This week, I’m going to focus on one of the best events that EPCOT puts on during the week….Food and Wine Festival. In 2014, the Food and Wine Festival will be the longest in history at 53 days. It will run from September 19th to November 10th. The best part of this event is there is no “hard ticket” needed. You attend this event with just your standard Disney ticket or annual pass. This makes the event very popular as well.
Disney has not announced what booths will be added to the World Showcase Pavilion countries yet for 2014. In 2014, there were 30 booths where a person could “eat their way around the world.” 22 booths joined 8 of the World Showcase Pavilion countries (America doesn’t officially have a booth and Norway and the United Kingdom did not sponsor booths).
Breaking it down by continent, the following countries joined the party and the World Showcase in 2013:
South America (2): Brazil and Argentina
Oceania (2): Australia and New Zealand
Africa (1): A general African food and wine booth
Europe (5): Poland, Belgium, Ireland, Greece, and Scotland
Asia (2): South Korea, Singapore
Regional United States booths (3): American Adventure Coffee Cart, Florida Local, and Hawai’i
That’s a lot of booths, a lot of food, and a lot of drink. We’ll focus more on what’s served at each booth and how best to navigate the festival later in the week.
What else is going on?
These extra events are not included in the park admission. These are ticketed events and costs vary.
The least expensive of these events are the culinary, wine & beverage, and mixology seminars. These events take place several times per day during the event and cost $15 in 2013.
Disney also runs a variety of special dining experiences during the events. These events are not held everyday usually only three or four times during the entire festival. These events widely vary in price. In 2013, the price varied from the Parisian Breakfast for $37 to the Party for the Senses which cost as much as $285.
Lastly, there is one extra event that has already been announced for 2014. The Eat to the Beat Concert Series. This special concert comes at no extra cost and take place three times per evening (5:30 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8:00 pm.) The announced schedule:
September 19-21: Jo Dee Messina
September 22-23: The Pointer Sister
September 24-25: Rick Springfield
September 26-27: Christopher Cross
September 28-29: Hansno
September 30-October 2: Air Supply
October 3-5: STARSHIP with Mickey Thomas
October 6-8: Sugar Ray
October 9-10: Fuel
October 11-12: Sister Hazel
October 13-14: TBA
October 15-16: Billy Ocean
October 17-18: Night Ranger
October 20-22: Smash Mouth
October 23-24: Jim Brickman
October 25-26: Los Lonely Boys
October 27-28: Wilson Phillips
October 29-31: Dennis DeYoung, original member of STYX
What’s in store for DadForDisney for the rest of the week. Tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll be going more in-depth about the booths and their meuns. Thursday, I’ll talk more in-depth about the Special Events. Friday, I’ll go over how to best navigate The Food and Wine Festival.
In what is becoming a Memorial Day tradition at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, Disney is keeping the Magic Kingdom and both Disneyland and California Adventure open from 6:00 am on May 23 to 6:00 am on May 24. Last year, the theme was Disney’s Monstrous Summer.
This year, the theme is Rock Your Disney Side: 24 Hours. Disney is advertising this with a darker tone by actively promoting the Disney Villains.
Guests can get it with their Disney tickets. This is not a “hard ticket” event like the Halloween and Christmas Parties. All of the attractions, however, will be open all 24 hours. Some attractions will “go dark”, most likely, during lower attended time periods.
Another addition, this year, is Disney is actively promoting that guests come in costumes to “show their Disney side,” which is Disney’s current tagline. There are restrictions on the costumes that guests can wear:
Not be obstructive, offensive, violent or violent
Drag on the ground
Contain sharp objects, pointed objects on materials that may hit other guests
Masks may be worn but can not obstruction vision and the eyes must be seen at all times
Guests who dress like Disney characters may not pose for pictures or sign autographs
Guests who do not follow this guidelines may be refused admission or asked to leave the park.
Speaking as a Vacation Member, whose home resort is Bay Lake Tower next to the Contemporary resort, staying at the Contemporary Resort or Bay Lake Tower could be an important part of making this 24 hours an enjoyable experience even if it just for the night of the event. Why would staying at either of these resorts be important? Guests can walk from the Magic Kingdom to both resorts and it’s only about 10 minute walk (15 minutes if guests have a small child in tow). Walking to a resort as opposed taking either a bus, boat or monorail to get and from the resort can take away potentially much-needed minutes of sleep or recharge before returning to the parks.
For full disclosure, I have never attended one of Disney’s 24 hour parties so I don’t know the best plan of attack for these events. However, I have been at the parks when they have been open late into the night (2 or 3 am). In my opinion, the best plan of attack would be to avoid the parks when they open and into the day on the 23th. Early in the morning will be packed with people who are trying to do all 24 hours in the park and the park will fill up as the day goes on and more and more families make their way into the parks. However, when day turns to night some of these people especially those with smaller children will be exiting the parks This would be the ideal time to go. The park should be getting emptier crowd-wise which should reduce the wait-times for meet-and-greets and attractions. Again, this is just my theory based on my experiences on when the park is open late NOT when it is open for 24 hours straight.
Thanks for following along in the blog’s first full week. Remember to like us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dad-For-Disney/567114656737603
Disney has a variety of attractions to cater to the variety of guest interests. This post is going to focus on attractions that will help keep guests cool during the hot and humid summer weather. Or as my wife called them, this morning, “Attractions my wife enthusiastically drags me to that I secretly love.”
When my family has gone to Walt Disney World in the summer, we try to avoid the parks in the middle of the day. Our plans, usually, getting the parks first thing in the morning and going a lot of attractions, then returning to the hotel for a mid-afternoon swim until the mid-afternoon thunderstorm comes to chase us out of the pool, finally returning the parks in the evening when it has cooled down. However, guests can’t always do that. Where can they go “cool for a bit” and get out of the heat when they are in the park? Thankfully, every park has place or two or three that they can get out of the heat. Here’s the breakdown:
It’s Tough To Be a Bug: Located at the base of the Tree of Life in the Discovery Island section of Animal Kingdom, this 3D show takes guests through what it is like to be a bug. There are some scenes which can be intense and frightening for smaller children.
Festival of the Lion King: This stage production is currently on hiatus until Summer 2014 while completes its move from the Camp Minnie-Mickey area of the park to its new location behind Tusker House Restaurant. This 28-minute production takes guests through a production based on the The Lion King. The show, in its new location, will be the same as before with guests divided into four sections elephant, giraffe, warthog, or lion.
Finding Nemo: The Musical: This 30-minute show turns the movie Finding Nemo into a musical. The show takes place in the 1500-seat Theater in the Wild located by Dinoland U.S.A. Guests get to see a show featuring puppets, dancers, acrobats, and animated backdrops during the retelling of the Finding Nemo story. Guests will also new songs created just for the show.
Finding Nemo: The Musical and It’s Tough To Be a Bug are available for Fastplus+ reservations.
EPCOT has the most opportunities to “cool” off and watch a show or in some cases go on an attraction.
Circle of Life: Located in The Land pavilion, this 20-minute movie takes guest through the environmental concerns involving the construction of the fictional Hakuna Matata Vacation Resort. The environment looks to take a major hit until Simba comes and reminds Pumbaa and Timon to care for our rivers and trees.
Living with the Land:This is one of my favorite attractions in EPCOT. Also located in The Land Pavilion, the 14-minute boat ride takes guests through biospheres of Earth before humans. After this introductions, guests are taken into Disney’s four greenhouses and aquaculture facility. A very interesting and educational attraction.
Turtle Talk with Crush: One of the shorter shows but one of the most entertaining. At only 10 minutes, guests get to interact with Crush, from Finding Nemo. Crush will ask guests especially children questions and answer them, in sometimes, humorous manner. This attraction can be found in The Seas pavilion.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure: One of the longer shows at 45 minutes. The show starts with Ellen DeGeneres dreaming that she is on Jeopardy! competing against her former college rival, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and Albert Einstein. All of the categories are in her weakness subject….energy. Thankfully, her neighbor, Bill Nye the Science Guy, comes to help Ellen and teach her about all things energy to win the game of Jeopardy!
Spaceship Earth: The iconic EPCOT landmark houses a 16-minute journey through recorded history narrated by Judy Dench. This exhibit is perfect for a mid-day break as most people visit it when they first enter the park leading to longer wait times. In the middle of the day, the wait times are much shorter.
American Adventure: A 30-minute show located in the American pavilion takes guests through American history. The audio-animatronic show is narrated by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The end of the film was last updated in 2007.
Impressions de France: This rather dated, in my opinion, movie takes guests through France from the countryside to the city of Paris. The theater screen is 200 degrees around so it can very difficult to see everything taking place during the movie. Located in the France pavilion.
Malestrom: A journey back to midevil Norway on a dragon-headed boat. This attraction has some dips and very dark which could turn off some less adventurous guests or small children. There is a short film at the end which combined with the ride makes of a 16-minute attraction. RUMOR: Due to the popularity of the movie Frozen, this attraction could be getting a much-needed face lift to incorporate some of the characters and scenes from the movie into the attraction.
O Canada: A 360-degree theater takes guests into a 14-minute movie narrated by Martin Short. The movie, which at some moments makes fun of itself and Canada, is about Canada and its landscapes and culture. It includes a brief moment of my favorite winter pasttime….curling! One of the better attractions. The only negative is guests stand throughout the movie.
Wonders of China: Another 360-degree theater shows guests a 19-minute movie about China. The movie debuted in the spring of 2003.
Hollywood Studios has a lot of stage shows but they also take place in outdoor theaters so while you are sitting, you are also still outside in the heat and humidity. However, there are still places to go and beat the heat.
Beauty and The Beast Live on Stage: A 20-minute version of the movie Beauty and The Beast in a Broadway-level production. The theater is located in the Sunset Boulevard section of Hollywood Studios. The show repeats throughout the day so there are plenty of chances to see it during the middle of the day.
Disney Junior Live on Stage: A stage show geared toward the littler guests. This show, which my family has seen every time we have gone to Disney World, has the same basic story line: Minnie’s Birthday. However, the cast of “helpers” has changed. Currently, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates help Mickey and gang put together a surprise birthday party for Minnie. Guests will sit on the floor for this production. There are benches on the sides and in the rear of the theater for those guests who don’t want or can’t sit on the floor but space is limited. The attraction is located in the Animation Courtyard.
Great Movie Ride: 22-minute ride through movie history. If you take small children, there are some moments of peril and simulated gun fire. My family took our daughter on this ride when she was five or six and it took many snacks of popcorn to calm her down after the ride. Located on Hollywood Boulevard.
MuppetVision 3D: The Muppets take guests to the MuppetLabs where they are developing MuppetVision 3D. The labs suffer a failure and a 3D character named Waldo escapes the lab. The show involves the Muppets trying, through 3D tricks and gags, to capture Waldo and return him to the lab. The pre-show and show is 25-minutes long and the attraction is located on New York Street.
The Voyage of the Little Mermaid: Also located in the Animation Courtyard, The Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a 17-minute stage production of the movie. The theater is dark and can be scary for small children. The show is excellent and very popular and can have long lines to get into the theater which holds a lot of people. Fastpass+ reservations are available for this attraction.
Carousel of Progress: Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress that debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City returned the Magic Kingdom with an updated show. The show takes guests through the 20th century and a peak into the future. The show is located in Tomorrowland and is 20-minutes long. The attraction is rarely crowded so wait time is usually based on how much time is remaining in the show.
Country Bear Jamboree: An original from when the park opened in 1971. The 16-minute show in Frontierland has guests watch the animatronic Country Bear sing a collection of country songs.
Enchanted Tiki Room: Located in Adventureland, Tiki Birds sing their way through this 10-minute show while guests relax on benches in the Enchanted Tiki Room. There are over 300 birds which sing and dance during this show.
Hall of Presidents: The 20-25 minute show is located in Liberty Square. The show is based on other World’s Fair attraction designed by Walt Disney: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. This show takes guests through American history as told by the US Presidents and includes a full reading of the Gettysburg Address. An attraction much like the Carousel of Progress where the wait time will be dictated by how long is it until the next show.
Mickey’s PhilharMagic: A 12-minute show where guests are taken on a journey through some Disney’s iconic moments and songs. It is a 3D show and the theater can be dark.
Monsters LaughFloor: A 15-minute comedy show featuring the characters from Monsters Inc. and Monsters University. It is an interactive show where guests participate in the show by texting jokes into the show. The pre-show includes spotlights on guests which funny captions underneath and one person is selected at random to be one of the running gags throughout the show. Located in Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland Peoplemover: The 10-minute ride throughout Tomorrowland gives guests a chance to see over Tomorrowland and parts of Fantasyland. This is great opportunity to get off your feet. The ride is usually not crowded and Cast Members will allow to take a second or even third journey if you ask and there are not people waiting. Some people use this attraction to see what rides have short or long wait time and do some “on the fly” park planning. The ride, though outside, is completely covered so guests can at least escape the sun but not the humidity.
I hope this post gives readers a chance to discover some attractions which can be used to beat the heat during the upcoming summer months.
You can like us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dad-For-Disney/567114656737603
In continuing with the theme of the “basics” of a Walt Disney World vacation, today’s topic is Character Meet and Greets. Disney has a lot of characters and a lot of visitors want to meet those characters. In my opinion, Disney has developed three ways for guests to meet their favorite characters:
1) Character Meals: Table-service meals where Disney characters rotate through the dining hall for pictures with the guests.
2) Formal In-Park Meet and Greets: Pre-established areas, with set design, where guests can go and meet the characters.
3) Informal In-Park Meet and Greets: These are spontaneous or known areas where guest can go and meet the characters.
Each type of meet-and-greet has its own pluses and minuses.
At Walt Disney World, there are plenty of opportunities to get a meal and autographs/pictures with your favorite characters.
In the four parks:
Animal Kingdom: Donald’s Dining Safari at Tusker House (breakfast and lunch only) – Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy
Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Banquet Hall (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) – Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, Ariel, Mary Poppins
Note about this meal: All characters listed are not guaranteed to appear at your meal. They rotate based on the day and meal.
Guests also receive a professional photo package which includes: 4 prints (4″x6″) and 1 6″x8″ print with one of the princesses. The package is delivered to the table during the meal.
Hollywood Studios: Disney’s Play N’ Dine at Hollywood and Vine (breakfast and lunch only) – Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Handy Mandy, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Magic Kingdom: A Buffet with Character at The Crystal Palace (breakfast, lunch and dinner) – Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger
Fairytale Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) – Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora, Snow White; The Fairy Godmother appears at dinner. This is a TWO table-credit dining experience.
Guests also receive a professional photo package which includes: 4 prints (4″x6″), 1 6″x8″ print, 1 6″x8″ print of Cinderella’s Castle, and a Cinderella Themed Photo Folder
Children (ages 3-9) also receive a special gift: a princess wand for girls and prince’s sword for boys
Meals at the Resorts:
Contemporary Resort: Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet at Chef Mickey’s (breakfast and dinner only) – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto
Grand Floridan Resort and Spa: Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare (breakfast only) – Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, and The Mad Hatter
Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare (dinner only) – Cinderella and Prince Charming, The Fairy Godmother, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella, Some characters may only be seen in the lobby for pictures.
Polynesian Resort: ‘Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch (breakfast only) – Lilo and Stitch. Often Mickey Mouse and Pluto appear but are not guaranteed.
Yacht and Beach Club Resort: Beach Club Breakfast Buffet at Cape May Cafe (breakfast only) – Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy
My family has gone to every character meal on this list except the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. We love going to character meals. It has many advantages. First, a guest can meet a lot of characters in a short period of time since most of the meals take about 60 to 90 minutes. Second, a guest can see the characters in “non-traditional” attire. For example, Mickey Mouse is dressed as Farmer Mickey at Garden Grill, Safari Mickey at Tusker House and Chef Mickey at Chef Mickey’s. Third, it gives the guest a chance to relax, sit down in an air-conditioned environment while the characters come to them as opposed to the other way around.
The major drawback to the character meals, guests are taking away time in the parks to spend time at a meal. Another drawback is if a guest is not on the Disney Dining Plan, these meals can be a bit pricey. Most of them are buffets and not true sit down meals.
That being said, you can get some great pictures and some quality character interaction.
Sometimes if you get seated at the right place, you can get some good panoramic pictures of the resort.
Formal In-Park Meet and Greets:
This group of meet and greets is set only in the parks. When Disney, first opened, almost all the meet and greets were informal. If you saw a character walking through the resort, you could stop and take pictures. As more and more people wanted to meet the characters, Disney made the meet and greet more formalized. They set up permanent locations where people can go and meet the characters. There are many locations where guests can do this. Another way to determine if a meet and greet is formal or informal is to ask this question: Is there a wait time listed for the meet and greet? If the answer is yes, then it’s a formal meet and greet.
Animal Kingdom: Currently there are no formal meet and greets anymore. Disney is in the process of creating Avatar Land which is scheduled to open in 2017. In the process of creating this land, they had to eliminate the Camp Minnie-Mickey. Camp Minnie-Mickey was a place was guests could meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and a rotating set of characters. There were also informal meet and greets that would spring up when the lines for the other characters go too long. My daughter got the chance to meet Thumper and Miss Bunny at one of the informal meet and greets.
EPCOT: The EPCOT Character Spot – Mickey, Pluto, and Minnie Mouse
EPCOT is also the best place for informal in-park meet and greets.
Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Studios doesn’t have a meet and greets which meet the “wait time listed” criteria. However, they do have four meet and greets where guests can meet characters in a formal setting with themed backdrops:
Outside of Disney Junior Live – Disney Junior Characters on a rotating basis
Phineas and Ferb Meet and Greet outside of Muppetvision
Monsters University in Pixar Place
The Animation Courtyard – Typically Sorcerer Mickey, Winnie the Pooh, and characters from non-princess Movies
Magic Kingdom: Magic Kingdom has the most formal character meet and greets.
Ariel’s Grotto – Ariel as a mermaid
Pete’s Silly Sideshow (2 queues) – Donald Duck and Goofy in one queue; Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse in the other.
Princess Hall (2 queues) – Cinderella and Rapunzel in one queue; Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen in the other.
Note: the wait times for Anna and Elsa can approach the four hour range. As I’m writing, the listed expected wait time is 300 minutes (5 hours). Two tips: either get in line right away or use a Fastpass+ experience for this. The Fastpass+ should cut the wait time down to “only” 30 minutes.
Tinker Bell’s Nook – Tinker Bell and the other Disney Fairies
Town Square Mickey – Magician Mickey Mouse
These meet and greets are a good way to meet characters but have the drawback of potentially long wait times to meet one, maybe, two characters and waiting, for a portion of the time, outside. Still the pictures can be good:
Informal In-Park Meet and Greets:
These meet and greets vary in location and/or time of day. There is no set schedule when this type of meet and greet takes place. The best thing to do is to ask a Cast Member or Guest Relations when a guest arrives at the park. Some of the same meet and greets take place every day (for example: Princesses like Snow White and Mulan in EPCOT have a set schedule) , however, not all of them do which is why it is best to ask upon arrival. This is also a good chance to see rarely seen characters. Typically, the lines for this type of meet and greet is shorter than the formal meet and greet given there is no set schedule.
This is a rarity – meeting one of the “Big Five” characters at an informal meet and greet. My daughter and I were walking through EPCOT during the Food and Wine Festival, last year, as I was taking her picture in front of every booth and Minnie came walking out. We, immediately, stopped her for a picture before a line could form. She came out with this guy:
As we continued to walk through the World Showcase, we passed into China and Mulan was out for pictures and autographs. This was the first time we had seen Mulan in our travels. As a result, she was one of the few princesses that daughter didn’t have her picture taken with. So, we stopped for a picture.
Thanks for reading today’s summary of meet and greets at Walt Disney World. Please follow us on Facebook at: