Friday, January 19, 2018

Ears the News: January 19, 2018 Edition

Welcome to the latest edition of Ears the News

Brought to you by our friends at

Disney's Hollywood Studios debuted an all new set of background music as part of the park's redevelopment for the future.

At the Main Entrance you can hear Big Band arrangements of Disney tunes.

Along Hollywood Boulevard there are Big Band instrumental arrangements of popular songs from the 30’s and 40’s.

Sunset Boulevard features vocal tracks from similar Big Band hits played on Hollywood Boulevard.

At Echo Lake you will continue to hear Big Band sounds, pushing towards the 50’s and 60’s with bright, brassy horns and lush string arrangements.

Grand Avenue plays music inspired by present-day Downtown Los Angeles, the music on the street includes retro-contemporary west coast funk sound defined by a strong bassline, electric guitars, horns and synthesizers.

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster courtyard plays live versions of classic rock songs, including Aerosmith.

Here is a brief video courtesy of with some of the new tracks playing throughout the park.

Having trouble viewing the video? Click here to watch on YouTube. 

At Epcot, the Kringla Bakeri og Kafe in the Norway Pavilion will be closing for a major refurbishment in February.

Beginning February 4, 2018, work will include expanding the location, with a reopening expected in the summer of 2018.

During the closure, a temporary location called Midnattsol Bakeri will open on the World Showcase promenade. Many of the pastry items will be served at the temporary kiosk, including the guest favorite School Bread.

Photo courtesy of
Disney's Animal Kingdom is celebrating the birth of a Nile hippopotamus, the first to be born at the park in 13 years.
Disney announced that the calf was born Saturday night at 10pm to mom Tuma, the gender is still to be determined.

Tuma and her mate Henry were chosen to breed through the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Nile hippopotamus is a vulnerable species with a declining population, making this birth even more significant.

Look out for Tuma and her calf on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Enzo's Hideaway is now open at Disney Springs, completing the opening of four new Patina Restaurant Group venues in The Landing.

Operating hours for the restaurant are Sunday - Thursday 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM, Friday - Saturday 11:30 PM to 11:00 PM. The Tunnel Bar operating hours are Sunday-Thursday 11:30 AM to 12:00 AM, Friday & Saturday 11:30 AM to 1:00 AM.

Walt Disney World will soon be testing a cash-less environment with a limited pilot program in February.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House will be the first location to accept electronic payment only for all purchases and services. Guests with resort or dining reservations for the pilot period are now being advised of the change.

Valid forms of payments will be MagicBands, credit cards, debit cards, Disney Gift Cards, Disney Rewards Redemption Cards and contactless payments such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay.

Disney has been at the forefront of electronic payments, accepting nearly every method of payment available, including being one of the first to accept Apple Pay back in 2014.

Although the resort will be cash-less during the pilot period, the resort will continue to accept cash for tips, and guests staying at the resort can use cash to add to their room charge capabilities.

The pilot begins February 12, 2018.

The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Officially Opens

As part of the 20th anniversary celebration of its ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Walt Disney World Resort officially opened a new multi-purpose sports and entertainment arena, continuing the growth and expansion of the 220-acre Disney sports venue that is widely regarded as the leading facility for youth sports in America. 
Photo courtesy of

ESPN Wide World of Sports executives, along with AAU and Varsity executives, marked the grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured streamers as cheerleaders performed a high-energy routine involving Minnie Mouse, who sported her new cheerleading outfit.

The 8,000-seat arena will host a variety of major indoor sporting events from basketball to volleyball to gymnastics to wrestling. The venue also will host runDisney Health & Fitness Expos during runDisney race weekends, beginning with the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in February.

The new arena is the third indoor competition venue at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and is one of the largest in the country designed specifically with cheer and dance events in mind. Its launch marks another milestone for the Disney sports facility, which opened in 1997 and pioneered a new type of sports vacation experience where athletes at all levels and ages can pursue their sports dreams.

“We have created one of the most unique sports arenas in the country,” said Faron Kelley, Vice President of Disney Sports. “We sat down and really listened to what our partners told us they needed the space to look like and what we ended up with is a fantastic new arena. We look forward to hosting many events in our new building for years to come.”

One of the unique features of the arena is its flexibility. It can be converted to host more than six regulation-sized basketball and volleyball courts and can be further expanded to host open-floor exhibitions and other major events, such as the College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship, which will feature more than 4,700 athletes.

“We are thrilled to have our 35th College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship as the inaugural event in the new arena,” said Varsity Brands Founder and Chairman Jeff Webb. “This year, we’ll host seven premier events and welcome nearly 70,000 athletes to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Our athletes and coaches are going to be very excited when they see the space, the warm-up areas and all of the other amenities that truly make this building one of a kind. We’re looking forward to a fantastic event, in a great building that’s being hosted by a terrific partner in Disney.”

Other features of the new arena include two versatile auxiliary venue spaces, an attached box office, plus built-in loges and judges’ boxes with seating for approximately 70 people. There are also seven concession stands and 35 concession points of sale, which will include specialty items such as hazelnut churros, chocolate banana empanadas, donut chicken, Greek Dogs, and an Adobo Chicken Rice Bowl.
Photo courtesy of

“We spent countless hours doing research to make sure we designed a building that caters to the needs of existing partners and potential future partners, including developing sports such as e-sports and futsal,” Kelley said. “The word we kept coming back to was flexibility and our new arena has something special and unique for all of our partners.”

The addition of the arena is another step in Disney’s efforts to expand its sports business through a relentless growth strategy centered on enhancing existing events, developing new and more diverse events such as tournaments, competitions and entertainment and creating additional sports experiences for our guests.

Future plans for the sports complex include expanding the portfolio of outdoor sports, continuing to host high-profile events such as the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl Week and further supporting the 100-plus existing events that take place at the sports complex year around.

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 for a free quote today.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

FIRST LOOK! Festival of the Arts 2018! (PART TWO!)

Hey there, Disney Guys and Gals!

     I hope you're enjoying the holiday weekend and that you are staying warm! As promised, I am back with the second half of my review of the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts! I have already posted Part One of my visit to the festival, on opening day. You can check that out by clicking HERE. So go catch up on that, if you need to, and then come right back here, because Part Two starts NOW...


Takumi Table

  • What did we try?   Taiyaki
  • How would I describe it?  A fried fish-shaped pastry, filled with a sweet red bean filling and served with whipped cream and sesame sauce. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $4.50 was pretty good. It's a large, shareable portion. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?  B-   This pastry is a Japanese treat that is pretty unique. It was served warm and in the outside was crispy. The filling was a sweet red bean paste. Though I liked the flavor, the consistency was weird since it was the exact consistency of... well.... beans! The dipping sauces were a nice way to switch up the flavor. I don't think I could eat a whole one, because I didn't LOVE it, but I'm glad I tried it. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No. Fun to try, but I don't need it again. 

Mosaic Canteen


     We didn't get to try anything in Morocco yet, but we'll be baaaack!

L’Art du Cuisine Francaise

  • What did we try?   Salmon En Croute
  • How would I describe it?  Salmon bakes in a puff pastry crust, with a creamy butter sauce.
  • How was the portion/value?   $10 may seem like a lot for this one, but it's pretty much a full entree on it's own. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?  A+   My absolute FAVORITE at the Festival! The France booth smelled amazing, with a rich butter scent flowing out of it. The salmon dish was made famous by the incredible chef, Paul Bocuse, (whom is the inspiration behind Monsieur Paul's restaurant in the France pavilion). Not only is it a feast for the eyes, with it's adorable, golden fish shape, but it is amazing to eat! The salmon was well baked and seasoned. The pastry was flaky and buttery and the filling of spinach and butter sauce was delectable. Oh, and the cream sauce that this is plated with wraps the whole thing up perfectly! I was literally doing a happy dance eating this. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   YAS! Several times over!

The Masterpiece Kitchen 


Note: Picture is from 2017. Most items are the same,
but there are no nuts this year. 
  • What did we try?   Charcuterie Palette
  • How would I describe it?  An amazing display of cured meats, cheese and accoutrements. Included was Bleu cheese with honeycomb, parma ham, applewood smoked beef, pate, brie, mustard, balsamic reduction, and cranberry crostinis.
  • How was the portion/value?   So this one is $14, which isn't inexpensive, but you get a lot with it. It's meant for sharing. And get this, guys... that wooden cutting board is just a piece of cardboard! Go figure.
  • What letter grade would we give it?  A   I didn't really eat any of this, but The Hubs threatened me if I didn't give this one an A. He loved it.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I will not, but The Hubs definitely will.

  • What did we try?   Wild Mushroom Risotto
  • How would I describe it?  A scoop of creamy, cheesy rice, with a rich wine reduction.
  • How was the portion/value?   Yipes. $9 for one scoop of rice was way too much.
  • What letter grade would we give it?  B-   I only had a bite, since I hate mushrooms, but it was creamy and had a really yummy flavor.. The rice seemed a bit undercooked. I totally don't think the price was appropriate for what we got.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No.

Note: Picture is from 2017. It looks similar this year, but on a plate instead of a cup.

  • What did we try?   Triple Chocolate Mousse
  • How would I describe it?  A white, milk and dark chocolate mousse pyramid, on a crunchy chocolate bottom.
  • How was the portion/value?   A good, shaerable size, but worth $9.25? Nope.
  • What letter grade would we give it?  B   Super tasty and rich, but the pricing made it taste not as good.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No, but only because of the price. 

The Deconstructed Dish 

World Showcase Plaza

  • What did we try?   Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake
  • How would I describe it?  A blog of cheesecake flavored cream, a pile of strawberries, and little sugar cookie triangles. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $6 was a bit high, because this one is one the small side. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?  B-   I mean, it tasted fine, but this was very underwhelming. The "cheesecake" part was really just a blob of pastry cream. I'd take the reconstructed cheesecake over this one any day. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Uh, no. 

  • What did we try?   Deconstructed BLT
  • How would I describe it?  A gorgeous plate, featuring a chunk of crispy pork belly and a poached egg. There was also some tomato jam, green and black pepper.
  • How was the portion/value?   At $6.75, this one was totally worth it. A nice piece of pork and a whole poached egg. Easily shareable.
  • What letter grade would we give it?  B  (The Hubs says that's unreasonable and it's easily an A) This was The Hubs' favorite item of the day. The smoky, salty pork coupled nicely with the creaminess of the runny egg. All of the flavors and sauces worked well together. I'm just not that into runny eggs, so my opinion was a bit lower.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Very-possibly-yes. 

Note: Picture is from 2017. This year's looks similar, but a lot more simple,
with less greens. 

    • What did we try?   Deconstructed Reuben
    • How would I describe it?  A totally unique take on a Reuben sandwich. Shredded corned beef with pickles, thousand island dressing and cabbage, all in a toasty rye crisp ring. 
    • How was the portion/value?   Another gorgeous plate for $6.50. Not too bad. Shareable.
    • What letter grade would we give it?  B+   We both really liked the flavors of this dish, but the presentation is really what takes the prize. One of the coolest looking dishes, for sure. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No. Not because I didn't like it, but because I'd rather have the pork or the scallop from the Masterpiece Kitchen, of the salmon from the France booth. 

    • What did we try?   Deconstructed Breakfast (Non-alcoholic Version)
    • How would I describe it?  A creamy apple chai spiced milkshake, with a maple undertone, some candied bacon thrown in, and a mini waffle cookie on top.
    • How was the portion/value?   Probably about 5 oz. worth of shake. A fair portion, and it could fill you up quick. The pricing was $4.50. ($10.50 for the version with bourbon in it.)
    • What letter grade would we give it?  C+   a tasty shake, I didn't get as much of a "breakfast" flavor from it as I did a "fall" flavor. Plus slurping up little crumbles of bacon was weird... and a mild choking hazard. Ok, maybe just for me, but still.
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No. Too many better options.

    • What did we try?   Pop-Artsicle
    • How would I describe it?  A red, white and blue slushy. Can't get more simple than that. 
    • How was the portion/value?   The cup was larger than I expected it to be, but for $4, I think you could probably get a regular full size one of these guys at a counter-service location... or you, know, at 7-11. For less than a dollar. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?  B   It was totally fine and tasty, but just a plain old slushy, Nothing exciting. I actually thought from the picture in the passport that this was going to be more like a popsicle on a stick, (like a bomb pop that you'd get from an ice cream truck), but it was just poured to look like one. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No, not worth it. 

    Refreshment Port

    World Showcase Plaza

    • What did we try?   Croissant Doughnut Filled w Pastry Cream
    • How would I describe it?  A fried croissant with vanilla pastry cream and icing. 
    • How was the portion/value?   $6.49 but it's pretty big, so worth it!
    • What letter grade would we give it?  B+   I LOVE the plain cinnamon and sugar cronut that they usually sell. I enjoyed the addition of pastry cream, but NOT the addition of the icing. It was still super tasty, but I prefer the plain. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No. I'll go plain next time. 

    Decadent Delights

    World Showcase Plaza

    • What did we try?   White Chocolate and Purple Sweet Potato Mousse
    • How would I describe it?  A pretty lilac colored mousse, with two pound cake cubes and a meringue cookie. 
    • How was the portion/value?   On the small side for $6.50.
    • What letter grade would we give it?  B  Flavor-wise, this was similar to last year's sweet potato pie, but the texture didn't work as well.This was a more fluffy mousse, but with the warm flavors, the more dense, pie texture worked better. No matter what, the color is amazing. It looks like Easter, but tastes like Thanksgiving.
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. 

    • What did we try?   Crisp Caramel Chocolate Mousse Bar
    • How would I describe it?  A chocolate sponge cake with chocolate caramel mousse and crispy chocolate balls, with fruity meringue cookies on top. 
    • How was the portion/value?   $6.75 was too much. The portion was ok, but considering the lack of flavor, this one I would save my money on. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?  C-    This weirdly lacked any and all flavor. The meringue cookies were tasty, but the bar was totally bland and flavorless. The texture was gelatinous and not one that I enjoyed at all. Yuck. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No way. But look how pretty!!!

    • What did we try?   S'Mores Tart
    • How would I describe it?  A chocolate tart filled with cake and topped with mousse, with meringue cookies on top. 
    • How was the portion/value?   $6.50 was a little on the high side, but not too bad. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?  B-   Sorry to say it, but this one was a little disappointing too. No texture issues like the caramel bar had, but still lacking in flavor. The "smoked" cake had a weird taste and the chocolate was very bland. Bummer because this one looked great, too. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nope. 

    The Painter's Palate

    Odyssey Building

    • What did we try?   Trio of Savory Cronuts
    • How would I describe it?  Three adorably small "cronuts", (a hipster favorite of a croissant/donut hybrid), each filled with a different savory filling; Herbed cream cheese, chicken salad and spicy tuna. 
    • How was the portion/value?   Three mini-sandwiches for $9.50. Not too bad for Disney, but if you don't end up loving all of the sandwiches, it'll be a waste. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?  B-  Though cronuts are pretty much always amazing, these were a bit of a hit and miss. The breading itself was fresh, and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The Hubs really liked the spicy tuna sandwich and declared that one his favorites, but since I do not do sushi, I didn't even try it. I liked the herbed cream cheese sandwich, though I would say it was more like a bagel than a sandwich. We both tried the chicken mousse, and were unanimously grossed out by it. What a strange flavor and texture. No bueno. At least, not to us.  
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nope. I'll stick with the sweet cronut from Refreshment Port. 

    • What did we try?   White Chocolate Puzzle
    • How would I describe it?  Puzzle pieces made of white chocolate and served with colored royal icing and sprinkles, to paint your finished masterpiece. 
    • How was the portion/value?   $6.50 wasn't horrible, considering that it kept the kids entertained for a bit, and they ate the whole thing. 
    • What letter grade would we give it?  B+   Totally fine, if you like white chocolate. For those that do not, there's no point in even trying this. Kids love it because it's messy, sugary fun. 
    • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I wouldn't, but if my kids ask for it again, I'll let them get another. 


         Obviously, we didn't get to try everything, so as I get to enjoy more of the Festival, I will be sure and update you. In the meantime, here are my overall feelings on the festival:

    1. Not nearly as art-filled as the old Festival of the Masters, but still, it's nice to see visual arts, performing arts and culinary arts coming together at Epcot.
    2. The food is great, overall. The chefs really stepped-up their game to make beautiful and delicious plates. BUT....
    3. It's a bit disappointing that there aren't that many new dishes this year and the ones that are new, I was not thrilled with. Could just be me, but that's that. AND...
    4. The intense amount of time and attention that each plate requires is causing major back ups in the lines. I can't imagine how they are going to keep up when the crowds get heavier.
    5. As a result of the food being better, expect to feel it in your wallet too.
    6. There's not as much to see and do around the festival as there is during Flower and Garden and Food and Wine, so you can probably get it done in a shorter amount of time.
    7. I LOVE Epcot and it's many festivals! Now all we need is a summertime festival and we can rename the sections of the park "Ride World" and "Festival Land"!

         I highly recommend that you take the time to check out Festival of the Arts, now at Epcot. And if you need help planning your trip, you know where to go... contact Kingdom Konsultants and they will hook you up with the most magical trip EVER!

         That's all for this week, folks. I'm gonna need to take a break from those food booths for a while now. Ooof. I'm stuffed just thinking about 'em! See ya real soon, and in the meantime, have a magical week!


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