Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Yes or No?


Hey there, Disney Guys and Gals!

    Who is dreaming of a Disney Christmas???? I know I always am and I live here! If you are heading down this holiday season, or planning a trip for another year during the holiday season, you may be wondering if you should invest in tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. It's undoubtedly an expensive night out, but also undeniably magical. How do you decide? Never fear! Tink is here to help!


     For those of you that may not know, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a special, hard ticketed event, occurring a few times per week, on designated dates. (This year's party takes place on November 9th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 26th and 28th, as well as December 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 21st and 22nd.) The party admission is NOT included on a regular Magic Kingdom ticket. In fact, if you are visiting The Magic Kingdom on a night that the Christmas Party is scheduled to take place, be prepared that if you do not have tickets to the party, you will be politely asked to leave the park, promptly at 7pm. Party tickets run about $90-$110 per adult and $85-$105 per child. (Pricing varies a bit depending on whether you pre-purchase, and the date you plan on attending. November dates are the least expensive.) The party runs from 7pm-midnight.



     Now, you may recall that when I told you about Not So Scary, I talked about all of the things you can do that are exclusive to the party only... the parade, the fireworks, the stage show, the trick-or-treating, character meet and greets, etc. Well, things are a little different with Very Merry. In fact, almost nothing that is offered at Very Merry is exclusive to the party alone. You can see the same parade performed the whole week of Christmas, during the day, with regular admission. Same for the fireworks, some of the shows, and even some of the character appearances. So that might lead you to ask even more so... WHY pay to go?


     Have you ever been to Disney the week of Christmas? Then you KNOW why it's worth paying for the party! Disney is INSANELY busy during Christmas break. You could easily wait in line for an hour, just to ride it's a small world! The Very Merry Christmas Party allows you to enjoy all of the awesome events of the holidays, before the holiday crowds arrive, and with a limited number of people! There is a capped number of tickets sold for the party, making it even more likely that you'll enjoy a less packed park during the party than on a regular park day over the holidays. (Granted, I think the number of tickets allowed for the parties has been increased, because they still seem pretty crowded to me!) If you aren't coming to Disney until mid-December, even if you aren't all that into the holiday events, it may be worth buying a ticket to the party, so that you can do the attractions with much shorter wait times. Or, if you're going to be at Disney in November or early December, before the holiday events really kick off, it may be your only shot at all of the holiday fun. Plus, there is still some stuff about the Christmas Party that is special for the party only. Let's talk about what exactly is included in your party ticket.

     Of course the rides and attractions are open for you to enjoy, (with a few small exceptions), but let’s start off with what’s unique about the party and then I will give you a couple of tips to help you plan.

     Bummed that there's no trick-or-treating at Christmastime? Well how about collecting cookies and hot chocolate instead? All around the park you'll find locations where you can get complimentary cookies, snacks and holiday beverages (non-alcoholic, of course!). In fact, in 2016, they increased the selections from just snickerdoodles and hot chocolate to include egg nog, peppermint cookies, gingersnaps and even snow cones! Not quite as take-home friendly as candy, but still fun.





     If character appearances are top of your list for fun, you won't be disappointed! There are tons of characters out during Very Merry, including some rare ones, like Jack Skellington as "Sandy Claws". Plus, you’ll see Mickey, Minnie and pals in their Christmas finest! Here's who you could see:
  • Santa Claus, himself
  • Mickey
  • Minnie
  • Donald, Daisy, and Uncle Scrooge
  • Santa Goofy
  • Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger
  • Aurora, Snow White and Rapunzel, with their princes
  • Tiana and Naveen
  • Peter Pan and Wendy
  • Merida
  • Ariel
  • Gaston
  • Anna and Elsa
  • Mary Poppins, Bert and the Penguins
  • All Seven Dwarfs, together
  • Aladdin, Jasmine, Abu and Genie
  • Captain Jack Sparrow
  • Country Bears


     There’s Christmas entertainment all over, including two stage shows, a DJ dance party and an a cappella performance. You can dance alongside your favorite characters at Club Tinsel, inside Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. A cappella sensation, Voice Play, from "The Sing-Off", will be performing holiday favorites on Rockettower Plaza Stage. There's also Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, which is a show that features friends from Monster's Inc, Lilo and Stitch, and more. In front of the Castle, Mickey and pals entertain with their version of The Nutcracker in Celebrate the Season.








     Also in front of the Castle, you can watch Elsa use her icy powers to light up Cinderella's home in icy lights, during A Frozen Holiday Wish. Or enjoy the amazing imagery projected onto the Castle, during the special holiday edition of Once Upon a Time.






     And of course the free cookie and cocoa aren't the only treats available. Special items are sold all around the park, like Specialty Cupcakes, Pumpkin Waffle Sundaes or Chocolate Peppermint Bark. 




     Oh, and there’s special Holiday merchandise items sold exclusively at the party, like pins, t-shirts, Magic Bands and more!


     By far, the starring events are the parade and the fireworks. Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade runs twice nightly, and it is a gorgeous holiday parade that includes Cinderella's carriage, being pulled by white ponies, and a gingerbread scented holiday bakeshop float. It’s a fantastic parade, and one that's worth watching from Main Street, since it magically "snows" during the parade, making it extra special!







     The fireworks, Celebrate the Spirit of the Season, are gorgeous and will dazzle any Guest with their spirited music and panoramic views!


A few recommendations:

1. To make it more worth your while, don’t buy a park ticket for the day that you’ll be attending the party. Use this day as a “chillin’ out day”. Hang by the pool, do an elaborate breakfast out, walk around Disney Springs, check out the holiday decor at the resorts or do something else fun outside of the parks.



2. Make sure your kids, (even older kids), get a good nap in, and then head to The Magic Kingdom early. Your Very Merry ticket will get you in the park gates at 4pm, even though the holiday festivities don’t begin until 7pm.


3. In the hours before the party starts, get in some rides and attractions. That way you can use your party hours to enjoy the actual themed events.

4. I recommend knocking out character meet and greets early on, as lines get HUGE!

5. Visit the dance party and check out the shows.


6. During the first parade, get in some attractions, or more meet and greets. The first parade is always the busier of the two.

7. Make sure you are in front of the Castle for the fireworks, since they are designed with effects incorporating the structure. In fact, you'll be spending a lot of time in front of the Castle... for the show, the lighting ceremony, the fireworks, Once Upon a Time... But as I mentioned, do try and watch the parade from about mid-Main Street, in order to get the best snow effects.


     Overall, the event is full of magical holiday fun for all ages, and I can't imagine that anyone wouldn't enjoy it. BUT I will say this... If you plan on being in the parks during Christmas week anyway, and you aren't worried about waiting in line for rides, OR if you're not all that into the parade and shows, save your money! As I said, there's nothing much happening during Very Merry that you won't see in The Magic Kingdom during the week of Christmas anyway. This event is not nearly as unique as Not So Scary, so if you have been to MNSSHP, but never to MVMCP, just be aware of that. If you want to feel like you're being wrapped in Christmas with a pillow of holiday cheer put under your head, DO THIS! Otherwise, hold off.

     So, is it worth it??? There's no clear cut answer. This one truly depends on your style. I guarantee anyone will love it, but whether or not you want to make the investment really does come down to you.

     I hope I have given you some helpful insight and that no matter what, you're excited about the holiday season at Walt Disney World! To get help planning, or if you still need to book, contact a friendly agent at Kingdom Konsultant Travel. They'd be happy to make your holiday dreams come true!

- Jenn aka "Tink"

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ears the News: October 13, 2017 Edition


Welcome to the latest edition of Ears the News

Brought to you by our friends at WDWMagic.com.


Construction walls now surround the former Universe of Energy Pavilion at Epcot.

Ellen's energy Adventure closed on August 13, 2017 to make way for the upcoming Guardians of the
Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com
Galaxy coaster. 

Much of the original Universe of Energy Pavilion will be used as queue and pre-show space, with a new ride building set to be built behind the Wonders of Life pavilion. Much like Rock 'n 'RollerCoaster, the separate ride building will house the actual rollercoaster ride, linked to the original building by a launch tunnel.

Guardians of the Galaxy is speculated to open around Spring 2021.


The Summer Course at Winter Summerland Miniature Golf is now closed for refurbishment.

The Summer course refurbishment is planned for October 9 through to November 10, reopening to guests on November 11, 2017.

Later, the Winter course will close on October 23 through to November 10, reopening to guests on November 11 2017.

Disney's Fantasia Gardens miniature golf will remain open as normal during the Winter Summerland refurbishment.

Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com.

Disney will be beginning a series of room refurbishments at its Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter in early 2018.

The refurbishments will begin January 6, 2018, taking place on a building-by-building basis, through to the end of May 2018.

The soft goods refurbishment should see a refresh of the bed linens, flooring and curtains - along with the inclusion of some updated technology, like TVs and USB chargers.

The resort's amenities will not be affected, and work will be carried out during the daytime to minimize impact.

Disney launches new vacation gifting site GiveDisneyVacations.com

Disney has today launched GiveDisneyVacations.com - a new way to gift someone something as little as a $25 gift card, all the way through to an Adventures by Disney vacation or membership with Disney Vacation Club.

Arriving at the site, you can choose from Disney Gift Cards, Theme park tickets, and entire vacations with Adventures by Disney, Aulani, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland Resort, Disney Vacation Club and Walt Disney World Resort.

As a special introductory offer, available now through November 15, 2017, you can purchase a special Walt Disney World Resort package for any time during the 2018 calendar year. The package consists of a 6-Night/7-Day room and ticket package at one of Disney's All-Star Resorts for $96 per person, per night. The resort package will be delivered in a special holiday gift box, and delivery is guaranteed before December 15, 2017.

Holiday filming will take place early November 2017 for the
Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com.
upcoming ABC Holiday Specials to air on ABC and Disney Channel.

Following on from last year's new format, there will be multiple shows, set to air throughout the holiday season, in November and December. Airing dates are still to be announced. 

Filming at Walt Disney World will take place November 3 - 7, 2017. Like last year, no parade will be filmed at Walt Disney World, but stage show performances including musical acts will be filmed in Florida. The parade will be filmed at Disneyland Resort in California.

Tickets will not be made available to guests, with Cast Members filling in the audience as extras. It may be possible to see parts of the filming from guest areas however.


Disney has announced that Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire Hyper-Reality Experience will open December 16, 2017 at Disney Springs.

The 30 minute experience will operate from 9:00 am to 11:45 pm daily, with tickets priced at $29.95 and available now at The Void.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will transport guests deep into the beloved Star Wars universe allowing them to walk freely and untethered throughout the multi-sensory experience with friends and family. In groups of four, teams will go undercover as Stormtroopers to capture Imperial intelligence vital to the budding rebellion’s survival.

“We are so excited about this magical collaboration between three boundary-pushing companies in the burgeoning out-of-home VR entertainment sector,” says Curtis Hickman, co-founder and chief creative officer at The VOID. “We can’t wait to share the experience of hyper-reality with everyone.”

Photo courtesy of WDWMagic.com.

Guests can experience the excitement of hyper-reality today with this first look at Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire.

“People have longed for a chance to step into the Star Wars universe and this incredible new hyper-reality experience will allow them to do just that in a totally unique way,” notes Vicki Dobbs Beck, executive in charge, ILMxLAB. “It’s a group experience that evokes the senses in bold new ways.

The new experience will use space from Once Upon A Toy in the Marketplace, with most of the merchandise from that area relocated to the new Star Wars Trading Post.


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.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The 2017 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival - PART TWO


Hi again, Disney Foodies!

     I'm back with more reviews of the tasty treats and bites from this year's Epcot International Food and Wine Festival! Since I have now been back to the Festival multiple times since starting this review, I am going to skip right to the good stuff and share the reviews of the cumulative additional food items that we have tried. If you missed PART ONE of this review, you'll want to go back and check out those reviews too, so click HERE. But for now, rev up those taste buds, because here we goooooooo......


Morocco



     We did not get to try anything from Morocco yet, so I'll have to come back here some other time.

Belgium



  • What did we try?   Beer-braised Beef
  • How would I describe it?   Similar to a beef stew, over mashed potatoes 
  • How was the portion/value?   $5.00 seemed a little high, but it's a good portion, and since it is also very filling, you'll probably want to share this one. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B-   This had really nice flavor. I'm not a beer drinker, so I was not sure I would like this, but the beer flavor is pretty subtle. The mashed potatoes were delicious and complimented the meat, veggies and sauce nicely.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably not. It was good, and I recommend trying it, but I don't need to have it again. 
AND

  • What did we try?   Belgian Waffle with Chocolate
  • How would I describe it?   A little, warm waffle, with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
  • How was the portion/value?   At $4, I want a bigger waffle than this. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B   It tasted fine and the waffle was served warm and crispy, but the chocolate tasted like Hershey's Syrup and the whipped cream was canned, so nothing about this was extraordinary. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No. No need. 


Brazil




  • What did we try?   Crispy Pork Belly
  • How would I describe it?   Kinda like bacon, but a slab of it. I guess. That's the best I can do. 
  • How was the portion/value?   I am told $5.75 isn't too bad for the portion size.
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+   The grade is based on the opinion of The Hubs. I know it's supposed to be delicious and all, but I am just SO not into pork belly. The name creeps me out. The Hubs said it was a good pork belly and he liked the beans and the salsa topping as well.  
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   That's a big NO. 

  • What did we try?   Brazilian Cheese Bread
  • How would I describe it?   Doughy rolls filled with gooey cheese.
  • How was the portion/value?   For $4, you get two, which I thought was fair. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+    I mean, these are bread filled with cheese, so you can't go TOO wrong here. They were served warm and there was plenty of chewy cheese inside, however, they are pretty bland. Still good, but I was expecting more flavor. I want to dip them in marinara!
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Again, good, but no, I don't need to get them again. 

France



  • What did we try?   Boeuf Bourguignon
  • How would I describe it?   Amazingly delicious stew beef over mashed potatoes
  • How was the portion/value?   Delicious or not, $6.25 is kinda high. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-    So, yes, this is similar to the beef offered in Belgium, but the flavor is totally different. This beef is braised in wine sauce and the flavor is super rich and delicious. I could eat plates and plates of this. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Yup. I want some now, instead of my bagel. 

Ireland



  • What did we try?   Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip
  • How would I describe it?   A cheese fondue dip served with brown bread
  • How was the portion/value?   $4.75 was too much for some bread and dip to me. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B    I really disliked this one, but The Hubs loved it, so we averaged it out. I found the warm dip to be bitter and sharp, which is exactly what The Hubs loved about it. I think you have to be more of a beer fan for this one. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nope. 



  • What did we try?   Irish Sausage
  • How would I describe it?   A tasty pork sausage was sweet onions, over mashed potatoes
  • How was the portion/value?   $5.50 for a whole sausage with potatoes seemed reasonable to me.
  • What letter grade would we give it?   B+    Delicious sausage, awesome mashed potatoes and the onions put it over the top. The only fault I can find in it is that it's not all that unique or unlike something you could get at the sausage cart at Disney Springs.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. It was good, but I'll try something else next time.




  • What did we try?   Warm Chocolate Pudding
  • How would I describe it?   A mini chocolate lava cake with Irish cream sauce
  • How was the portion/value?   It's on the small side, but $4 wasn't too bad.
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-    I somehow lost my picture of this. I have gotten it in previous years and this year it seemed better. The "pudding" is more like a lava cake to me, with a warm, runny, chocolaty center. It was really delicious. I wish it was a little bigger. That way I wouldn't have to be so angry when someone takes a bite.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I might!

Scotland



     We didn't try anything in Scotland. It's always my least favorite booth. (Sorry, Scotland!)

Canada


  • What did we try?   Filet Mignon
  • How would I describe it?   A tiny filet, served medium rare.
  • How was the portion/value?   It's probably 2-3 oz. So I guess $8 isn't that bad, but I'd rather save that money and buy two other snacks elsewhere. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?   A-    Really delicious. Can't be faulted for flavor. I just wish it had something else with it, like potatoes or veggies. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   No, but only because of the price. 

New Zealand



     Didn't try anything here either. Too full and nothing on the menu that I was too excited about. Moving on!

Australia



      Didn't try anything in Australia either. Next time...

Islands of the Caribbean




     Excited to go back and try the quesitos, (since I LOVE the ones from my local Meson restaurant), but didn't try anything this time. 

Hawaii


Food:
  • Kalua Pork Slider w Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise    $4.75
  • Grilled Tuna Tataki w Seaweed Salad and Pickled Cucumbers and Wasabi Cream     $5.25
  • Teriyaki-glazed Spam Hash w Potatoes, Peppers and Onions and Spicy Mayonnaise     $4.00
  • Passion Fruit Cheesecake w Toasted Macadamia Nuts    $4.00
Beverages:
  • Maui Brewing Company Bikini Blonde Lager    $4.00
  • Florida Orange Groves Sparkling Pineapple Wine    $6.00
  • Mai Tai featuring Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum    $9.00 

  • What did we try?   Kalua Pork Slider
  • How would I describe it?   A pulled pork sandwich on a Hawaiian roll. 
  • How was the portion/value?   It's $4.75, but the portion is decent so I don't think this ones too bad.
  • What letter grade would we give it?       This normally comes with a pineapple chutney, but it also contained mango, so due to an allergy, we ordered one without the chutney. It was nice that you could make slight alterations like that. Of course, they can't totally customize items for you, but if you need something without a sauce, etc, it seems like they are happy to oblige. The pork had a delicious seasoning, which reminded me of 'Ohana, over at the Polynesian. (Coriander?) Whatever it was, it was good! The "spicy mayonnaise" didn't have too much heat to it, and the sweet Hawaiian role was the perfect accompaniment. I bet with the pineapple chutney, it's amazing! I highly recommend it!
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Probably

Stay tuned for PART THREE..... coming soon! Until then, Have a MAGICAL week!


- Jenn aka "Tink"


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