Theme Park Snapshots: November 11-13, 2013, Part I
Even though I was just in Walt Disney World at the end of September for the opening of the Food and Wine Festival, I had the chance to sneak back down there again for a few days last week, so I jumped on it! While there, I realized that there were many things that have changed or opened over the last few months that I've missed, so I decided to run around and catch up on them as much as possible.
My new experiences started with my first opportunity to use the Magic Bands. While all of the reports we've been receiving from our readers have been overwhelmingly positive, I have to tell you that my experience was not so great.
I was sharing a room this trip with Deb Wills, who made the hotel reservations, and try as we may, we could not get my My Disney Experience account to link up with hers. She sent me repeated emails inviting me to join, I sent her several emails as well -- and never the twain did meet. I did get my own pretty blue Magic Band, which allowed me to enter our room and make charges, but there was no way for me to set up FastPass+ and arranging my Magical Express trip took three separate phone calls.
Deb Wills told me that she had already gone through similar issues, and had been unable to link other friends to her reservations -- seems to work fine for families, but not for unrelated parties staying together. After trying to resolve this issue both over the phone and online, I decided not to waste any more precious vacation time dealing with the new technology. I'll give them a few more months to work all the bugs out and try again. So for this trip, Deb had the room reservations on her account, I had the restaurant reservations on my account, and I gave up on using FastPass+ until next time.
That aside, I was able to see quite a few of the new-to-me things on my to-do list.
In Epcot, I made my way over to the Norway pavilion to see the new "Frozen" meet-and-greet, featuring the princesses Elsa and Anna. The line to see these two new stars was quite long, and believe it or not, there were little girls dressed in "Frozen"-style outfits, some having already gone for the "Frozen" makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. There is a spot, though, where you can simply view the princesses as they greet their fans -- go into the shop whose entrance is to the right of "Prinsesse Plass," the meet-and-greet location, then make a left and walk all the way to the end of the building. There you can peek in and get some nice shots of the princesses in action.
While in Epcot, I took a stroll around the Morocco pavilion to see how the new waterfront eatery, Spice Road Table, is progressing. It's definitely coming along, but no one is saying exactly when this new spot might open. Loving Middle Eastern food as I do (and, who am I kidding? most all food!), I can't wait.
Another thing on my list to check out in Epcot was the new restroom location in the American Adventure pavilion. I never thought I'd be writing about a bathroom, but this spot is worth getting a bit excited over.
The new restrooms, situated to the right of the shop, are spacious, bright, and very clean, with gleaming cream-colored tile and purple accents. Best of all, there seem to be adequate stalls, at least speaking for the women's room. There are conventional paper towel dispensers, as well as very modern Dyson Airblade hand dryers, which noisily blow your hands dry. This restroom is truly a welcome addition to the area, which previously only had restrooms located down an out-of-the-way hallway along the far side of the Liberty Inn. Oh, one other note -- there's also a companion restroom here.
My final stop in Epcot was in the France pavilion, where I wanted to try for myself a new offering they have in the ice cream shop, L'Artisan des Glaces (located where the bakery used to be).
Called a Croque Glace (a play on the name of a popular grilled French sandwich, "Croque Monsieur"), this new taste treat is an ice cream sandwich in its own class. My friend AJ over at the Disney Food Blog wrote about this a few weeks ago, and I knew it sounded like something for me to try. AJ had sampled the sandwich with the caramel fleur de sel ice cream, which was my intention also, but when the lovely cast member behind the counter suggested that I try the Coconut White Chocolate with chocolate sauce -- well, how could I refuse? (I love coconut!).
It was a great recommendation -- Merci, Chloe! To make this mouthwatering concoction, they take a fresh, buttery French brioche, halve it, pile on a scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor, drizzle it with chocolate or raspberry sauce, top it with the other half of the brioche, then put it in a sandwich press for a few minutes. Voila! You have a perfect dessert: warm on the outside, cool and creamy inside. I haven't had anything quite like it -- worth every penny of the $6.10 it costs!
After ticking off this last thing at Epcot, I needed to make sure that I spent some time over at the Magic Kingdom -- quite a few things there I hadn't seen, as the last time I was in that park was back in May! (I know, I know, it's not THAT long, but that's a long time for me.)
The Limited Time Magic was dedicated to honoring our veterans, and I really wanted to see the special ceremony they were holding each day as part of the Flag Retreat. Unfortunately, I didn't get there in time to get a great viewing spot, but I did manage to capture the lowering of the flag as the Voices of Liberty sang The Star-Spangled Banner.
Very emotional, especially when I looked around and noticed several former servicemen and women nearby tearing up. There's something about hearing the Voices of Liberty sing the National Anthem that can't help but bring out the patriot in you. I'm glad I managed to see at least that much of the program.
I'll share more of what I found that was new and new to me in the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Downtown Disney later this week!