Friday, September 13, 2019

Ears the News: September 13, 2019 Edition


Welcome to the latest edition of Ears the News

Brought to you by our friends at WDWMagic.com


Mobile Order has come to Star Wars Galaxy's Edge. 

You can now use your phone and My Disney Experience to order at the Milk Stand, Ronto Roasters and Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo.

Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com

A crane is now in position behind Cinderella Castle to begin the installation of the Castle Dreamlights for the Frozen Holiday Wish show. 
Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com


During the work, the walkway alongside the castle is restricted, and the crane may be visible from Main Street U.S.A.

The crane will most likely be visible until shortly before the first Christmas party on November 8.




For the first time in many years, Disney's Animal Kingdom will be hosting a New Year's Eve party on December 31, 2019.

The park will be open until midnight and will offer DJ's in Discovery Island, Asia and DinoLand U.S.A., along with a New year's Eve countdown show on the Tree of Life. 

Photo courtesy of Disney
Unlike the Millennium celebration that held a fireworks show in the parking lot, New Years Eve 2019 will not feature any fireworks and will be music, projections and lighting displays only.

The New Year's Eve celebrations are part of Disney's Animal Kingdom upgraded holiday offering for this year, which will include new decorations and entertainment.

The Magic Kingdom's Fireworks Dessert Party is set for a hefty price increase in the new year.
Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com

For Tomorrowland Terrace seating, current pricing through to January 31 2020 is $84 for adults and
$50 for children. Beginning February 1, 2020, pricing jumps to $99 for adults and $59 for children.

For Plaza Garden viewing, current pricing is $69 for adults and $41 for children. Beginning February 1, 2020, pricing is $79 for adults, and $47 for children.

Disney today took the wraps off the Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind ride vehicles.

Dubbed the 'omincoaster,' the rollercoaster vehicles are unique in that they can rotate 360 degrees and can even launch in reverse.

At Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind the adventure will start in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. You’ll be invited to learn more about Xandar’s treasures – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue.

The Epcot attraction opens in 2021.


Video courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog
Having trouble viewing the video? Click here to watch on YouTube.


Looking to plan your next trip to Walt Disney World? Contact the agents at Kingdom Konsultant Travel to help you plan your dream vacation. Email vacations@kingdomkonsultant.com for a free quote today.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Disney Villains After Hours Event

This summer, the Kingdom Konsultant Agents took on a full day of training followed by a late night Magic Kingdom adventure at the Disney Villains After Hours Event.  The night promised low crowds, special effects on attractions, specialty food items available for purchase, a unique stage show and PhotoPass opportunities, and Maleficent at night. In addition, there were complimentary soda, bottled water, popcorn and ice cream novelties with our event admission! We couldn't wait to see what we could accomplish! Pro tip: you won't be able to accomplish it all in one night, there is just too much to see and do!

The Agents taking over the Kingdom!
Walking in to Main Street was a little hectic with the day guests leaving and the party guests arriving.  We almost missed the guide map but managed to double back to grab some so that we could all make a plan! You notice right away a different feel to the park with little hints of the villains all around.



Eerie lights on the Pirates signage
The two main attractions with overlays were Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain.  We opted to head towards Pirates and unfortunately didn't get to experience Space Mountain as the line never got under 30 mins all night and we just weren't willing to wait!

Agent Maci with one of the live pirates in the queue

After adventuring with the pirates some of the agents decided it was time to start the snacking.  We tried two specialty items (from different sides of the park, they were scattered throughout).  We had a big dinner before heading over so we opted to try some drinks.  The Hades Temptation was fun but definitely on the sweet side.  The Wannabe King was a great orange-coke beverage with a fun chocolate rim!  For snacks, we opted for the free ice cream and popcorn that was readily available throughout the park!  You could also get free bottled water and sodas from these stands.

Hades Temptation at Tortuga Tavern: purple frozen mocktail “Cosmo” with lemonade,
violet monin syrup, and a gummy worm
Wannabe King at Cool Ship Treats: Fanta Orange and Coca Cola poured over ice with a caramel and chocolate rim

Agents Pam, Katie and Ashley enjoying their free snacks!
There are also ton of fun PhotoPass Magic Shots throughout the park for this event.  While they were popular, we only had to wait in line behind a few people. 

Agents Mary Ann, Pam, Tara and Jill in a Magic Shot

As the night progressed we kept on working our way through the attractions, most rides had much shorter waits than during a regular day and some had no wait at all, like Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin!

No line at all!

Once we got our fill of rides and snacks, we settled in for the final showing of the Villain's Unite The Night stage show.  The show, hosted by Hades, brings together some of your favorite Disney Villains and some unique displays of power in front of Cinderella Castle.

Hades and Megara
Jafar joins the fun


Fire Dancers
Just a hint of fireworks
After the show we sadly had to work our way out of the Magic Kingdom at the wee hour of just after 1am.  However, Maleficent followed us right down Main Street USA on the way out!  Seeing her at night is definitely a different spin on this awesome parade float.


The Villains bid us farewell at the end of the night which we enjoyed quite a bit!  We were able to ride multiple rides, try a few snacks, catch some photos and see the show, but there was still so much more left to do!


Who is your favorite Villain?  If they bring this event back, would you attend?  Why or why not?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Ears the News: August 23, 2019 Edition


Welcome to the latest edition of Ears the News

Brought to you by our friends at WDWMagic.com


Disney has today revealed plans for the new Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

Horses from both the Pony Farm and Tri-Circle-D Ranch will have new barns and updated outdoor spaces. 
Image courtesy of WDWMagic.com


Starting August 19 2019, the Draft Horse Barn and Pony Farm will temporarily be inaccessible to guests until the new barn debuts in Spring 2020. Guests can still enjoy Pony rides at the Trail Blaze Corral near the campground's entrance, and the resort's trail rides and carriage rides will continue to operate as normal.


Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party debuted its all new firework show - Disney's Not So Spooky Spectacular.

Replacing Happy HalloWishes, the near 14 minute show features perimeter fireworks, castle projection mapping, an all new soundtrack, and an onstage appearance by Jack Skellington.

Mickey's Boo To You Halloween Parade has some updates for 2019, including the spectral bride who glides among the waltzing spirits, and a new Tomorrowland unit starring The Incredibles and Buzz Lightyear.

Video courtesy of WDWMagic.com
Having trouble viewing the video? Click here to watch on YouTube.


Video courtesy of WDWMagic.com
Having trouble viewing the video? Click here to watch on YouTube.

The Liberty Square Riverboat ride in the Magic Kingdom is now closed for a brief refurbishment.

The planned reopening to guests will be on August 24, 2019.

More dates have just been added to the Disney After Hours events at the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom, extending the event through to March 2020.

The new dates are listed below for each park, and all go on sale now. No dates have been announced for Disney's Hollywood Studios.

All Disney After Hours event tickets cost $125 + tax for advance purchase and $129 + tax for day-of purchases. Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders do receive a discounted price $95 + tax.

The event gives you access to the park for three hours after regular park hours, which means nearly no wait for attractions, and you can enter the park early – at 7pm on your event night – before Disney After Hours begins. Ice cream, popcorn and non-alcoholic beverages are also included in your Disney After Hours admission, which is a separately priced ticket from daytime park admission.

Magic Kingdom Park
  • August 22, 29, 2019
  • September 5, 12, 19, 26, 2019
  • November 18, 2019
  • December 9 2019
  • January 6, 13, 17, 20, 2020
Tickets are currently available for Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park at DisneyWorld.com/DisneyAfterHours.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Includes the Tree of Life Awakenings, the adventures within Pandora – The World of Avatar and more. Select quick-service food & beverage locations will remain open throughout the night for purchases.
  • August 26, 2019
  • September 3, 9, 16, 23, 2019
  • October 5, 9, 19, 26, 30, 2019
  • November 5, 13, 19, 2019
  • December 7, 14, 18, 2019
  • January 9, 16, 22, 30, 2020
  • February 6, 13, 19, 27, 2020
  • March 5, 12, 19, 26, 2020
Disney has announced a new TV series and coffee book that will take an in-depth look at the role of Cast Members throughout the company.

'One Day At Disney' will debut December 3, 2019 on Disney+ (Disney's new streaming service,) and the 224-page coffee table book will arrive on the same day in book stores.

Executive produced by Michael Antinoro and David Chamberlin for Endeavor Content, the series kicks off with a feature-length documentary highlighting not only GMA’s Roberts, but also the likes of (in alphabetical order):
  • Walt Disney Imagineer Eric Baker, who helped bring Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to life 
  • WDI’s Ashley Girdich, a Research and Development Project Manager in the world of robotics technology 
  • Legendary animator Eric Goldberg (Aladdin, Pocahontas, the Academy Award®-nominated Get a Horse!) 
  • Disneyland Railroad cast member Mark Gonzales 
  • Disney Worldwide Publishing’s senior illustration manager Grace Lee 
  • South African actor Zamavus “Zama” Magudulela, currently portraying Rafiki in the Madrid production of Disney on Broadway’s The Lion King 
  • Marvel Studios’ head of visual development Ryan Meinerding (Avengers: Endgame, Guardians of the Galaxy) 
  • Walt Disney World resort veterinarian Dr. Natalie Mylniczenko 
  • Pixar artist and sculptor Jerome Ranft 
Following the debut of the special, more than 50 One Day at Disney shorts—ranging in length between 4 to 7 minutes will debut each week on Disney+.

Video courtesy of Disney
Having trouble viewing the video? Click here to watch on YouTube.

Disney has officially named the upcoming Star Wars hotel the "Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser."

Image courtesy of D23.com
The “Starcruiser” you will be aboard is the Halcyon from the Chandrila Star Line.

Disney describes the new hotel as a "first-of-its-kind vacation experience where guests will check in for a two-night adventure aboard a glamorous starship. Once onboard, guests will interact with characters and become active participants in stories that unfold around them on their galactic journey."


Disney has announced that Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana.” will be coming to Epcot as part of its redevelopment.

According to Disney, this first-ever attraction based on the Walt Disney Animation Studios hit film, “Moana,” will let guests interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting.

The new area will be located in what is currently Future World in approximately the area currently occupied by the Innoventions West building leading towards the Living Seas. Innoventions West and all the buildings on that side will be demolished as part of the work.
Image courtesy of Disney

Epcot's new preview center will be called the 'Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience' and will open in October 2019.

The new exhibit will showcase the changes coming to Epcot as part of the park's redevelopment. According to Disney "Inside this first-of-its-kind offering within a Disney park, guests will discover engaging and interactive exhibits that allow you to step inside the relentless innovation, energy and excitement and see some never-before-revealed details driving the future of Epcot all throughout this unprecedented period of transformation."

'Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience' will be located in the Odyssey.

Guests at the Disney Parks “Imagining Tomorrow, Today” pavilion at D23 Expo today got a first look at the new Epcot logo.

Part of the redevelopment of the park, the Epcot name remains but with an updated logo.
Image courtesy of WDWMagic.com

Disney has also revealed concept art for the new central spine redevelopment of Epcot - which will see major changes to the center of the park in what is currently Future World.

Future World as we know it will be gone, and will be replaced with three “neighborhoods” - World Nature, World Discovery and World Celebration.

At the center, Innoventions West will be completely removed, and in its place will be a new meet and greet building to replace Character Spot, a large multi-level festival center complete with rooftop bar and lounge, and a walk-through garden area with an elaborate water feature called 'Journey of Water Inspired by Moana.'

On the other side, the existing eastern buildings will remain, but with extensive remodeling, and will become home to a quick service restaurant, an expanded Mouse Gear, the relocated Starbucks and Club Cool, and a couple of smaller Food and Beverage offerings including the much-talked about Beer Garden.


Looking to plan your next trip to Walt Disney World? Contact the agents at Kingdom Konsultant Travel to help you plan your dream vacation. Email vacations@kingdomkonsultant.com for a free quote today.

Tiffins & The Nomad Lounge Review


Tiffins Restaurant opened a few years ago at Disney's Animal Kingdom and instantly became one of my favorite restaurants on property!  The restaurant itself is beautiful and the menu has some unique dishes but still offers something to cater to everyone's tastes.  It is located on Discovery Island right before you cross the path into Pandora so it's easy to get to from a lot of the park.  Tiffins is classified as Signature Dining (two credits on the Disney Dining Plan) and offers Festival of the Lion King and Rivers of Light dining packages.

I like to start every visit here with a trip to the Nomad Lounge, attached and to the left of the entrance.  This is a stop worth checking out on its own with great attention to detail for the traveling nomad.  They offer small plates and a variety of specialty cocktails.  They also offer wine, beer and non-alcoholic specialties as well.  The bartenders here are always wonderful and helped me pick out a drink.  Not pictured here, but the Hightower Rocks is also one of my favorites!

Details in the Nomad Lounge
Some of the beers on Tap
Tempting Tigress - Indonesia; Russell's Reserve 10yr bourbon, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram,
Tamarind syrup, and lime juice
Lambu Libation - Africa; Starr African rum, Cruzan banana rum, guava puree,
with tropical juices topped with Gosling's 151 rum float
We enjoyed our two cocktails while we waited for our table to be ready and in just a few minutes we were escorted through the dining room to our table for dinner. It is definitely worth taking some time to check out the decor here, as there is gorgeous African art pieces around every corner.

Art on the walls in the dining room. 
We started with an appetizer of the Selection of Artisanal Cheeses with the Chef's selection of accompaniments.  The house bread was also brought out which is a bit of a unique taste and has a hint of sweetness to it.  I was also able to get gluten free crackers along with the cheese and bread, which was lovely.

Selection of Artisanal Cheeses
Gluten Free Crackers
Tiffins house bread and dipping sauce
We tried not to fill up on bread as we had lots of yummy appetizers still coming our way, so the small cheese plate was the perfect size to wet our appetite and kick off the meal.  We had a party of six and four of us ordered off the adult menu and the girls didn't feel brave and ordered some simpler items off the kids menu.

Kids Chicken Breast with Seasonal Veggie (Broccolini)
Tamarind-braised Short Rib with Parsnip-Potato Puree, Cauliflower, Cipollini Onion, Medjool Date Vinaigrette
Butter Chicken with Chickpea-Rice Croquette, English Peas, Cauliflower, Pickled Onion
Whole-fried Sustainable Fish with Fermented Black Bean Sauce, Thai Green Papaya Slaw, Peanuts
Braised Lamb Shank with Black-Eyed Peas, Piquillo Peppers, Coriander Chutney, Baharat
The plates were all just beautiful and bursting with color.  There was a variety of sides and sauces to really make each dish a unique experience.  The meat was all cooked very well and fall off the bone where warranted.  The portions were sizable to large (I'm looking at you whole fish!) so we were too stuffed to enjoy dessert this time around. However, the kids meals did come with a cupcake so we took that to go and enjoyed it later and it was also delectable!

While this is a Signature Restaurant so prices are on the higher side, we felt that it was a good value for the quality of food we received.  They do take Tables in Wonderland and the Disney Dining Plan.

Have you been to Tiffins?  What did you think?  If not, what's your favorite restaurant in Animal Kingdom?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

- Agent Maci

Monday, August 19, 2019

Review of Dinner at 'Ohana


Hey there, Disney Fans!

     Hope ya'll are having a great summer so far! It's certainly a HOT one here in Central Florida. Yipes! But that created the perfect excuse to escape the heat by staying inside of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, and enjoying dinner at one of our family's favorite restaurants, 'Ohana.

     Now, 'Ohana is a bit of a Disney phenomenon. It's been wildly popular for many years now and is often seemingly impossible to get a reservation at. But like all Disney restaurants, it does experience some changes every now and then... some positive, some not-so-much. We typically hit up 'Ohana a couple of times a year, since, regardless of slight changes, it's pretty consistent at having awesome food, and a very cool atmosphere. We also had occasion to celebrate, since my daughter was in her very first on-stage musical production, and she did an awesome job, so 'Ohana it was!

The view out of 'Ohana's windows

     Being locals, we do have the benefit of being able to be a little flexible with our schedule, and therefore, more likely to be able to nab a last minute reservation for some of the more coveted Disney restaurants and that was the case for this night. We booked the reservation that same day we visited, and we were more than happy to take a relatively late reservation, as it meant that we would still be seated when it was time for the Magic Kingdom's evening fireworks. If you didn't already know, 'Ohana has a great, panoramic view of the Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks, along with the Electrical Water Pageant. This is a rare deal, as the only other restaurants with similar views are Narcoossee's at The Grand Floridian and California Grill at The Contemporary. You may have to dine a little later than you normally would, but it's totally worth it! They even pipe the music into the restaurant so that you can fully enjoy the show!

Tikis decorate the restaurant

     We arrived at the Polynesian about 15 minutes before our reservation, knowing that we would likely still have to wait a bit, and we did. We were actually called into the restaurant to eat about 15 minutes after our reservation time, which wasn't too bad. (I have waited over an hour past my reservation at 'Ohana before.) As we walked into the restaurant, our greeter gave us our quick Hawaiian lesson, telling us that ohana means "family, "aloha" means hello/goodbye/love and that mahalo means "thank you". Normally the greeter stops by the first window and collects some signature 'Ohana pineapple coconut bread and butter to bring to your table. Because my kiddo has food allergies, they always skip this until we talk with the chef. We totally get it, but walking past that delicious bread and not getting any is such a tease. The greeter also showed us the open fire pit where the meats are cooked, and gave a quick, "Aloooooooo-haa!", to the chefs.

The firepit

We were sat at the great table, and waited for our server to take our drink order and the chef to come talk to us about allergies. Both were out quickly and we could finally get our hands on that yummy bread! (In case anyone is curious about egg allergies at 'Ohana, the only things that must be avoided are the bread, the pot stickers and the dessert, all of which you can get alternatives for.)

'Ohana bread and butter

     Non-alcoholic beverages are included in the all-you-care-to-eat pricing at 'Ohana. Choices include coffee, tea, iced tea, juices, milk, lemonade and Coke products, and all are refillable. The bread is a real treat, as it is fresh-baked, slightly sweet and goes great with a bit of butter on it. Once you get your drinks on the table, your server will explain to you that you'll have a main server that takes care of your food and meats, and an assistant server who takes care of clearing plates and getting refills. The menu is pre-set and you can have as much as you like. Everything is delivered to the table for you. Appetizers and side items come in family-style bowls and pans and the entree meats are served off of skewers, right from the fire. And my very best advice for 'Ohana is: PACE YOURSELF. It is so easy to fill up on the delicious bread and appetizers, and have almost no room left for the meats, but you WANT to have room for the meat... not to mention, dessert! You may want to wear your stretchy pants for this meal.

Salad


     So, one of the frequent changes to the 'Ohana menu is the salad. Over the years they have had a mixed garden salad with honey-lime dressing, an Asian-inspired salad with passionfruit dressing, and a few other versions. This one was different from the last time I was there. They brought back the honey-lime dressing, which I LOVE and have been known to make at home, but they switched the salad itself out to field greens instead of a romaine or iceberg mix. Personally, I am not a fan of leafy greens. They are a little too 'fresh-mowed-lawn' tasting for me. The salad was also very bare, with only the greens and a few fried wontons on top. I was super disappointed in this reimagining of the salad and none of us ended up eating any of it. No worries, though. There was plenty more to indulge in!
Noodles, wings and veggies

     Up next to the table was the wok full of honey-coriander chicken wings, sauteed veggies, pork dumplings, and lo mein noodles, accompanied by a sweet and sour sauce and a peanut sauce. This is the good stuff and where we always get taken down by over-filling ourselves. The veggies are fresh and tasty, cooked only in light oil and a dusting of seasoning. I love water chestnuts and there are plenty in the mix, along with red peppers, baby corn, broccoli, and onions. The noodles are my son's favorite. Since he was a baby he has been gobbling these bad boys up like someone might take them away. I have pictures of him as a two-year-old with fistfuls of noodles, going to town. He pretty much still eats them that way as an almost seven-year-old too. They are pretty plain but they somehow have this magical sweet-salty thing going on from the teriyaki-like flavor. SO good and sooooo filling. The chicken wings are my husband's jam. He can easily polish off a few dozen of them. They are baked in a honey-coriander sauce that is again a nice mix of savory and sweet. These, too, we got the recipe for and often make them at home because they are just THAT good. Then there are the dumplings. Those are my jam. They are pork and veggie-filled dumpling, that usually come with a light coating of the sweet and sour sauce on them. I prefer them without the sauce, so I always ask for a separate bowl of them, sauce-free.

Pot stickers

Well, my bowl arrived and my excitement was stifled when I realized.... dun-dun-DUN... they changed them!!!! Oh no! My beloved dumplings, which had been the same for years and years were now a different product! These new ones had a slightly different filling, and the casing was thinner and not as firm and crunchy on the corners. I was so sad. I mean, the new ones were not inedible, but they were definitely not as good as the originals. I hope they change them back. Maybe they were just out or something. Hopefully.
"Oh we're going to the Hukilau.."

     As we enjoyed the appetizers and side items, one of 'Ohana's performers roamed the restaurant and played the ukulele and sang Hawaiian songs. There are a couple of different performers that do this there, and they also occasionally offer hula lessons and coconut races for the kids, though none of that was done while we were there. Perhaps it's only done earlier in the night, or only on weekends.

Shrimp

Steak

     Shortly after getting our appetizer platter, our server started coming around with the skewers of meats that are flame-roasted in the fire pit. There was steak, chicken, and shrimp. Each protein was cooked perfectly and tasted delicious. My daughter's favorite was the shrimp, while the rest of us favored the steak. It was cooked to a nice medium temperature and has a tasty marinade on it. (There are also the peanut and sweet and sour sauces on the table that you can enjoy with the meats, as well.)

Sauces

Oooo....a nice medium!

     Once we had had all the steak, chicken and shrimp we could handle, it was time for dessert! Now, dessert at 'Ohana is something truly special.... a family-size portion of bread pudding, made out of the fabulous pineapple-coconut bread, topped with a caramel and banana sauce, and a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream! They also bring out crispy rice treats with Mickey sprinkles on them for kids (and adults) to enjoy. We also got a little bonus... because my little dude is allergic to eggs, at his request, they brought him a cup of Dole Whip from the Pineapple Lanai from downstairs. My son was sooooo happy. Dole Whip is his jam!

Bread pudding

Crispy rice treats

Dole Whip!

     As we sat happily eating our desserts, The Magic Kingdom fireworks started and we had a great view! They pipe the music into the restaurant and turn the lights down so you can really enjoy the experience. By the time the show was over we were too. Over-stuffed, over-tired and over-spent. 'Ohana is not an inexpensive meal by any means. It averages about $60 per adult, depending on the season. Pricey... but soooo worth it. Though I was sad about the minor changes to some items, overall the meal was still tasty and one of our favorites. We will try it again in a year or so.

    So... do you love 'Ohana too? Never tried it? Well, get your butt down here! The agents at Kingdom Konsultant Travel will be more than happy to get you booked!

     In the meantime, have a magical week, Disney Fans!

                                                Jenn



   
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