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Category: Walt Disney World Resort (page 1 of 2)

Skipper Canteen Review

skipper1

The Jungle Cruise is a funny thing:  you either love it or hate it. The same can be said for the Skipper Canteen, the Magic Kingdom’s newest table service offering. Themed after the Jungle Cruise, the restaurant, which is located in Adventureland across from the Swiss Family Treehouse, echoes the theming of the long lost Adventurers Club in the former Downtown Disney.  If for that reason only, it’s bound to be a fan favorite among a small, niche group of Disney fans, but what about the menu? That’s the tricky part.  Let’s take a look.

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Peter Pan’s Flight Interactive Queue.

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Peter Pan’s flight is one of the most popular rides in the Magic Kingdom; in fact, it’s probably one of the top ten rides in all of Walt Disney World if wait times are any indication.  Why, you ask, would such a low-tech ride be so popular after all these years? Well one reason is that it’s a ride the entire family can enjoy. Excluding a serious fear of heights, it’s a ride that’s accessible to nearly everyone.  And then there’s the nostalgia factor.  Maybe you remember going on it as a small child? Well guess what: It’s pretty much the same was it was then.  Part of what Disney sells is warm memories and Peter Pan’s Magic Flight accomplishes that like few rides do.

The downside of its lasting popularity is, of course, the long lines. Disney introduced fastpasses to Peter Pan years ago and of course now, you can reserve a time with Fastpass+. But you only get three fastpasses a day, at this time, so you have to be choosey. What if you don’t want to “waste” one on Peter Pan when you’ve got the Mountains–Space, Splash, and Big Thunder– as well as Anna and Elsa and the Mine Train with potentially longer lines?

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I’ve got an even better reason to skip the Peter Pan fastpass+ now:  It’s got a new interactive queue that adds depth to the story of Peter Pan.  Disney has done this to several attractions at Walt Disney World in the last few years, most notably the Haunted Mansion. Not only do interactive queues entertain guests during long waits, they also explain the story even more fully, adding to your overall enjoyment of the attraction.

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In this case, you’re invited into the Darling household, where you’ll see paintings of the family as well as that of Peter Pan and Hook. Next, you’ll go into the main queue, which is the nursery, where you’ll see where the children sleep. Wendy’s pink canopy bed looks so inviting you’ll want to crawl up in it yourself. Toys are scattered here and there just like every kid’s room. But don’t miss the lighted effects on the walls, as Tinkerbell and Peter Pan make their presence in the room known. There’s so much detail in this space that you’ll probably won’t mind the wait too much.

I apologize for the lack of photos in this post, but it’s very dark in the queue. It’s also very cool–which is fantastic on a hot day in the park. Enjoy!

The Future of Free Dining at Disney World.

freedining

You can’t predict a lot of things in life: I can’t tell you with any certainty if it will rain next week or who’s going to win the next presidential election. But since 2005, Disney fans could almost guarantee one thing: That Disney World would offer free dining in the fall.  And it wasn’t just travel agents who were looking at past dates and playing Nostradamus.  You could go to any Disney message board and see thread after thread about free dining rumors, speculation about dates, and what resorts it would cover.  The great thing was, they were almost always right. Sure they might be off by a day or two and maybe we would get a surprise about a certain resort being excluded, but you could plan your trip around it and budget accordingly.

For the last few years however, Disney has been saying they’re going to end free dining. It wasn’t just the occasional cast member you’d talk to while you were booking your room. No less than Tom Staggs, the COO of Walt Disney Resorts, said four years ago that Disney was going to do away with deep discounts and free dining in particular.  But then the next fall, it was back again and just as good as it had always been.

We didn’t see the first cracks until 2013. As a travel agent, if you’re lucky you book hundreds of rooms, but you quote ten times that number, if not more. And when you do a lot of quotes, you see patterns.  The thing we were seeing is that beyond outright exclusions of resorts like villas located on the monorail and the Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation, even some of the resorts that were offered lacked any real availability. This was particularly true with Port Orleans Riverside.  In 2013 I couldn’t get this resort for most of my clients, which puts families of five or more with nowhere to stay at the moderate level,  but when I made a reservation for a spur of the moment day trip thanksgiving week–literally the day I checked in–I had my choice of all room categories. I’ve seen this at the Little Mermaid rooms as well.  During free dining last year in December, the Little Mermaid section of Art of Animation was a ghost town.  Anecdotally, it appears to me that these rooms aren’t filled when they aren’t discounted. Obviously I don’t have access to Disney’s actual occupancy numbers, but it also seems that Disney is okay with it, at least to an extent.

Last year,  Disney offered free dining for the fall, much as it always had, save for the fact that they offered it for the entire fall period, which resulted in massive hold times on the phone and daily system outages for a week.  In addition to the usual resort exclusions, Port Orleans was basically off the table. Still, most people were able to get what they wanted if they were willing to switch resorts or play a little bit with their dates.

Free dining for fall 2015 has been an entirely different experience thus far.  Both the consumer and travel agent online systems were down and again, people spent hours and hours spent on hold waiting to talk to a Disney agent. But the worst of it was that there was simply no availability. While the usual resorts were excluded, and we expected that, the fact that I couldn’t get Pop Century, a resort I could usually book under a promotion right up until the day that promo closed, twelve hours after the discount was announced means they simply did not offer many rooms. Even at the value resorts, usually our go-to option for families.

And ultimately that’s fine. I mean, no one was promised a discount.  At least I don’t know any agents who did. And Disney certainly doesn’t.  But the problem with announcing a discount is that people’s expectations are, particularly given past experiences, pretty high. Instead, what guests found was a “black Friday” type of situation that none of them ever signed up for, where they camped out all night outside of their local Walmart, only to find that there were only three televisions available under the offer and those TVs were actually several times more expensive than the television they were actually going to buy. If that’s too oblique, what I mean is, the guest who booked a moderate room hoping for free dining could get free dining, if they moved their dates and upgraded to a concierge-level room at the Grand Floridian.

A brief word about how all of this works is probably called for. Free dining, just like any discount, is based in part on both actual and projected bookings. Think of each resort as a separate entity. That resort provides Disney’s bean counters with what they think their occupancy is going to look like for a certain time period. These bean counters weigh that information against a number of other less concrete factors, like the economy and consumer confidence, along with school holidays and last year’s projected numbers.   This is why free dining dates vary slightly from year to year and why certain resorts may be excluded. For example, villas at Bay Lake Tower. Disney knows, or at least hopes, that they can fill them at full price. Why offer a discount?

So did Disney offer considerably fewer rooms because bookings are up? I don’t think so.  I think Disney is willing to take a hit on occupancy this year. If that hit becomes too dramatic, I think they’ll offer another discount, sometime during the summer. I also think that Disney is moving toward “Stay Play & Dine” type of offers, which are almost as good as free dining, depending on where you stay and the configuration of your group.  Perhaps more interestingly, I think we will also see offers which don’t cost Disney actual money.

Offers that don’t cost Disney any money are brilliant.  Yes, the guest is still getting something tangible, but think about the park hopper that you had to add to get free dining this year:  a lot of guests don’t bother with the hopper, because at 70 per ticket, it’s just too much money on top of everything else.   When Disney gives a guest free dining, Disney is still shelling out money for food and services.  But when I require that same average family to purchase a park hopper just to get free dining, I just recouped almost $300. And I didn’t give them anything. In fact, just sent them to another park, extending their day, which equals more money for the Mouse. If you think that Fastpass+ is just a nice way for guests to organize their day, well that’s a lovely way to live. But it’s also an effective way to keep you in the parks. So is park hopping.

There’s a definite possibility that without free dining, guests wont’ stay on property or will cancel their vacations. And when guests don’t fill up rooms, they do more than just leave resort rooms unoccupied. They find out that there’s really good, cheap food off property. They head over to the outlet malls and shop there. And think about this: each person’s vacation time is finite. I’ve only got so many hours of the day that I can spend in a Disney park. But if I’m “commuting” back and forth from a hotel on 192, some of that precious vacation time–and the money I would otherwise spend–is being spent in a car.  Finally, if restaurants aren’t at capacity, what happens to Disney’s well-trained staff? Sure, Chef Mickey’s is always going to be full, but what about restaurants like the Wave or San Angel Inn, restaurants that already seem to struggle?  Does Disney shutter them during the traditionally slower fall months or reduce cast member hours?  It’s all interconnected and the effects are property-wide, not just at the resorts.

It’s far too bold to say that free dining is dead and in fact, I don’t think it is.  What I do think is that this is probably the start of some major changes made with regard to this particular discount. Going forward, I think any guest traveling in the fall with the expectation of free dining is not being entirely realistic.  Free dining is great, but the happiest clients I had on Monday night were the ones who viewed free dining as an nice bonus, not a given.  And I would suggest that for anyone reading here as well.

What are your thoughts? Did this latest promotion change how you felt about fall travel? I’d love to hear about it in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Opening Rumor!

Why aren’t those people jumping over the fence?!?!

Chris was talking to a cast member on Sunday about the opening of Fantasyland and has this tasty rumor to share:

Here’s some gossip regarding the fantasyland expansion. Rumor has it that the Be Our Guest restaurant will open sometime this summer, possibly late July. The gift shops in that area will open then as well. You’ll be able to access that area only.

As a reminder, this is only a rumor. We have also heard that you might be able to make Advanced Dining Reservations this July for sometime in Fall 2012.

Check out the post that we wrote about trying to nail down the dates for the Fantasyland Expansion.

You can see the other posts we have done about the Fantasyland Expansion by clicking here.

Resort Review: The Polynesian.

The Polynesian Resort has been a a favorite since it opened with Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971. The lush tropical grounds, low-slung buildings and meandering walkways create one of the most inviting resorts at Walt Disney World.

About the Polynesian:

  • 847 Rooms in 11 Longhouses.
  • Each room has two queen-size beds or one king-size with a day bed (and can sleep up to 5 per room).
  • The King Kamehameha Club level offers concierge with personal service, continental breakfast, snacks, evening wine, hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

Resort Rooms

Notice the Mickey?

The resort went through a major renovation in the 2000s and all of the furnishings and decorations were updated in the guest rooms. Large flat-panel televisions were added, as well. The guest rooms have several drawers and ample closet space for storage, a mini-refrigerator and a safe. At 404 Square Feet, the Polynesian rooms are above average size for deluxe accommodations.

The restrooms are well appointed with a dark gray-green marble sink and a shower/tub combination. The toilet is located in an alcove behind the sink and offers a little privacy.

The buildings and rooms offer different types of views. Some overlook Seven Seas Lagoon and the Castle while others feature courtyard views. One side of the Fiji building offers a marina view with a standard view price. Not every room has a balcony; some rooms offer a French balcony.


I’m Bringing Nerdy Back!The Polynesian Resort was built and manufactured by US Steel using a rather unique and forward thinking method of modular construction, but it just never took off. The 1500 guest rooms of the Contemporary and Polynesian were built in a plant three miles from the hotels and trucked to the hotel site. They were then lifted by crane and slid into their spot. Wall paper, bath fixtures, lights and mirrors were all installed at the assembly plant and were ready to go when the room was slid into place. http://www.imaginerding.com/2011/02/celebrating-40-years-of-walt-disney.html

Moving the rooms from the US Steel assembly site to the hotels.  © Disney.


Services and Amenities


The Grand Ceremonial House has most of the hotel services: guest check-in, eateries, shops and access to the monorail. It is a very welcoming space with a large garden and mini-waterfall in the center of the two-story lobby. The lower level, also known as the Sea Level Lobby has the check-in desk, Captain Cook’s Snack Company, Bou-tiki, Wyland Gallery and Moana Mickey’s Arcade.

Quick Service

Captain Cook’s Snack Company is the resort’s quick-service eatery and is known for being the place to get a Dole Whip when you can’t make it to the Magic Kingdom. Standard fare, like burgers, breakfast items and flatbread,  is offered with a lot of self-serve options (cereal, cold sandwiches, fruit, soda) that you can take back to your room. In 2006, Captain Cook’s was the first eatery to offer the touch screen ordering system.

Captain Cook’s is very small with limited inside seating. There are several tables outside with umbrellas that offer a more exotic dining opportunity (by exotic I mean near palm trees and giant rocks). It also gets very busy when the Magic Kingdom closes–especially after Wishes.

The second floor of the Grand Ceremonial House has the monorail station, Trader Jacks, Samoa Snacks and the table service dining options.

Restaurants

  • ‘Ohana-the resort’s signature dining experience.
    A family-style, all you-can-eat character breakfast called ‘Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast Featuring Lilo and Stitch is offered every morning. The characters lead the kids in parades and coconut races. The food is brought to the table in large  bowls and pans and refilled throughout the meal. Usual offerings include eggs, pork, fried potatoes, bread and fruit.
    In the evenings, ‘Ohana still offers a great family dining experience with salad, beef, chicken and seafood served. Check out Chris’ review of ‘Ohana.
  • Kona Cafe-a more intimate dining experience that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is much more subdued than ‘Ohana and offers the delectable Tonga Toast for breakfast. Check out Bob’s review of breakfast at Kona Cafe. For lunch, you can expect burgers, chicken, noodles and a few signature dishes based on pork. Dinner offers chicken, shrimp, tuna, steak and pork entrees. You can expect to pay $20 to $30 per entree at dinner.
  • Kona Island-Coffee, tea and pastries in the morning. It is a great place to get something to wake you up on your way to the monorail. In the evening, Kona Island serves sushi, sashimi,cocktails, wine and saki.
  • Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show-Located in Luau Cove (between the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian), this all-you-car-to-eat feast offers enchanting music, authentic dances and costumes. There are two seatings offered and it is usually presented Tuesday through Saturday, weather permitting.

Shopping

Bou-Tiki is located on the first floor and offers Polyneisan Resort-themed merchandise and other items that you could find in the Emporium. It is also the large character and merchandise shop. Make sure to ask a cast member about the Tikis that are playing hide and seek inside (and outside) the store!
Trader Jacks and Samoa Snacks are located on the second floor across the GCH from Kona Cafe. Trader Jacks is more of a quick-service shopping location with smaller trinkets, shirts and collectibles. Samoa Snacks is the place to pick up soda, milk, bread, sundries and alcohol.

Neverland Club

The Polynesian Resort offers supervised child care (even for non-resort guests) every evening from 4 p.m. until midnight. Dinner is available for an additional fee. The Club is for kids 4-12 and costs $11.25 an hour per child

Transportation

One of the more compelling reasons for staying at the Polynesian is that it is a monorail resort and you can quickly get to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot (with a transfer) by the monorail. The Polynesian also offers water launches to the Magic Kingdom (the route goes from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian to the Magic Kingdom). Early morning water launches could be full of Grand Floridian guests before it reaches the Poly.
Bus Service to the Disney Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Downtown Disney and Typhoon Lagoon are offered throughout the day based on operating hours of the destination.
You can walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center and take the ferry to the Magic Kingdom (especially if you are staying in Tahiti).

Recreation

Pools

The Polynesian pool was renovated in 2001 and a new volcano was added. It is called the Nanea Volcano Pool and is located between the GCH and Seven Seas Lagoon. The pool is zero-entry and the volcano features a slide and bar.
A quiet pool, even though it is larger, is located in the area bounded by the Hawaii, Samoa, Niue, Rarotonga and Tokelau longhouses. Both pols are heated and offer underwater music!

Marina

The Marina is located on the pier adjacent to the main pool. You can rent various types of craft, including: the zippy Water Mouse, pontoons, sailboats and aquafins.
The Polynesian Resort is well known for its grounds and romantic walkways. There are hidden Tikis scattered throughout the grounds and Tiki torches that are lit every evening at dusk.
If you head towards Luau Cove, there is a walking path that winds along the white, sandy beaches of the Seven Seas Lagoon. It is a five-minute walk that takes you past the Wedding Pavilion and to the Grand Floridian. It is a short and romantic walk if you are visiting Narcoose’s or doing a little resort hopping.

Have you stayed at the Polynesian Resort?

Do you have a favorite longhouse that you like to request?

Disney’s Old Key West

Are you looking for a spacious, laid back and well-appointed resort for your next Walt Disney World vacation? Disney’s Old Key West  is an older Disney Vacation Club Resort and is often overshadowed by Bay Lake Towers and Beach Club, which is a shame because it offers plenty of amenities. Especially for someone looking for a more relaxing Disney vacation

I’m Bringing Nerdy Back! 
Old Key West was the flagship Vacation Club Resort when it opened in December 1991. It was renamed Old Key West (OKW) in 1996 after the opening of the DVC properties at Vero Beach (Florida), Hilton Head Island (South Carolina) and the Boardwalk Villas (Walt Disney World). There are 760 rooms in various 1-3 room suites.

One of the first questions most people ask is whether they can stay at OKW since it is a Vacation Club Resort. Whenever there is leftover or unused inventory, anyone can book a room. Since it is the oldest DVC on property, it is often the easiest to book.

The resort is well known for three things:

  • the largest DVC rooms on property, 
  • a large and meandering property with absolutely gorgeous and stunning views of lakes and the Sassagoula, and 
  • the golf course.

The resort offers studios, one bedrooms, two bedrooms and three bedroom villas. The studios offer two queen-size beds with a small fridge, microwave and sink. The one bedrooms offer a king-size bed, full kitchen, large bath, shower, family room and a washer and dryer. The two- and three-bedroom villas add bedrooms (with queen-sized beds) and additional bathrooms.

The outside of the buildings are decorated in a classic Key West style with muted pastel colors and plenty of ornate trim. The doors to the individual units open directly outside, which could cause some consternation.

Old Key West is sprawling and all of the resort amenities are located near the community hall and check-in building. There is an internal bus shuttle if you do not have a car. You can walk, but it could be a 25 minute trek if you are located in the farthest reaches.

Olivia’s is the only table service location at Old Key West and it can get busy for breakfast. They offer a varied menu with a few Key West flavored dishes thrown in throughout the day. For breakfast, try the Breakfast Cuban or the Conch Republic Omelet (if you like shrimp). Lunch/dinner offerings include some great Angus burgers and seafood choices. Kids can get pizza, burgers and a grilled fish-of-the-day.

Goods-to-Go offers a standard Disney quick service menu, but it can come in handy if you want a quick bite or dessert. If there is a long line, it can be a long wait for your food. If you purchased a refillable mug (or it came as part of your dining package), then you will get your free refills here.

One of the great things about Old Key West is the watercraft transportation to Downtown Disney. The watercraft leave about every 30 minutes for a languid trip past all of the OKW buildings and down the Sassagoula River.

Usually, when people rave about Old Key West they are talking about the size of the rooms, which extends to the balconies. There is enough room for a family of five to eat on the balconies of the one bedrooms (and larger) units. It is also a great place to spend some quality time while everyone else is getting ready in the morning!

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eWDW Guide to Muppet Vision 3D

Muppet Vision 3D

At-A-Glance

A 4D film presentation with the loveable Muppets as they introduce you to the latest technologies of Muppet Studios. Of course, what could go wrong? Quite a bit, apparently.

Technical Specifications

Theme Park: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Land: Streets of America
Opened: May 16, 1991
Capacity: 584
Type: 4D-film 
George’s Rating: 5 Ears

Muppet Vision 3D can really be seen as three distinct attractions.

  • The exterior of the show building,
  • The pre-show, and
  • The theater presentation.
It feels like three separate areas to me, because each part could be enjoyed entirely by itself. The building has some amazing details on it, including larger-than-life Muppet paintings and details. A full walk around the building is necessary to appreciate all of the details. The pre-show is a 12-minute film that is every bit as good as the theater presentation. Make sure to walk around the pre-show room on your second viewing of the film. The 3D theater film is the main attraction and is 17-minutes long.

A Note from Imaginerding
Muppet Vision 3D was one of the last Muppet-related projects to be helmed by Jim Henson. He passed away in 1990, a year before the attraction opened. At the time, Michael Eisner was in negotiations with Jim Henson. When Henson passed away, the Henson Family withdrew from the negotiations. The Disney Company was finally able to acquire the Muppets in 2004. 

The Show Building

Situated in the Streets of New York area, this large, brick building was decorated as if the Muppets had been hired to paint and design the exterior. Garish paint colors, paint drippings and eyes cover the entire building

A Note from Imaginerding
The building’s colorful and messy decorations were based on the redecoration of a storage closet at 30 Rockefeller in New York. In 1964, the Muppet creators were scheduled to be on the Jack Paar program and had to waste a lot of time. They opened the closet door in the dressing room and found pipes. They painted the pipes and it has become a point of interest for the NBC Studios. The pipes are still there and still have the original decorations by Henson, Oz, Sahlin and Juhl.

The show building for the Muppets is well worth the short walk. There are some amazing details that can only be seen up close and a few from far away.

The Pre-Show

After you enter the building through a hallway (you go past Muppet Security), you are funneled into the pre-show area. Grab your 3D glasses and stand in front of one of the banks of three monitors. The pre-show area is full of fantastic gags and details, but watch the pre-show video on your first time.

The video is supposed to introduce you to the 3D film you are about to see. Just like the Muppet television show, things go awry. There are some great gags in the video, including a dance with Gonzo and a special appearance by Mickey Mouse!

Get it?

The room is an attraction in itself for any Muppet fan. There are tributes to the television show and the series of theatrical releases. You definitely have to take some time to walk around the pre-show area.

Muppet Vision 3D

For years, this was the best 3D film on property (Mickey’s Philharmagic has pushed the technology further) and it has held up incredibly well over the past 20-odd years. It is often referred to as Muppet Vision 4D because of the in-theater effects and addition of various Muppet animatronics.

There isn’t much that I can tell you about the film that won’t ruin some of the surprises; regardless it is a film that is fun for all ages.

Kermit the Frog welcomes us and takes us on a tour of the Muppet Studios. The regular cast of Muppet favorites are introduced and the expected mayhem ensues. Part of the tour takes us into Muppet Labs with Dr. Bunson Honneydew and Beaker. In order to capitalize on the 3D aspect of the show, they create Waldo C. Graphic, the first 3D Muppet.

A Note from Imaginerding
Waldo C. Graphic is the world’s first computer-generated 3D Muppet character. Waldo was a real puppet that was connected to a computer that rendered the image in real time based on the actual puppeteer.

The film continues to spiral out of control with traditional Muppet madness that any Muppet fan is going to truly love. The ending is truly spectacular as the Muppet theater is destroyed because of a battle between the Swedish Chef and the penguin orchestra.

Make sure to spend some time in the Muppet Studios shop on your way out. There are some fantastic and amazing references to the Muppets television show.

 

Quick Bites: The Butterfinger Cupcake

Who doesn’t love chocolate and Butterfinger?





Walt Disney World has no shortage of specialty cupcakes, with the different parks and resorts each offering a variety of flavors for one to try. And at under $4.00, or one snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan, they are a great value. 

Having heard legendary stories about one particular cupcake though, I had to  try it for myself -the Butterfinger Cupcake, at Starring Rolls, inside Hollywood Studios. This decadent dessert/snack/breakfast item (don’t judge me) consists of a chocolate cupcake, fudge filling, whipped cream icing, and a hard chocolate ganache covering, all topped with crushed Butterfinger pieces.

This thing is dense! I actually felt the weight of it when they put it onto my tray, which you can’t say for many snacks. As for size, the pictures are no exaggeration, it really is easily enough for two (or more) people to share. 

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? In this case, yes.

If there’s a downside to this cupcake, it’s that it’s too rich, as if it’s trying to be all things to all people. While the cake itself is moist, the fudge creamy, the whipped topping fluffy, and the Butterfinger crispy and crunchy, the combination of everything makes it all too much to handle. My wife and I couldn’t even manage more than a few small bites each before both saying it was too sweet; the combination of flavors was simply overkill.

If however, you think you’ve got a big enough sweet tooth, or perhaps a large group traveling with you you can share this with, this cupcake might just be for you!

Fantasyland Expansion Update: Storybook Circus – A First Look

Signs like this one on the construction wall welcome you.

The first part of the Fantasyland expansion, Storybook Circus, has been in soft openings for just over a week now, and I had the opportunity this past weekend to take a look. 

This snack and drink cart is located outside of Storybook Circus, as you make your way in.

It’s still very much in the early stages yet; no merchandise is available for sale in the new area, and there are no places to eat or grab a snack within Storybook Circus right now. And while beautifully landscaped, there’s still a lot of wide open areas where shade is needed, making it seem much hotter then it is. But of course, these are all things that will be worked out – we’ll see shops and lots of (new) merchandise, snack and dining options will be added, and trees will be planted. 

Even in its early stages though, Storybook Circus is truly incredible. Beautifully themed and designed, it was exciting to see even this small section (consisting of The Great Goofini, one side of Dumbo, and the Walt Disney World Railroad Train Station) up close, after months of standing on ledges and finding other unique places to take pictures. It also makes me excited for the months ahead as Storybook Circus grows and new areas open up. 

Who’s ready to ride?


The Barnstormer, featuring the “Great Goofini” is up and never looked better. And with a minimum height requirement of only 35″, this roller coaster is great for even the smallest thrill seekers in your family.

Take a ride and sneak a peak at the Fantasyland construction going on.

I’d make a point of checking out Storybook Circus early in the day, as by around 11 a.m., lines were already 30 minutes and growing to ride.

After months of seeing this cut-out over construction walls, it was nice to get an up close view. 

The new Dumbo looks great, and the water feature is a nice touch, too.

The lines are still long, but people didn’t care, even though there’s not a lot of shade available in certain parts still. This should change when the second Dumbo opens up. The interactive queue line should also help pass the time. 

The big top isn’t open yet, but I’m betting it will be in the next couple of months, once the second Dumbo is added.

Timothy Mouse hasn’t been added to the new Dumbo yet, but Disney has said he will be included as work progresses. He does, however, give guests instructions before the ride begins.

The new train station is open and looking good! 

And it runs frequently and for most of the day, too.

These are the new restrooms in Storybook Circus. The brick work is just great! It doesn’t even look like a bathroom. 



Although I was a little confused by this sign above the toilet. I know bottled water is expensive at Disney, but is this a real problem with guests?



There’s lots of nice detail work throughout Storybook Circus, like this stone work, which is everywhere. 

Since the circus came to town, it only makes sense that you’d see animal tracks of different shapes and sizes, as well as peanut shells, in the cement pathways. Disney has said as more of the expansion open, you’ll see the tracks leading towards those new sections, too. 

The garbage cans are themed too.  Disney did an excellent job incorporating the circus theme without it being too “in your face.” 

I even like the new outfits the cast members in this area have to wear. And while this cast member seemed happy, not all of them looked too thrilled with the new threads! 

I hope you enjoyed the photos. You can be sure as the new Fantasyland continues to grow and change, we’ll be bringing you updates and more pictures.

Quick Bites: Roasted Chicken Breast at Citricos

As wonderful to eat as it is to look at. 






   




Located within Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort you’ll find Citricos, a signature restaurant featuring the cuisine of Southern Europe. 

As this is a favorite dining destination for my wife and I, I’ve had the opportunity to try a variety of dishes, such as the roasted chicken breast ($29.00).

This dish consists of a free-range chicken served with saffron and green pea risotto, mojo picon and garnished with micro cilantro. There are a number of ways to ruin chicken, but I am happy to say that this was expertly prepared. The skin was left on during roasting, which preserved the moisture, leaving the meat juicy and succulent (there’s nothing worse than a dried out piece of chicken); it also gave the skin a hint of crispiness. 

The mojo picon (a type of garlic sauce cooked with paprica, cumin seed and dried chilies) lent a hint of spice to the dish without being overpowering, while the saffron and green pea risotto complimented the chicken perfectly, the peas adding a subtle, summer flavor. 


Like everything served here, the presentation was elegant, even if the course itself was simple. The contrast of color on the plate and the simple garnish for an added touch left no doubt that I was eating somewhere special. 

Citricos is two table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan; they also gladly accept the Tables in Wonderland card. Advanced dining reservations are strongly recommended.

Authors note: The menu changes frequently at Citricos, typically with each season, so some dishes may not be available year round.

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