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Friday, February 27, 2009

ESPN the weekend starts today at DHS

ESPN and Walt Disney World Resort are again offering fans the opportunity to see and hear ESPN personalities and current and legendary athletes during ESPN The Weekend presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, a one-of-a-kind sports-themed special event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Feb. 27-March 1.

ESPN personalities John Anderson, Colin Cowherd, Jay Crawford, Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg, Dana Jacobson, Chris McKendry, Karl Ravech, Stuart Scott and Trey Wingo are scheduled to participate, along with more than 30 athletes, including NFL quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner and recently retired Brett Favre; 2009MLB Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson; and U.S. Olympic gold medalists Shawn Johnson and Misty May-Treanor, among many others. The ESPN personalities and sports celebrities expected to attend the sixth annual event are listed at www.espntheweekend.com.

ESPN The Weekend will feature on-site telecasts of popular ESPN programs (beginning Thursday, Feb. 26), including Baseball Tonight, First Take, Mike & Mike in the Morning, NFL Live and interview segments on SportsCenter; motorcades and Q&A sessions with athletes and ESPN personalities; Inside ESPN sports shows with commentators and athletes; live ESPN Radio broadcasts; and the ESPN Sports Zone interactive area. Guests also will be able to enjoy all the popular shows and attractions at the theme park during Disney’s “What Will You Celebrate?” celebration. Dick’s Sporting Goods will serve as presenting sponsor of the event for the third straight year.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Report confirms "Are You 23?" is a fan club

The folks over at Stitch Kingdom have pretty solid proof that the whole "Are you 23?" campaign is about a new "official community for Disney fans." Stitch Kingdom happened to come across an advance copy of the new Pinocchio DVD release (officially releasing on March 10). Included in the insert booklet is a sketch image of Jiminy Cricket that reads: "Wishes do come true," and "D23 - the official community for Disney fans. Join at Disney.com/D23." (I tried that link and it just goes back to the preview page - for now).

Stitch Kingdom has the photo online -- so check it out!

Online resort check-in service begins

From a Walt Disney World news release:

Walt Disney World Resort has launched a new Online Check-In Service, designed to simplify and streamline guest arrivals. The new service is complimentary and available to guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club resorts open as of February 2009.Within 10 days of their arrival dates, guests are able to provide check-in information, advise the resort of their arrival times and request room preferences (although those cannot be guaranteed). Guests can also register the names of all the people in their party and provide a credit card to cover charges at the resort hotel.

Upon arrival at their resorts, guests visit a special welcome location where their room keys and other registration material are waiting. Disney cast members are also available to provide additional information and answer questions.

Meeting professionals can also arrange private group check-in at a Disney resort convention center or other locations.

“Our new Online Check-In Service offers added convenience and time savings for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests,” said Kevin Myers, vice president of Resort Operations for Walt Disney World Resort. “It’s the latest benefit created as part of our continuous effort to provide a seamless and hassle-free arrival experience for our guests as they begin their Disney vacation.”

Online Check-In Service is the newest Disney service designed to simplify the travel and arrival process. Guests staying at select Walt Disney World hotels get an extra dose of pixie dust with great perks and services including: Complimentary on-property transportation; Disney’s Magical Express, which offers complimentary airport shuttle and luggage delivery; and Extra Magic Hours, where each day one of the Walt Disney World theme parks opens one hour early or stays open up to three hours later, providing extra time in the parks to experience select attractions.

For more information about the new Online Check-In Service or to make a resort reservation, call 407/W-DISNEY or your local travel agent or click on disneyworld.com.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Park etiquette

Hello Disney fans and welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week's tip is a little bit different. Normally here on the DisneyDaddy blog, I give you tips to help make your Walt Disney World experience a little bit better. This week's tip is going to help you pay it forward. How can you make someone else's Disney trip a little bit more enjoyable (and how someone else can make your trip more enjoyable as well).

It all comes down to etiquette, Disney-style.

I'd like to share a few do's and don'ts when it comes to spending a day at a Disney park. Many of these could be considered common courtesies, but, sadly, many (way too many) don't seem to understand or care about being courteous to other guests.

So without further adieu, let's get started.

Dark Rides:
When riding a dark ride, any dark ride, please do not take flash photography. Turn the flash off (or set the camera to a non-flash setting). There's nothing worse then riding Pirates of the Caribbean and seeing a hundred flashes every time Jack Sparrow can be seen. It totally ruins the effect. If you're trying to get pictures during a dark ride, see some tips from The Magic in Pixels. Whatever you try to do - turn off that flash!

Those with video cameras are just as bad (and I have to admit I've been guilty of this one too). Ever been behind someone taping an attraction and all you can really see is a bright LCD window? Those things put off a lot of light. Close the side window and use the viewfinder (that's the little thing you look through with one eye). And please don't use a light (see the flash comment above).

Finally, put your cell phones to vibrate. There's nothing worse then going through a dark ride with great sound to all the sudden hear some funky ringtone going off. Of course, it should go without saying that you should keep the cell phone put away during the ride. Sadly, I've been in the Haunted Mansion with someone in an adjacent doom buggy jabbering away on the cell phone.

Speaking of talking - if you have to talk during a dark ride, do it quietly. There's nothing more annoying then hearing someone try to spook everyone out on the Haunted Mansion by yelling and being stupid (well maybe the constant camera flashes might be more annoying, but it's a close call). When in the stretching room of the Haunted Mansion - be silent (like the dead). These so much incredible audio to be heard there, but no one can hear it if everyone is chatting away. And please don't use profanity. Walt Disney World is a place for kids, so don't go spouting off that kind of stuff for kids to hear. They'll learn it soon enough.

Parades
It's no secret that parades draw a big crowd, especially special parades. Guests line up nearly an hour in advance (and sometime longer) to get that great spot. Please don't think that you can slip into a great spot at the last minute. If seeing the parade is a priority, make the time for it. And don't use your kids as an excuse to butt in. I was at Mickey's Very Merry in December and one woman in front of me had been sitting at the rope line for well over 30 minutes waiting for the nighttime parade. She said she was going to get up and take a few photos of a light-up Main Street for a minute. Her jacket and everything was still there and she was no more than 15 feet away. It wasn't 10 seconds that some woman shoves her kids into that space and then proceeds to stand right in front of me and my camera. I mentioned to this person that the guest was returning in a second and got berated by the mother for "interfering." She managed to find a way for the kids to mooch into a spot at the last second, but that's not the Disney spirit.

That being said, it is the Disney spirit to be polite and considerate of others. If you're standing along the rope line and a guest in a wheelchair, ECV, whatever, is in need of a space, you might consider letting that person move to the rope while you stand behind. You'll see over them and give someone else a great view as well. If you can make room for a child, offer them a spot (this is different than the squatter situation mentioned above).

Oh and it's OK to use a flash and video camera LCD window for a nighttime parade. :)

Smoking
Oh yes, I'm going to go there. Aside from the aforementioned flash in a dark ride, there's nothing else irks me more than someone smoking in the parks outside of a designated smoking area (personally I'd get rid of those too, but that's just me). Disney understands the needs for some to smoke and provides outside areas to do so. Sadly, I've seen too many guests who apparently can't read all the no smoking signs or just don't care. You smokers know what you should and should not do. Need I say more?

Hopefully these tips are not a surprise and you aren't guilty of any of these breaches of Disney ettiquette.

What other Disney ettiquette tips do you have? Post a comment!

Have fun and be nice!

New Star Wars Weekends big figs announced - LAST ones!

StarWars.com has pictures of the four new big figs that will be on sale during this year's Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

This year's four figs are:
- Mickey as Luke Skywalker (in Dagobah attire) with Yoda on his back
- Minnie as Princess Leia (in Jabaa's slave attire)
- Goofy as Chewbacca
-Donald as Han Solo (encased in carbonite)

Most importantly, these are the FINAL four big figs in the series. Presumably, after this series, there will be no more Star Wars-inspired big figs.

Here's what concerns me the most about this announcement. Could the fact that these are the last big figs be some indication of the future of Star Wars Weekends in general? I certainly hope not!

The big figs were wildly popular in the past, but have started to drop off in sales, especially last year. I recall many figs were still available for purchase well after SWW 2008. There were a few available at Tatooine Traders when I was at Mousefest 08 (and that was in December).

One other problem I see with Disney's plan is that the big figs themselves won't be released until the second week of June - that put the release date during either the very last SWW date or even after SWW has ended. I can only assume fans coming to SWW would be able to purchase big figs as a pre-order only. In my opinion, this process has contributed to making buyers a little hesitant to plop down $200 just to pre-order a big fig. Disney did this last year and I think it's one of the reasons sales have declined.

If you can attend Star Wars Weekends, I highly recommend it, though be prepared for some long lines, especially to see characters and actors.

The dates for the 2009 Star Wars Weekends are:
- May 22-24
- May 29-31
- June 5-7
- June 12-14

If you're going, have fun and may the Force be with you!

Could the "Are you 23?" mystery be solved?


WDW News Today, along with my friends at The Disney Blog, have articles showing pictures of two pins that appear to be related to the whole "Are You 23?" buzz campaign that Disney fans have been speculating about for the past few weeks. The secret will officially be announced on March 10, presumably at the Disney's annual shareholders meeting.


(Image courtesy of WDW News Today)

As you can see, these pins seem to support the theory that the whole "D23" thing is a membership club. The "23" would mostly likely be a reference to 1923, the year the Walt Disney Studio was founded. So far there's no official word on what these pictures mean, but the picture is getting much clearer.

If this is a membership group and if this group does include annual meets, I wonder if this was one of the reasons the 2009 Mousefest was placed on hiatus? This is total speculation on my part, so please don't start any rumors.

What are your thoughts? If this is a new club (obviously with some sort of membership fee), would you join?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Congrats to Wall-E!!

"Wall-E" has won the Oscar for best animated film over "Bolt" and "Kung-Fu Panda". Unfortunately, Andrew Stanton didn't win the Oscar for best original screenplay for "Wall-E." Also, Pixar fell short in the best animated short category. "Wall-E" didn't win in sound editing, sound mixing, best score or best song categories either.

At least "Wall-E" received one Oscar.

In all, the Disney/Pixar film was nominated for six Oscars.

iTunes find: Louis Armstrong sings classic Disney tunes

(Image copyright Amazon.com. All rights reserved).
While searching around iTunes for some Disney-related music, I came across an album I had never seen before. It's called "Disney Songs the Satchmo Way," by Louis Armstrong. I ran through a few sample tracks and was blown away by what I heard. Naturally I had heard Armstrong sing before, but when his signature deep, raspy voice started singing "Zip a dee doo dah, zip a dee ay," I was spellbound.
The album has ten songs including:
1. Zip a Dee Doo Dah
2. Ten Feet Off the Ground
3. Heigh-Ho (this is a fun song that Armstrong slightly modifies)
4. Whistle While you Work
5. Chim Chim Cher-ee
6. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo
7. 'Bout Time
8. The Ballad of Davy Crockett
9. The Bare Necessities
10. When you Wish Upon a Star (mesmerizing!)
Check it out on iTunes -- I think you'll find this as incredible as I did. Of course, I downloaded it right away. It's also available on Amazon.com's mp3 download section.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Attraction review: Festival of the Lion King

Welcome to a new segment for the DisneyDaddy blog. Every once in a while, I'll share my thoughts about an attraction at WDW. For this post, I'd like to discuss the Festival of the Lion King at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

---- SPOILER ALERT ---- SPOILER ALERT ----

I will get into some specifics about the show, though there aren't any real surprises that I will discuss. If you haven't seen this show and don't want to know anything about it, you might want to stop here.





OK, you've had your warning, on with the show, er, review.

I have only had the opportunity to see this show one time, so I will state right up front that there may be some elements I missed about this show.

The show warm-up is done by four castmembers clad in attire that loosely represents the "sections" of the audience they are playing to. Those four sections are: elephant, giraffe, warthog and lion. The seats are arranged in four sections, two of which I'll call the "back" (facing the entrance) and two the "front" (facing away from the entrance). As I'll explain later, it's better to get a seat in the two front sections, as they give a much better view of certain show elements.

Anyway, back to the pre-show: these four performers bring up audience members (mostly from the front or second row) to help "demonstrate" the sounds each section should make. As I was sitting in the elephant section, you can guess what sounds we were asked to make whenever the elephant section was referenced. The poor guy chosen to demonstrate our elephant sound couldn't get into the spirit, though the cast member did a nice job trying to make him not feel embarrassed. The same thing went for the three other sections.

Once the pre-show wrapped up, the main show began with five huge set pieces being wheeled into the main area. Timon (a live character) is first to enter and sort of becomes the master of ceremonies for lack of a better term. He's not the central figure, but he does guide things along.

Four of these huge set pieces are pretty much just decoration, though each has one large animatronic on it which the live castmembers interact with at times. Those are (you guessed it,) a giraffe, elephant, warthog (Pumbaa, of course) and a lion (Simba, naturally).

The fifth set piece is a large trampoline disguised as a rock formation. This is where the tumble monkey's jump swing all over the place. The other acrobatic highlight of the show is the flying bird-woman who soars several times out into the audience. She really is quite spectacular.

That's pretty much the lay of the prideland. I won't go through a play-by-play of the entire thing, but I did want to share a few points.

If you, can, it's better to sit in either the warthog or giraffe sections. They face Simba, while the lion and elephant sections face away from Simba. I would say warthog is best (especially toward the right front). That way you get a good view of both Simba and Pumbaa. The giraffe and elephant animatronics don't really do all that much.

If anyone in your party has a fear of fire, they may want to be forewarned -- there is a fire juggler in the show. He's great, but for those with a heightened fear of fire, it might be frightening.

There is a point during the show where some kids can get into the action. If your kids are interested in taking part, it's better to sit in the first few rows and be enthusiastic.

My take: The Festival of the Lion King is one of the signature attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The show runs about 30 minutes and is a great way to beat the heat (or avoid the rain). The arena is fairly large, seating around 1000 guests. The tumble monkeys are the true gem of this attraction. They perform with high energy and humor. If you haven't seen the Festival of the Lion King - it is a must-do at Animal Kingdom. I wouldn't go so far to say that it's a must-do every time, but it's a great show to see every few trips. If you do get the chance to interact with the castmembers during the pre-show - have fun! We're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Disney announces layoffs at domestic resorts

This from the "we all knew it was coming" file:

The Orlando Sentinel has an article today about Disney's announcement to eliminate an unannounced number of positions as part of an overall downsizing of the east coast and west coast resort divisions. In short, functions that take place both at WDW and Disneyland may be combined so that one location may handle particular functions for both resorts.

The company pointed to the joint development of Toy Story Mania, which was added to both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's California Adventure. By working on both attractions at the same time, Disney held down development costs.

Disney also said it would create a new "Global Business Development team," which will work to combine existing business and real-estate development functions. This team will be responsible for focusing growth strategies at existing parks-and-resorts businesses and identifying new opportunities around the globe.

My take: Disney is doing all it can to weather the economic downturn. No one likes reducing their staff, but in this climate, you have to do what's necessary to survive. Let's hope that the stimulus plan will actually do what it's supposed to do and stimulate the economy, which can, in turn, get more people to the two U.S.-based resorts and turn things around. At the end of today, Disney stock was still under $18 a share, well down from $35 a share back in May, 2008.

Maybe once the dust settles, some good will come of this shuffle. We can only hope. But as Walt said, we have to "keep moving forward."

Why supporting the Dream Team (and groups like it) are worth the effort

I happened to be reading the online version of my local newspaper and ran across this heartwarming story from a girl who's wish to meet Miley Cyrus came true.

So Salem (produced by The Roanoke Times): Kelly Farmer meets Miley Cyrus

While this was a different group than the DWT Dream Team (which benefits the Make A Wish Foundation), the intent and the result is the same. Through the generosity of some, this girl's wish to meet Miley Cyrus (and go to Disneyland) came true.

I hope you take the time to read this article and look at some of the pictures to see the joy Kelly experienced and then consider helping making another child's Disney wish to come true.

Click here to contribute to the DWT Dream Team. The new goal is $55,000. Together we can make a wish (or even wishes) come true!

EDIT: One of the local TV stations, WDBJ, did a story on Kelly as well:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Quiet time in the parks

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

Anyone who has been to Walt Disney World with younger children know that there comes a time (usually in the afternoon) when the kids run out of gas and crash. For parents, there are a few ways to handle this situation. The first, and most obvious, is to return to their resort and put the kids down for a good nap (and maybe one for mom and dad too!).

While this can be the best overall option if you're staying at an on-property resort (especially one that is close to the park you happen to be at), this becomes much more of a problem for those staying at the value and moderate resorts, or even off-property. The hassle of getting a bus to the resort and all that mess means that the power nap could be over by the time you get back to your resort.

Consider another option - finding a quiet place in the park to allow the kid(s) to nap. This can work quite well, especially if the child is in a stroller. But where do you go to find some quieter places to sit and relax for a bit while the little one is taking a short nap?

(Oh and this tip also goes for older visitors who just need to find a quiet place to relax for a bit!)

Here are a few suggestions:

Magic Kingdom:
The back walkway between Tomorrowland and ToonTown is sparsely used and there is plenty of shade and a few benches. The only major sounds that will come your way are the low rumble of the Tomorrowland Speedway and the occasional train whistle.

Another area that you might consider would be the waiting area for the Liberty Square Riverboat. There are several benches, but this can become crowded as guests queue up for the boat.

Finally there is a small seating area just at the entrance to Adventureland from the hub. Just before you cross the bridge into Adventureland, there is a small circular seating area with a tree in the center. This is generally well shaded and if you sit on the far side, you enjoy a view of the creek and can listen to the music.

Epcot:
This is easy and hard at the same time. All throughout the pavilion are some nice seating areas. The trouble is finding somewhere quiet, as there are different events and activities during the day. One place you can try is the walkway to the International Gateway just past the bridge over the lagoon. There are a few benches there and it is well shaded.

Another place to try is just after you cross the bridge from the United Kingdom into France, there is a seating area on the right, down some steps. The good news here is it's quiet, the bad news is there's little shade.

In Future World, there is an area near the entrance to the Coral Reef restaurant at the Seas pavilion where you might find a bit of shade and the quiet(er) sounds of the splashing water and talking gulls.

Hollywood Studios:
This probably is the most difficult park to find a large amount of shade and quiet in the same place. There are a few places to try, though.

Right along the banks of Echo Lake are some benches, the quietest of which would be on the Indiana Jones side of the lake. You might be able to find a bit of shade here.

Another place to try would be inside the Magic of Disney Animation. Go in the "back way" through the shop. There are some benches in the main character meet and greet area and near Disney's Oscar display.

I believe there are some benches near the Indiana Jones shop as well (located to the right of the 50's Prime Time Cafe). There's a fair amount of shade here and not much guest traffic.

Along the walkway in front of the ABC Commissary are some nice seating areas with pretty good shade. Depending on the time of day, it might be fairly quiet.

Animal Kingdom:
The major downside of Animal Kingdom is that it's HOT much of the year. The big upside is there is a LOT of shade and plenty of quiet places to sit and relax (and allow little ones some time to crash).

There are several places along the Discovery Island trails where you can find a quiet place to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds in relative shade. There's a great place just before you cross the bridge to Africa - there are some trails to the right side of the main path that are very well shaded and offer beautiful views of the river and the Tree of Life. Devine is known to frequent this area as well.

In the Oasis, there are a few trails in the center and a small open cave where you can sit and get a bit of quiet.

There are quite a few seating areas along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and Mararajah Jungle Trek. You might encounter higher guest traffic, though.

One other place to try is along the backside of the main circle, between Africa and Asia. There are a few places you can sit above the river with a magnificent view of the Tree of Life. Photopass photographers do sometimes use this area as a picture taking spot, so just know that ahead of time.


Yes, Walt Disney World can be a very busy place, especially during peak times (Easter, 4th of July and Christmas especially), but even during these times, you can find some time to let little ones take a nap while you get a chance to relax.

So enjoy that bit of relaxation. In a little bit, you'll be ready to take on the rest of the day and enjoy all those nighttime spectaculars!

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Princess and the Frog" toy line announced


From a Disney Consumer Products news release:

"As the Disney Princess royal court prepares to welcome its newest member, Princess Tiana, star of the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures animated theatrical release, The Princess And The Frog, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) in collaboration with Mattel (NYSE: MAT) and CDI, a division of JAKKS Pacific (NASDAQ: JAKK), today unveiled a dazzling and magical toy line inspired by the film and its colorful characters. Tony Award-winning actress/singer Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana, unveiled the line which includes dolls, play sets and role-play dresses at a sneak preview event at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. DCP also unveiled a new collection of Snow White toys in celebration of its first Disney Princess fairytale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which releases from the Disney Vault on Blu-ray hi-def and DVD this fall. "

"Opening Holiday 2009, The Princess And The Frog is a magical fairytale set in New Orleans that marks Disney's return to musicals and the warmth and grandeur of 2D hand drawn animation. Embodying the timelessness of Disney's storytelling heritage, the film also introduces Disney's newest princess in more than 10 years, Princess Tiana. The event marked the first time that Ms. Rose and Toy Fair attendees were able to see the toy line. Mattel presented a one-of-a-kind Princess Tiana doll created specifically for Ms. Rose in celebration of her role."

"'The Princess Tiana doll, the role play dresses and the rest of the toy line is absolutely gorgeous,' said Ms. Rose. 'I'm thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to give a voice to this very special character. I grew up loving Disney Princess fairytales, and to work with Disney's creative team and bring this wonderful story to life has been a truly amazing experience.'"

"In addition to toys, DCP will also introduce an extensive line of The Princess and The Frog-inspired apparel, accessories, home d├ęcor, consumer electronics, school supplies and personal care products arriving to retailers nationwide this fall. Disney Publishing Worldwide will launch an assortment of titles including story and activity books. In malls across North America and Canada, over 220 Disney Stores will also celebrate the debut of Princess Tiana and The Princess And The Frog with gorgeous window displays and merchandising. The one-of-a-kind product assortment designed by Disney Store will offer something for everyone including Halloween costumes and role play dresses. "

"As Disney celebrates its newest princess, Disney will also honor its first princess, the one that started it all, Snow White, with the introduction of a new toy line set to release this October in tandem with the highly-anticipated Blu-ray debut of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – one of the most requested Disney home entertainment releases of all time."

"Disney Princess fairytales have been enchanting girls since Snow White first graced the screen in 1937. However, only recently has Disney brought these beloved characters together in a collection of fantasy-based girls' entertainment and products — the Disney Princess brand. With the introduction of a new princess, the Disney Princess franchise continues to grow as a powerful lifestyle brand beyond toys and into categories such as fashion and decor, which today accounts for $4 billion in global retail sales and touches every aspect of girls' lives around the world. Disney Princess' successes span around the globe with merchandise, theatrical releases, home videos, books and magazines, television, theme park attractions, a website, radio air play and live entertainment. "

"The Princess And The Frog toy line is inspired by the magical elements and characters featured in the fairytale, including the beautiful Princess Tiana, Frog Prince Naveen, a trumpet-playing alligator and a love-sick Cajun firefly. The toys boast vibrant colors such as purple, green, gold and blue, with decorative elements reminiscent of New Orleans and the bayou. New playthings include stunning dolls, imaginative playsets, fun role-play items and costumes and colorful accessories that offer plenty of Disney magic and hours of play for little girls everywhere."

"The first Disney Princess, Snow White, was introduced to the world in 1937 as 'the fairest of them all' in Walt Disney's – and the world's – first full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After more than 70 years, Snow White continues to inspire girls of all ages with her beauty, grace, kind nature and love for animals. Girls will be able to re-live moments from the classic film and celebrate the debut Blu-ray with a new toy line that hearkens back to life in the woods with her furry little friends in the cottage. "

Sunday, February 15, 2009

MouseFest 2009 on "hiatus"

(Scene of the 2008 Mega Mouse Meet)


In what has to be a shocking announcement for major Walt Disney World fans, the organizers of the immensely popular MouseFest event announced today that the 2009 event has been put "on hiatus," due, in part, to the stepping down of the event's chairperson, Dave Marx. In a news release issued today by MouseFest organizers, the reason Marx apparently decided to step down from the chairperson position was "to devote more time to his family and business. We thank Dave Marx for his leadership and his time at the helm of this amazing event," said organizers.

In addition to Marx's departure, the group cited another reason for the event's cancellation: The MouseFest event itself has grown so large that the "type of commitment [for an event chairperson] goes above and beyond that which can be expected from a volunteer." Given the fact that MouseFest has operated with a very small budget and through the work of many volunteers, there isn't money to hire a professional event planner. As a result, organizers came to a shocking decision.

"We have determined that MouseFest must go on hiatus for the year 2009 while we consider the long-term future of the event," said organizers in the news release.

According to the release, MouseFan Travel will continue to hold the cruise portion of the 2009 event, though it will no longer carry the "MouseFest" name.

Only time will tell if some informal meets (again not carrying the MouseFest name) by other Disney fan groups will be planned for the same time period that the 2009 event was to be held (usually in early December).

My take: I had the pleasure of attending the 2008 MouseFest. I can only hope that this is a one-year break. MouseFest was a wonderful event, and yes, it was huge, so I can see why the organizers felt the need to take a step back and re-evaluate the event and try to wrap their arms around this growing gorillia of an event. I wish each an every one of the committee members the best of luck. You have the support of the DisneyDaddy. We thank you so much for all you have done for the past five years. I hope MouseFest will return for 2010.

More Information:
Read the entire news release here

Disney Daddy returns to the WDW Radio Show

Once again I had the pleasure of recording a segment with Lou Mongello of the WDW Radio Show, which is running in this week's show (#106). Lou and I discuss another "Best of the Best" at Walt Disney World, and that is Disney's PhotoPass and how to make the most of this service. For more on my thoughts about making the most of PhotoPass, be sure to read my very first Tip Tuesday post.

My sincere thanks again to Lou for having me on the show - it's always a big thrill!

LEGO and Disney link up

CNBC is reporting that Disney and the LEGO company are teaming up to create a new line of build-your own toys based on three popular Disney titles - Toy Story, Cars and the upcoming Prince of Persia. These new toys should be available in 2010.

Toy Story Children's imaginations will go "To infinity and beyond" when, beginning in 2010, they will be able to re-create the adventures of Buzz Lightyear and Woody with LEGO toys inspired by the Toy Story franchise. Toy Story-themed construction sets will be available on both LEGO DUPLO and LEGO System platforms, building the adventure and fun for children ages 2-12. LEGO System products based on Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will launch in January 2010, to be followed in May by construction sets based on the new animated feature, Toy Story 3, scheduled to hit theaters in Disney Digital 3D June 2010. Toy Story-themed LEGO DUPLO products launch in June 2010.

Cars Lightning McQueen will rev his engine at the starting line of a DUPLO portfolio that will have young builders creating and exploring the high-octane world of the Cars franchise. The Cars-themed LEGO DUPLO line will feature iconic scenes from Radiator Springs and the Piston Cup Championship raceway and will feature favorite Cars characters like McQueen, Mater and Sally. Cars-themed LEGO DUPLO products are scheduled to launch in June 2010.

Prince of Persia A line of LEGO System construction toys based on Walt Disney Pictures' and Jerry Bruckheimer Films' Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed by Mike Newell and scheduled to release in May 2010 is also in development. The film, based on the best-selling video game franchise of the same name, stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina and Gemma Arterton in an epic tale of Prince Dastan's struggle to stop an evil ruler from unleashing a sandstorm that could destroy the world. Prince of Persia-themed LEGO products are scheduled to launch in April 2010.

Of course LEGO already has a presence at Walt Disney World, at Downtown Disney. I'm sure these new toys will be a hot item in Downtown Disney once they are released.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

American Idol Experience: the Grand Premiere

With the largest-ever gathering of “American Idol” winners joining in the celebration, Walt Disney World Resort Thursday night raised the curtain on “The American Idol Experience,” a new attraction capturing the energy and excitement of the hit TV show.

Thursday’s grand premiere, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, was attended by all seven winners of the series, from season-one winner Kelly Clarkson to season-seven champion David Cook. Joining Cook and Clarkson were Jordin Sparks (season six), Taylor Hicks (five), Carrie Underwood (four), Fantasia Barrino (three) and Ruben Studdard (two).

More than two dozen Idol stars – winners and finalists from the first seven seasons – plus judge Paula Abdul (shown above) and TV show host Ryan Seacrest arrived by celebrity motorcade, rolling down Hollywood Boulevard to the cheers, applause and snapping cameras of Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests. Thursday’s gala had all the glamour of a Hollywood opening. Cook treated the supercharged audience with a performance of his popular hit, “Light On,” and after Underwood performed her hit, “All-American Girl,” the pair brought down the house by teaming up for a first-ever duet, singing “Go Your Own Way,” the Fleetwood Mac hit. The premiere even had a “red carpet” -- except the carpet was appropriately blue in celebration of the “American Idol” color scheme.

That color scheme and, in fact, the look of the attraction is similar to the actual TV show set. “The American Idol Experience” was developed by Walt Disney Imagineering in conjunction with FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) and 19 TV Ltd. and is based on the smash-hit television show “American Idol.” The 1,000-seat indoor theater features twirling neon signs and a multi-layered backdrop inspired by the actual “American Idol” set in California. The attraction is designed to immerse park guests in the authentic feel of a live television production, with some guests 14 or older auditioning to take the spotlight onstage, while fellow guests cheer them on from the audience and vote for their favorite singer with instant results. Audition slots are limited and interested guests are encouraged to arrive early.

Performers with the highest votes during preliminary shows return for a high-energy grand finale show that same evening. After their encore performances, one is voted the day’s top singer.

In addition to their new-found theme park fame, the top vote-getter at the finale show receives “The American Idol Experience” Dream Ticket, which allows an eligible holder to schedule a front-of-the-line audition to a future regional audition for the “American Idol” television show. Feb. 14 is the grand opening of the attraction.

With the grand premiere, Disney launched an all-new Web site for the American Idol Experience. This new site has several features, most important of which is a new online registration system for those wishing to audition for the show.

That morning, Idol season 7 winner David Cook was at DHS this morning for a live performance on ABC's Good Morning America. You can watch Cook's interview here, and Cook's performance here.
Here's even more video from Disney:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Raytheon confirms new exhibit for Innoventions, opens new center at Shades of Green Resort

From CNBC:

The Raytheon Company recently announced plans to unveil an interactive, math-based experience called "The Sum of All Thrills" in the Innoventions pavilion at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The exhibit, set to open fall 2009, will engage children through a fun, interactive and educational experience that helps instill a lifelong passion for math, science and technology.

The Raytheon Company also announced the grand opening of The Family Technology Center at the Shades of Green on Walt Disney World Resort. Shades of Green is a U.S. Armed Forces Recreation Center used exclusively by active and retired military personnel and their families and Department of Defense civilians. The Family Technology Center, donated by Raytheon, will serve as guests' "home away from home" game room. The Center, equipped with plush couches, plasma televisions, personal computers, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox systems, offers guests an on-site extension of their entertainment experience where they can relax, connect and enjoy each other.

"Raytheon's donation of the Family Technology Center is a way of showing support to our active and retired military and their families," said William H. Swanson, Chairman and CEO of Raytheon Company. "It is our hope this gesture will show our deepest appreciation for all they do to support and protect our country." "We very much appreciate Raytheon's generosity in providing this unique gift as a tribute to our servicemen and women and their families," said Brian Japak, director of Shades of Green. "The Family Technology Center combines the best of both worlds -- the latest in entertainment technology with a touch of 'home,' making it the perfect way for guests to stay connected to each other and loved ones while on vacation."

It will be interesting to see what this new exhibit will look like when it opens later this fall.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Take your time

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: You've just made it to (pick a park) and you just HAVE to get to that must-do popular attraction, so you race (walk, don't run) through the park to get that fastpass or jump into a short queue and you're off on another commando-style day.

It's OK to admit it, I know I've done this plenty of times. It's hard not to. But what do you miss by racing down Main Street, through Future World, up Hollywood Boulevard, and across the Oasis? You miss a lot!

This week's tip is pretty obvious, but it's one we tend to overlook in our eagerness to get to the next big attraction -- and that is TAKE YOUR TIME.

There are so many little details that are truly incredible when you actually take the time to find and see them. One thing I try to do during each trip is to sit by the Fountain of Nations and just enjoy a few minutes of that incredible Innoventions music. I also enjoy a slow stroll down Main Street looking at each of the windows to see familiar names and the clever ways Imagineers have been immortalized in glass. Hollywood Boulevard (and Sunset Blvd.) are great places to slowly window shop and get into the Hollywood that never was. The Oasis is a beautiful entrance to Animal Kingdom with a wonderful waterfall in the center and a cave that I have particularly fond memories of from my first trip to Animal Kingdom (there was this big thunderstorm... you can figure out the rest).

This applies not only for the "main drags" into each park, but around the parks as well. Take your time as you walk around World Showcase and the lands of the Magic Kingdom. You might be surprised at what you find and how much less-stressful your overall visit will be. Don't worry, you can still get to those big attractions. Besides, you may want to leave a few things for the next trip (and if you're like me, there will always be a next trip.)

So take it easy out there and enjoy the sights, sounds and even smells of Walt Disney World.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Disney and DreamWorks sign distribution deal

Well, it's official. Last week, we were hearing about talks between Walt Disney Studios and Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks SKG for a distributing deal. This afternoon, according to CNBC, the two inked a deal for Disney, under the Touchstone brand, to market and distribute six DreamWorks films a year, beginning in 2010.

DreamWorks had attempted to negotiate a deal with Universal, but those talks fell through.

Note, that this deal does not involve DreamWorks Animation, which is a separate business unit.

As I mentioned in last week's post, I wonder what effect this will have on Universal Orlando, as DreamWorks was one of the major sources of new theme content for the park. What impact with this have on Walt Disney World? Will we see some Spielberg characters coming to the parks? Could this be the impetus to re-do the Great Movie Ride with more DreamWorks characters (since the MGM deal died out last year).

Who knows?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Restaurant Review: 1900 Park Fare - breakfast

Next up in my review of Walt Disney World restaurants is 1900 Park Fare, located on the ground floor of the Grand Floridian Resort. This is an all-day character meal featuring Alice, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Pooh and Tigger (characters are, of course, subject to change). We had the opportunity to have breakfast at this nicely themed restaurant.

Speaking of the theme, let's start there. Obviously this is themed to fit in with the Grand Floridian itself, so the restaurant has a Victorian feeling about it. Lots of white and pale colors. 1900 Park Fare features a buffet-style breakfast with a full-service made-to-order omelet station. The offerings on the buffet are a little more limited than you would find at, say Chef Mickey's or Crystal Palace. The omelet station, in my opinion, more than makes up for this. They do offer Mickey waffles, so it met my kids' expectations.

More on the omelet station: a chef is on hand taking order for omelets with a slew of ingredient options. I had a chance to strike up a conversation with him as he was fixing no less than six omelets at a time. He gave me a few pointers for preparing omelets (I was having trouble getting mine to flip).

Also on the buffet is the infamous Strawberry Soup. Although the name says "soup," I would liken it more to a thin spread or a kind of dip. It was wonderful! I would take strawberry segments and dip them through the strawberry soup to create a intense strawberry flavor. It also was quite good with pastries, or by itself. For anyone looking for the recipe to this delicious concoction, check out the Cooking with the Disney Chefs book available in many stores on WDW property.

As for the characters, they were great. Alice and the Mad Hatter were especially fun! Mary Poppins was appropriately reserved and Pooh and Tigger were their usual fun selves.

If you're thinking about dining at this restaurant, be sure to plan ahead as 1900 Park Fare is pretty popular, so an ADR is a must. While you're waiting to be seated, be sure to take in all the grandeur that is the Grand Floridian lobby, especially if you're visiting during the holidays.

Now at dinner time (I have not dined here at dinner, but walked by many times), other characters can be seen including Cinderella AND Prince Charming (I think this is the only character dinner he can be found). Also on hand is Cinderella's Cruel Stepmother, Lady Tremaine and her evil daughters, Driscella and Anastasia. I believe Alice and the Mad Hatter are also there, but I'm not positive (again, characters do change).

I hope you have a chance to visit 1900 Park Fare - it's worth the ADR!

Disney/Pixar's Ed Catmull takes Oscar for lifetime of computer animation work

CNBC is reporting that Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull accepted an Oscar statuette Saturday night for a lifetime of work in computer animation.

He said he was inspired by early Disney films "Peter Pan" and "Pinocchio," then name-dropped collaborators George Lucas, Steve Jobs and Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter.

Nine other men were honored at the annual scientific and technical awards ceremony, which put a spotlight on the geekier side of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

We can only hope that Pixar will fare better than they did at the Annies, when they got totally snubbed.

Friday, February 6, 2009

DreamWorks to partner with Disney?

The Associated Press is reporting that DreamWorks, the animation studio founded by Steven Spielberg, is apparently in talks with Disney to distribute six movies a year. This after talks between DreamWorks and Universal broke down earlier this week.

This information apparently comes from an unnamed source.

Universal, which is part of the NBC family (and ultimately part of General Electric) confirmed that talks had ended between the distributor and Spielberg.

Disney has not confirmed that talks are taking place.

This can only be good news for Mickey as eariler this week (see previous post), the Disney studios posted a 26-percent loss for the quarter.

But here's an interesting question: if DreamWorks does partner with Disney, what effect will this have on the Disney/Pixar relationship (yes Disney owns them, but would this new partnership create some bad feelings)? Also, how would this impact the parks? This has to be terrible news for Universal Studios Orlando, as they relied on DreamWorks for new material for the theme park. Would Shrek be moving a little further south on I-4?

DisneyDaddy to run in 2010 WDW half-marathon

OK folks, it's time to make things official.

It is with great excitement (and insanity) that I announce I will be running (and walking) in the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon January 9, 2010!

Endurance training already is underway and will begin road training this spring. Be watching for more updates on my quest for the Donald medal as next January gets closer and closer.

If Lou Mongello, Lori Burke and many others can finish this race, so can I!

So there you go. Any of you planning to be at the half-marathon next January?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Disney reveals "Small World" additions to Disneyland

A favorite Disneyland attraction returns to Fantasyland, Friday, Feb. 6, when "it's a small world" opens with some new storytelling magic. With the premiere of a new "Spirit of America" scene, new musical enhancements and a new look for some of the attraction's familiar child dolls, "it's a small world" will once again take guests of all ages on "the happiest cruise that ever sailed."

This classic attraction has been renovated and enhanced while retaining the world-renowned charm that holds such a special place in the hearts of Disneyland guests. The "it's a small world" journey continues to celebrate children of the world and their message of harmony and friendship. And now, for the first time, guests will be able to find some of the child dolls dressed as their favorite Disney characters, in the countries where their stories take place. For example, dolls dressed in Aladdin and Jasmine costumes are in the Middle East scene, and a doll dressed as Alice from "Alice in Wonderland" appears in the Great Britain scene.

Guests will enjoy riding "it's a small world" again and again as they search for the 29 Disney and Disney·Pixar characters now represented in the attraction. The new doll costumes and playful toy decorations are fashioned in the same artistic style that was created by art director, color stylist, Disney Legend and Imagineer Mary Blair, whose sense of design shaped "it's a small world" from the beginning.

Also among the enhancements is an entirely new "Spirit of America" scene. It's based on original concept art by Mary Blair and maintains the "it's a small world" theme that friendship crosses all nationalities, including that of the United States. Additional fresh touches may be found in the augmented "it's a small world" soundtrack. As the familiar "it's a small world" plays throughout the attraction, now some subtle film music is seamlessly woven into the song as counterpoint melodies fitting the characters represented in certain scenes.

The "it's a small world" attraction made its debut as an exhibit at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. After two hit seasons at the fair, the attraction moved to Disneyland in California where it was expanded and then dedicated by Walt Disney himself on May 28, 1966.

My take: This looks like a great addition to IASW. The characters don't take away from the overall theme and intent of the attraction. As the Imagineers had intendend, it really "plusses" the attraction, rather than taking something away. I hope this enhancement makes its way to Walt Disney World very soon.
I know Disney purists are having a fit right now, but, to be honest, even Walt wasn't a "purist." He always thought of his parks as an ever-changing thing. That's how it should be.
Video report from the Los Angeles Times:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Iger says weak theme park attendance partly led to disappointing revenues

CNBC has an interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger in which he discusses Disney's disappointing stock performance this quarter. Iger said lower theme park attendance in addition to sagging broadcast and film revenues contributed to the less than expected results.

Revenues for the Disney Parks fell four percent to $2.67 billion mostly due to lower attendance at Walt Disney World and Disneyland and lower hotel occupancy at on-property resorts.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Disney Studio revenues dropped a whopping 26-percent to just under $2 billion. In a bit of good news, revenues at the Disney Channel and ESPN rose two-percent to $2.45 billion. ABC revenue, however, wiped away any gains for the broadcast segment as ABC revenues dropped 14-percent to $1.45 billion.

I'm no economist, but it seems clear to me that the studios and ABC are where the problems really lie. A four-percent drop in the parks isn't good by any means, but it's nowhere near the 26 and 14 percent declines by the studios and ABC respectively.

Also on CNBC: Overall report on Disney's 1st Q earnings.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Safety in the parks

If I had to name the safest place in the world (aside from my own house), I probably would say Walt Disney World. That being said, even Walt Disney World is not immune to it's share of dangers, either real or potential. With a little bit of planning, you can help make sure any dangers are put at bay.

First and foremost, if you are with kids, be sure to take a photo of your child (or children) EVERY morning. Make sure you can see what they're wearing. This will come in very useful if you and your child/children happen to become separated in the parks. If this does happen, let a cast member know RIGHT AWAY and show him/her the photo. Disney has procedures in place for these sorts of incidents. Most times, someone just wandered off, but it's better to be safe in these situations.

Even the most experienced WDW guest occassionaly will get a cut or two. Accidents do happen, so it's a good idea to have a few bandages in a purse or pocket in case you or one of your family/group gets a cut. Keeping a few aspirin/Tylenol, etc. is a good idea as well, especially if someone get a little shaken up on an attraction and develops a headache.

Be sure to know where the first aid centers are located in case there is a bigger emergency.
  • Magic Kingdom: Right next to the Crystal Palace
  • Epcot: On the Mexico side of the Odessey Center
  • Hollywood Studios: Just inside the main entrance beside Sid Cahunenga's
  • Animal Kingdom: On Discovery Island, just before the bridge to Africa
  • Blizzard Beach: Behind the Beach Haus near the main entrance
  • Typhoon Lagoon: Inside the Leaning Palms a little past the main entrance
  • Wide World of Sports: Inside the Milk House

    Most especially during the warmer months (which for Florida means nearly year round) - be sure to use sunscreen and lip balm. It doesn't take long to get sunburned. If you're at the water parks, be sure to use a waterproof sunscreen and reapply when needed.

  • And most importantly, stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water! The last thing you want to deal with is dehydration. Stop at any drink kiosk and ask for a cup of ice water - it should be free.

    Enjoy the parks - safely!

    Holmes and Mickey Mouse parade down Main Street


    “Steeler Nation” shifted the victory celebration east from Tampa to Walt Disney World Resort Monday as thousands of black-and-gold-clad, Terrible Towel-twirling fans of the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers lined Main Street, U.S.A. They came to Magic Kingdom to be part of something that has become an iconic moment of post-Super Bowl celebration – to cheer one of their newest conquering heroes, Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Santonio Holmes, in a victory parade.

    Just hours after he and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hooked up for a surgically precise touchdown pass with 35 seconds remaining to earn Pittsburgh a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, Holmes was riding high, smiling and waving back from a convertible as he celebrated at Walt Disney World Resort.

    Holmes was doing precisely what he said he was going to in the latest episode of the long-running Disney commercial that asks people who have just experienced a milestone, “You are celebrating your (accomplishment) … What are you going to do next?”: In chorus with Roethlisberger, Holmes beamed and screamed, “We’re going to Disney World!”

    At Disney World, a shower of red, white and blue confetti fluttered down on hundreds of similarly colored mouse-eared balloons interspersed with football-shaped balloons in Steelers black and gold. The police escort – six Orange County Sheriff’s officers aboard motorcycles leading the procession – added more color with flashing red, white, blue and … golden yellow lights.

    Mickey Mouse in full game uniform sat next to Holmes in the blue convertible while a group of NFL Youth Football players from Jacksonville, Fla., walked behind holding bouquets of colorful balloons. Goofy in Steelers colors was part of the procession, too, as were Chip ‘n’ Dale wearing referee stripes.

    Holmes earned the MVP honor and the celebratory parade at Walt Disney World by catching nine Roethlisberger passes for 131 yards, including the game-winning 6-yard TD reception with 35 seconds left. Roethlisberger finished with 21 completions in 30 attempts for 256 yards. During Pittsburgh’s decisive 78-yard drive in the final 2:37, the pair connected four times for 73 yards as the Steelers earned an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl victory.

    The commercial that was shot immediately after the game and aired Monday morning is the milestone 40th of a series that began in 1987 following Super Bowl XXI. The first “ I'm going to Disney World” commercial, featuring New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, was regarded as a groundbreaking concept – a produced national commercial involving a current event, airing on major networks within hours of its conclusion. Holmes and Roethlisberger join a lineup of people from sports and beyond who have celebrated milestone accomplishments in “I’m going to Disney World” commercials.

    Monday, February 2, 2009

    Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes say "I'm going to Disney World!"


    So how are Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger celebrating their heroic play in Super Bowl XLIII? In the frenzied moments just after their team claimed the National Football League championship Sunday night in Tampa in dramatic fashion, they stood in front of a TV camera and shouted five words that have become an almost iconic reaction to milestone achievements: "I’m going to Disney World!"

    Their pronouncement, part of the production for one of TV’s most enduring and celebrated commercials, was captured after the Steelers’ 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals – a game during which Holmes earned the MVP honor, catching nine Roethlisberger passes for 131 yards, including a game-winning 6-yard TD reception with 35 seconds left. Roethlisberger finished with 21 completions in 30 attempts for 256 yards.

    During Pittsburgh’s decisive 78-yard drive in the final 2:37, the pair connected four times for 73 yards as the Steelers earned an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl victory. On Monday (Feb. 2), Holmes was to go to the place where millions of vacationers celebrate their personal milestone moments (Roethlisberger, who initially planned to join the MVP wide receiver, then decided to make his celebration visit later).

    Holmes was to be joined in the Magic Kingdom by NFL Youth Football players from Jacksonville, Fla., who will participate with the Steeler star in a Super Bowl celebration parade down Main Street, U.S.A.

    This latest commercial is the milestone 40th of a series that began in 1987 following Super Bowl XXI. The first " I'm going to Disney World" commercial, featuring New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, was regarded as a groundbreaking concept – a produced national commercial involving a current event, airing on major networks within hours of its conclusion. Holmes and Roethlisberger join a lineup of people from sports and beyond who have celebrated milestone accomplishments in "I’m going to Disney World" commercials.

    And this latest installment, airing just hours after the conclusion of the game, followed a similar script just ahead of Holmes’ visit.

    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    Restaurant Review: Cape May Cafe - dinner

    Now that the trip report for my Dec. 2008 trip is history, I wanted to delve into some reviews of restaurants, resorts and attractions. First up are the restaurants, and first up in that list is the Cape May Cafe (dinner).

    The Cape May Cafe is located in the Beach Club resort and offers a character breakfast and a clam-bake-style lunch and dinner. Both are buffet-style. I had the opportunity to dine at the Cape May for dinner one evening with my family. This is a Disney Dining Plan restaurant, requiring one table service credit per person.

    As I suggested in a previous Tip Tuesday post, I checked ahead on some WDW fan sites and found the menu for the Cape May. I noticed the kids portion of the buffet offered pretty standard kids fare, including chicken strips/nuggets - so I knew my special needs son would be fine. Lo and behold, when we entered the restaurant, the menu had changed. The chicken strips/nuggets had been replaced with baked chicken legs. This was not good. Fortunately, the salad bar offered fruit and a selection of breads, so my special needs son at least had something to eat.

    Once I got past this little change in the game plan, I had a chance to check out the buffet itself. I knew this was a clambake, but I figured there would be some additional seafood options as well. Not quite. The seafood options pretty much are clams, mussels, clams, and did I mention clams? The only other type of seafood available was cold peel-and-eat shrimp (like in shrimp cocktails).

    Now clams weren't the only options on the buffet, thankfully. There was a carving station with prime rib and roast turkey. These were expertly prepared and came with some delicious gravies or as jus. Additionally, there were a few options for side dishes (nothing I would expect at a clambake except corn on the cob) including asparagus, squash, zucchini and a type of mashed potato that had some kind of spice included that I couldn't identify. It wasn't bad, though.

    As for the kids, the pickings were a bit slim. Cheese pizza, the aforementioned baked chicken legs and mac-n-cheese were the highlights. I was hoping for some fried shrimp or something else kid friendly.

    The layout of the restaurant was a bit awkward. The buffet was in a large square in the middle of the restaurant with booths and tables situated around it. As you were in line at the buffet, the quarters were a little tight, nor was there a logical flow around the buffet. Two lines sort of overlapped each other as guests tried to figure out where to find what they were looking for.

    The deserts offered were standard fare as well. Guests could choose from the standard selection of cake slices, small tarts, or ice cream.

    Of all the restaurants we visited during our Dec. 2008 trip, this was the least favorite. This was partly my fault as I expected more out of the restaurant than I probably should have. Of course, I also had to contend with Disney healthy kick and probably should have anticipated the removal of fried foods.

    That being said, I would recommend Cape May to anyone who is in the mood for clams and mussels (like my Dad who loves mussels). They had TONS of clams and mussels of different types (except fried). If, however, you're looking for a larger variety of seafood, Cape May might not be what you're looking for. If you're coming with kids, be forewarned, the kid's fare is limited.