Everything Walt Disney World

Parks, Food, Resorts and More

Technicolor Disney Treats.

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Craving a snack that’s bright and . . . well, bright, on your next vacation? Disney has you covered.  Next time you’re in the park, feast on these treats for which “colorful” is an understatement:

These Cookies.

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Disney loves white chocolate, but do you  know what they love even more? Food coloring. They’ll take white chocolate and food coloring and slater it on an old boot if they get a chance. While these cookies don’t exactly taste like an old boot covered in white chocolate, they come awfully close.

The Pinkest Cupcakes You Have Ever Seen.

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There’s a variation of these cupcakes just about everyone on property where desserts are sold and you know what? I like them.  There’s a good frosting to cake ratio, which is to say, you don’t have to wade through a mountain of frosting to get to the cake.  I even like the pink frosting. In fact, there probably should be more pink food in the world. There. I said it. Give me pink food. And yes, I am a grown up.

The $12 Mickey Head Apple.

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You can find these Mickey head apples in every Disney-fied incarnation, including Cinderella’s carriage:

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Incidentally, white chocolate in action . . .

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Mickey Head Cake Pops.

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Cake pops dipped in white chocolate (again!) and rolled in sugar? Of course you want one.

This Pink and Red Cake Cup.

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In the Magic Kingdom? Stop by the Cheshire Café and get a Queen of Heart’s Strawberry cake cup. Especially nice if you like frosting. A lot of it.

Mickey Macaroons.

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Disney jumped on the Macaroon craze with their own, delightfully neon, version.

Candy Covered Rice Krispy Treats.

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File this treat under “Stuff Kids Like.” A lot.

What’s your favorite bright colored Disney treat?

 

Summer 2016 Disney Discounts – So Far.

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Disney just released what they’re calling a “tasty offer” for summer.  It’s not something they’ve done before and it’s kind of interesting. Take a look at the details:

  • Value resort clients will get one free quick-service meal per person for each night of their stay.
  • The booking widow is short, Jan. 19-Feb. 29, 2016
  • The travel dates cover most of summer,  May 29-Jun. 30, 2016 and Jul. 5-Aug. 13, 2016

Now, you can almost guarantee that this won’t be the last offer available for summer, even for the value resorts, but depending on how you eat and which location you visit, you could easily save $80 a night for a family of four.  I always tell my clients, you can skip table service meals and save money that way, but you have to eat in the parks, and short of bringing your own food in, you’re probably going to be spending a minimum of $12 per person per meal at any quick-service location. So this isn’t a bad deal for value guests. In fact, considering that a room offer usually saves you around 10 to 15 percent on a value room, this deal is over twice what you’ll save on a standard value room.

My advice: Jump on this deal if you’re traveling during the summer. These deals are always limited, especially when Disney tries something new and they don’t know how guests are going to receive it.  If something better comes out, you can always apply any subsequent offer without penalty (you just can’t have more than one offer at a time).

Looking to book a Disney vacation? Email me at Christina@pixievacations.com or use the quote request form on the upper right hand side of the page. There’s no obligation and my services are free. 

 

 

 

 

Last Night for the Osborne Lights

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For the past twenty years, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights has been lighting up the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios. Twenty years: That’s a good run, right? Still, none of us wanted to see it what is one of the most beautiful holiday experiences anywhere and certainly, the highlight of many Christmastime trips to Disney World, leave this year.  Unfortunately, with the expansion of Star Wars and Toy Story in Hollywood Studios, this otherwise infrequently used area was an obvious place for the expansion and so the lights had to go. While I’m excited about what’s coming in the next few years, I will absolutely miss the lights.

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Quick Bites: Red Velvet Cupcake from Starring Rolls.

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You can debate the dubious merits of red velvet cake all day long: I mean, is it even a flavor?  Probably not. At its best, it’s a moist, vaguely-chocolate cake colored a rich red and topped–and this is the where it starts getting good– with a thick slab of cream cheese frosting.  Even if your grandmother didn’t make red velvet cake for you, even if you only just discovered it while watching Steel Magnolias late one night on television, there’s a certain undeniably nostalgic quality to red velvet cake that makes it appealing, recalling shiny diners with display cases full of baked goods you’re really not supposed to eat now that you’re a proper grownup.

You’ll find the best red velvet anywhere on property in Hollywood Studios, right inside the Starring Rolls Bakery. Conveniently, it’s in cupcake form, so it travels well, or you could just go ahead and take a seat at one of the many outdoor tables you’ll find outside.  Big enough to share, it’s a bargain at $5 or one snack credit. In addition to a delicious cream cheese frosting that avoids that bland taste that so many commercial cream cheese frostings have, it’s got a thick cheesecake center. It’s also topped with nuts and little bits of chocolate.

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Go ahead: Indulge your retro side.  Just make sure you do it by around 2:00 o’clock. These beauties, and everything else in Starring Rolls, tend to sell out by early afternoon.

Are You Disney Obsessed?

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Think you’re obsessed with Disney? Well, do you do any of the following?

10. You’ve absentmindedly tried to use your MagicBand at Target.

9.  Your kids have a Disney name that has a special meaning like “Ariel” or “Port Orleans.”

8.  You find yourself having to “tone it down” in front of non-Disney people.

7.  People know not to “get you started” on how expensive the new annual pass rates are.

6.  You’ve stopped noticing that Orlando tap water smells funny.

5.  Your kid gives accurate directions to total strangers in the parks.

4. In the real world, you forget that all public toilets don’t flush automatically.

3.  You haven’t used a park map in years.

2.  You notice when they move the pumpkin in the Carousel of Progress.

1.  You know what Disney math is, you use it frequently, and you believe, wholeheartedly, that it makes sense.

Okay, so maybe you’re obsessed with Disney, but there are worse things, right? In fact, I would say what the world needs is actually more Disney nerds like  you and me. Wouldn’t you agree?

Spring 2016 Disney Discounts

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Planning your next Disney vacation? You can now save up to 25% off on select Walt Disney World resort hotels this spring.  Here are the details:

  • Available April 14-June 11, 2016 when you book by March 31, 2016.
  • Other discounts are available for stays most nights Feb. 22-April 13, 2016.
  • Plus, you can receive 1 more ticket day FREE when you upgrade to a room and ticket package with a minimum 4-day Magic Your Way® Ticket.
  • This offer excludes the usual suspects:   campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows.
  • Length of stay requirements may apply.

But wait, there’s more: Book your vacation with me and in addition to my expert travel planning advice and inside tips based on my monthly visits to Disney World and I’ll throw in a Disney gift card and an adorable monogrammed tote for use on your trip for all vacations valued at $1800 at the time of travel. Just mention this article when you email me at chrisw@pixievacations.com.  Gift card amounts are based on total trip value.

As always, there’s no charge to you for using my services. After your $200 deposit, you may make payments if you like or pay the final amount at 30-days prior to travel. Easy peasy!

About me:  I’ve been a Disney World travel planner for over five years, based out of the Atlanta area. The agency I work for, Pixie Vacations, has over 60 expert travel planners from across the United States.  I’m also a member of the Mouse Chat podcast team.  I can be reached via the email above or by calling 919-889-5281. Thanks!

What’s Right–and Wrong–With MyDisneyExperience and Fastpass+

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It’s been over two years since Disney unveiled MyDisneyExperience (MDE) and Fastpass+ and the $1.5 billion system has had it’s ups and downs. Guests love the ability to put everything on their MagicBand, including room keys, credit card, park tickets and fastpasses. On the other hand, the entire Fastpass+ system has been a mixed bag.  Here’s what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of the new system.

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2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

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I was lucky enough to go to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival this year the day before it opened and was rewarded with non-existent crowds and, you guessed it, great good. Here’s a quick rundown of what I saw that first day.

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Brunch Now at Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian.

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Who doesn’t love Sunday brunch? It’s a great excuse to slow down, nosh and talk about the day’s plans. Well, now you can do just that during your Walt Disney World vacation at Narcoossee’s, one of Disney’s signature restaurants at my absolute favorite resort, the Grand Floridian. Here’s the scoop from Disney:

Beginning Nov. 22, Guests will be able to enjoy a Waterfront Brunch at Narcoossee’s on Sundays from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.. It will feature a prix-fixe menu priced at $69 per adult and $41 per child.

All dining plans, discounts, and dress code that apply for dinner will apply for Waterfront Brunch. Guests wishing to use the Disney Dining Plan will need to use two Dining Plan meal entitlements per person for the DDP and deluxe plans and one Dining Plan meal entitlement per person for Premium and Platinum plans.

Effective Sept. 16, Guests are able to book online and through the Disney Reservation Center.

Don’t worry about the dress code–you can dress up, and that’s part of the fun, but as long as you’re wearing neat, tidy clothing that and no t-shirts with offensive content (and you wouldn’t, of course, because you are awesome), then you’re good to go.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Disney Dining Scalpers

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You’ve probably heard by now that unscrupulous businesses have found another way to make money off of Disney by “buying up” reservations at the 180 day mark and selling them to guests.  This isn’t any different than those folks who were selling their Guest Assistance Cards (GAC) last year to buyers who wished to use a disability “pass” to get front of the line access to Disney attractions, although it probably doesn’t have the visceral sting of hiring a person in a wheelchair to help you bypass long lines.  However, just like with the GACs, Disney now has egg on its face through no fault of its own and you can be assured that they’re working on a way to stop it.  So what’s going on?

First a little background. There are two different types of sites. The first site messages you when a dining reservation comes up. You’ll pay $8 or more for the privilege of logging into your own MyDisneyExperience account and then making the reservation yourself. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get the reservation; it’s more of a heads up, but you’ll pay for the notification just the same.  I personally don’t use or recommend these sites, but they aren’t technically selling a reservation, they’re just letting you know when one becomes available.

The second type of site is the real issue. This company books reservations at 180 days out using, I would assume, some type of gift cards to hold the reservation (at a penalty of $10 per head for no-shows). They then offer you two options:  1) You buy a reservation for $6 or more and then set up a “chat” with someone from the site who will then cancel and you will, the theory goes, immediately book, your desired reservation; or 2) you purchase a guaranteed reservation where you’ll pay $15 and simply go to the restaurant as “John Doe” or whatever other fake name they give you.  The company says that they use “John Doe” each time but I would imagine they are smarter than that give that it wouldn’t take cast members long to smell a scam, so I assume that they actually use some other aliases.

Since there’s no guarantee on that the first option will work since you have to get the timing just right, and frankly there’s no guarantee that reservation even exists in the first place,  it behooves you to book the more expensive option and check in under an alias. In fact, this company is telling you that their cheaper system really won’t work for more popular reservations. And guess what? Everything they’ve got is popular.

You may think that this doesn’t effect you, but let me assure you, it effects all of us. Here’s a good example: this website has 27 Be Our Guest reservations available for October. This means that, at a minimum,  27 families who searched for the most popular restaurant on Disney property 180 days prior to travel did not get that reservation. But for a price, you can purchase it.

So you’re scrambling at 180-days out to get that reservation and you can’t.  And the problem is, this is just the tip of the iceberg. At a certain point, with more revenue and a bigger website, they can book just about everything out there.  All they really need is have a small amount of capital available to hold these reservations and a courtesy hold on a room (which falls off automatically, no questions asked, if you don’t pay the deposit) that they use to get the on-site advantage of booking 180-days plus 10 (as opposed to guests who stay off site). These people are, frankly, screwing all of us over. And not just Disney guests, but locals who come to dine as well.

Even if you’re tempted to use a company like this, why would you? Can you really trust someone who makes a living so unscrupulously? Who’s to say these “non-guaranteed” reservations even exist? It’s quite easy for someone to pay for the $8 option for 1900 Park Fare, for example, go into chat with the booking agent and have them release it, and then not have it show up? Who’s to say it didn’t show up because someone else didn’t get there first? You can’t. You don’t have access to their MyDisneyExperience account and Disney Dining won’t let you verify a confirmation number unless you have all the main guest’s information–and they just booked this reservation under an alias!  And so you’re out $8 and you’re going to have to keep looking.

Here’s the thing. At some point in the very near future, Disney will figure out a way to stop this. And trust me, it will be more work for cast members and also come be at a cost to you.  And again, this isn’t Disney’s fault. But if Disney makes it mandatory that the reservation holder must show ID in order to check in, that means that you can’t run your littlest one to the bathroom while your spouse checks in for you.  And that’s just another rule that you have to follow on a vacation that’s already asking you to make dining 180-days in advance and fastpasses 60-days out!

Meanwhile, you can do your part by not helping these businesses take something from you that was intended to be free.  People have always found a way to make a buck off of the Mouse, but this time, it effects all of us in a very tangible way.

Sorry, I did not link to the main offender because I didn’t want to send them any traffic. If you’d like the link, feel free to email me.

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