Pandora: World of Avatar

It’s finally here! After what feels like decades, Pandora: World of Avatar has finally been opened to the public! The new land based off of the highest grossing movie of all time, Avatar had high expectations and in my opinion, far exceeded them.

To take it all in was exciting. It was like stepping into the movie. Details upon details made the experience borderline overwhelming. I loved every bit of it. I loved how the imagineers were able to make it seem like you were walking through an almost foggy, dense, overgrown area without feeling trapped. 


The area is pretty crowded right now given the anticipation and excitement over the expansion so be prepared to wait in longer lines for the two rides featured in Pandora. The two rides are Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage. Na’vi River Journey is a boat ride through the land of Pandora. I have not been on this ride yet so I don’t have many details. I have been on Avatar Flight of Passage. The ride was very built up as a “Soarin x10” type of experience so I went in there with high expectations. 


They matched my expectations plus some. It is a ride similar to Soarin but takes it beyond with the feeling that you are alone riding this banshee through Pandora. If you don’t look around while riding you will completely forget that you are sharing this ride with 48 people(I think). I would consider this ride a ‘must fastpass’ type of ride. The wait has been starting at around 3 hours but if this is the type of ride you really enjoy I don’t believe you would be upset or underwhelmed if you waited in line. 


I found this entire experience to be very immersive and captures everything that made the movie the hit that it is. I have already spent 2 full days in a row in Animal Kingdom since the expansion opened which is something I can honestly say I have never done. This was exactly was Animal Kingdom needed to bring it from the “half-day maybe” park to the “first stop or more” destination it is now.  


Enjoy!

Courtney(@pdcourt)

Quick Service – Part 9 Be Our Guest at Lunch

Be Our Guest (lunch) at Magic Kingdom

Although it can be very frustrating to get an ADR at Be Our Guest for dinner, lunch is considerably easier. We got our reservation the morning of, for a 1:30 lunch time. We then called and added a third person over the phone. MDE would not let us alter the reservation.

The menu is not large but filled with some really great choices. The options may sound fancy but it comes down to sandwiches; roast beef, turkey and ham, salads; tuna and quinoa, pork, quiche and soups.

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We had the French Onion Soup and it was fantastic! To me, it’s second only to the Grand Floridian Café and that is my ultimate favorite. The cheese is thick and the onions are caramelized. The Croque Monsieur (ham sandwich) is served with fries and is delightful. This isn’t deli ham, it’s sliced ham. The Carved Prime Chuck Roast Beef Sandwich was nicely flavored, generously sized and even better when dipped into the French Onion Soup.

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As you can see, the prices are a little higher than your average quick service but not over the top horrible. The food is better and the scenery make up for this!

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The venue is as amazing during the day as it is in the evening. The Rose Room is dark and menacing, the Ballroom is so grand and the artwork will make you feel engrossed in Beauty and the Beast. Not in a cartoony way but in the live action-where is Emma Watson way.

Gina

Enchanted Tales with Belle – Magic Kingdom

Surprisingly. I had never visited Enchanted Tales with Belle until recently. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I had heard from friends and family that it was a fun time but I was sceptical since it would be just Joe and I going. Sure, we may seem hip and happening but we’re actually a middle aged couple who don’t normally hang out with princesses (besides myself).

We had. Fast Passes and had just a few minutes wait. You are first brought into Maurice’s workshop. A magic mirror is used to bring us back to the night that Belle fell in love with Beast.

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The next room is where we meet Wardrobe and friends. We are informed that this will be an interactive story. Some children and adults are chosen for different rolls in the story. Sadly, Joe was not picked despite his loud pleas.

 

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We are then led to the library.Lumiere is on the mantle and is FANTASTIC! Belle joins in the story telling looking lovely in her golden gown.

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The show is not long but cute and wonderfully interactive. The little ones were completely engrossed. I truly enjoyed and will definitely go again.

A Disney photographer takes pictures throughout. A wonderful keepsake should your child or spouse be part of the story.

 

Gina

Disney Springs: Sprinkles


It’s here!!! The new addition to Disney Springs that everybody was excited about has finally opened. Sprinkles offers cupcakes, shakes, and ice cream. Even with an always long line they actually provide friendly and fast service. 

I went there to redeem my free cupcake and was pleasantly surprised by how nice the entire staff was. Everyone had a smile on their face and greeted me like I was super special! 

Now, I only ordered a cupcake, though I was quite tempted to try out the ice cream. My cupcake was delicious. I ordered the classic vanilla cupcake with a cream cheese chocolate frosting and of course…sprinkles(jimmies to our New England readers). The frosting was super creamy and the cupcake was perfect. 

I really enjoyed my experience here and was by myself and still had fun. I imagine that coming with a group and getting a smorgasbord of items to try is a fun, tasty experience!


Enjoy PD

Beane Family Vacation: April 2016


Just this past week my family traveled down from Massachusetts to enjoy their annual(this year will be bi-annual) family vacation. Our trip included 2 pool days, 1 day at Gatorland, and 5 days in Disney World. This was a fun trip and I hope some of what I share with you can help you plan a long family vacation. 

Planning:

Something that gets forgotten when you live down here is that your family doesn’t get to just drive back down to Disney if they didn’t get on a certain ride. I have, many times, walked out of a park saying “oh I didn’t ride space mountain this time, I’ll just go on next week.” Well visitors don’t get that option! So when planning our days, I really planned out fastpasses. 

One thing I really focused on with fastpasses is trying to not make them on top of each other. Having fastpass after fastpass is tiring especially if they are across the park. So in order to have a relaxing vacation I set them up 2-3 hours apart. This way we could actually have time to do other rides, in the same land then make our way over to the next fastpass. It worked very well and it kept the vacation somewhat relaxing.

The other aspect I had to keep in mind was where I parked. Going to Disney a lot I tend to find new places to park such as near the Boardwalk Hotel or even parking at a resort and bussing in. These are great when you have an hour to spare but with 6 guests just wanting to get into the park it’s just better to park at the park itself. My crazy parking ideas can be picked back up again when they are at home.

Gatorland:


Now, I am a Disney Snob so I was not optimistic for our day trip here but Gatorland was a great experience for our family. The park is not big but has a lot to do. The best part of our stay was most of our party zip lining across an alligator filled pond! I suggest this for a low cost vacation day if you have extra days in central Florida. 



Animal Kingdom:

Animal Kingdom was super fun. The kids enjoyed all of the rides. This was Patriots Day so the park was fuller than usual but we made the most of it. We decided to spend some extra time at Rafiki’s Planet Watch since it was not only busy but also very hot, especially to people who just left 35° weather 2 days prior. All of us got to get on all of the rides and took in some shows around the whole park. The key to today was taking our time and enjoying some Mickey Ears! 

Magic Kingdom:


Time for what everyone’s been looking forward to; Magic Kingdom!! We did 2 days here and on one of those days we met some more family for the day. Anyways the park was actually not all that busy and we were able to get on most of the rides. One tip for people who keep track of wait times just remember that when the app says that Mine Train is a 40 minute wait everyone in the park is going to run to the ride so that 40 minute wait is going to turn into a 80 minute wait in moments. 


They were great days and a lot of memories were made. One of the best moments for us was very simple. Being super warm we brought the kids over to the splash zone in Fantasy Land and they were able to play around and cool off.


Of course our days ended with fireworks and proof that the days were a fun filled success my little Macy fell asleep before even getting on the monorail out of the park both times. 


Epcot:

Epcot is a difficult park right now since there is no Soarin which is everyone’s favorite ride and the World Showcase is “the worst thing ever” to Zachary but we made the most of it. It was one of those people watching days while enjoying some of EPCOT’s best snacks. We even got to meet up with Aunt Gina!


Hollywood Studios:

We went to Hollywood Studios and since we were wicked tired we decided to get a late start. We were able to ride all of the rides. For Zachary we did Star Tours two times since he is a huge Star Wars fan. 

We didn’t stay for fireworks because the kids were just getting wiped out and we wanted the rest of our vacation to be enjoyable so we called it an early night(not all that early, we didn’t get home until 10:00 but compared to our other days, it was early).

Extra Days:


We had 3 extra days this year. We used one on Gatorland which was great. Another day we did swimming and a night at Disney Springs and then just a full pool day with dinner at Golden Corral(kids absolute favorite).

So how do you guys vacation as a big group? And how do you do non-Disney days?

Quick Service – Part 8 Capt. Cook’s and Leaning Palms

Leaning Palms at Typhoon Lagoon

This feels like a classic snack shack.The food is fast and the seating is aplenty. No question about it, this is Disney Quick Service but they do have pulled pork and a good chicken sandwich. The theming is really fun and they also have the rapid refill cups.

Not gourmet but not so bad for a day at the “beach”. A big plus – they serve yummy adult beverages!

Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Resort

Renovated just a few years ago, the look has been refreshed yet maintains the same throwback feel. Capt Cook’s is open 24 hours a day.There are ready to go snacks and meals.All three meals are prepared. This serves as the Poly’s food court.

My personal favorite is the Hot Beef and Cheddar Sandwich with sauted onions. I could eat this daily if I wasn’t afraid of a heart attack. The Fish Tacos are actually really good!

You get a fancy coaster when ordering so your meal can be delivered to you. The outdoor seating area overlooks the main pool. The setting is fun!

Enjoy your meal!

Gina

Morimoto Asia


Morinoto Asia has been some of the best Asian inspired food I have had since moving to Florida. No part of my experience here was less than spectacular.

  
My family and I were lucky to be the first ones seated on our visit and was told that we could explore the building. The building and its decor is ultra modern with what looked like reclaimed wood everywhere and white/red features. There is a range from tall tables, regular tables, very modern short tables, and circular booths. The restaurant was separated into different sections. There was an upstairs and downstairs bar for people casually coming in for drinks and appatizers. A sushi bar for people to explore their taste buds and a large dining room with more of a family setting. Each floor also had an outdoor patios with lounge chairs.

The food here was unbelievably good. The serving sizes were perfect. We definitely did not leave hungry. The two dishes featured above are the Lo Mein Noodle and Pad Thai both with chicken. They were both very flavorful and filling. Another dish that we ordered was the Orange Chicken which was equally as delicious as the other dishes. Our only suggestion when you order a meat dish is order a side rice($2) since the plates come with a steamed leafy vegtable side that picky veggie eaters will definitely not enjoy, although it was very good for veggie lovers.

The pricing here I thought was reasonable for the amount of food that I received and the great service. I would definitely suggest this restaurant for anyone who finds themselves needing a new place for a date night or for families as their last meal heading to the airport. It was definitely a place I will be visiting again!

For the Hidden Mickey lovers you can find many Mickeys and other beloved characters throughout the decor and paintings on both the inside and outside of the building. This is one of the 5 I was able to spot.


Hope you enjoy!

PD

Quick Service Part 7 – Pepper Market and the Backlot Express

The Pepper Market at Coronado Springs

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The Pepper Market is a very well equipped food court. Their menu and choices are a little different from some other resorts at WDW. It’s beautifully decorated and has plenty of indoor seating. There is also a seating area outside of the PM.

For breakfast, they have the quick grab and go items – yogurts, pastries etc. They also have some really great omelets and of course the famous Mickey Waffles. Two items stick out as mouthwatering – the Egg, Chorizo & Cheese Sandwich and the Mexican Eggs Benedict Burrito. The kid’s menu is smaller but can be more than enough food for an adult.

Lunch and Dinner is where PM really excels. The Tacos, Enchiladas and Cheese Empanadas are fresh and made to order. The Market Nachos are the BEST! The baked pasta and chicken are good but the BBQ Ribs are amazing but can be messy.

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The Pepper Market is a destination for our family as the food is wonderful and the scenery is pretty special. It’s nice that after you stuff yourself, you can go for a walk around the resort to take in the views and burn some calories.

Backlot Express at Hollywood Studios

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I need to write this fast before it changes! This wonderful indoor/outdoor quick service spot is located on the side of Space Tours and behind the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. I’m sure it will be completely Star Wars themed as it has been during Stars Wars weekends for several years.

Lunch and Dinner are served and are the basic in-Park fare with a twist of the Force.

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The children’s menu is limited to The Power Pack, Uncrustables and Dark Side Chicken and Waffles. There are a few deserts and the cupcakes are updated on a regular basis.

From some spots, you can watch Jedi Training on the stage beside Star Tours. I am excited to see this restaurant reimagined!

PD

 

Walt Disney World with a Newborn

This is a wonderful article by a great young Mom to three of the cutest boys ever! Ok, busted, we are related but they truly are such a nice young family who loves Disney!

There’s is nothing more magical than taking your kids to Disney World. No matter the age. Even a newborn. They have no idea what’s going on, but you yourself are so excited for your baby’s firsts, even his first trip to the Mouse!!! We came to Disney my entire pregnancy, and lots of our pictures are me with a big ol’ belly.

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But taking Kyson to see Mickey and Minnie for the first time was so exciting to me.

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Not only is that exciting, but the parks themselves are great for newborns. Did you know that each park has a Baby Center with nursing rooms? As a mom of a nursing newborn it’s nice to go to a quiet place and relax out of the sun and heat. Now I’m not saying that they will yell at you if you nurse in the park, but knowing there is a nice place nurse is comforting. Just like going anywhere you do pack a lot of things for baby but if you do forget something the baby centers probably have them there to purchase. From diapers to baby food to even juices. There are also microwaves and bottle warmers to warm formula up. It’s such an amazing service there.

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I like to babywear my kids and with a newborn it’s so easy to do that without having to lug a stroller and their infant carseat on the tram. Its also nice to walk around the parks wearing him and being able to actually get on the rides and not have to deal with the stroller. Now I’m not saying you can get on Tower Of Terror with your newborn, but rides like Buzz and Toy Story Mania that don’t have a height restriction make it easy to be able to spend time with your family and not have to sit out of a ride. Disney really is such a magical place and the characters really enjoy seeing your baby. So if you’re planning a trip with your newborn, don’t be afraid. Just have so much fun making memories.

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Thanks for reading this!!! Have a Magical Time!!!

-Kelsey

Thanks to Kelsey, Kyle, Keaton, Karter and Kyson for sharing your story! You need to keep us updated on enjoying Disney World with three little ones in tow.

PD