Show and Performer Spotlight: Walt Disney World 2018 Edition – New Favorites

For as many years as I’ve been following park entertainment, it still surprises and delights me when I find a new performer or group or show that I instantly enjoy and want to return repeatedly to see. But it’s probably no shock to regular readers that I found a few of these on my recent trip to the Walt Disney World Resort!

Today I’m going to highlight three special discoveries I highly recommend visiting – one at EPCOT and two at DIsney’s Animal Kingdom.

I can’t take credit for finding the EPCOT performer on my own – some dear friends told me I simply HAD to go find this lovely and talented lady while I was there as she was something special. Trusting them, I did so. And they were absolutely right!

Carol at the Rose & Crown.

Carol, the piano player at the Rose & Crown Pub in the UK Pavilion was a true Walt Disney World wonder to behold! She kept the pub crowd merry and entertained throughout her entire set. Her song choices ranged from appropriately UK-themed musical selections from Oliver to Disney tunes from classics like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book.

There was plenty of audience participation and singing along, and she also took occasional song requests!

But the real fun was watching her speak to guests individually as they enjoyed their pub grub and drinks and with a few personal details, she crafted unique improvised songs about each of them! I was even treated to one myself!

Singing, playing and smiling for the camera – just watch this lady multi-task!

It was a rollicking good time for everyone and I look forward to going back to see her there again! Continue reading

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Season’s Treatings – Pixar Fest & More Treats at the Disneyland Resort – Part Two

Since at this point I don’t expect to try anything else from the Pixar Fest before it ends on September 3rd, I decided it was time to post Part Two of my reviews of the treats I’ve found this season after my Part One feature earlier this summer.

High on my want-to-try-it list as soon as it debuted was this visual sensation – the Unicorn Cupcake! I bought this at Clarabelle’s on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure but it’s been available at multiple locations.

As a general note, the Walt Disney World Resort is really the reigning star when it comes to flashy over-the-top cupcakes, while the Disneyland Resort has been knocking it out of the park with its crazy donut creations. So it was a surprise when this turned up in Anaheim!

Now this may possibly be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. And I may have had it for breakfast, which is even more ridiculous but actually kind of worked simply because, aside from being super sugary and decadent, it’s also got a very fruity flavor thanks to the mango and passion fruit filling mixed in with the vanilla cake. And that fruity flavor made it work better for me as a morning snack than as a mid-day one – especially as I generally prefer something chocolate for a mid-day snack. Or anytime really.

Admittedly, without chocolate (other than the white chocolate “horn” on the top), this wasn’t one that would draw me to it again. Especially because it pushed the boundaries of being too sweet even for me between the cake and the swirled frosting that forms the “mane” – and I have a pretty high tolerance for sweetness! But if you like that splash of fruit and a whole lot of sugar – not to mention the total ‘born for social media’ quality of how this dessert looks – go for it. Though despite its actual rather small size for a cupcake, I’d still recommend splitting it due to the sugar shock it can provide one person!

Staying on the sweet side of things is a Pixar-themed option that provides a quick burst of chocolatey goodness in a fun casing – the Russell (UP) cake pop! I bought this at the Candy Palace on Main Street in Disneyland Park.

Just a few yummy mouthfuls of chocolate cake with chocolate candy adorning the outside makes it hard for me to recommend this one over other snack options at a similar price point ($5.50). But if you just need a quick chocolate fix, the cake is moist and delicious and I definitely enjoyed it! Continue reading

Season’s Treatings – Pixar Fest & More Treats at the Disneyland Resort – Part One

I’ve been snacking my way around the Disneyland Resort these past several weeks sampling various new themed food offerings connected to the limited Pixar Fest event and some new menu items in general and I thought I’d share some of my reactions to what I’ve tried.

I’m calling this “Part One”, since Disney has announced that some themed treats will be leaving as of June 23rd (the official opening date of the Pixar Pier overlay) and new items will arrive at that time. I’m looking forward to trying what’s new, but here are my personal recommendations for and against what I’ve eaten lately and what’s worth catching before it disappears!

Let’s start of with the first version of the UP-themed donut that appeared at the cappuccino cart at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland Park!

The Russell Wilderness Explorer Badge donut

Now, I’ve sampled donuts from this cart previously and my conclusion for this donut is pretty similar: this is a large, good straightforward donut, though it’s not cheap at $6. Still for a sweet big snack at the park, I really liked it! A basic vanilla-cake donut with vanilla frosting and the badge was a chocolate piece on top. Solid. Good. The only reason I didn’t have it again is that for the price point, I’d probably opt for a different dessert or snack choice. Plus this one is now gone. It has been replaced with the current UP-themed donut served daily at the same cart:

Carl’s House with Balloons donut

Now this one on the other hand, I would not have again as I found it actually too sweet! (And I have a pretty high sweet-level tolerance.) Again a basic vanilla-cake donut, but the frosting on top was more sugary and the balloons are chocolate-covered candy along with the chocolate piece house. I wouldn’t particularly recommend this one just due to sugar overload, but it wasn’t bad by any means. Continue reading

How to Have a Romantic Valentine’s Day at the Disney Parks & Resorts

With Valentine’s Day coming up soon, you may be thinking about how best to celebrate the day. You could always curl up at home with a good romantic Disney or Pixar film!

But perhaps you’d rather spend the day at the Disney Parks & Resorts with your loved one?

In that case, I hope you’ve gotten your dining reservations done in advance, as it is a very popular day for a special Disney meal!

While some folks will opt for a fancy table service meal for some fine dining (and there are PLENTY of choices ranging from the atmospheric Blue Bayou at Disneyland Park to the delicious Le Cellier at EPCOT), maybe you and your loved one prefer to enjoy a real Disney meal with character? In which case, there’s very little that can top the magic of dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table inside Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom – unless it’s dining at Be Our Guest in Fantasyland nearby!

Personally, I think one of the best combinations over at the Disneyland Resort is having dinner and a movie. Now, you could (for now) visit the AMC Theatres in Downtown Disney and pair that with a meal, but really my favorite way to do this is right on Main Street U.S.A.! Continue reading

The Changing Face of Downtown Disney – Part Two

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the changes coming to Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort. At the time, these involved some stores closing to make way for new opportunities like the Star Wars VR experience expected to open in the coming months, as well as the planned opening of Splitsville restaurant and bowling alley.

While these were anticipated additions to the entertainment options in Downtown Disney (as Splitsville was announced as a venue for live performing acts as well), a major announcement from Disney this past week about Resort expansion will be changing the future of this area and removing other entertainment locations permanently.

The Walt Disney Company has revealed that a new luxury hotel will be built on the current west end of Downtown Disney just past the monorail station and in front of the Disneyland Hotel. Construction will begin by next spring. As a result, everything in between will be removed, including the AMC Theater, The ESPN Zone, The Rainforest Café and the Earl of Sandwich restaurants. It potentially also would lead to the closure of the Disney Vacation Club storefront along with the second Downtown Disney Starbucks location. It is, however, unclear if the current location of the Disney Pin Traders store just past the monorail stop will remain.

While much outrage was aimed at the potential loss of the wonderful Earl of Sandwich quick service location (count me in as one more voice desperately hoping they will be relocated elsewhere on property! The Earl serves great food at a great price point and would be sorely missed!), I want to focus for today on the impending removal of four entertainment locations. Continue reading

The Best Laid Plans of Mousertainment…

After nearly a year of planning – including early mornings up before dawn to arrange dining and FastPass+ reservations, this week I was all set to head off to Walt Disney World for a wonderful visit… and then Hurricane Irma happened.

Suffice it to say, my long-anticipated trip got canceled and yesterday instead of enjoying all my exciting options at Epcot, I found myself sitting at home staring at a yet-to-be-unpacked suitcase. So what’s a Disney fan to do except head off to the Disneyland Resort and try to do a West Coast version of the day I’d originally envisioned?

Dining

My food plans for the day were set to be all about Canada! I had intended to try out the cheddar cheese soup and pretzel roll at the Canada booth at the Food & Wine Festival and then have dinner at Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion.  So what did I do at the Disneyland Resort instead?

I stopped by the last weekend of the Summer of Heroes event at Disney California Adventure where I found one of the themed specialty donuts called the “Local Favorite”.

It’s Canadian-adjacent. Or related. Or something. Hey, there’s maple in it!

How did this pay homage to my Epcot dining plans? Umm, hello MAPLE-filled donut (with bacon on top – oh yes!)!!!

While I’ll have to give the edge to the apple-pie-filled donut I’d tried earlier in the season, this one was a winner, too. Although I didn’t actually find much filling inside, it still had the awesome taste as if someone had mixed a pancake with a donut. And the bacon bits on top gave just a touch of salt to balance out the sweet. Yum!

Entertainment

High on my priorities list for entertainment at Epcot was to see the glorious Voices of Liberty and listen to their soaring harmonies and classic music selections. Continue reading

Mousertainment Miscellanea – I Didn’t Know That! #4 – Disney Parks Food Hacks and Secret Menu Items

Although food is certainly something I enjoy year-round in the parks, there’s something so satisfying about trying a new treat in the summer. So lately I’ve been ticking off my “want to try it” list with some off-the-menu choices. And while park regulars are often aware of these tips and tricks, not everyone is, so I thought I’d share a few!

Food hacks

Did you know at Disney Parks that you don’t have to order everything exactly as it is on the menu? Well, of course, at most places you go to eat, if you say “hold this” or “put this on the side”, they’ll try to accommodate you. Disney Parks are the same and will frequently go a step further to make sure to help you especially if you have food allergies or sensitivities.

If you’re not sure about the ingredients of a meal or if it’s appropriate for your dietary needs – ask! If the server doesn’t know, they can often bring a chef out from the kitchen to talk with you to see if there is a way to specially prepare something safe for you to eat. Many park restaurants also have specific “allergy menus” you can request to see to alert you to what is best for your specific needs.

But there’s another way to order something differently – especially at counter service/quick service locations. Did you know that you could order some food without a side (like chips or fruit) and that can save you money on your total? Want that corn dog but don’t need the bag of chips?  Ask to get it without the side! Alternately, there are some places where you can order JUST a side!

For example, I LOVE the pomme frites at Disneyland and discovered that the pomme frites at the Red Rose Taverne can be ordered separately on the side – not just with a main dish! So if I’m not up for the full Beast’s Burger meal on any given day, I can still go in and enjoy the side dish!

Pomme frites at the Red Rose Taverne.

These options are not noted on the menu, but they can be done – and it doesn’t hurt to ask!

But then there are…

Secret Menu Items Continue reading