July 22, 2014

Hello Trattoria al Forno!



We will be saying goodbye to Cat Cora's Kouzzina on Disney's Boardwalk this fall and hello to a brand new Italian option.  Disney recently announced that 'Trattoria al Forno' will be opening in December 2014.  YUM!

I personally can't wait to make my reservation if just to stop in for the handcrafted mozzarella that will be made daily.  We can also expect a variety of Italian cuisine including Neopolitan-style pizzas, cavatelli, semolina tagliatelli carbonara, pork chop alla Milanese, and of course favorites including chicken parmagiana, baked lasagna, and whole roasted fish. Again I say, YUM!

Classic Italian desserts and cappuccino seal the deal.  Adults will also

Signature cocktails and Italian beers and sodas round out the drink menu, with a signature-blend Italian coffee roasted just for Trattoria al forgo."


Photobucket

July 17, 2014

The Who, What, & When for Candlelight Processional 2014



The Candlelight Processional is a longtime holiday presentation at Epcot.  The event features a celebrity narrator presenting the Christmas story with the accompaniment of a mass choir and 50 piece orchestra. There are the performance 3 times a night typically at 5, 6:45, and 8:15 but check the park guide upon arrival for any changes. It is included with  your Epcot admission.
 
In addition, there is the option of reserving a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package.  This add on ($30-$60 per adult or 2 table service credits per person) guarantees reserved seating for one of the performances- not an assigned seat- but you will have a seat in the reserved section as long as you show up at least 15 minutes before show time.   The meal includes an appetizer, entrĂ©e, and dessert or a full buffet depending on the restaurant. ​
 
It's worth noting that the event is held in the American Garden (outdoor) Theater so I have also simply watched for awhile as we are walking the park without ever waiting in a line for seats. Guests line up 45 minutes or more prior to show time for a seat which often means they are actually seeing one show while they wait in line to have a seat for the next one. 
 
The following celebrity narrators have been confirmed thus far:
  • Jodi Benson November 28 and 29, 2014
  • TBD November 30 to December 2, 2014
  • TBD December 3 and 4, 2014
  • Whoopi Goldberg December 5 and 6, 2014
  • TBD December 7 to December 8, 2014
  • TBD December 9 to December 11, 2014
  • TBD December 12 to December 14, 2014
  • Sharon Stone December 15 to December 17, 2014
  • Ana Gasteyer December 18 to December 20, 2014
  • Marlee Matlin December 21 to December 23, 2014
  • TBD December 24 and 25, 2014
  • TBD December 26 and 27, 2014
  • Steven Curtis Chapman December 28 to December 30, 2014 

  •  
     
    If the restaurant offers the package for lunch, it will coordinate with the 5:00pm show.  A dinner reservation will save your spot at one of the later shows.  Here are the participating restaurants:
     
    Biergarten Restaurant (buffet): Lunch and Dinner
    Chefs de France (a la carte): Lunch  and Dinner
    Coral Reef (a la carte): Lunch and Dinner
    Garden Grill Restaurant (family-style): Dinner
    La Hacienda de San Angel (a la carte): Dinner
    Nine Dragons Restaurant (a la carte): Lunch  and Dinner
    Restaurant Marrakesh (a la carte): Lunch and Dinner
    Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room (a la carte): Lunch and Dinner
    San Angel Inn (a la carte): Lunch and Dinner
    Teppan Edo (a la carte): Lunch and Dinner
    Tokyo Dining (a la carte): Lunch and Dinner
    Tutto Italia (a la carte): Lunch and Dinner
    Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria (a la carte): Lunch and Dinner 

    Photobucket

    July 7, 2014

    New Addition to the Refurb List


    Some necessary work on the tracks is the reason for a short closure of the Walt Disney World Railroad later this year.  The attraction will be closed for refurbishment September 28 through November 8, Guests that have booked the "Disney's Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour" should be on the lookout for an email concerning the change of plans.

    Photobucket

    July 1, 2014

    FAQ about Fast Pass+



    *What is a Fast Pass?
              Think of a Fast Pass almost as a "reservation" for an attraction.  When you return to the attraction during your reserved window of time, you will go into a separate queue from the standby line and can expect a much shorter wait time.  Generally a fast pass return line won't be longer than a 15 minute wait, where the standby line could be a 120 minute wait!

    *How much does the Fast Pass feature cost?
             Nothing.  The Fast Passes are free for all Disney park guests to utilize but Disney resort guests can select their first 3 for each day earlier than guests staying off property.

    *Do I have to return during the window of time listed on my Fast Pass? 
              In a nutshell, yes.

    *When can Disney resort guests make their Fast Pass+ selections?
              Disney resort guests may make their first 3 Fast Pass+ selections for each day up to 60 days prior to check in. 

    *How many Fast Pass+ selections can I make each day?
               You will be able to select your first 3 Fast Passes for the day in advance.  These will need to be within the same park but now guests can get additional Fast Passes (one at a time) after the initial 3 have been used.

    *Can I hop from park to park with Fast Pass+ selections?
                The first 3 that you preselect must all be within the same park.  However, after those are done, you are welcome to hop to another park and then get Fast Passes for the remainder of the day one at a time from the Fast Pass kiosk- very similar to the "old system."

    *How many Fast Passes can I get per day?
                 There isn't a set number.  After you use your first 3 that were selected ahead of time you are free to continue to get Fast Passes throughout the day one attraction at a time. 

    *Can I make additional Fast Pass selections from the app?
                  Currently, guests can make their initial 3 selections from the My Disney Experience app but the others will need to be acquired at a Fast Pass kiosk in the parks.  This may change later but that is the process at this time.

    *What are these tiers I read about?
                    Disney has placed tiers for Fast Passes in Epcot and Hollywood Studios and only allows 1 Fast Pass+ to be selected from the top tier and 2 from the next tier.  I believe the purpose is to share the wealth on the most popular Fast Pass attractions at that park.  The best strategy here is to choose the 1 that is the most important to you or the quickest to run out for that park.  Get these Fast Passes early in the day and then secure the 2nd one you want from that top tier as soon as you've used for initial Fast Pass selections. 

    *Does everyone in our group have to have the same Fast Passes?
                  No.  You will be able to select who wants each Fast Pass.  Just keep in mind that each guest in the Fast Pass queue must have a Fast Pass for that attraction.  For example, if you are standing in line with your kids for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet, you need to have that Fast Pass yourself. 

    My Magic+ and Fast Pass+ are still in the "testing phases" and these general guidelines are certainly subject to change as Disney continues to tweak the process.  Don't ever hesitate to call or email your travel planner to make sure you have the latest information on the process.  When you are in the parks, ask a cast member.  Don't be shy! They want to make sure you have the most magical experience possible and will certainly be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you have with the Fast Pass system. 




    Photobucket

    June 30, 2014

    Refurbishments Galore



    There are many refurbishments scheduled and going on right now.  Here is the official list as of 6/30/14.

    As always, feel free to email with any questions.


    ResortsAll Star Music Food Court- Aug. 1- Dec. 20

    All Star Music Note'able Games Arcade- Jul. 27- Dec. 20

    Boardwalk Inn- Kouzzina's is closing Sept. 30, 2014

    Grand Floridian Garden Tea Room- Jun. 30- Aug. 29

    Polynesian Resort- General Construction Dec. 2013- Mar. 2014
    Captain Cook's- Apr. 9 - Aug. 2014
    Trader Jacks- Jun. 16- TBD
    Nanea Volcano Pool & Slide- Jul. 26- early 2015

    Wilderness Lodge Silver Creek Springs Pool- Sept. 3- Nov. 27

    Downtown Disney
    Forty Thirst Street- Jun. 9- Aug. 11
    Pearl Factory- July 7-27

    Magic Kingdom
    Tomorrowland Transit Authority (Peoplemover)- Jun. 2- Aug. 4
    Astro Orbiter- Jun. 2- Sept. 19
    Yankee Trader- Jul. 28- Sept. 30
    Liberty Square Riverboat Aug. 4-8
    Mickey's PhilharMagic- Sept. 8-19
    Carousel of Progress- Sept. 22-27
    Cinderella's Royal Table- Jan. 5- Mar. 6, 2015

    Animal Kingdom
    Its Tough to be a Bug- Jul. 7- Aug. 11

    Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
    Annual Refurbishment Jan. 4- Mar. 14, 2015

    Blizzard Beach Water Park
    Annual Refurbishment Oct. 26- Jan. 3, 2015

    Monorail
    Monorail service will be adjusted on the Magic Kingdom and Epcot beams for the installation of the new train control system.  Monorail hours will be
    8:30am- midnight on MK Resort Beam
    9:30am-11:30pm- on MK Express Beam
    9:00am- 11:00pm- on the Epcot Beam
    Expect these hours through the summer. 


    Photobucket

    June 27, 2014

    Double Check the Calendar!



    It looks like Disney has been making some changes to park hours, event times, and Extra Magic Hours beginning with mid July.  Sadly the Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours I was counting on for my summer trip have now vanished. 

    Stay up to date with park hours at www.waltdisneyworld.com and by grabbing a times sheet for your particular week upon check in. 
    Photobucket

    The World Beyond Cindy's

    Deep breaths everyone....it's going to be ok.  Yesterdays news about Cinderella's Royal Table closing for a refurbishment in early 2015 caused quite a bit of panic. I know that seems like *the* place to dine with the princesses but there are other options.  Let's talk about it.

    Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is a great princess dining experience at Epcot.  Guests will receive a complimentary photo package and will still see a nice variety of princesses.  The guest list is always subject to change but generally you can expect to see Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and oddly enough....often Mary Poppins.  I can't explain that one...

    The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so there is plenty of opportunity to score the reservation.  Breakfast will be your traditional buffet but lunch and dinner are a little different.  They begin with a "Taste of Norway" buffet but then you also are offered a selection from the menu as well.  Dinner options may include a grilled pork chop, salmon, short ribs, traditional Norwegian meatballs etc.  The kids have usual selections like grilled chicken or pizza and some other options as well such as meatballs and salmon.  All in all, good choice AND it's only 1 table service credit per person on the Disney Dining Plan.

    courtesy Jorie Fontana

    1900 Park Fare is another princess option during the dinner service. This buffet is at the Grand Floridian Resort and features Cinderella and her family.  Her step sisters definitely steal the show with their wit and humor.  Their search for a husband generally means they will be showering attention on all little brothers, dads, or grandpas that they come across.  I love this princess experience when there are some brothers involved.  They get that extra attention that makes it fun for them.  My adult nephew danced with one sister while my brother was overheard talking about one sister and punished by "scrubbing" the floor. 

    Another plus for 1900 Park Fare is the location.  The Grand Floridian is a magnificent resort that warrants a visit.  The lobby is beautifully appointed with plenty of seating while you wait as well as live music a vast majority of the time.  There is also plenty of people watching to do at the Grand Floridian but that is a post for another day.  If you are spending your day at the Magic Kingdom you can arrive by a short monorail or boat ride but it's also great to plan this for your "rest day" since park admission won't be required. 

    While the buffet houses your typical dinner assortments, the strawberry soup is a staple here and worth a try. Again, only 1 table service credit per person making this dinner a good value as well. Here are some family photos from 2009...check out the cool flip phone.  It was cool in 09. ;)

     



     
    No worries guys....we WILL survive the refurbishment of Cinderella's Royal Table...and we'll have an extra dining credit to show for it!


    Photobucket

    June 26, 2014

    Rumor has it.....


    Cinderella's Royal Table is said to be closing for refurbishment in early 2015.  Details are sketchy but I'm hearing we can expect this signature dining experience to be unavailable from January through the first week in March.  Stay tuned....we'll bring you updates as they unfold.