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May 2014 Archives

May 6, 2014

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast w/Photos

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The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater becomes the Star Wars™ Dine-in Theater for this character dining experience. This special meal is offered from May 4 to June 15, 2014.

Please post your review of the breakfast HERE!

First up, a Darth Vader Meet & Greet after check-in....

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Characters include Stormtroopers, Jawa, Greedo, and Boba Fett:

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Additionally, the traditional Sci-Fi clips shown in the restaurant will be replaced with Star Wars™ clips, trailers and music.

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Times: 8 a.m. - noon
Price: Adult - $47.99; Child - $29.99 (ages 9 and under)

A digital photo of the party on a commemorative PhotoPass card is included.

Here's the menu:

STARTERS
Star Wars Breakfast Pastries: Vanilla Cream Turnover, Almond Pastry, and Double Chocolate Muffin

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Anchored Appetizers: Greek Yogurt Parfait with fresh berries and Homemade Granola OR Seasonal Fresh Fruit and Berries

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ENTREES - Select ONE.
** The Dune Sea - house-smoked salmon scrambled eggs, wild mushroom potato hash with multigrain toast slatered with goat cheese butter

** The Kessel Run - grilled beef tenderloin on baby spinach with bacon and cheddar custard on a roasted tomato and cheesy horseradish potatoes

** Tatooine Sunrise - scrambled eggs, Nueske's bacon, sausage links and breakfast potatoes

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** Imperial Delight - Caramelized banana-stuffed French toast with caramel sauce and strawberry compote

** Ackbar Surprise - Smoked paprika-dusted shrimp pan-seared with cheesy grits

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** Mos Eisleys Morning - egg white omelet with shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions, garlic roasted fingerling potatoes, and greek yogurt with berries

KIDS MENU

APPETIZER
Greek Yogurt Parfait with fresh berries and Homemade Granola OR Seasonal Fresh Fruit and Berries

ENTREES

** Kenobi Cuisine - scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and breakfast potatoes

** Gamorrean Goodness - Puffed French toast sticks in cinnamon sugar with chocolate dipping sauce

COMPLIMENTARY BEVERAGES
Complimentary refills on: Blue Milk, Freshly Brewed Joffrey's Coffee, Minute Maid Light Pomegranate Lemonade, Hot Tea, Hot Cocoa, Soft Drinks, Ice Tea, Minute Maid Apple Juice, Minute Maid Orange Juice, 1% milk or chocolate milk.

SPECIALTY DRINKS

** Bellini - peach puree and prosecco $8.75
** Mimosa - orange juice and prosecco $8.50

These Star Wars-themed meals are available for booking now at 407-WDW-DINE or online at disneyworld.com/dining

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine

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Hollywood and Vine has been transformed into a Star Wars™ themed venue where Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Chip & Dale will all be dressed as their favorite Star Wars™ characters. The characters will meet and greet and interact with Guests throughout the evening.

This special meal is offered from May 4 to June 15, 2014.

JEDI MICKEY
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STORMTROOPER DONALD
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PRINCESS LEIA MINNIE
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DARTH GOOFY
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EWOKS CHIP AND DALE
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Times: 4:15 to 8 or 8:30 p.m. (sometimes 9 to 9:30 p.m. based on park close)
Price: Adult - $59.99 with Fantasmic! Package or $55.99 without; Child - $36.99 with Fantasmic! Package or $32.99 without

A digital photo of the party with the Ewoks Chip & Dale on a commemorative PhotoPass card is included. Scroll to the bottom for the Digital Photos you receive.

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Dinner is the regular buffet offerings but with Star Wars "names" like: Cantina Corn, Greedo's Green Beans, C-3POs Cream Corn Spoon Bread and Tusken Raider Chicken.

Desserts are Star Wars themed!

Digital Photos Included with your Meal

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You and the characters!

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Coming Attractions Around the "World"

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In wrapping up the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train media preview the other day, Walt Disney World executives gave us an "Around Our World" briefing -- basically an overview of everything that's been going on and is to come at all of Disney's business units. You've probably read all the press releases by now, and realized that much of the news was not really "news" at all (expanded Star Wars Weekends, the upcoming 24-hour Memorial Day Weekend event, Norway experiences for the Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney), or had been rumored around the internet. Still, it was good to get official word on some projects -- and I have to admit that there were one or two items that were actually news to me!

The biggest Walt Disney World news centered around Disney's Animal Kingdom. While Walt Disney World Resort President George Kalogridis didn't offer much in the way of details on the progress of the park's Avatar-themed land, I did glean what I thought was an interesting nugget from the accompanying video.

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Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs spoke about the work on the new land, saying that the three things the team wanted to accomplish were to allow guests to experience the grandeur and scale of the film's floating mountains and the beauty of the bioluminescent forest, and to ride a banshee. He noted that through a new array of technologies and techniques they have figured out how to do all three things! I think this offers some clues as to what we can expect from the attractions when the new land eventually opens... in 2017!

Aside from "Pandora" or "Avatar-land," or whatever the new land is named, Kalogridis did have specifics on several new offerings that will help convert Animal Kingdom into a full-day park -- and by that I mean that the park will have extended opening hours, well into the night.

To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Disney animated feature The Lion King, the park's beloved attraction Festival of the Lion King will reopen in June in its new location -- the newly constructed Harambe Theatre in the Africa section of the park (artist renderings below).

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Animal Kingdom then will begin to offer a series of special ticketed evening events, called "Harambe Nights," which will include a 55-minute theatrical rendition of the Lion King story in Harambe Theatre called "The Lion King Concert in the Wild." Running on Saturdays from June 7 through August 9, Harambe Nights will begin with a reception, complete with appetizers, beer and wine, in Animal Kingdom's Harambe Village, followed by the stage show, which will include a live orchestra and choir and will be narrated by such actors as Joe Morton (from ABC-TV's "Scandal") and Viola Davis (Oscar-nominated for her role in the film "The Help"). The evening will conclude with a street party and buffet stations situated throughout that area of the park. For more details, see the official press release HERE.

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In addition to this, the park will offer a new, "dark" version of the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, and live performers will entertain guests in the evenings around the Tree of Life. Further down the road, a new "nighttime Spectacular" called "Rivers of Light." The nighttime show will combine live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery on the park's Discovery River, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. No estimated date was given for this new evening entertainment debut, but we were told that the night-time version of Kilimanjaro Safari, and the Tree of Life live performers would happen "sooner" than 2017.

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A lot of the other announcements dealt with the renovations happening at the Polynesian Resort -- er, excuse me, I mean the Polynesian VILLAGE Resort.

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That's right, the hotel is reverting to the name it originally sported back when it opened in 1971. In addition to the room refurbishments that have been ongoing at the resort, the main pool and the lobby -- the Great Ceremonial House -- are also getting the treatment. The resort is also going to add a new lounge, Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, based on lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. The new lounge will offer tiki cocktails served in souvenir mugs and Polynesian-themed small plates.

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Another topic that Karl Holz (President, Disney Cruise Line and New Vacation Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts) just touched on was the addition of Disney Vacation Club units at the Polynesian. Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows will include a collection of tropical structures right along the Seven Seas Lagoon, due to open in 2015.

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Also starting to open next year will be the reimagined Downtown Disney area. The first section of the new Disney Springs, to be known as The Landing, will be rededicated in early 2015. Leading up to that, however, we can expect more new shops and restaurants to open, including a full-service Starbucks this summer, the collection of six small boutique shops known as the Marketplace Co-op, and a new soccer store, the United World of Soccer, to help us all prepare for next year's World Cup.

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So all in all, the presentation wasn't exactly brimming with NEW news, but there were a few little tidbits worth hearing, with the promise of a whole lot more on the horizon.

Having had the opportunity to spend time in Disney's Animal Kingdom at night for several press events over the years, I'm most anxious to see what they do with the new nighttime experiences there. What are you most looking forward to in next few months and years at Walt Disney World, or with Disney in general?


May 10, 2014

After Hours Wind Down: Rose and Crown Pub

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A few weeks ago, Walt Disney World announced a special spring/summer offering that allows you to stay in Epcot and "lounge around" after the park closes at one of four spots scattered around World Showcase. Called the "After Hours Wind Down," the program gives you the chance to hang out at either La Cava del Tequila in Mexico, Spice Road Table in Morocco, Tutto Gusto in Italy, or the Rose and Crown Pub in the United Kingdom, from 9:20 (after IllumiNations) to 11 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays.

Since I was in Walt Disney World last week for a few days, I managed to find a way to squeeze it into my schedule, and booked my reservations at the Rose and Crown Pub.

After an early dinner, my friend and I showed up at the door of the Rose and Crown immediately after IllumiNations had concluded. The greeter checked our names off her list and gave us wristbands, asking us to wait as the pub staff readied for our visit. After a few minutes, we were allowed to enter and had our choice of seats. The capacity for this event at Rose and Crown is about 50, but I'd say that on this Friday evening there were only about 20 patrons.

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Soon after we settled in, a cast member brought us our beverage "flight" for the evening: 6-oz. pours of Bass Ale, Harp Lager, Guinness Stout and Strongbow Cider.

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A few minutes later we were brought a plate with our food sampler of typical pub fare -- a Scotch egg with mustard sauce and watercress; English Cotswold cheese with chives with onion jam; and pork apple sausage roll served with picalilli.

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Having visited the UK many times, I thought I would know what to expect from the food, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. The hard-boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, coated in bread crumbs and baked, was quite tasty, as was the savory pork roll. The cheese, creamy and oniony, was nicely accented by the sweet jam. The portions were a typical tasting size (though I could have used a bit more mustard sauce) and I really enjoyed them. Even though it wasn't an overabundance of food, I was glad I had skipped dessert at dinner, I overheard the couples at nearby tables complaining that they were too full from their dinners at Le Cellier and Monsieur Paul to really enjoy the food. No problem, though. The friendly cast members were happy to box up the snacks to be carried home and eaten later.

I have to admit that I'm not much of a beer fan, and had thought that there would be alternative beverage options -- but I guess there's not much in the way of British wine, is there? So I went with the beer, and surprised myself. I found that I really enjoyed the Harp Lager, which I'd never tried before. The Bass was, well, to me it was just beer. Not a fan. The Guinness, which I've tried before, was a little too thick and strong for me -- definitely an acquired taste that I haven't acquired. The Strongbow, however, was light and refreshing and went down easily -- and I noticed that the people at the surrounding tables seemed to feel the same.

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While 24 ounces of beer-type beverages over the course of almost 90 minutes was plenty for me, you can order additional drinks (and food, too) if you'd like -- at a price. Also, if you decide to go non-alcoholic, you can still attend -- for the same price, of course -- and you'll be provided with soft drinks.

There's no entertainment during the Wind Down, which was fine with me, but I thought that some soft background music would have added a little to the ambience. On the other hand, I could have done without the janitorial staff (three of them!) who took up residence in the corner of the room, chatting on their walkie-talkies and sweeping up non-existent litter while I was trying to relax and enjoy my drink. It really struck me as Bad Show.

The other thing that disappointed me is that the Friday night I was there was evening Extra Magic Hours night at Epcot -- so what was supposed to be "after hours" really wasn't. I was hoping to have the chance to walk through a deserted Epcot after we'd finished, but there were still quite a few other guests in the park. Oh well.

But these are minor complaints. Overall it was a quite enjoyable experience and a pleasant way to end the evening. Was it worth $35? I'd say a qualified "yes" -- maybe it's just slightly overpriced, by about $5. Still, it was great to actually be able to sit in the pub and soak in the atmosphere. That's something that you can't normally do during regular park hours, due to the spot's popularity.

I think the next time I book the Wind Down -- and I do plan to try it again -- I'll make reservations at the wine cellar at Tutto Gusto. On a Sunday night!


VITAL INFO:

The After Hours Wind Down is available Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now through September 15. Cost is $35, plus tax and gratuity.

Make a reservation at www.disneyworld.com/spring, call 407-WDW-DINE or stop by Epcot Guest Relations.


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About May 2014

This page contains all entries posted to AllEars® Team Blog in May 2014. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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