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.
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 Easter Weekend and and that means (among other things, obviously) lots of visitors to Disney World, and a whole bunch of new Disney World News Nuggets.
The biggest news is probably the new “extra” hours opportunities at the Magic Kingdom:
Disney “After Hours” Event Announced. – 3 extra hours at the Magic Kingdom with a low attendance sounds pretty awesome, but $150 per person is a lot of money for it. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I have the option to go to this. (I’m not the first / only person to say this, but it seems like the DVC Fireworks we saw a couple of weeks ago might be a good fit for this party.)
Disney adds “Early Morning Magic” to the Magic Kingdom – Rumors are saying that $69 gets you rides on Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh, as well as a “breakfast buffet” at Pinocchio Village Haus for 1.5 hours before the park opens to regular guests. I was hoping this would be $50 per person, not $70.
That wasn’t all the news from the past few days, though. Here are the rest of the News Nuggets:
We’ll end this edition of the News Nuggets with this look at what has become of Disney’s River Country “Watering Hole”. I used to love River Country, and I was sad when it was closed. It’s freaky to see what it looks like now that Disney has abandoned it. Hopefully, the rumors Jim Hill talks about (building a DVC resort in that area) turn out to be true.
On Wednesday night, the Osborne Lights faded to black for the last time. Thankfully, a lot of our favorite Disney blogs were there to cover the event (and give people like me–who couldn’t be there in person–a chance to see what the Lights were like in their final moments):
In a move that I don’t find particularly suprising, Disney has extended the display of the Osborne Lights through Wednesday, January 6th, including running the Lights until 10:00pm on Monday through Wednesday. (Frankly, I am surprised it’s only 2 more days. I was thinking they might extend the lights through Martin Luther Kin, Jr. Day or later.)
Memory Maker gets lower pricing. – I’m glad to see Memory Maker get a price decrease, but it makes the Annual Pass price increase earlier this year a little tougher to swallow. That said, the ability to get photos via the My Disney Experience app for easy social media posting makes Memory Maker a better value than it used to be.
Pizzafari now has handmade pizzas! I thought Josh had lost his mind when he said the new pizzas at Pizzafari aren’t that bad. Looking at the pictures in his post, however, I am optimistic about this change.
For these types of events, I normally recommend starting to check the Disney Parks Live Youtube Channel about 20 minutes before the show is supposed to air, and then continuing to reload the page until the link for that night’s event shows up. (You can also search for “Disney Parks Live” in the YouTube app in various media streaming devices if you want to watch on your television.)
Elyssa and I attended the party earlier this year and had an absolute blast. We intend to do a fuller write-up in the next few days (weeks?), but, if you’re interested at all in the party, we would recommend checking out the live stream.
Since there has been a lot of news coming out of Disney World recently, it seemed like the appropriate time to debut Rope Drop [dot] Net’s “News Nuggets” feature (inspired by one of Elyssa’s favorite Disney Food items: the corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner). As you would expect, these are small, bite-sized “nuggets” of news that you may find delicious useful.
Before we get to the actual nuggets, I do want to point out that Josh at easyWDW has started posting his 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival “booth by booth” reviews of all of this year’s food and drink options. (As I’ve mentioned before, I always start my Food & Wine Festival planning with Josh’s reviews. They are top notch.) You can already find Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 on his site, and I would imagine the rest of the booths will be up shortly.
Now, with that out of the way, it’s time for the nuggets:
New “special event venue” at The Studios to host “Club Disney”, starting on December 4. Eventually, the Sunset Showcase (Theater) will be home to things like the Frozen Sing-a-long (if it comes back next year.) For now, though, it’s going to host Club Disney, “[y]ou can join Mickey and the gang and take to the dance floor in this electric club environment, where a DJ Club Host spins the perfect playlist mix of your favorite Radio Disney Top 40 songs.” Though my initial reaction is that Elyssa and I won’t get a lot of use out of this, I would imagine that we’d at least check it out. (Though I can’t imagine it’ll top the \#INCREDIBLESSuperDanceParty. I mean, the Incredibles party has “hashtag” as part of the name.)
That’s all the news for now. If you want more to read about Disney World, I suggest taking a look at the interview we posted yesterday with Casey Liss. It has gotten some really good responses so far, and I think you’ll enjoy it.
I attended my first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this past Sunday night and I had an amazing time. I saw the Boo to You Parade twice and I was very impressed with all of the performers and I really liked the parade music. My favorites include the grave diggers and ballroom dancers from the Haunted Mansion and the portion that had characters from Splash Mountain and the Country Bears Jamboree. I was also very impressed by Hallowishes. I caught the very last Hocus Pocus Villains stage show at midnight and I was thoroughly entertained. It was funny, creative, and included lots of very talented performers. The villains in the show were a lot more impressive than the standard villains you see in parades and meet and greets. I was thrilled to see Oogie Boogie with an articulated face that included a moving mouth and moving eyes.
I also really liked the overall atmosphere of the party, especially considering that it was only late September. If you plan on going to a Halloween party, I highly recommend you wear a costume! One of the real highlights of the night was seeing all of the different costumes that everyone was wearing. I think the people who were wearing costumes were definitely having more fun than those who were not. One last bit of advice: if you are planning on trick or treating, ask around about which locations are giving out the most candy and the best type of candy. Some of the locations were only giving out 2 or 3 pieces of candy per person, while others were giving out 2 large handfuls of candy per person.
As you might expect, Josh practices what he preaches and put together amazing Hipster Minnie and Mickey costumes with his lovely wife, Carye:
If you want even more information and reviews on this year’s party, this review by Dave at YourFirstVisit.net is probably the best place to start. He provides a nice level of detail about the party, as well as gives some general touring tips and information about some of the schedule changes they made to this year’s show. On the audio side of things, the gang from DIS Unplugged provides a pretty good recap of their experiences at the party in their most recent episode.
Trick or Treating is for Everyone – Adults and children can trick-or-treat! Make sure to pick up a bag when entering the park. (And as Josh said, make sure you ask to see where they are giving out the best candy.)
Meet “Talking Mickey” in his Halloween costume at Town Square Theater
Josh at easyWDW has posted updates to Disney World’s operating schedule for October, December, and January. The December update is especially important since it includes a number of new Extra Magic Hour mornings around Christmas.
As a general note, I always check easyWDW for schedule updates before any trip. I know that I could pull the information directly from Disney but Josh’s layout and information is way more convenient. (I even prefer it to using MyDisney Experience to look for future park hours.)
If you’re on non-computer device that has Youtube access (i.e., an Xbox 360 or Roku), you can usually search for the “Disney Parks Live” channel to find the video. It will normally have a “Stream Coming Soon” placeholder about 20 minutes or so before an event is supposed to take place (so, approximately 8:00PM Eastern for this one.)
Late last week, Disney announced that this year would be the last year of the Osborne lights at The Studios. I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say that I’m majorly bummed out by this announcement (even if I expected it for the past couple of years.) When Elyssa and I have taken Disney World trips during the holidays, we would stop by the Osborne lights 2 or 3 times (maybe more). This year, we’ll be running through them as part of Wine & Dine half-marathon weekend. It is going to be pretty sad to see them go.
In the end, I understand the Osborne lights were a casualty of the new construction (and, yes, I’ve heard the rumors related to dealing with the family, how they might simply be re-branded to work with ABC’s christmas lights television show, etc…), but that doesn’t make their departure any less hard. I hope that Disney does a similar kind of action in a year or two (location TBD), but I am not going to hold my breath.
Tom also breaks down some of the entertainment schedule changes:
Fireworks are now 30 minutes later than in previous years, while the first parade is 20 minutes later and the second a full 45 minutes later than last year. There are 4 castle stage shows compared to the usual 3, likely because it is a new show for this year.
Over at Touring Plans, Daisy Lauren gives an excellent recap (including photos and video) of what New Year’s Eve night is like at Epcot. If you are at all interested in seeing what the crowd levels are like on the busiest day of the year, than I highly recommend giving it a looks.