When I was done at Disney World in early September, I said my goodbye to Illuminations, but I’m not sure I really appreciate that it’s “gone.” Tonight, we’ll get our first look at the replacement.
As always, I recommend checking the Disney Parks Blog about 15 minutes before the start of the show to see if there’s an updated post with the video. I’ll also try to post the video in this post if I’m able.
If you follow Elyssa and Me on Twitter, you know that we had quite the issues with travel last night. The short version is that a storm in Baltimore delayed (what would have been) our plane from Raleigh / Durham to Orlando for over 5 hours, and Southwest couldn’t guarantee that if that plane made it to RDU that it would actually fly to Orlando. To try and salvage this quick weekend trip, we decided to switch to a flight to Tampa, change our rental car reservation accordingly, and then drive up to Orlando. It was stressful, the overall travel took way longer than we thought it would, but we made it to our condo late last night so we could still enjoy a weekend away.
As a lot of Magic Kingdom mornings do, we started the day at Kona. Some Tonga Toast and a press pot of coffee always feels like a good way to start the day (even if the waitress kept telling us we looked tired.)
Given we were a little run down from last night, we went pretty easy on our Magic Kingdom touring. Thankfully, being there for park opening (along with some Fastpass+ refreshing) allowed us to get in Haunted Mansion, Pirates, Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear, the People Mover, and visit with Mickey and Minnie in their fancy new outfits.
After we left the Magic Kingdom, we headed over to Disney Springs. We debated trying a view different options, but ended up at our favorite stop: Homecomin’. As always, it was delicious. I think the Thigh High chicken biscuits at Homecomin’ compete with the Slider at BoAtHOusE for best meal value on property.
We did try something new, though: the cookie dough from Aristocrepes. It was quite good as a quick dessert (and surprisingly filling.)
Overall, it was a pretty good morning (and it did a good job of washing away the hassles from last night.) We’re not sure where we’ll end up tonight, but I think we’ll consider this day a success, regardless.
The Christmas season is in full swing at Disney World, and at Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ. The Magic Kingdom has it’s Christmas decorations up (and is having it’s “Very Merry” Christmas Parties), The Studios has its ‘Flurry of Fun”, and Epcot has it’s “International Festival of the Holidays.”
If you’re going to Epcot’s “International Festival of the Holidays” and thinking about trying out some of the food items available at the holiday kitchens, you can find the full menus here. Josh over at easyWDW also has a post with his favorite items, as well as reviews of the individual kitchens:
easyWDW Review of Refurbished Room at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – Josh takes a detailed look at the new Yacht Club rooms. They seem to follow the refurbishment trends of Pop and Coronado (which mirror the wider hotel trend of more minimalist design, with lots of “multi-use” space.) I like the room in the abstract, but I wish they could add a few more “theming” touches (like how the headboard used to look like it had a porthole in it.)
That’s it for this edition of the News Nuggets. Elyssa and I recently spent a day at Disney World and tried out Ale & Compass and a few other quick things. Hopefully, we’ll have those thoughts up shortly!
With D23 and various other things (like a visit to Mighty Men of Mouse HQ), I’ve fallen a little behind on the News Nuggets. Now, with only 1 week left for The Great Movie Ride and Universe of Energy, it’s about time to unleash a mega helping of Nuggets before it’s too late. (In a nice move, Disney lifted Annual Passholder Blockout Dates so people could ride them one more time.)
Up close look at Disney’s new Minnie Van car service – Depending on the time of day and where you’re going, it could be 2x to 3x more than Uber or Lyft. Also, getting dropped off at the Contemporary is not that much different than getting dropped off at the Magic Kingdom bus stop (which is the perk everyone seems to talk about).
JW Marriott Hotel Planned Near Epcot and Typhoon Lagoon – Being able to use Marriott points that close to “on property” makes me happy. (Yes, I know I can convert Marriott points to Starwood points and use them at the Dolphin. I’ve done that.) Also, this hotel looks very different from the other JW Marriott in the area.
That’s it for this edition of the News Nuggets. If you’re like me and unable to get in one last ride on the The Great Movie Ride before it closes, check out this video from WDW News today that features an actual “walk through” of the attraction. See you next time:
There’s been a lot of Disney World news since we lasted posted an edition of the News Nuggets. (There’s also been a few other developments here at Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ, such as a trip down to the World for Elyssa and me, but that will be covered in a separate post.) Of course, as one would expect, there has been a lot of coverage about Pandora, but–again–I’m going to do something separate for that. So, with all that out of the way, on to the News Nuggets!
WDW News Today reviews the First Mobile Ordering Experience – It’s only available as part of the Pandora preview right now, but it should be interesting to see how things go as it expands to other places. I like the concept of ordering far in advance and then it recognizing when you’re close enough to the restaurant to start the order. I hope they can get discounts added to it soon, though.
Sound Lion now closed at Disney Springs – Huh. I actually wandered into the store the other week while waiting for Elyssa. I imagine it was tough to get the kind of volume necessary in “high end headphones” to cover the Springs rent.
May 2017 Monorail service adjustments – Check this out: “From 11:30am to 6:00pm on May 16, 17, 23 and 24, stops at the Contemporary will be switched to the Express Monorail line. During this period, the Resort Monorail will shuttle between the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom only. The Express Monorail will make stops at the TTC, Contemporary and Magic Kingdom. ” I’m sure that won’t confuse anyone.
Savor a Taste of the Pacific Northwest at Geyser Point Bar & Grill – Nice little promotional video for Geyser Point. Unfortunately, the food and service don’t really live up to the location. (At least from out experience.) Maybe when Roaring Fork is back open, there will be less stress on Geyser Point and the service will improve.
Bob Iger’s Contract Extended to July 2, 2019 – These kind of corporate maneuverings are not usually something I write about, but Iger has had an “interesting” relationship with the parks. To date, I would argue there have been some negatives (e.g., the trend of “up charge events”, lower staffing during certain periods), but we’re about to start on some big changes (e.g. Avatar, Star Wars, Toy Story), so it should be interesting.
I like Disney; I like fashion; ipso facto I love Disney fashion.
That means I’m going to be spending ALL OF THE MONEY on our next trip at The Dress Shop, Disney’s new store/fashion line designed specifically for me. The shop will be located in the Co-Op at Disney Springs and is set to debut at the end of this month. There better still be plenty of cute things in stock when I’m there in April!!! (The line will also be available in the Shop Disney Parks App, but I’m the type who can’t buy anything without trying it on.)
Disney fashionistas will be quick to point out you can find plenty of great dresses like this on ebay and etsy if you look in the right places, don’t mind online shopping, and are up for a gamble on quality/price/fit. I’ve also always been a big fan of seeking out “regular” pieces that can be turned into Disney fashion a la Disneybound. The pic below is me and my girl Minnie in our matching outfits. The new shop will make this sort of fun that much more accessible to other people, and I’m a big fan of spreading awesomeness.
Before I go, question for the masses: am I allowed to wear the Tower of Terror dress if I’ve never ridden Tower of Terror?
Hey! Look! The site still works! This latest batch of (breakfast?) News Nuggets is a long time coming. I had grand desigins of posting it when I was down in Florida IN DECEMBER, but that slipped. Then, life got in the way, and an iOS beta broke my custom Workflows, and…well..its (still) February.
To try make this post (of over 8 weeks worth of Disney news) a little more timely, I’ve culled some of the original stories I was going to publish, as well modified some of commentary to reflect my experiences and other news I’ve heard about these items.
Of course, the biggest news item that hasn’t already been written about on the site is:
Upcoming changes to Epcot entertainment acts – Kenny the Pirate runs down some of the upcoming (and now made) changes to Epcot entertainment. Disney seems to have decided to change these various acts a little more frequently over the past few years.
Drinks coming to Paddlefish – I wonder what the craft beer from North Carolina is. Of course, it’s kind of silly for me to go to Disney World and have beer that I can get just as easily at home.
Okay, time for another break. This time, let’s look at this tribute to the late, great Carrie Fisher from The Studios:
Ms. Fisher will be missed, and (shockingly?) I was unable to come up with a way to segway back into the nuggets:
Braves Spring Training to Conclude at Walt Disney World – This is a bummer for me. I liked being able to see some spring training baseball when I was visiting Disney World. I guess I understand the Braves’ point that they are too far away from other spring training teams, but that doesn’t make it less of a bummer for me.
New Menu Items at Jiko – Since Elyssa and I have never been here, we really don’t have any favorites that might get pulled of the menu. That said, I figure Elyssa will still try to get a filet on top of a bed of mac-and-cheese if we do go.
Pandora – The World of Avatar – A transformational experience unlike any other, Pandora – The World of Avatar, opens in summer 2017. In collaboration with filmmaker James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, Disney is bringing to life the fantasy world of Pandora, inspired by Cameron’s epic film AVATAR, in a breathtaking new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Avatar Flight of Passage will send guests flying above the jungles of Pandora on a Mountain Banshee. Bioluminescent rainforests dramatically wrap around Na’vi River Journey, a family-friendly boat ride. Hungry adventurers can recharge at Satu’li Canteen, the main dining location, or Pongu Pongu, a drink kiosk with a design as eclectic as its expat owner. Shoppers can stock up on Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits and more at Windtraders.
None of this will come as a surprise to readers of the site, but it’s nice to have everything summarized so neatly. A Soarin’-like adventure and a BOATRIDE are fantastic anchors to this land. Also, it will give a preview of the new immersive theming that (I believe) will also be present in Star Wars land. (By immersive theming, I mean a little less pushing of the overall Disney brand in the land, with cast members acting more like you are really on Pandora.
More Additions to Disney Springs in 2017
Paddlefish – Sleek and modern after a bow-to-stern transformation from the former Fulton’s Crab House, Paddlefish will serve fresh seafood, steaks and chops. Unique menu choices for seafood lovers include a build-your-own boil. A new rooftop lounge will serve up a late-night menu and shipshape views of the water and Disney Springs. Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
The standard of quality at Disney Springs ended up making Fulton’s obsolete. With the BOATHOUE already offerring a combination of seafood and steak, it’ll be interesting ot see what Paddlefish does to set itself apart.
The Polite Pig – A sister restaurant to the Ravenous Pig, a favorite with Orlando locals, The Polite Pig will bring the same focus on genuine Florida cuisine to a broader global audience at Disney Springs. Lunch and dinner menus will feature a variety of wood-fired smoked and grilled items as well as an innovative beverage program that serves all drinks on tap, including beer, wine and cocktails.
Though I’m not particularly excited about the Guy Fieri menu at the newly revamped Planet Hollywood Observatory, the Polite Pig seems like it might be a nice option. (Of course, I have never to the Ravenous Pig, so what do I know?)
Rivers of Light – Coming in 2017, this powerful theatrical production takes Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests on a magnificent emotional journey – a visual mix of water, fire, nature and light choreographed to an original musical score. Continuing the park’s transformation from a day-into-nighttime experience, the amazing after-dark show on the banks of Discovery River celebrates the majesty of nature and the connection between animals and humans in the world. (emphasis added)
“Coming in 2017.” Sigh. That said, I still wouldn’t be surprised if there’s at least a trial or two during the holiday season (though, I’m not holding my breath.) Of course, if no one is at Animal Kingdom later in the evening but Elyssa & me over Christmas, I’m fine with it.
New Cabins and Deluxe Villas coming to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – In 2017, a proposed new Disney Vacation Club Resort, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, is scheduled to open, featuring new Resort accommodations that include plans for Deluxe Villas and unique waterfront cabins. Other enhancements coming to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge include a brand-new bar & grill, in addition to a quick-service restaurant. A sweeping re-imagination of the former Hidden Springs Pool, part of Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, is also scheduled to open in summer 2017. Named Boulder Ridge Cove, this area will feature an expanded sun deck and zero-depth-entry pool.
If Elyssa and I were to buy DVC, this would be where we do it. We love Wilderness Lodge, and the information on these Deluxe Villas makes them seem like they’re going to be top notch. I am looking forward to seeing an actual demo.
We’ll close this edition of the News Nuggets with this video walkthrough of the famous Royal Asanta Presdiental Suite at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This might be the closest I’ll ever get to actually being in that:
It’s that time again, time to clear out the (way too long) lisitng of Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets! LIke some of the last couple of updates, Disney trips and day job stuff has meant that this list is a little bit longer than previous updates.
Our latest trip to Disney World focused around a few major Disney World events: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I’ve learned these past couple of years that having defined things that we want to do lets us feel a little of the time pressure that people who don’t visit as frequently as we do can end up feeling. It makes for an interesting trip. Here are some initial thoughts:
The End of Celebrate the Magic:I’ve already written about how much Celebrate the Magic means to Elyssa and me, but seeing the show for the last time was still overwhelmingly emotional for both of us. I have faith that the new projection show will be good, but I doubt we’ll ever have the emotional connection to that new show that we have to this one. It truly will be missed.
Kona Cafe (Breakfast): I still love starting a day with a press of Kona Coffee and an order of Tonga Toast. Elyssa almost always ends up with a Big Kahuna (which, again, is a great way to start the day.) We normally get an early ADR, and then head to the Magic Kingdom to watch the Welcome Show. I don’t know if I’d recommend Kona if you want to rope drop Mine Train, but it’s pretty perfect for what we use it for.
Homecoming Florida (Dinner or Drinks): Homecoming is fast becoming one of our favorite spots to grab a drink later at night (in addition to being an excellent dining option for either lunch or dinner.) Fried Chicken, biscuits, and hush puppies aren’t the most “adventurous” of dishes, but Homecoming does them very well. If southern comfort food is something you enjoy, I’d definitely give Homecoming a shot.
Animal Kingdom at Night is a (Hidden?) Gem: We now build nights at Animal Kingdom into our trip. An evening Safari, a drink or two at Nomad Lounge, and the Tree of Life Awakenings (which are extremely fun to watch) all make for a really enjoyable night.
Seeing Friends is Always Fun: Elyssa and I were fortunate enough to run into world famous podcaster, “Light ‘Em and Hide”, twice including once with a guest appearance by similarly renowned Disney theme park photographer Brandon Glover. Though we didn’t get to meet up with friends of the site, Dutch, Josh, or Eric, I’m sure we’ll run into them again before too long. Name dropping aside, it’s always nice to spend time with people we know from this little hobby of ours. I hope the trend those meet-ups continues.
Over the next week (or two, or three…), I’ll be working some more in-depth coverage of a few of things we did, but here is a little preview:
Goofy and Pals Breakfast at the Four Season: Elyssa and I decided to switch things up on the character breakfast front and try something a little different. My (almost) twitter length review: Breakfast was good. It has a little different vibe than standard Disney character meals (fancier?). The food also seemed to be a step up from what you might find at a traditional Disney buffet. The character interactions were superb (and if that’s what you want, I’d recommend making a 10:45am or so reservation, since the place was nearly cleared out by 11:00.).
Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party: Halloween is Elyssa’s favorite holiday, so we had been thinking about planning a trip around the halloween party for years. Things finally fell into place this year. We arrived at the party a little before 4 (and used our AP to gain admission.) We ended up meeting Tink, Rapunzel, Tiana, the Seven Dwarfs, and riding Mine Train before the party officially started at 7pm. From then on it was character meet-and-greets, parades, fireworks, and candy. It was a super fun night (Maybe Elyssa and I should do a Mic Drop segment on it??)
Food and Wine: I feel like the stand outs from Food & Wine the past couple of years are either desserts or from the Chew booths (or sometimes, both.) Things like the Liquid Nitro Truffle, or the Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse stand out in my memory more than the duck bun I got from China. At this point, I’d probably be fine attending 1 or 2 mornings mid-week and calling it a Festival.
Overall, it was a pretty great (if not a little jam packed) trip (even with Celebrate coming to and end.)
If you’ve been following us on Twitter (including at Elyssa’s new handle!), then you know that the last few weeks have been crazy at Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ. Weddings in foreign lands (well, Maine), J O B job stuff getting in the way of site updates, etc…all have conspired to make this a HUGE helping of News Nuggets. I hope you’re hungry (for news)!
Sanaa now offering Quick Service Breakfast – Interesting. It makes sense to provide a quick service option for guests staying at Kidani. That said, it doesn’t look like something that requires a special trip to experience.
Elyssa’s and my trip to Disney World happened to fall during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. This program is similar to many “restaurant week” type programs, where certain restaurants offer prix fixe dinners at $33 per person from August 29 to October 2, 2016. Participating restaurants on Disney property include Il Mulino, Morimoto Asia, Ravello, Todd English’s bluezoo, and–our selection for dinner–STK Orlando. $1 of each meal is donated to The Russell Home for atypical children.
As has been well documented throughout the Disney blogosphere, STK’s gimmick is a high-end steakhouse mixed with a “club like” atmosphere. (Pro-tip: If you want to fit in with the other guys in “the club”, wear a dress shirt, untucked, with a pair of dark jeans.) Originally, we planned to arrive before the DJ got behind “the 1s and 2s”, but a Florida rainstorm delayed the start of our meal. (For reference, the DJ starts at 6:00pm and progressively turns the music up as the night goes on. It was tolerable for us, if not a little bass heavy, but I wouldn’t wanted to have stayed another hour.)
One item of note before we get into the “meat” of the review (ba dum cha!): our hostess didn’t offer us the Magical Dining Month menu. We had to ask for it. Looking around the restaurant, I didn’t see anyone else that had it. Keep that in mind if you’re planning on taking advantage of this promotion.
As with most restaurant week-style prix fixie offering, the meal consisted of three courses and bread service. The bread at STK is “pull apart” style that comes with blue cheese butter on top and chive oil on the side. This was fantastic (even for Elyssa who only–as someone who is not a blue cheese fan only ate the bottom of pieces.) The chive oil had a nice bit of spice, as well.
We started our actual meal (I say “we” since Elyssa and I ordered the same meal) with what as listed as the Hearts of Romaine salad but differed from the one offered to guests ordering off the regular menu. Ours (shown below) looked more like a traditional salad, while other tables had large leaves of romaine lettuce with dressed dribbled on top and croutons on the side.
The salad was quite good, with a nice flavor to the parmesan-lemon dressing, that went well with fresh peppercorns. The other appetizer options are tomato soup or roasted beets, if the salad doesn’t thrill you.
For our entree, we got the petite filet mignon with “pickled wax beans-almond romesco”. The steak was quite good (I think I prefer a steak from your neighborhood Ruth’s Chris, but it was in the same league as that), and, though the romesco wasn’t particularly flavorful, it complimented the steak nicely.
I don’t really understand going to a steakhouse and ordering something other than steak, but the other entree options were smoked salmon and confit of duck leg.
For dessert, we had the warm chocolate cookie, with chocolate sauce, caramel, and vanilla ice cream. As you can see from the picture below, the cookie they served us was smaller than what Josh had went he reviewed the restaurant a couple of months ago.(Not served in a skillet. 1 star.) The cookie was still fantastic though, and might have been my favorite part of the meal (mostly because I love cookie-based sundaes, not because any of the rest of the meal was particularly bad.)
The other dessert options are an “orange dream” cheesecake and assort sorbet.
As you might notice, we didn’t order order any sides. Josh’s images depicting 8 bites of potatoes for $10 kept us away. Of course, STK would happily allow you to order their sides from the regular menu even if you are enjoying the Magical Dining Month menu for the rest of your meal. Same goes for their various cocktails (which we also didn’t order, because we planned on hitting up Jock Lindsey’s and Homecoming later that night.) I’ll refer you, again, to Josh’s review for information on those.
Overall, Elyssa and I had a really good meal at STK (and Rebecca G was an excellent server, who provided information about the restaurant and the food as we went along.) I’m perfectly happy paying $66 (plus tax) for what we got (and think it was probably a pretty good value.) That said, I’m not sure STK is for me. As the night wore on, I really started to “feel” the bass of the music, which lessened my overall enjoyment with the experience. If I was paying 2x-3x as much for what I had, that enjoyment factor might mean more than it did when I’m getting a high quality salad, steak and dessert for $33. Since I did only pay $33 per person, though, I give dining at STK during Magical Dining Month a (tepid) thumbs up.
We’re going to try something different on this trip and try to post some more updates during the trip (in addition to coverage once it’s completed.) Here are some thoughts about the first night and day of the trip:
Homecoming turned out to be pretty good (even if I was a little miffed at some of the seating mishaps when we arrived.) The “famous fried” chicken was good, and Elyssa enjoyed her “dinner of sides” (mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, and biscuits.) I can think of a couple of local NC places with better fried chicken, but not to the point where I wouldn’t go back to Homecoming. Getting to enjoy the meal with Eric and Kristi certainly helped things, too.(BOATHOUSE is still our top choice, but Homecoming & Morimoto are pretty close to each other in second.)
Kona Cafe breakfast is still fantastic. We had a 7:30AM ADR to load up on Tonga Toast (Elyssa, as always, was a “big kahuna”) before heading over to watch the Welcome Show at the Magic Kingdom (which we sometimes forget to enjoy because we’re too amped to get to our first attraction.)
Rope drop remains a great way to get a bunch of stuff done as your start your day. (We had a number of our favorite attractions–Buzz, Under the Sea, Jungle Cruise, Pirates–done before 10 am with–essentially–no waiting.
When it comes to viewing Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, Josh from easyWDW is not wrong when he recommends standing right near the top of the slope in back of the partner’s statute. I walked to that spot about 30 seconds before the show started and got an (almost) unobstructed view of the whole thing (thanks, random guy with the giant balloon who moved up front for the finale.) It was a great vantage point for a really fun, enjoyable show.
Of course, the highlight of our trip so far was getting to meet up with friend of the site, host of Mighty Men of Mouse and all around great guy, Dutch Lombrowski. Dutch took some time out of his night to come join Elyssa and me, ride of Splash, and catch up all various things (that have happened over the 3+ years we’ve known each other.) As an added bonus, always entertaining Gosh Jonzalez joined us for the last hour or so of the night as well. It was great hanging out with both of them.
That’s all for this early trip update. The idea is that we’ll post more soon (but we’ll see how that goes.)
It might be the weekend, but here at Rope Drop [dot]Net HQ we are still committed to providing you with your News Nuggets. Before we get started on the “links” part of the Nuggets, a quick update to Tables in Wonderland. Disney has finally decided to add Skipper Canteen & Jock Lindsey’s to the list of places that get discounts (along with the much newer Nomad Lounge and Tiffins at Animal Kingdom.) I wonder if this will have any impact on attendance at Skipper Canteen.
As another special perk, Disney is giving 20% of merchandise purchase at Word of Disney in Disney Springs to Tables in Wonderland members through Labor Day. As always, I would recommend that you point out this discount to the cast members (i.e., I doubt they’ll ask you about it.)
Now, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the rest of the Nuggets!
A change to Epcot Fastpass+ Tier system – One of everyone’s favorite boat rides, Living the Land, is now a Tier 2 attraction. Not really a surprise, with Soarin’ back open and FrozenStrom drawing people to the other side of the park.
That’s it for this edition of the News Nuggets! Of course, if you’re like me, the biggest news of the weekend is probably the announcement that the new Rogue One trailer will drop during NBC’s Olympics coverage on Thursday! (I’m a little excited for that movie.)
Celebrate Halloween at ‘Club Villain’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – They’re bringing back this event on Friday and Saturday nights from September 2-October 29 (and also on October 31). With this timing, it’s an alternative option to Mickey’s Not So Scary (but on different nights.) I know this event has gotten good reviews, but $129 a person seems just so steep for something like this.
Both here at Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ and throughout Orlando, the events of the last week the events of the last week+ still leave a lasting impression. Though we continue to mourn for all the lives that were lost, we are going to try and talk once again about a place that we (and probably a lot of you readers) love. There’s not real “good” approach to moving on from something like this, so we’re going to do a symbolic “reset” and clear the deck of all our pending News Nuggets (even if some may be a little out of date, now.) Here is what we’ve got:
Preview of Sprinkles Cupcakes at Disney Springs – Denise from Mouse Steps put together a really nice preview of one of the dessert-focused shops opening at Disney Springs. I’m not a big cupcake guy, but I don’t mind some good ice cream (and I’ve never forgiven Ghirardelli for getting ready of the peanut butter sundae.)
New Food Kiosks Coming to The Studios. – This makes sense for the busy summer period. I am especially interested in the “waffle sandwich.” Will it be the famed sandwich that recently was cut from Sleepy Hollow’s menu? (UPDATE: It is NOT the Sleepy Hollow One)
Disney to Discontinue Disney Dollars – Everyone seems to be posting about this. I never really understood why anyone would buy Disney Dollars in the first place, so it seems to make sense to get rid of them (especially in a world where so many people pay with magic bands, cards, etc…)
Flying Fish: New Name, New Chef, New Cocktail Lounge Next Door – I liked the old Flying Fish (Cafe), but I didn’t think it really held up against places like Cali Grill and Narcoossee’s. I hope this refurb helps with that. (Oh, and that bar name is ridiculous. I’m just going to avoid typing it since I’m sure I would mess it up if I tried.)
June 2016 Disney World Operating Schedule Updated – Josh has a nice update on the schedule changes for June. I wonder if the rumors about the fireworks scaring the animals that are out at night are part of the reason that the fireworks are not every night.
ESPN Club now offering reservations for lunch – I thought this might be paving the way for reservations all day, but I think there’s at least some chance that Disney wants a place that people can go without reservations to watch various sports-ball games.
Plaza Restaurant at Magic Kingdom Moving Away From ADRs, Walk-Up Availability Only – There are rumors that the Plaza is going to be replacing Skipper Canteen as the new “no ADRs allowed!” option at the Magic Kingdom. I guess this fits a need for people who “didn’t know” you you have make ADRs in advance, but it also conflicts with everything Disney has trained people to do for years I’m interested to see how this plays out.
If you were following along with either my or Elyssa’sTwitter accounts this past weekend, you know that we had a whirlwind trip down to Disney World. Here are some initial thoughts:
Magic Kingdom After Dark was Awesome: Even though Elyssa and I walked in a couple of minutes after 11, we had a fantastic time at this event. We rode Winnie the Pooh, Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Splash, Big Thunder (Elyssa rode BOTH Splash and Thunder!), Haunted Mansion, Pan, Mine Train, Under the Sea, Mad Tea Party (all 3 of us in 1 cup), Buzz, and met Mickey. We walked onto everything but Mickey (where we waited for about 10 minutes.) My only regret is that we didn’t eat more free ice cream. Overall, this event was well worth the $75 per person we spent, and I would love to do it again. (And, yes, I know that’s not the real name for the event.)
Tusker House is always Great (Even after only 3 Hours of Sleep): Elyssa and I love breakfast at Disney World, and one of our favorite places is Tusker House. As we’ve said before, it seems to have higher quality food than other Disney World breakfast buffets, and the character interactions have almost always been fantastic. Even Kilimanjaro Safaris being down with “technical difficulties” when we finished didn’t damper our enjoyment of the morning. (Thankfully, Safaris opened right around the time of our Fastpass+ window.)
The Boardwalk is Pretty Great if You Like Ice Cream: If you remember the famous easyWDWYOU WILL LOSE MEMBERS!! post, you know there was some outrage when they closed Seashore Sweets (including the thought there was no ice cream in the Boardwalk area anymore.) Well, as major fans of Beaches & Cream, Elyssa and I were always fine with grabbing a No Way Jose as our ice cream item of choice (we did that on this trip, too), but Ample Hills Creamery now provides another option. The ice cream at Ample Hills is fantastic, with some unique flavor choices (I went with the coffee toffee coffee / chocolate milk and cookies combo), but you do pay for the quality. The 2 cups of ice cream that Elyssa and I got cost more than a No Way Jose (combined, obviously).
There is a Stark Contrast between the crowds at the booths at Flower & Garden compared to Food & Wine: (Feel free to make your “Stark” / Game of Thrones joke here.) When you go to Food & Wine, you have to get there right when they open at 11:00am if you want to “guarantee” that you won’t have super long waits. At Flower & Garden, it was rare to even see a line at the booths (even on a Friday night.) Though I had done some research into what was being offered, I ended up deciding that I would rather just spend my money other ways than on the “outdoor kitchens.” I know people say Flower & Garden has become a “mini-Food & Wine”, but I just didn’t get that vibe. (EPCOT AISDE: The Joy & Sadness meet-and-greet is pretty awesome. Highly recommended.)
Disney Springs is a Really Nice Place to Visit and It Keeps Improving: The “it’s just mall” take is weak and tired. We get it, there’s an Under Armour store at Disney Springs and there’s one at your favorite mall. Cool. Now leave so I can enjoy the ambiance, great places to eat, and the Disney-specific shopping that is also at Disney Springs without you taking up space. I’m fine with people saying Disney Springs is “not for them”, but you’re doing a disservice to people who are planning their Disney World tip if you just dismiss it out of hand. Places like the BOATHOUSE and Jock Lindsey’s offer a chance to relax, have a drink, or get a pretty decent meal in a nice setting that doesn’t require theme park admission (The BOATHOUSE filet sliders are still a great value, and I keep waiting for them to raise the price by like $5 one night), and the construction isn’t even done yet. I think when construction is finally completed, Disney Springs really is going to be a place a majority of people are going to want to visit on their vacations. (DISNEY SPRINGS ASIDE: The 3 Little Pigs Sampler at B.B. Wolf’s was fantastic.)
There was one other big part of the trip for Elyssa and me: The BOATRIDE Club “fleet up” (term credit to friend of the site Eric Laycock). That, however, deserves its own write-up (which I’ll hopefully get to later this week.)
Tutto Italia at Epcot Offering Prix-Fie Lunch this Summer – This is kind of “meh” for me. It looks like an okay deal for the price, but I’m not usually eating lunch at Epcot at all. I guess I’ll wait until I see some actual (paying for the meal) reviews before I make a final decision.
Tiered pricing for Mickey’s Not So Scary and Very Merry Christmas. – The lower-priority parties didn’t change that much, but some of the more sought after dates went up significantly (and don’t allow AP or DVC discounts.) Unfortunately, if you’ve already planned your vacation (as a lot of people have, since it’s less than 6 months out), you’re kind of just stuck with that pricing.
It’s been a little bit since we did a full version of the News Nuggets, so it looks like we’re going to need a double order! (As an aside, Elyssa and I once thought we were hungry enough to get 2 orders of corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner. It did not end well.)
Third, you can now book your 4th Fastpass+ on your phone!. This should mean that a lot (most?) people no longer will need to ever visit one of the Fastpass+ kiosks (which means maybe Disney can put staffing cuts in those areas instead of on actual attractions.)
Examining the Toy Story Land concept art. – WDW News Today takes a look at the Toy Story Land concept art that was recently posted at The Studios. There are some changes to Slinky’s Coaster that are kind of interesting.
Closures at The Studios – These were all announced months ago, but the actual closing has now happened. This is going to make The Studios feel a little more crowded while they work on all the new construction.
Changes coming to Fastpass+ system at Disney World. – A good breakdown of changes coming to Fastpass+ reservation concerning Anna & Elsa and Epcot starting May 27. This further seems to indicate that late is May is going to be when FrozenStrom might be opening up.
New Options and Perks for runDisney Events – Disney is now going to let you pay $40 and pick up your race bib “day of.” That could be useful for people who are trying to get in a runDisney race but minimize the amount time they want to spend at Disney World for the race.
Update on Nighttime Experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – In news that can only be classified as a “major bummer”, Disney is delaying the start of Rivers of Light. Based on the post saying that an “update” will be provided in mid-May, I doubt we’re going to be seeing this new show anytime soon.
New Bar Coming to Tower or Terror – I wasn’t really “pleased” with the rumors of the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay, but I also really don’t see how this bar is actually going to be “a thing.” I guess we’ll see how it plays out.
The Disney Parks Blog exploded this morning with news about what’s coming this summer to Disney World. There is so much information that it seemed appropriate for a very special EMERGENCY EDITION of the Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets!
First, we learned that near the end of May (i.e., Memorial Day Weekend), we’ll be getting:
A third track on Toy Story Midway Mania – I know this doesn’t sound exciting, but adding 50% more capacity to one of the most popular attractions at a theme park that needs attractions for people to ride on during construction is important.
A couple weeks later, in June, we’ll be getting:
Frozen Ever After – Say what you want about Frozen, but this is going to draw people to Epcot in a way that hasn’t happened for months (years?).
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. – The previous Magic Kingdom stage show had been around for so long that I can’t even really remember watching it. I’m interested to see what they do with this one.
Soarin’ Around the World – Speaking of things to draw people to Epcot. Going into The Land pavilion the past few months has been eerie. I’m looking forward to Soarin’ re-opening, and I have high hopes that the new video is going to be great.
Lastly, Disney shared some more details about the upcoming Toy Story Land at The Studios. Personally, I’m less concerned with the attractions coming to this land, and more interested into how intricate the theming is. I really hope I feel like I have been “shrunk[en] to the size of a toy” while I’m there."
Disney also released some concept video of the Slinky Dog Dash coaster, and that seems like an excellent way to end this post: