A Disney Parks Blog Not-So-Scary Soiree

A couple of weeks ago, the Disney Parks Blog posted a sweepstakes for readers to try to win a spot in their next meet-up at Walt Disney World. It would take place at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on September 14th and include tickets to the new Villains’ Sinister Soiree hard ticket even within the party. I caught the window of the sweepstakes just in time and threw my name into the hat and surprising won a spot! I was thrilled because I probably wasn’t going to make it to the party this year otherwise, plus I was able to take my mom to her very first Halloween party!

The following is my recap of the event with a little review of the special ticket event. Also, check out the Disney Parks Blog recap with much better pictures!

CheckIn

The evening began at 4:00 PM when we were able to check in and receive our party credentials. After that, unlike previous meet-ups I have attended, we were pretty much free to enjoy the party as we wished. At least until 11:45, which was the assigned dessert party time for all meet-up attendees. The Villains’ Sinister Soiree includes a dessert party in Cinderella’s castle and there are two seatings per night. Ours was the later seating.

Credentials!
Credentials!

First order of business was to get some dinner before the party started at 7:00pm. Our go-to counter service meal is usually Columbia Harbour House so that’s where we headed. After that, we rode a few rides with little wait.

At 7:30 we were able to enter the reserved viewing section for the first Boo-To-You parade. This section is reserved for anyone who buys tickets for the Villains Soiree and is located in the Hub in front of the castle. If you’ve ever had a Fastpass+ reservation for the Festival of Fantasy parade, it’s that same area.

Once we showed our credentials and got into the area, we were offered to take water bottles from the ice coolers. They were the small, kid-sized bottles, but we were able to take as many as we wanted which was welcome given how humid it was. Then a lovely cast member from New Zealand asked us if we wanted to know what the best spot for the parade was. Of course we said yes, and he led us over to the Liberty Square side of the Hub, right in front of the bridge. This way we could see them coming head-on and then make the turn to go in front of the castle.

Our View
Our View
Jester Goofy behind us
Jester Goofy behind us

The spot was great and my mom loved her first parade experience – especially the Haunted Mansion section! Here are a few of the pictures I took.

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Next, we had to decide if we wanted to stay on the reserved section for the fireworks. I was worried we would be too close to the castle, but we opted to stay since we had plenty of space to move around. We also caught the Villains Mix and Mingle show while we waited. It ended up being fine and we had a great view.

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We then had a couple of hours to kill before the dessert part so it was time for trick-or-treating. If I’m not mistaken, there are few more treat stations this year. The party wasn’t crowded at all so the cast members were being very generous with their handouts! At one point we decided to sit in the relative coolness of the Tomorrowland Terrace and rest a bit, Our timing was good because we ended up being able to see a little bit of the second parade as it travelled down Main Street!

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Candy!
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Cadaver Dans!

Soon it was time to head to Cinderella Castle for the main event: the Villains’ takeover. Once we were let into the lobby, the Queen of Hearts and Anastasia and Drizella Tremaine were meeting. If no one went up for a picture, they would heckle the crowd. For example, I was wearing a villains t-shirt that did not include the Queen of Hearts. She was not pleased! I was also wearing Maleficent Mickey ears and Drizella told me about Maleficent being her and Anastasia’s babysitter when they were little and let them have all the candy. Ha!

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Finally we were let up to the main dining room. We had assigned tables and footmen led us to them. We got a table by the windows! On the table was a personalized menu, an autograph card, a Maleficent cup filled with candy, and a plate of cheeses and meats. We were also given a drink named after Captain Hook named the Captain’s Not-So-Poisoned Potion. It was pretty sweet, but I thought the poisoned apple glow cube was cute.

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Around this time, the villains made their grand entrance and presented their themed desserts. They also made their rounds at the tables. This was definitely the highlight. Great interaction with all of the villains! At one point, Lady Tremaine and her daughters performed a musical number for us: a mash-up of Sweet Nightingale and Royals by Lordes. Hilarious! I wish I had a good video of it.

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The desserts themselves were awesome in their presentations and just okay in taste. Nothing really stood out.

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Soon, it was time to leave. Keeping in character, Lady Tremaine basically just kicked us out! We were given parting gifts of posters and a hitchhiking ghost from the Parks Blog (these things do not usually come with the Villains’ Sinister Soiree ticket, but everything else I’ve mentioned does).

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Cute vinylmation

We walked out to a pretty empty Magic Kingdom since the party had been over for almost an hour. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I didn’t have to get up for work the next day!

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I had a really fun time at this meet-up. So grateful to the Disney Parks Blog for hosting us, with the help of some pretty cool villains.. I know the big question is whether or not the Villains’ Sinister Soiree ticket is worth the extra cost on top of a party ticket. Honestly, it probably depends on what you want out of it. For me, it wouldn’t be. The reserved spots for the parade and fireworks are really worth much, especially at a party that isn’t very crowded. The party in the castle is a lot of fun, and being in the castle is special and the atmosphere with the villains is awesome, but for me it wouldn’t be worth the $99 extra. And if I were buying a ticket, I would definitely want the later seating so I could still enjoy most of the party. If you really want to spend some quality time with these villains though, it might be worth it for you.

Have you been to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Would you or have you attended the Villains’ Sinister Soiree? Who is your favorite villain?

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Guardians of the Galaxy – A Disney Parks Blog Meet-Up

On Sunday, July 27, I was lucky enough to attend a Guardians of the Galaxy movie screening hosted by the Disney Parks Blog.

Poster

When this meet-up was first announced I wasn’t completely sold on the movie, but I’ve enjoyed all other Marvel movies a lot so I figured I’d give it a shot. Plus blog meets are always a lot of fun. To begin with, I have to apologize for the lack of photos in this post. Our phones were confiscated (more on that further down) so the only pictures I have are one from before we went in and afterwards.

We were told that check in would begin at 10:00 at the AMC Theatre at Downtown Disney. Knowing how crazy parking is at Downtown Disney these days, we planned to arrive by 9:30. When we arrived, there was already a pretty good sized line forming by Bongos across from the theater. Unfortunately, most of the line was in the blazing sun.

The balloon occasionally did a good job of blocking the sun for us.
The balloon occasionally did a good job of blocking the sun for us.

Finally, they began leading small groups of people over to the theater to check in. They checked our names off on the list, we got one of four different color wristband (we would later find out what those were for) and vouchers for popcorn and a drink. We were also handed 3D glasses, very very cool 3D glasses which were themed to the main characters.

Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon Glasses

Then the first surprise of the day – we had to check our phones! We were instructed to turn over all our electronic devices. They put them in a baggie and gave us a raffle ticket to use to pick them back up after the movie. They also had a really strict bag check at the entrance to the theater. Disney definitely did everything they could to prevent piracy for this screening.

Once we got to our seats (which were saved for us by our awesome friends), we passed the time by comparing/trading 3D glasses and lamenting on the fact that we couldn’t take selfies. Soon, people from the Parks Blog came out to speak to us. They started out by introducing some of the attendees that came dressed as their favorite superhero. Of course, the Guardians, Star-Lord in particular, were popular choices. We were then told that the wristbands that we received at the entrance would allow us to pick up a toy from the official Hasbro line once the movie was over! There were four different toys and each wristband corresponded to one of them.

Then the movie started. Watching a movie at one of these meet-ups is always a fun experience. The entire crowd is into it with clapping and laughing, and in the case of this movie a little singing and dancing in our seats. Seriously, this soundtrack is killer. The movie is so fun and I love the characters! I won’t go into a full review because that will be covered in another post. I will say, as someone who knew nothing about the story or characters going into it, if you are on the fence about seeing it – go for it! I don’t think you’ll regret it. I can’t wait to see it again.

Once the movie was over (no bonus scene after the credits for the screenings – boo), we lined up to retrieve our phones and toys. Everyone seemed really excited over the toys – they are pretty awesome! There was some trading going on, but we were happy with the ones we got.

Our toys and 3D glasses
Our toys and 3D glasses

Another fun Disney Parks Blog Meet-up was in the books and I think a good time was had by all. Are you looking forward to seeing Guardians on the Galaxy or have you been lucky enough to see it already? Do you have a favorite Guardian?

 

 

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Muppets Most Wanted: A Disney Parks Blog Meet-Up

On March 8, the Disney Parks Blog held a meet-up at the AMC theater at Downtown Disney to see Muppets Most Wanted. I am definitely a Muppets fan and have always loved the movies so getting the opportunity to see this new movie before its release date was exciting!

Muppets Most Wanted

After checking in at the theater, we were given vouchers for drinks and a bag popcorn. Soon, Thomas Smith and Jennifer Fickley-Baker from the Parks Blog started a trivia contest, giving away things like Muppet t-shirts and puzzles. Then some guests were brought up on stage who had shown their Muppets Side by coming dressed in costume. Finally, a very special guest arrived – Sweetums! We were told that after the movie, we would have the opportunity to meet Sweetums and get our picture taken with him!

 

Blog readers show their Muppet Side
Blog readers show their Muppet Side
Sweetums makes a surprise appearance!
Sweetums makes a surprise appearance!

 

The movie started at 3:00 PM and opened with a hilarious Monsters University short.  I heard several people say that this short would be worth the price of admission alone. It’s about the brothers of Oozma Kappa throwing a party. I liked Monsters University, but I think this short was funnier than anything that was in the movie.

 

Finally it was time for the main event: Muppets Most Wanted. I’ll put my review a little further down in the post. No spoilers other than basic plot points.  After the movie, we waited for our turn to meet Sweetums and got our goody bag, which was a mixture of St. Patrick’s Day and Muppets with green beads and trading cards.

Meet and greet

And now for my review…I’d probably give Muppets Most Wanted a B. As I mentioned, I’m a big Muppets fan. I grew up watching the movies and reruns of The Muppet Show.  I loved when they returned with The Muppets in 2011. I didn’t think this movie had as much as the emotional pull , which might be preferable to some movie-goers. It reminded me more of The Great Muppet Caper.

If you’ve seen the previews of Muppets Most Wanted, you know that in this movie we are introduced to Constantine – The World’s Most Dangerous Frog – who escapes from prison. He also happens to look a lot like Kermit.  The Muppets are heading out on a world tour to capitalize on their new popularity, but they soon find themselves in the middle of an international crime caper. This is of course thanks to Constantine and his sidekick Dominick Badguy (Ricky Gervais).

There are some great laugh-out-loud moments, usually involving one of the many surprise cameos and just general silliness. Some of my favorite moments were between Ty Burrell’s Interpol agent character and Sam Eagle’s CIA agent.  The Siberian prison scenes were also a highlight for me. The soundtrack isn’t as memorable as the last, but I did enjoy the opening number called “We’re Doing a Sequel” as well as Constantine’s crazy “I’ll Get You Want You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu).”

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Overall, I definitely recommend seeing Muppets Most Wanted, especially if you are a Muppets fan. It’s a fun movie that the whole family can enjoy together. Oh and make sure to stay through the credits!

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Disney Parks Blog Be Our Guest Meet Up

Entering New Fantasyland for the Disney Parks Blog Meet Up
Entering New Fantasyland for the Disney Parks Blog Meet Up

Recently we were fortunate enough to be one of the lucky few to successfully register for the Disney Parks Blog meet at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. Those of us in attendance were treated to a grand evening in Disney’s newest counter/table service restaurant. Shalon and I had a great time at this exclusive opportunity. If you look closely, you can spot Shalon and me in the pictures and video on the Disney Parks Blog post about the night here.

We were greeted outside the Magic Kingdom at the registration table by Cast Members welcoming us to the event who gave us each complimentary tickets to the park good for that day or the next. They also told us that we were randomly selected to get autographed posters signed by the artist at the party. In addition to these we received Fast Passes to be able to experience the new attraction Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid.

As we entered the New Fantasyland area of the park, we were guided to queue up before the bridge to the Be Our Guest Restaurant. We met up with our friend Vickie, wife and social media director of Steve Barrett, the Hidden Mickey Guy, and invited her to join us. We were ushered in and were promptly seated at a table right in front of the stage.

Entering Be Our Guest
Entering Be Our Guest
Rose Napkin
Rose Napkin
Disney Parks Blog meetup agenda
Disney Parks Blog meetup agenda
Disney Parks Blog Meet Up menu
Disney Parks Blog Meet Up menu

Before the speakers started, we were greeted with excellent service from our server Melissa. I was thoroughly impressed with the presentation and quality of the food. During the meal we heard Thomas Smith from the Disney Parks Blog, Imagineer Chris Beatty and Executive Chef Mike. After dinner they we were all available for meet and greets along with other Imagineers in the West Wing.

L'amour Vrai
L’amour Vrai
Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith
Chris Beatty
Chris Beatty
Executive Chef Mike
Executive Chef Mike

The highlight of the evening for me was the amazing meal to which we were treated. It started with the beautiful light up goblets serving L’amour Vrai: all natural fruit juice punch with wild berry extract and lemon lime foam. Fresh warm rolls and butter started the meal off right. For an appetizer I had the potato leek soup and Shalon had the french onion soup. Both were fantastic! I love this soup just as much as at Rose and Crown where it is my favorite appetizer there. My entree was the incredible pan-seared salmon on leek fondue with creamy saffron crushed potatoes and Shalon ordered the thyme-scented pork rack chop with au gratin macaroni, seasonal vegetables and red wine jus. I don’t even like pork chops and I tried some of Shalon’s and loved it. The meat was so juicy and tender and my salmon was cooked to perfection.

Potato leek soup
Potato leek soup
French onion soup
French onion soup
Salmon
Salmon
Pork chop
Pork chop

Dessert was a thing of sheer brilliance, especially on Shalon’s part. Having just come off of a Disney Cruise, she was accustomed to being able to order multiple desserts and figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask here. Melissa was very nice and accommodated our request, so we each had two desserts. I started with the strawberry cream cheese cupcake with vanilla sponge cake, strawberry mousse filling and cream cheese icing, then tried the gluten-free, no sugar added lemon-raspberry cream puff filled with lemon custard. I actually preferred the latter to my surprise! Shalon had the chocolate cream puff filled with chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream and then her favorite the triple chocolate cupcake with chocolate sponge cake, chocolate mousse filling and chocolate ganache. We even got to try the grey stuff.

Dessert cart
Dessert cart
Strawberry cream cheese cupcake and lemon raspberry cream puff
Strawberry cream cheese cupcake and lemon raspberry cream puff
Chocolate cream puff
Chocolate cream puff
Triple chocolate cupcake
Triple chocolate cupcake
The Grey Stuff
The Grey Stuff
Lemon meringue cupcake
Lemon meringue cupcake
The Grey Stuff by goblet light
The Grey Stuff by goblet light
Be Our Guest ballroom
Be Our Guest ballroom

Once the meal concluded, we were free to roam about the restaurant and take pictures and meet with the Imagineers and chef to ask any questions. Also, to our surprise, we were also given the opportunity to have our pictures taken with the Beast in the library. Shalon and I won signed copies of the poster all guests received at the Disney Parks Blog meetup and were able to meet the artist, Jeff Maurer, to get them personalized. On the way out we were given our choice of cupcakes to go so I got the triple chocolate cupcake which was the best dessert I had.

The Beast in his castle
The Beast in his castle
Beauty and the Beast music box
Beauty and the Beast music box
Artist Jeff Maurer
Artist Jeff Maurer
Me and the Beast
Me and the Beast

The evening was absolutely amazing from the atmosphere to the food to the service. From previous experience at the restaurant in dress rehearsal mode, I was very impressed with the level of the presentation of service we received. I cannot wait to go back and try some of the other items on the menu like the sauteed shrimp and scallops and mussels provencal. This was yet another magnificent production put on by the crew at the Disney Parks Blog and I look forward to future events they host. I hope you all get a chance to experience this great addition to New Fantasyland!

Gaston's Tavern
Gaston’s Tavern
Prince Eric's Castle
Prince Eric’s Castle
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