Waffle Cone – Tempura alligator wok-tossed with a sweet Florida orange sauce and served in a house-made waffle cone
  • Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA

Wanting to plan a last minute trip? There are still rooms available for the Summer. Disney just released a Summer Ticket Promotion and there are still room & dining promotions available. Contact me today and we can get you a no-obligation quote! My services are always free of charge and you get all my knowledge and planning tips too, not to mention stress-free planning! Plus qualifying trips receive our Minnie Box! Our special gift to your travel party tailored to your trip. Talk to you Soon!

Animal Kingdom · Disney Springs · Disney Travel Tip · Disney World Resort · Epcot · Extra Magical Events · Hollywood Studios · Magic Kingdom · New for Animal Kingdom · New for Disney World Resort · New for Epcot · New for Hollywood Studios · New for Magic Kingdom · Walt Disney World

2019 Walt Disney World Holiday Guide

© Disney

2019 is going to be a Very Merry Holiday at Walt Disney World. There will be new offerings all over the resort as well as the return to several favorites.

Animal Kingdom

For the very first time, Animal Kingdom is going to completely deck the halls! New decor in every land, new street performances and entertainment, holiday lanterns that will glow, and even Pandora will celebrate and Earth Holiday thanks to some of the humans that stayed behind.

In the evenings, all the lands will sparkle with holiday splendor and the Tree of Life will take on a wintery appearance and holiday tunes will be heard. Starting November 8th, come see how the Holidays transform this magical land full of beautiful animals, far off lands, and some of your favorite Disney Pals!

Epcot

The Candlelight Processional will return once again during Festival of the Holidays. Candlelight Processional Dining packages will also be available. From November 29-December 30, guests can discover holiday traditions, festive bites & sips, and special entertainment through 11 countries. In addition to the 11 countries, there will be Holiday Kitchens from additional places around the world. They will also be offering wonderful treats to try.

For the kiddos (and kiddos at heart), you will be able to hunt for Chip & Dal again in their Christmas Tree Scavenger Hunt. We always find this is a great activity to keep the littles busy while we check out the countries.

Hollywood Studios

Many of our favorites will return to Hollywood this year. Olaf will make his grand appearance in a fantastic holiday Finale of “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Holiday Sing-Along”. This ending is different from the normal show and brought me to tears. It was so sweet.

“Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam” is set to return. We loved this display on the Chinese theater. It is a great combination of projections, fireworks, and great music. I recommend finding a good spot about a half hour prior to it starting because that street fills up FAST!

One of the neatest things I found last year was the show on Sunset that was projected onto the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Set to music along with some blustery surprises, this one was one of my kids favorites. It is on a loop so it is not hard to catch. We must have seen it at least four times!

WHO KNOWS what is in store for the holidays at Galaxy’s Edge. I wonder how they will decorate for the holidays! I am excited to visit and find out and maybe pick up a gift for someone special from a Galaxy Far, Far Away!

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom will be decked out in its traditional Holiday decor. The magic really comes to life when you visit during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. There is special stage shows, a beautiful parade concluded with Santa, himself, and NEW this year is a new Holiday Fireworks Display.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime is an all-new Nighttime Spectacular coming to Magic Kingdom this Holiday season. This Park-Wide display will be set to holiday tunes that will warm your heart. HINT: This is the one Fireworks show that we INSIST we watch from Main Street.

The beautiful Once Upon A Christmas Time parade will be back along with other favorites – “Totally Tomorrowland Christmas’ Stage Show, “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration”, and of course, Elsa’s “Frozen Holiday Wish”

Resorts

We will update these as they are confirmed but as in years past, resorts will be decorated for the holiday. Some of my favorites to visit:

  • Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian
  • Chocolate Display at Contemporary
  • Holiday Tree at Wilderness Lodge, Grand Floridian, and several other resorts that display these themed Holiday Beauties.

Disney Springs

In addition to all the amazing holiday shopping you can get done, Disney Springs is a Holiday Destination all on its own.

You can stroll down the Christmas Tree trail where you can see custom-decorated trees. Each tree will be decorated to a specific holiday theme. I cannot wait to see what themes there will be this year.

Guests are welcome to come visit Santa in his Chalet until December 24th when he has to head back north. From there, Santa Goofy will meet with guests until the 31st.

Need something to occupy the littles with while you get some shopping done? Experiment 626 is hiding in Disney Springs. You and your family can hunt for Stitch in his Holiday Gift Hunt.

These are just some of the few things we already know are lined up. There is so much more to be announced and it will be updated here as I learn of them.

If you are ready to start planning your holiday trip, contact me today for a no-obligation quote! My services are free of charge and I am happy to help you from start to finish with anythin you may need. Let me help plan your most Merry trip ever!

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Disney Puts New Rules Into Place

© Disney

With all of the big changes coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland over the next few years, Disney felt the need to restrict a few things. These changes are for the safety and concern of their guests. These new policies & changes will go into effect May 1st.

Strollers

They are restricting the size of stroller permitted into the parks. If you are traveling with a stroller, the new maximum dimensions are 31″ (79cm) wide and 52″ (132cm) long or smaller. This is a GOOD thing. The smaller stroller you have, the easier it is for you to navigate through crowds. If everyone complies, foot traffic will move much smoother.

Wagons

Disney will no longer permit wagons. The wagon style strollers such as the ones made by “Keenz” will not be permitted either, even though you can “push” them like a stroller.

Smoking

Every time I read that, I hear it in Mrs. Doubtfire’s voice. No? Just me? Ok, anyway, there will no longer be smoking sections inside Disney Parks. There will be a designated smoking area outside of the parks near the entrance instead. This will be in effect for all of Walt Disney World, Disney Water parks, Disney Springs, ESPN, Disneyland and Downtown Disney. For guests that are staying in a Resort Hotel or may venture to one for dining/entertainment, they will also each have a designated smoking area. This does include vaping as well.

Loose/Dry Ice

Disney happily let’s us all bring in coolers with our own drinks and food. What they will no longer allow are coolers full of “loose ice” or dry ice. They encourage the use of ice packs and if you require loose ice for any reason, it is available at no charge at their quick service restaurants.

Let me know if you would like clarification on any of these or if you have any questions!