Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cape May Cafe at Disney's Beach Club Resort

Vicki Price
Cape May Cafe is located inside Disney's Beach Club Resort. It offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with buffet options. Along with the rest of the Beach Club, Cape May boasts a New England design, invoking a beachside community in Nantucket. Both the interior and exterior are washed in cool colors, and the trim is always a crisp white. It makes you want to wear your white belted chino shorts, and your white canvas deck shoes!

Cape May Cafe Character Breakfast at Disney's Beach Club Resort was our first stop when we got to the resort early that morning. Goofy's Beach Bash is a character breakfast buffet that is all-you-care-to-eat.

The restaurant has a New England seaside atmosphere with colorful beach umbrellas. I thought it was a really good value, under $20 per person, and is also included on Disney's Dining Plan. You can enjoy many of your breakfast favorites, such as scrambled eggs, omelets, eggs to order, bacon, sausage, Mickey-shaped waffles, pancakes, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, French toast, seasonal fruits, pastries and breakfast bread pudding with vanilla sauce. While you are enjoying your breakfast, the characters stop at each table.

Minnie and Chip'n'Dale join Goofy in the fun. So, there's no need to rush around to get all of the autographs and photos. I love their costumes at this character dining experience! They are themed as the restaurant, and their costumes are unique to this restaurant. It makes you feel like you could join them on the beach.

Then you are ready for a day in the parks! You can make your dining reservations up to 180 days advance. Enjoy your visit to the Cape!

Monday, June 28, 2010

First-Time Visitor Tips for Walt Disney World

So, you’re planning your first trip to Walt Disney World? Congratulations! You’re about to go on your most exciting trip ever! But, you’ll need to know a few things before you go…some things that can make your Disney Vacation so much more enjoyable.
First-timers can get confused very easily. There is so much information available, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many things to consider when planning your first trip- when to go, for how long, where to stay, etc… There are many special events you’ll want to consider (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Epcot Food & Wine Festival and more!) throughout the year. Your personal taste will determine what time of year is best for your visit.

Know your budget and have a plan. Be prepared for expensive water and pretzels. Have an idea of where you’d like to eat and how many meals you’ll need for your party (Your travel agent can book those meals right away to ensure availability). Also, realize that even though you say you won’t buy many souvenirs, it will be hard to pass up that adorable stuffed animal or Mickey t-shirt. Prepare yourself for Disney prices before you visit.

Speaking of prices, simple items like sunscreen, batteries, diapers, etc. are available at the resorts, but you’ll pay a premium price for them. If you visit during the spring or summer, remember that you’ll be in Florida. It’s called “The Sunshine State” for a reason! Remember to pack being conscious of the weather, and you’ll avoid having to buy them once you arrive. While packing, consider taking a backpack or small bag that will fit items like an extra bottle of water, sunscreen, wallet, etc. However, your bag will be inspected at the entrance of every theme park. Choose a backpack or diaper bag that is easy to look through and doesn’t have too many compartments. Yes, they will look through every single zippered section!

Staying on Disney property will ensure that you’re able to take advantage of the free transportation to and from all theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney, as well as the Disney Dining Plan. If you stay off property, make sure that they have a good shuttle system. One thing you will learn is that time is precious and you don’t want to spend most of your time on buses, en route to the action!

The weather can play a huge role in deciding when to visit. If you despise the heat, the summer would probably not be ideal for you. Other people don’t mind the heat and like the business of the parks. A good tip for first time visitors (and for veterans as well) is to bring ponchos! Most rides stay open while it’s raining and people will be looking for shelter. But not you! Put on a poncho from the Dollar Store and you won’t even notice! You can still enjoy the parks in the rain. In fact, the parks were built with Florida weather in mind. There is plenty of overhead shelter so leaving the park isn’t necessary…and you could even end up walking right onto some rides with no waiting!
Know the park hours and parade/show times. Your travel agent will be able to provide this for you as well as the best places to view parades and what special events are going on in the parks. Being prepared will eliminate last minute scrambling for a spot. Each park has what they call Extra Magic Hours. This allows guests staying at a WDW Resort to enter a park 1 hour early or stay 3 hours after closing on certain days. It pays for you to know which days are EMH days before you arrive. This way, you can avoid a crowd or that park for the day, if you choose. Or you can take advantage of the extra hours and enjoy more time in the parks.

Develop a strategy on how you will approach each park. To say the parks are huge is an understatement. They can be pretty overwhelming. Wear comfortable shoes! Check out the maps ahead of time and focus on one section at a time. Going back and forth between sections of the park is not only time consuming but tiring. Familiarize yourself with the Fast Pass system. This allows you to come back to a ride at a certain time and move to the front of the line…a huge time saver!

You will need time to rest and take a break from this enormous World. When the urge strikes you, sit down. There are benches everywhere. If you have young children, even if they’ve been out of your baby stroller for a while, consider renting a stroller inside each park. These strollers are hard molded plastic, and even children who are 5 or 6 (sometimes older) could benefit from a ride in the stroller. (And, it will probably save a tantrum or two when they tire out.) Use your break time to enjoy a Mickey shaped ice cream or a turkey leg. Kids and adults alike will need some rest time. Taking advantage of your resort’s amazing pools or taking a power nap will recharge you for some night time fun!
Since you’ve never been to Disney before, you may not know where to expect character sightings. Even if you have been, they can still surprise you anywhere. If you have your heart set on a photo with the characters it would be smart to have your camera ready at all times. There are also Character Meet and Greet locations in each park. These will be noted on your park maps. Encounters can be quick, and if you aren’t prepared you might miss it altogether. Cameras and autograph books should be readily available…not buried in your backpack.
The most important tip I could give would be to just soak it all in and have fun! I could write a book about all of the ways to enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World, but so many people already have! I’ll bet you already bought a Disney guide book (or 2, or 3). If not, I strongly suggest doing so. If not, you can always contact your WDWTravels agent with questions. Remember, at WDWTravels, we will customize a care package for you, with all the information you’ll need to have the most magical vacation ever. We are happy to help!
Have a MAGICAL first trip!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Disney's World of Color

I am so excited to share with you some exciting details about Disney's...

...the newest show to premier at Disney's California Adventure Park in California.

As a Special Guest, I was invited to view the show at the World Premier along with Disney celebrities and movie and television personalities.

From the official program I received on June 10th, I've detailed

World of Color - By the Numbers

26 – Minutes of length for the show
15 – Months to transform Paradise Bay
Almost 1,200 – Powerful and programmable fountains
Nearly 1 – Acre of engineered superstucture rises out of Paradise Bay
6 – Number of dome projection screens
120 yards – Length of Paradise Bay stage (longer than a football field!)
30 ft. to 200 ft. – Range of Fountain heights (Mickey's Fun Wheel is 150 ft. tall)
18,000 – Points of control on the underwater grid
50 ft. HIGH, 380 ft. wide, 19,000 sq. ft. in all – Size of one of the world's largest projected WATER SCREENS
79,241 – Approximate number of musical notes during the show
200+ – Musicians and vocalists who perform the music for the show
36 – Firing cannons of varying sizes
12 – Cannons mounted on swivels 50 – Animators from Disney and Pixar who created the elements of the show
9-24-1961 – The date Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color first aired on TV
100,000+ – Images are featured in World of Color ~ Can you see Dory?
8 – Decades of Classic Disney music and songs included in the show
28 – High-Definition projectors, 14 of them are submersible
5 – Months it took to program the show
6 – Techinal Directors it takes to run the show


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Disney's Port Orleans Resort

For my money, the best value in Disney is the Port Orleans resorts. This resort is actually two resorts in one, the Riverside and the French Quarter. While it is considered a moderate resort, Port Orleans has a charm that rivals Disney’s more expensive resorts.

My favorite is Port Orleans Riverside. This resort is designed with the old world charm of rural Louisiana in mind. In my opinion, this is the most romantic of the Disney resorts. The walkways along the river give the illusion of quiet and solitude, which is astounding among the hustle and bustle of Disney. Don’t get me wrong, this is a Disney resort and it is designed for families. There is a food court, the Riverside Mill, and a Cajun restaurant, Boatright’s Dining Hall. There is a cool swimming pool that never seems overcrowded. There are also all of the extras you have come to expect from Disney, like boat rentals, and there is even an ol’ fishin’ hole.

If you feel the need to visit the French Quarter, (“Beignets, anyone?”), then it is only a short walk along the riverside.
For those preferring to stay somewhere a little more upbeat, the French Quarter is for you. Inspired by the French Quarter in New Orleans, this resort is just fun. From the smooth jazz playing to the Mardi Gras inspired decorations, the French Quarter is everything you would expect from Disney.
The French Quarter has all of the amenities you would expect. The pool, Doubloon Lagoon, is particularly striking with a Sea Serpent slide. The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory food court has many Cajun-inspired dishes, did I mention beignets (!), and some more traditional choices as well. For the adults, the Scat Cat’s club is a great place to listen to some jazz, have a drink, and relax.

Both of the Port Orleans resorts have access to the Disney Transportation system, of course. There is also a leisurely boat ride available that runs between the resorts, and on to Downtown Disney. This is my preferred method, as it is relaxing and does not take much longer. You never know what wildlife you might see!
So whether you are looking for the relaxed pace of Riverside, or the pageantry of the French Quarter, Port Orleans has a little something for everyone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Character Meet & Greet

One of the highlights for most children visiting Disney World is getting to meet their favorite characters. Disney does a great job of making these characters available at many different locations throughout the theme parks. This gives children and adults an opportunity to pose for pictures, get autographs signed, and receive that special hug from their favorite character.
There are several venues in which these opportunities are available. The Magic Kingdom has Character Location Guides scattered throughout the park which informs guests as to which characters are in which locations at certain times.
In Epcot, the Character Connection is perhaps one of the prime locations to see the characters. This is located across from Innoventions West and is an indoor meet & greet which is even more pleasant. The characters are also scattered throughout Epcot’s World Showcase. As you tour the many countries of Epcot keep your eyes open for characters wandering around for photo ops.
Over at Hollywood Studios you can find some characters, many of which gather just outside Sorcerer Mickey’s hat, which is located at the end of the main drag. Many of the characters seen here are from the more recently released animated films on the silver screen.
Animal Kingdom offers the opportunity to catch up with some characters at Camp Minnie-Mickey. This is not to say that you won’t find other characters meandering throughout Animal Kingdom.
To many children and adults alike, meeting their favorite characters is all part of the Disney experience. It is not too difficult to see character all around the Walt Disney World property. However, knowing where specific characters will be at certain times will allow you to best schedule your day. Additionally, it enables you to get that photo which will hang on your refrigerator for years to come.
Good luck & happy character hunting!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Magical Disney Refurbishments and Re-dos

Have you ever gone to Disney World and thought to yourself, "Wow! I remember riding Dumbo as a kid and it still looks as great today as it did then." How does Disney do it? How do they keep rides current and looking so new? Many of us take for granted the Magic that we never see at Disney World. Yes, lots of Disney's magic take place behind the scenes, when you are sleeping Tink and her helpers come out and sprinkle some pixie dust throughout the parks.
On occasion however, various attractions throughout Disney do need to close temporarily for refurbishments. While Disney tries very hard to keep as much of the maintenance magic behind the scenes, this is a necessary part of keeping the magic anew and safe for all Disney guests to enjoy. On other occasions, attractions close to make way for new and improved attractions, and these things do take time. It is always best check prior to your trip to see if there will be any refurbishments going on during your stay. The last thing you want is your prince or princess making a bee line for a much anticipated ride or show only to find it being refurbished during your stay. Disney is always looking to make your experience more magical, and this year is no exception. With two new restaurants scheduled to open in Epcot's World Showcase look to find various closures in both the Mexican Pavillion and the Italian pavillion. The Mexican pavillion will be under refurbishment to make way for a fantastic 400-seat, water-side restaurant scheduled to open in the Fall of 2010, while the pavillion in Italy will be making way for a 300-seat pizzeria inspired by the famous pizzerias of Southern Italy. Did someone say YUM??? Have any of you been missing an old favorite by the name of Captain EO? For those of you who remember this show featuring Michael Jackson and his music, it originally ran from 1986-1994. Well, it is returning! Visit Epcot's future world and you will find a refurbishment of the old Honey I Shrunk the Audience theater to make way for Captain EO's return. This will be a do-not-miss attraction for all guests! For all of the Star Wars fans, Disney has a great surprise in store for it's wildly popular Star Tours attraction. Scheduled for a massive refurb to begin this September, you can look forward to a state of the art attraction to reopen sometime in 2011. When Star Tours reopens, look for some major additions, including an all new 3-D experience that will include additions from the more recent Star Wars Movies. The Force will be with this one, that is for sure! During your stay at a fabulous Disney resort you may find that they, too do need updating from time to time. You can currently expect to see a brand new feature pool being built at Disney's Saratoga Springs. This resort is being updated with a massive 3300sf zero depth entry pool complete with a large slide and massive pool deck scheduled to be completed by Mid-2011. Don't worry if you are scheduled to be staying here, you can still relax at the current feature pool or another quiet pool during your stay. Now, we can't talk about resort refurbishments without mentioning a little project called The Art of Animation! The Art of Animation is Disney's newest resort scheduled to be built by Pop Century as a larger than life themed value resort with nearly 2000 rooms, over half of them will be made into the ever popular family suites. With the popularity of Disney's All Star Music family suites, this is a wonderful addition to the value resorts, offering larger families a great alternative to booking two rooms. This resort will feature art from these popular Disney movies: The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Cars, and The Lion King.
Finally, I suppose we should mention another little refurbishment scheduled for the Magic Kingdom itslef. You may have heard about this expansion when Disney held a press conference to announce it. Now if Disney is holding a press conference just to announce it, you know that I am again using the word "little" lightly! That's right, Disney has announced what it is calling the biggest overhaul in it's themepark history. The massive refurbishment of Fantasyland has begun and is scheduled to continue through 2013! Don't fret; this refurbishment will be taking part in sections, and most of your main Fantasyland attractions will remain open during this project. (Note however, a rehab is scheduled for It's a Small World from Aug 1st-Oct 22nd.) This massive project is going to include various lands themed around most of your favorite princesses, including a new Little Mermaid Ride, Beast's castle, many new restaurants and attractions, and of course even Disney's wildly popular villains will have a place here. Dumbo will find himself doubling in size in the new "Circus Grounds", taking the space currently occupied by Mickey's Toontown Fair. You will find your favorite fairies joining the party in the new Pixie Hollow and much much more. Disney is always working to make it's guests experience new and exciting ,and rehabs and refurbishments are just part of the necessity. So, the next time you visit Disney and wonder, "Wow, how do they do that? Or, when did they add that?" Remember while magic and pixie dust play a large part all that you see, it's not without lots of hard work and imagineering, that Disney keeps Walt's dream alive for us to enjoy year after year!