The Disness Report Blog

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Fridays in Fantasyland: A Glorious Resort Only Day

If I were at the Walt Disney World Resort today, my plan would be to have no plans! You heard that right, the planner wants a day without a plan. Mind you, this has yet to happen. This is Fantasyland though, so let’s imagine I can let go of the inevitable angst I would feel of “wasting a day” relaxing and really focus on how incredible it would be. If I could actually do it.

Having just become Disney Vacation Club Members, my day would be spent at our home resort, the Polynesian Village Villas and Bungalows. And although this day was meant to be one of rest, I just can’t sleep late while I’m at the Walt Disney World Resort, so I would wake up early and get some exercise by walking around the grounds. No doubt ending up at the Kona Island Coffee Bar to bring back a cup of ambition to my better, sleeping, half.

I don’t like a “people-y” pool experience, so my plan is to start my day there, at the Lava Pool when most people are at the theme parks or having breakfast. It opens nice and early, so at 9:00am, that’s where we are with a good book, our phones and earbuds, chillaxin’ poolside with great coffee. I realize the Oasis Pool might be quieter, but I just love the ambiance of the main pool. With Captain Cook’s not too far away, one of us would sacrifice our mellow to bring back some Tonga Toast and/or a breakfast sandwich to share. For the record, if I go, we get one order to share. If he goes, we wouldn’t need to eat lunch.

Photo credit: yourfirstvisit.net

Since resting really isn’t my thing for too long, we are leaving the pool area by 11:00 and make a pit stop at the Pineapple Lanai for some Dole Whip. Mine has the rum, it’s vacation after all! With whips in hand, we stroll around the resort, over to the incredible Bungalows that we so desperately hoped we would get upgraded to, but did not. Then, because my husband is a big old kid, we pay a visit to the game room. A fierce battle of air hockey ensues and then I lose him to the video games. No matter, I’ll leave him to his fun and I’ll go have mine…souvenir shopping over at the Bou Tiki!

By now it’s getting to be lunch time and I’m really craving the Hawaiian Flatbread AND the Pan Asian Noodles, so we get both and share. All full, we make our way to the marina to rent a Sea Raycer to cruise around Seven Seas Lagoon for a while. Seeing the boats chartering guests to and from the Magic Kingdom, I am SO tempted to head over, but NO, this is a resort day!

One of the best features of staying at the Polynesian Village Resort is being on the monorail line. There’s nothing like a little “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor…” to put a smile on my face. I’m thinking we hop on the monorail over to our second favorite, the Contemporary Resort and head up to the Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower. As DVC Members, we have access to this lounge. Here we would have a couple of afternoon cocktails and enjoy the view of the Magic Kingdom from the deck as the sun goes down.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. (David Roark, photographer)

Not quite ready for dinner, we head back to our room to freshen up for the evening and enjoy our balcony. Tonight we decide we really want O’hana food, but don’t feel like leaving our room, so we order it in! Potstickers and noodles for two, in our DVC “home”, nothing more magical than that. Unless of course you add in ending the evening on the beach, watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks and then gazing at the Electric Water Pageant as it sails by like it has almost nightly since 1972.

I will be “home” in just two short weeks, so you BET I am daydreaming more than usual about the Poly. Who knows, maybe this time, my Friday in Fantasyland will become a reality and I will dedicate a WHOLE day to the resort…lol probably not! -Kat

If this sounds like your kind of Disney daydream, we can help make it a reality! Send us an email or fill out this quote form and tell us a little bit about the Magical Disney adventure you are looking to have. Our Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations to Travel are out of this world!

By | August 23rd, 2018|Disness Reports|

Disney Dilemma: Fantasmic! or Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

by Felicia Tiberi (Adulting DisFe)

If you’re anything like me, there is so much at the Walt Disney World Resort that you love and want to do but there is no way you can possibly have enough time to do it all. You end up having to pick and choose your priorities. It becomes a real Disney Dilemma. Again, if you’re anything like me, you just go back to Walt Disney World again and do the things you didn’t have time for last visit! However, that doesn’t make the picking and choosing any easier.

When I first brought my boyfriend to Walt Disney World in May 2017, I found many instances of this sort. He had never been, so picking and choosing priorities was involved with every decision we made. My boyfriend and I are big Star Wars fans and when we were at Hollywood Studios, we both really wanted to see the nighttime projection show, “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular”. This was something that I hadn’t even seen yet! That being said, I LOVE Fantasmic!. I have seen it every time I’ve been in Disney World and it is one of my absolute favorite shows. This made it a huge priority for my boyfriend to see it as well. We decided we would go to both Hollywood Studios nighttime shows (note: Fantasmic! starts at 9pm and A Galactic Spectacular starts at 9:30pm). I naively believed we could successfully do this and simply miss the beginning of the Star Wars show.

If you have ever been to Fantasmic! and left the amphitheater post-show, you know that it is a slow and painstaking process. That place is huge and the masses of people they can fit into it is incredible. My boyfriend and I had seats deep inside the theater, which made a fast exit even more of a challenge. Fantasmic! ended and we slowly attempted making our way up and out. We could see the fireworks and lights from the Star Wars show over the tops of the theater we were inevitably stuck in. We then made the mistake to abandon our current strategy and turn around to go down and back up the theater in another area. This, of course, made no difference. When we finally had exited the theater and made our way to the center of the park where the Star Wars show takes place, it was still going on! We then ran around all sorts of people in all sorts of spots to find a location to watch the show. We finally found an area that had some kind of view and watched the remaining two minutes of the show. A huge bummer for our Star Wars hunger.

In retrospect, we could have opted to take a seat close to the exit of the Fantasmic! theater and maybe left a few minutes early for a better chance at viewing most of both shows. But when the timing is that close, picking one will cause the least stress.

The following year, this past May, we made the decision of forgoing Fantasmic! in order to fully view Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. While it made me very sad not to see it because I always see it, the Star Wars show is 100% worth watching if you are a Star Wars fan. The lights and the lasers really make the show a lot of fun.

Having seen both now, I don’t really know that I can decide which to see! Star Wars is super fun but Fantasmic! has a special place in my heart. I think from here on out, I might let the decision be up to whoever I am traveling with!

How about you? What’s your Disney dilemma and how do you handle it?

Follow Felicia and her Disney adventures through her blog Adulting DisFe! If you’d like to learn more about these experiences and find out which is the right choice for your next Disney vacation, contact us at info@getdowntodisness.com.

 

 

By | August 22nd, 2018|Disness Reports|

Rainy Days and Disney Never Get Me Down

It’s your highly anticipated Walt Disney World Resorts vacation, you’ve planned, you’ve saved, you’ve stared up at the ceiling going over packing lists and alas, it’s finally here! And now, now it’s raining. Sigh. Now what!? Often times our Disness motto is, “Strap on your poncho and get after it!” ponchoFlorida’s rain showers are a great crowd thinner if you’re willing to brave some wet sneakers and soggy churros. Yet, we understand that wading through the puddles and riding out the storm may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. Never fear, there are plenty of really fun rainy day options at Walt Disney World. There’s no need to sulk, no to camp out in your room and watch TV, this vacation is still going to be fun, memorable and no amount of rain can dampen pixie dust!

For starters, you rarely have to look beyond your own resort for some great activities! Every day, resorts at every level are full of activities (many free) that all guests are welcome to enjoy. An itinerary can be found in your room, or just take a walk down to the concierge desk and see what’s happening. Did you know that every day at the Art of Animation there’s an animation drawing class? For free, all guests (of any resort) can pop in for Disney character drawing classes at 11am, 2pm and 5pm. (Classes fill up quickly, plan on arriving about thirty minutes prior to class time.) There’s also no shortage of trivia and Bingo games in resort food courts all across Disney. How about learning how to make one of those super cute Mickey head tie dye shirts that you see floating around the parks, classes happen at the resorts! (Just check for days and times.)  It’s also a great time to explore your resort, check out the shop(s), do some pin trading, have a great meal, hit the arcade, there’s no shortage of activities if you just venture downstairs to take a peek.

When is the last time you’ve gone bowling as a family? For us, it’s one of those activities we know is available in our hometown, but rarely take advantage of due to crazy life schedules. A Disney vacation is the perfect time to slow down and enjoy each other, and a rainy day in Disney is a great time to hit Splitsville! IMG_6667A fun, competitive family game of bowling at Splitsville in Disney Springs is a great way to spend a rainy day. After you’ve worked up an appetite knocking down pins like a boss, you can enjoy a meal together at their full service (and dining plan friendly) restaurant. They have great appetizers (loaded fries-yum), sushi, pizza, massive burgers and a huge variety of entrees to choose from. You can easily spend an entire afternoon at Splitsville and forget about all the rain and cloudy mess that drove you inside in the first place!

It may seem like a crazy idea if you’re trying to avoid the rain, but don’t completely count out visiting the parks in the rain. The beauty of Disney is that very few of the attractions will close during the rain. There are the obvious closures that have to happen in a heavier downpour situation (Test Track at Epcot is not a friend to the rain) but there are lots of opportunities to duck in and out and still get to ride and experience your favorite attractions. Our favorite rainy day park is Epcot. (This could also be out of necessity as it seems to ALWAYS rain on the day that we have planned for Epcot.) Grab the kids some passports and let them linger a little longer in the Kidcot locations. These Cast Members are incredible, your kids won’t even realize they are learning something new and you will get some extra time to explore the amazing gift shops in the various countries. (If you’ve never really spent time in the Morocco “marketplace” area, where their Kidcot location is, you’ve been missing out. You are instantly transported to “a whole new world.”) morocco

There’s also so much to see and experience in “The Land” pavilion. Kids of ALL ages will love spending time in the aquarium above the Seas With Nemo attraction. Check out the Pixar Short Film Festival in the Imagination Pavilion (seriously, do it, these short films are amazing) and let the kids go crazy in the Mission Space Advanced Training Lab. (That’s astronaut code for giant interactive playground with computers, games and no need to control their volume!)

The World Showcase is a delicious place to wander, taste test different cuisines and commit to a nice, long, meal that you can savor and rave about while you wait out the rain. (How about dinner AND a show, check out the “Biergarten” in Germany, or a fun character meal at the “Garden Grill in the Land.” )

Looking back over our trips in the past, it’s funny to remember how some of our rainy days actually ended up being some of our favorite Disney trip days. The rain added a sense of adventure, dodging drops as we head out to our next experience and also taking some extra time to explore, find and enjoy many attractions and areas that we may have otherwise overlooked had we not been forced to slow down and learn to dance in the rain a bit. How do you handle the rain on a Disney vacation? Are you a poncho up and get out there or a wait for it to pass kind of traveler?

 

 

 

 

 

By | August 22nd, 2018|Disness Reports|

Eating Gluten-Free and Living Fancy Free in Walt Disney World

A question that surfaces quite a bit in our Get Down to Disness Facebook Group is whether or not Walt Disney World is an allergy free environment for your family’s vacation. The answer to this a resounding YES! Absolutely! Disney’s superior level of customer really presents itself in the stories that we hear of guests that traveled once fearing how seriously their allergies would be treated and how difficult it would be to navigate on their vacation. We hear so many positive accounts of how Disney bent over backwards for guests with allergy concerns, but yet, we aren’t surprised. It IS Disney World we are talking about after all.

Our number one piece of advice when dining in Disney World is to share your concern with Cast Members and  servers at any restaurant you are dining at whether it be a food cart, a quick service, table service or a Signature dining restaurant. Often times there are separate allergy friendly menus available (think Udi’s gluten free buns for your burgers or hot dogs) or at a table service/buffet restaurant a Chef will come to walk your family through the menu and/or buffet line and help you navigate through the food options. Special requests are never treated as a nuisance or inconvenience, the staff at Disney eateries truly want your dining experience to be safe, worry-free and delicious.

However, sometimes you just want to be able to wander the parks and not have to worry about anything, especially your allergy. When you are tired and ready to just rest with a delicious snack you just want to make it simple. We have complied a list of our TOP TEN favorite gluten-free snacks across all of Walt Disney World. These are no-brainers, and a great to refuel while you rest those feet and settle in for some prime people watching.

1-LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern

Found in the (newish) Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom this family friendly, fun “brew” is so refreshing you may quickly regret the decision to share it with your beloved family. (I know I did!) It’s such an interesting blend of flavors, on paper it sounds weird, but it’s an amazing flavor combination. Take frozen apple juice, add a hint of marshmallow and top it with some passion fruit foam and you have THE funkiest drink you will have your entire trip. 

2-The iconic Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom

You would be hard pressed to find a Disney “best of” snack list anywhere that doesn’t contain the iconic Dole Whip. (Or my own preference, the Dole whip Float, add pineapple juice and cue the drool.) Located in the Adventureland section of Magic Kingdom at “Aloha Isle” the Dole Whip always draws a crowd. The Dole Whip is on nearly every vacationer’s trip bucket list. If pineapple isn’t your jam, there is a frozen, non-alcoholic Pina Colada also at the Aloha Isle that is amazing. (And now that drinks are allowed into the Tiki Tiki Room this is a must-have! Tropical feeling drink, singing birds AND air conditioning, lead the way!)

3-POPCORN!

Popcorn and their adorable collectible buckets are big business at Walt Disney World Resorts. Popcorn carts can be found just about everywhere you turn at all of the parks. Popcorn is a great, satisfying and gluten free snack that is a quick, filling, portable treat that can be munched on while you try to beat the crowd to Space Mountain. Walt Disney World’s popcorn is also dairy-free and vegan!

4-Mickey Head Premium Ice Cream Bars

I dare you to take a trip to the parks and be able to pass up an opportunity to snag one of these delicious and gluten free snacks! Few things taste better and are more refreshing in the hot Florida sun than a Mickey Head Ice Cream bar. Although they may be gluten free they certainly aren’t mess-free. Grab loads of napkins and chow down fast, they can melt in record time! (Less time to share, chow down!)

5-Soft Serve Ice Cream at Auntie Gravity’s

Speaking of ice cream, the bars may not be everyone’s preference. I am a soft serve kind of gal and I can’t resist a cup of chocolate vanilla swirl soft serve at Auntie Gravity’s in Tomorrowland. By avoiding the cone I am able to remain gluten free and am less likely to end up wearing my yummy dessert.

6-“Snacks With Character”

You may or may not have noticed that throughout many retail locations there are LOADS of portable, packable snack bags that can satisfy whatever you are craving, sweet, salty or both packed in together! You can find “Snacks With Character” brand cookies, brownies, trail mixes, energy bars and they are gluten-free. We love to grab a few and stash them in our park bag for when the kids get “hangry” while waiting in the infamous “Peter Pan’s Flight” stand-by line. 

7-Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC’s goodies

Located in Disney Springs, Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC is loaded with vegan and gluten-free  baked cookies cupcakes and other pastries. Everything is SO amazing you’ll think that you fell off the gluten-free wagon for sure! They also have an area of vegan soft serve and gluten free toppings to smother that frozen goodness in! It’s worth the trip to Disney Springs for sure, and gives you a great excuse to do some shopping!

8-Goofy’s Candy Company Gummies

Gummies are hard to resist, even better they won’t melt into a hot mess in your park bag. These are great to munch on in line, poolside at your resort or a great gift for the folks back home. (And is truly just a snack credit, a souvenir that is a snack credit-sign me up!)

9-“Marshmallow Dream Bar” at Starbucks

I’m a sucker for a good, old fashioned rice crispy treat. I love the simplicity of it and something about being in Disney with a beloved treat from my childhood is just perfection. I’m instantly a knobby-kneed seven year old again. Many of the Starbucks locations around the Disney Parks (including Main Street USA) has the “Marshmallow Dream Bar” it’s a gluten free rice crispy snack that is every bit as delicious as the ones you remembering at every kiddie bake sale of your childhood.

10-Cricket Flour Chips

Oh yea, I REALLY have your attention now, don’t I. Okay, maybe this isn’t THE most delicious gluten-free snack you’ll find at Disney, but it’s certainly a conversation starter. And much like the famed “Beverly” soda at Epcot’s “Club Cool” it’s one of those Disney trip rites of passage, much like these Cricket chips at Animal Kingdom’s Terra Treats carts. (A great allergy friendly treat cart that even serves gluten free beer…you know, to wash your cricket chips down with.) Go ahead, we dare you.

What ae your favorite gluten-free or allergy-free treats at Walt Disney World? How do you plan ahead and make sure your trip is worry-free?


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By | August 15th, 2018|Disness Reports|

5 “Worth it” Things About Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Next month, I will be attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for the SIXTH time. I’m a Christmas fanatic, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this party! Not only do I love it, but I think you will too. Can I answer if it’s “worth it” to you? No, it’s a subjective topic. However, I can outline five things that make it worth it for ME and maybe that will help.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a special ticket event and takes place on select nights each fall at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (David Roark, photographer)

 

5. Lower Crowds: Don’t fool yourself, this party is very popular, so it won’t be an empty park. However, with so many unique experiences available that only party attendees can have, the lines for attractions tend to be much shorter than your average park day. Especially toward the end of the night and particularly on mid-week party nights.

The “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular,” show during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom Park features the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s Hocus Pocus, who throw an evil Halloween party with appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent and other Disney villains, along with dancers, projections and special effects. Walt Disney World Resort is located in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (David Roark, photographer)

4. Dance Parties/Shows: While there are several dance parties going on in the Magic Kingdom on party nights, the show to end all shows is the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular starring the Sanderson Sisters from the movie “Hocus Pocus”. With special appearances by our favorite Disney villains, this outrageous show is everything you want from a Halloween stage performance and more! The music, the special effects, the dancing, and the creepy factor all get you in that spooky Halloween mood.

Jack Skellington and Sally, from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” bring their unique Halloween celebration to Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

3. Rare Character Meet and Greets: While I am not a huge “Nightmare Before Christmas” fan, I will wait in line to meet all the seven Dwarfs in a heartbeat! Disney brings out all the heavy hitters for party nights and they are dressed in their Halloween costumes. The photo opportunities are amazing! Jack and Sally are among the most popular characters to see at this party and the line can be very long. Plan ahead! ºoº

Kids of all ages get into the Happy Halloween spirit while trick-or-treating during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Ali Nasser, photographer)

2. Trick or Treating: Tricks might be for kids, but Trick or Treating is for everyone! The Cast Members hand out generous helpings of name brand, fun-size candy at a plethora of locations. There really is no limit to how much trick or treating you can do, but be warned, those bags get heavy! If you are looking to score some candy to snack on, hit a few lines early, then wait until the end of the night to enjoy shorter lines and even bigger servings. My family took home so much candy one year, we had enough to hand out to kids at our door on Halloween night. It’s a nice perk for the price you pay for the tickets.

A spectacle of characters parades down Main Street, U.S.A in Mickey’s Boo-to You Halloween Parade during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. The parade is led by the Headless Horseman and includes Disney characters in Halloween regalia and the ghostly inhabitants of The Haunted Mansion. (Ali Nasser, photographer)

1. The Boo to You Parade: There is no better reason to attend this party than the Boo to You Parade. This statement is coming from a non-parade person. I have yet to see the Festival of Fantasy parade in it’s entirety, but I never miss an opportunity to experience Boo to You. Lead by the Headless Horseman with a ride through Liberty Square all the way down Main Street USA, this parade is a traveling stage show of amazingly happy haunts. The Haunted Mansion grave diggers, the ghost dancers, the villains and lovable characters round out what is hands down the best part of the night. It’s so good, that there are two each night. The second parade viewers enjoy lower crowds.

How about you? What’s your reason or reasons for splurging on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party tickets? We would love to hear from you in the comments. If you’d like to learn more about this party and find out if it’s the right choice for your next Disney vacation, contact us at info@getdowntodisness.com.

 

 

By | August 13th, 2018|Disness Reports|