Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Fun On the Way for Brave (And Not So Brave) Kids at Epcot This Year

By Guest Columnist Disney InsidEAR Sarah Orr
If you are like me, you were sad to see the blossomy play gardens and playgrounds for kids disappear in Epcot after the last day of this year’s International Flower and Garden Festival. That is why I was so happy to see the announcement of The Highland Games Tournament coming this summer to Epcot.

From June 1st – July 8th, your kids will be able to play and climb in special playground areas, and even participate in games of skill like Mini Caber Toss, Cake Toss, Haggis Flip and archery! (Editors Note:  This play experience, called Brave - The Highland Games, will be found in the Rose Walk area between Future World and World Showcase.)

Disney Parks InsidEARS website Community Manager Marissa tells us the playground areas will again, as during Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival be age appropriate. One set will be for 2-5 year olds and another set will be for the older kids (5-12 year olds.) 

“Brave” competitors of any age can participate in the games. (Cast Members will assist your wee ones in these Scottish games of skill.) So whether you have toddlers or tweens, you'll want to stop by the festivities between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily - on the Rose Walk where Future World and World Showcase meet.

As far as the autumn season goes, you don't need to be brave to try some of the new dishes at Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival this year.  You'll find foods focused on kids this fall, (say that five times fast), with the addition of kid pleasing tastes like cheese fondue and beef empanadas. (Hands off that cheese dip Mom and Dad – it is for the kids ;-) 
To wash it all down, be on the lookout for creative new drinks for kids of all ages.

I can’t wait to stroll, sip and snack around World Showcase this year with my family!  
Thanks Sarah for sharing your article with us here.  If you would like to read more of Sarah's work, please check out her blog called View from the Parlor:  Live, Give and Travel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

News and Rumors 5/21/12 - 5/27/12

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such. 


Magic Kingdom

  • With Snow White's Scary Adventures closing on the 31st of this month, Disney has released the opening timeline for the upcoming Princess Fairytale Hall.  This meet and greet is expected to open in late 2013. 
  • The Magic, The Memories, and You Summer Edition officially started this week. 
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has reopened from it's refurbishment.  Not a lot has changed except for wider pathways, a little air conditioning, and some boxes that are expected to be used when Next Gen comes into play.  Also, the track appears to have been smoothed a bit. 
  • The Country Bear Jamboree will go down for a refurb from Sept. 1st - Oct. 17th. 


  • A new exciting adventure surrounding the upcoming hit movie Brave will be heading to Epcot.  Starting June 1st and ending July 8th, the park will be hosting Brave - The Highland Games Tournament which will be located on the pathway between Future World and World Showcase.  The games will include a Haggis Flip, a Cake Toss, archery, and sand castle display, a playground area, free wi-fi and more.  It will be open from 11 am - 7 pm. 
  • A new vegan marketplace is expected to debut for this year's Food and Wine Festival. 
  • The Food and Wine Festival's end date has changed, now ending one day later, Nov. 12th. 

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • The American Idol Experience will have a short refurb from June 14th - 15th. 


  • Fort Langhorn on Tom Sawyer Island is expected to have a refurb from June 1st - 29th. 
  • Fantasmic could be seeing a major redo in the near future.  If it does happen, expect it to go down for at least a year. (This rumor has been on and off for a while now, so take it with a huge grain of salt.) 
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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dealing With Summer At Disney

With this weekend being Memorial Weekend, it's officially the unofficial kick off to summer!  Which means that Summer Vacations to Disney are certainly on everyone's minds.

Personally, I swore I'd never take trips to Disney in the summer, at least until I had kids.  It was always too crowded to me and certainly too hot.  But, apparently, this an edict that was bound to be broken as this year, I will be once again taking a trip to Walt Disney World in the middle of summer.

Because of that, and my experiences with visiting during the summer in the past, I thought I'd share some words of wisdom of things that you should do to beat the heat at Walt Disney World during your summer vacation.

First things first...the heat in Florida during the summer...torture.  I'm not going to gets REALLY steamy and sticky during most months, but especially the next 3.  With that being said, my best advice (even though I typically don't follow it) is to get to the parks early.  Why?  Well, it cuts down on two things that are extremely frustrating during the summer is the crowds.  There are less people that you'll have to clamor for the popular attractions with (most are like me and still in bed) and second, the heat is not nearly as bad during those morning hours, so you won't feel like you're absolutely dying!  Win-win, right?

Another thing is to try to bring some sort of cooling device with you.  Weather it's a cool washrag from the hotel or a misting fan, or whatever, these tools will save you during the heat.  Personally, I'm a fan of the misting fan.  Not only do you get the cool breeze, but you get the nice spray of cool water too.  Just make sure to bring extra batteries for the fan.  It does eat them up a bit, especially since I almost always have mine on.

Of course, water is going to be your friend during the summer, which leads me to my next tip.  MAKE SURE TO DRINK PLENTY OF WATER ON YOUR VACATION!!!!  You may not feel thirsty, but trust only takes a few minutes for you to go from standing up to passing out because of loss of hydration.  I often bring my own water bottles, which you can bring with you in your luggage (thank god for Southwest Airlines and their free luggage!) or you can purchase through places like Garden Grocer (a company I've never used, but have heard good things about), Target, or even at the Hess Station found on property.  Another tip is that any of the counter services restaurants will provide you with a cup of water.  All you have to do is ask.

Speaking of Water...make sure to hit up the water attractions that can be found in the parks.  There are a ton of spray fountains and other water play areas in the parks just perfect for keeping cool.  And starting this summer, there will be the Casey Jr. Splash and Soak area in the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland.  Just make sure to bring a change of clothes.  You will get soaked.  You could also hit up some of the water attractions like Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids.  The only problem, if it's hot, everyone else will be in line for those attractions too.  So you may have to wait a while to get cool.  If you want to spend more time in the water, make sure to head to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.  Both are perfect ways to spend an afternoon keeping cool.  

Take breaks.  This may sound counter-intuitive on a Disney vacation.  You want to see as much as possible, right?  But trust me.  If you don't take breaks, especially during the heat of the afternoon, you'll regret it later that night when things cool down again.  A lot of people will head back to their hotel for a nap and some air, but if you don't want to leave the parks, try to hit up some of the air conditioned, longer attractions.  A good example is Ellen's Energy Adventure in Epcot or The Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom.  These longer shows will provide a good respite from the heat and allow you to cool off enough to be able to head back outside again.

These are just a few tips to help you survive the heat at Disney on your vacation.  But this leads me to ask you, what are your tips for keeping cool during the summer at WDW?  Make sure to share with everyone on our Facebook page!

Also, if you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or Facebook...hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

News and Rumors 5/14/12 - 5/20/12

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such. 

Magic Kingdom

  • Reminder:  Snow White's Scary Adventure will be closing for good on May 31st. 


  • Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure has officially closed.  It is making way for Phineas and Ferb Agent P's World Showcase Adventure which is scheduled to open in June. 
  • Bistro de Paris will be closed for refurb from Aug 1st - Sept. 30th.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Sounds Dangerous has officially been removed from the park map, making it appear the attraction will no longer be returning ever.  
  • The Fantasyland model that was found at D23 in Anaheim can now be found at One Man's Dream.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mickey's Cast Member Memories at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop

Today, we have a very special guest post from Disney InsidEAR Sarah Orr.  She shares with us an exceptional Cast Member story and why it's a great idea to let guest relations know when you've had phenomenal service at Disney.  

Have you ever written a letter of thanks to Mickey about a Cast Member at Walt Disney World who went the extra mile and put a smile on your face?  Maybe you have mentioned an outstanding Cast Member in one of those surveys you received after returning from your vacation.  Or perhaps you took the time to send an email or to fill out a card at Guest Services in the parks about a Cast Member who went above and beyond their job description to help make your day a memory that will last forever.  If you have, your words of gratitude just may end up in the Walt Disney World Cast Member newspaper, Eyes & Ears

Over at the Disney Parks InsidEARS website's beta test we get to hear these fun and memorable stories about outstanding Cast Members who make us want to return to Walt Disney World year after year.

Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney's Beach Club Resort is one of my favorite places to eat in Walt Disney World, so I couldn't resist sharing this latest story from Community Manager Marissa's column called "Mickey's Mailbag." (I hope I can get through this while my mouth is drooling from the thought of those Oreos, hot fudge and brownies inside that famous Fudge Mudslide sundae in the photo.)

Here is the excerpt from the Cast Member newspaper, Eyes & Ears, where a Guest tells about a Cast Member who has become a part of their family vacation memories over the past several years! 

Jay, an Eyes & Ears writer, tell us the story of Mel and Maria and their memorable meeting.
Family Memories, Fudge Mudslides & Maria

When Mel and her family arrive at the Walt Disney World Resort for their annual vacation, they know what one of their first stops will be: Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.
The Spring Hill, Tenn., residents love the foods and treats found at the old-fashioned ice cream parlor at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, but they love seeing Maria just as much. Maria is a Food & Beverage server who has left an indelible impression on the family, especially their two girls.
Mel wrote to say that during the past 12 years, family members have found themselves spending more and more of their two- to three-week Orlando vacations at the Disney parks because of Cast Members such as Maria.
“Over the past five to six years, we have been fortunate enough to be waited on by Maria nearly every time. She always provides outstanding service and remembers our girls, which is amazing to me considering how many people she must see over the course of a year. Maria makes a point to talk with them about the fun they are having and goes out of her way to make them feel special.”
Indeed, she has almost become a fixture each time the family visits.
“Our girls now look forward to seeing Maria as much as they do getting their favorite dessert, a fudge mudslide. During our last trip … when the girls saw Maria, they ran up
to her and began hugging her. It was obvious she remembered them, and I could even see a tear well up in her eyes. That was one of the most special moments of our trip and one the girls still talk about. They can’t wait to go back next year and see Maria again.”
Mel said that while they have visited some other attractions in the Orlando area, they now spend about 95 percent of their time at the Walt Disney World Resort.
“Other parks simply don’t compare to the experience we get at Disney … .
“We love the memories we build at Disney and wanted you to know that Maria is a part of the memories our girls will always have about their Disney vacations.”

Thank you to Community Manager Marissa at Disney Parks InsidEARS for sharing this story with us from Eyes & Ears! 

Thanks Sarah for sharing your article with us here.  If you would like to read more of Sarah's work, please check out her blog called View from the Parlor:  Live, Give and Travel.

What is your favorite Cast Member Story?  Make sure to share it in the comments OR on our Facebook page.

Monday, May 14, 2012

News and Rumors 5/7/12 - 5/13/12

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such. 


Magic Kingdom

  • Merida from Disney-Pixar's Brave has started doing previews of her new Play and Greet.  Meet her and the 3 animated bear cubs at the Fantasyland Gardens.  In addition, guests are invited to color a photos of a scene from the movie, as well as learn archery techniques.  The meet and greet officially begins May 18th. 

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • The final celebrity has been named for this Star Wars Weekends.  Catherine Taber, a voice artist from The Clone Wars will be appearing from June 1st - 3rd. 
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will be closed for a brief refurbishment May 16th - 17th.  
  • One Man's Dream will have a one day refurb on May 15th. 

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • The new addition of the zebras to Kilamanjaro Safaris isn't expected to be finished until the Fall.  It's rumored that the zebras are just the beginning.  More changes could potentially be coming over the next 3-4 years here. 
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Disneyland: Sunrise To Sunrise

I was recently able to read the new TouringPlans eBook, Disneyland: Sunrise To Sunrise, by Tom Bricker.  This e-book is the first of it's kind from TouringPlans, but hopefully, it will not be the last!

Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise is an eBook with over 200 photos from the “One More Disney Day” event on Leap Day at Disneyland.  The idea was born from the fact that Tom spent the entire day at Disneyland for the One More Disney Day promotion and he captured the whole event.  All photos included in this eBook were taken on this single day.  

As I'd mentioned previously with my Disney Food Blog review, I'm relatively new to this whole eBook idea.  At first, I was a little leery on the concept.  I like my books in book form!  However, I am quickly realizing that I am quite enjoying this whole eBook phenomenon.

So, what are my thoughts about Disneyland:  Sunrise to Sunrise?

I absolutely loved it! First of all, the pictures are sick.  And I totally mean that in a good way.  I have been a fan of Tom Bricker's work for literally YEARS!!!  I've watched him grow as a photographer and I have always been in awe of the work that he does.  The photos that can be found in this book are simply phenomenal!  Tom's photos are simply gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!   

Another thing I loved about this book were the little captions that were included to help describe each photo.  I really appreciated how the descriptions weren't just of what the photos actually were, but they also included tidbits of history and other information to help enhance your enjoyment of the book.  I learned quite a bit that I didn't know before.

Perhaps I loved this book so much because it couldn't have come out at a better time.  You see, I'm planning my first ever trip to Disneyland in July and I loved the opportunity to get to see things I've never seen before.  I am, of course, SUPER familiar with Walt Disney World, but Disneyland is really more of an enigma.  Reading this eBook really made me look forward to finally being able to get to Disneyland after all these years of waiting. (And trust me...I didn't know the excitement could get any higher!) 

I really appreciated the coffee table nature of this book.  It honestly looked like something I would have displayed in my family room, not necessarily something I would have on my e-Reader.  I almost wish that this book was available for purchase in a hard backed version.  It would SO be on my table if it were! 

However, I will say I have one tiny issue.  Really, it's not much of anything, but the photos in this book are so spectacular that they are meant to be enjoyed on a large scale.  With that being said, I don't have an iPad or an e-Reader of any kind, so I originally read this e-book on my iPhone.  While it's doable, (and certainly if that's the only option you have, I still suggest buying the book) it's certainly not something I would totally recommend.  Once I viewed it on my computer (also a viewing option for you), the beauty popped even more and the captions were a LOT easier to read.  This eBook is meant to be seen by a larger screen for sure!   

This easy to read book is currently available for purchase.  If you would like to purchase a copy of this eBook, we here at A Disney World After All are able to give you an AWESOME deal!  When purchasing the book, type in the code SUNRISE2012 and you'll receive 25% off this already great priced book.  (Originally costs a low $8.)

eBook Features include:

    75 pages of great photos and information
    200+ photos from one full operational day in Disneyland
    Facts and historical tidbits about Disneyland
    The portability of being able to take this vibrant eBook anywhere and view it on your phone, iPad, or other eBook reader
    100% money-back guarantee

So, if you are in the market for a great e-book all about Disneyland, let me tell you, this one is for you!  Make sure you purchase a copy today.  I promise, you won't regret it. 

Order now!

Note:  This blog has a relationship with and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.  However, this review is based solely off of my own opinion and is not being influenced by that relationship.  Purchase of this e-book through the above link will result in monetary support for this site.  We do appreciate if you would help us out by purchasing the book through the above link. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

News and Rumors 4/30/12 - 5/6/12

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such. 


Magic Kingdom

  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party dates have been announced.  They are:  Sept. 11th, 14th, 18th, 21st, 25th, 28th & 30th; Oct. 4th, 5th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 23rd, 25th, 26th, 28th, 30th and 31st; Nov. 2nd.  Tickets are on sale now. 
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party dates have been announced as well.  They are:  Nov. 9th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 25th, 27th, 29th, 30th; Dec. 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 21st.  Tickets are on sale now.
  • The Fantasy Faire Gift Shop in Fantasyland is expected to close for a short refurbishment May 7th through 17th. 


  • Tutto Italia and the new wine bar, Tutto Gusto, have now reopened after a lengthy refurb. 
  • Bistro de Paris will have a three month refurbishment starting from July 1st - Sept. 30th.
  • For those who are wanting to see a sneak peak of "Brave" princess Merida, she is doing random meet and greets throughout Epcot until her spot in the Magic Kingdom is ready for her to move in. 
  • The official line up for the Eat To The Beat concert series that takes place during Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival have been announced.  The acts include:  9/28-9/30: Night Ranger
    10/1-10/3: Sugar Ray
    10/4- 10/7: STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
    10/8-10/10: Boyz II Men
    10/11-10/12: Smash Mouth
    10/13-10/14: Javier Colon, winner of “The Voice”
    10/15-10/17: Air Supply
    10/18-10/19: Gin Blossoms
    10/20-10/21: Survivor
    10/22-10/23: Hanson
    10/24-10/25: The Pointer Sisters
    10/26-10/28: Sister Hazel
    10/29-10/31: Billy Ocean
    11/1-11/2: 38 Special
    11/3-11/4: Howard Jones LIVE
    11/5-11/6: Blues Traveler
    11/7-11/8: Dennis DeYoung, original member of the group STYX
    11/9-11/11: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • A new attraction is set to debut in Fall, based off of Pirates of the Caribbean.  This attraction, called The Legend of Jack Sparrow is expected to take up residency in the former Narnia exhibit area.  It is expected to be a first of it's kind sensory experience with a chance to be enveloped in the four films.  This is not expected to be a simple, "walk through the sets," kind of attraction.  Instead, it's expected to be a sort of first-person experience. 

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • It's Tough To Be A Bug is now back open after a small limb fell from the Tree of Life, causing the attraction to temporarily close.   


  • This rumor has been around for a while, California Grill is still being rumored to have a major refurb in 2013.  
  • Also rumored to have a very lengthy refurb is Hoop de doo Revue.  This restaurant is expected to be down Oct., Nov. and part of Dec. 
  • Liberty Square Riverboat is expected to be down for a refurbishment from Aug. 4th - 10th.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My To Do List: Disney's Animal Kingdom Edition

As my final chapter in celebrating Disney's Animal Kingdom in the month of April (ok, I know today is the first of May, but it's close enough.  :)  )  I realized that there are quite a few attractions at the park that I simply have not gotten around to doing.  This park feels like the one that I have the most undone attractions in it.  I think part of that is because I don't spend a lot of time there, since Brian doesn't really care for the park, and part of that is because most of the things I haven't done are not rides, but more experiences.

As part of my quest to attempt to do everything in every Walt Disney World Theme Park at least once, (a HUGE daunting task that I'm quite sure may never actually end up being finished.) I thought we'd take a look at which attractions I wanted to try to do on my next few trips to Florida to help cross them off my list.

Now many would think that one attraction that I had never been on at DAK would be one that I am absolutely terrified of...Dinosaur.  Ironically enough, I have actually been on Dinosaur, and helped to raise some money for charity along the way.  My first (and only) ride through of this attraction happened a few years back and unfortunately was recorded for all to hear for The Be Our Guest Podcast.  (Listen to it if you would like to hear the sheer terror in my voice...oh and to hear me crying!)

But actually, one of the only rides that I have never done at Disney's Animal Kingdom is Kali River Rapids.  I simply have not done this water ride because I do not feel like being soaked to the absolute bone.  Yes, I know there's a slight chance that I could be on the "right" side of the boat and not get drenched, but I know my luck...and it's always to get soaked on those type of attractions.  However, we have established, it is always Animal Kingdom Hot at this park, so maybe, just maybe, one day, I'll decide I'm so hot that I just don't care if I'm dripping the whole rest of the afternoon.

Another complete area of the park that I've never done is Rafiki's Planet Watch.  I've never even stepped foot back there.  Part of the reason for this is because it's not exactly easy to get to.  You have to take the Wildlife Express Train to get back there.  (I don't even know where the train station actually is!)  Plus, I've never been one who was really interested in watching animal surgeries and I don't really need to pet a goat.  So, it's never been high on my list.  But, Debbie on the show speaks so highly of this area, so if she loves it, it's gotta be a place I head back to some time soon.

I've also never seen the show Flights of Wonder.  I've heard such great things about this attraction, but I can honestly say, Disney's own description in their park map doesn't really have me heading over there first thing to watch.  According to Disney:  Get out of the sun, have a seat and watch amazing birds enthrall you with incredible flights and humorous natural behaviors. when your first few words are that you can get out of the sun here...well that just explains the problem with why I've never been to this attraction.  It's not exactly a ringing endorsement for me.  Plus, I've seen animal shows at the St. Louis Zoo before...and be honest...they've never really wowed me.  But, like I mentioned before, many people in the Disney community have mentioned how this is a hidden gem, so this attraction is pretty high on my list of attractions I must make my way to experience in the next year or so.

So, there you have top 3 attractions I've never done at Disney's Animal Kingdom that are certainly on my To Do List to finally get to experience.   Hopefully, I get to experience these soon and then will get to add more attractions to my Disney Bucket List.

Which of these attractions are the best and the one I need to head to immediately on my next trip?  What makes them so great in your eyes?  Be sure to let me know in either the comments section or on our Facebook page. 

Also, if you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word!  Share it on Twitter or Facebook...hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!