Brittany Viola’s Patriotic Send Off Hosted By Planet Hollywood Orlando

On July 7th, I got to do something I had only dreamed about…I got to meet a real Olympian and I have to say it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had!

Can you tell I was totally geeking out to meet her???

I was lucky enough to be invited to Brittany Viola’s Olympic Send Off Party hosted by Planet Hollywood Orlando, located in Downtown Disney’s West Side. Brittany leaves this Thursday to be a part of the USA Diving National Team, and a member of USA Diving’s Olympic Performance Squad, pursuing a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic games to be held in London.

Brittany Viola waving from the balcony of Planet Hollywood Orlando.

Surrounded by young divers from YCF Diving and above a restaurant full of American flags waving, Brittany was welcomed into Planet Hollywood to celebrate her amazing accomplishment among her family, friends, and children that aspire to one day be in her position!

Brittany had a lot of friends and family in attendance as she celebrated her accomplishments before leaving for London.

In the few minutes that I was able to spend with Brittany, I told her about we all watched the diving competition, I am fascinated by diving since I have never been able to do anything other than a cannon ball off of a pool board, and how we would all be cheering her on as she goes for the gold. She said that the first thing she wanted to do was go to the Olympic Village and take it all in since she had worked so hard to get there (London).

It was really an honor to spend time talking with Brittany!

Brittany Ann Viola (born in Minnesota in 1987) grew up in Orlando, FL and attended Lake Highland Preparatory School.

 

“It’s been a hard journey, but I had a lot of love and support around me to help me persevere and get where I am right now.” Said Viola

 

Brittany is the daughter of Frank and Kathy Viola. Frank was the 1987 World Series MVP for the Minnesota Twins, the 1988 American League Cy Young Award winner and a three-time All-Star.

 

In addition, she is working for Athletes in Action as Part-Time Field Staff at the University of Miami. Her goals are to teach, encourage, and support the student-athletes through their collegiate experiences.

 

She graduated in May of 2011, from the University of Miami, double majoring in Electronic Media and Sport Administration.

 

Brittany began diving in 2000, but missed the 2010 season while recovering from two foot surgeries.

For more information about Brittany’s Career, visit her website at www.brittanyviola.com.

Thank you so much to Planet Hollywood Orlando for hosting this great event, and I am really looking forward to bringing you more information about this restaurant in the future!!!

 

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Videos of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot Fourth of July Fireworks

Last night several of us attended the fireworks show for the Fourth of July at Epcot, called Heartbeat of Freedom. This special tag for Independence Day at Epcot, directly followed Illuminations and was set to patriotic music. It was one of the most amazing fireworks displays I’ve ever seen. The video I took does not begin to do this show justice, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. I apologize for the shaky quality as I didn’t have a tripod. Also is video Shalon took from the night before of the Magic Kingdom’s Fourth of July fireworks called Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky. We hope that you too can someday experience these gorgeous nighttime spectaculars for July 4th!

httpv://youtu.be/a2SP55iCF88

httpv://youtu.be/3E3U1yIm7_U

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Voices of Liberty Fourth of July Concert

Yesterday was the first time I had ever spent July 4th in any of the Disney parks, and it was only for a few hours, but it was absolutely amazing! Some of you may or may not know that I am a bit of a sap and that I love the Voices of Liberty at Epcot. I knew when I heard that they were going to be performing on Independence Day that I had to go see them! It was one of the most incredibly beautiful and moving shows I’ve ever seen them perform. They sang a variety of patriotic songs including My Country Tis of Thee, This Land Is Your Land, Golden Dream, God Bless the U.S.A., an armed forces medley of The Caissons Go Rolling Along, Anchors Away, Semper Paratus, The Air Force Song, and The Marines’ Hymn, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Taps and the Star Spangled Banner. At first I just teared up a bit, but then moved into full on tears streaming down my face. My family has a long military history and it is days like this that remind me of the sacrifices all who have served have made to keep our country safe and free. I only hope that you get to experience this performance by the Voices of Liberty in person someday, but in the meantime, here are some pictures and video of yesterday’s show.

 

httpv://youtu.be/QLbKQd3fUYY

httpv://youtu.be/2_O_7La353Q

httpv://youtu.be/GaOKMU4ppLc

httpv://youtu.be/1q0UbRS4N2g

 

 

 

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

My Favorite Restaurants At Walt Disney World

We haven’t really focused much on food specifically and thought it was about time we explored this huge part of most guest’s Walt Disney World vacations. Dining in the parks and at the resorts ranges from Uncrustables to hot dogs, sandwiches and other typical park fare like burgers and fries to some of the finest dining in the world. Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite signature restaurants at WDW. If you have a Tables in Wonderland membership you are able to save 20% (with an automatic 18% gratuity added back in) at these restaurants. The other great feature of the TiW card is that it allows you complimentary valet parking at the Disney resorts with validation showing you used your Tables card on your dinner receipt.

5. Todd English’s Bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin) The restaurant sits on the lower level of the Dolphin at the bottom of the escalator. The decor reminds me of an upscale club or bar, but more subdued with subtle lighting and lots of blue accents. I’ve only been here once back in November of 2009, but the food was fabulous. My mom and my brother treated me to dinner for my 30th birthday, and it was amazing. The seafood seemed so fresh and the service was great. We started the night off with the zooberry (a twist on the blueberry martini). They were so fresh the perfect way to begin our meal. We shared the beet salad and the classico flatbread for appetizers. For an entree I had the teppan seared jumbo sea scallops, which were magnificent and perfectly cooked. The dessert was a lemon meringue pavlova and was complimentary for my birthday, which made it taste even better.

4. Flying Fish (Disney’s Boardwalk Inn) Situated on the Boardwalk, Flying Fish is decorated with whimsical fish flying through the air with parachutes. The resort’s atmosphere reflecting early 20th century seaside fun with rollercoasters and ferris wheels is carried through the restaurant as well. The first time I experienced the restaurant it was August of 2009, and more recently I returned in February of this year. So, the two times I’ve been here I ordered the same exact things for appetizer and entree and was so full that I didn’t get dessert. The cheese platter changes in the featured cheeses, but was great both times. I guess I really like the scallops in the Epcot Resort area because I have ordered the oak-grilled Maine diver scallops each time. Scallops aren’t even my favorite seafood, but I absolutely love them from here.

3. Citrico’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Featuring a Mediterranean theme, Citrico’s is located on the second floor of the Grand Floridian between Mizner’s and Victoria & Albert’s. The decor and the menu reflect the influences of Italy and Greece and are both aesthetically and gastronomically pleasing. Of the restaurants on my top five list, this is the one I have been to the most, having been more than five times, and most recently in the beginning of March. Each time I have been the food has been absolutely fabulous. One of my favorite seasonal appetizers, which they didn’t have this last time, was the gateau of crab. This past time we had a nice cheese and cracker amuse bouche to start our palates on our dining adventure. I tried something new for my entree and was not the least bit disappointed. The Madeira-braised short ribs were so tender, they were falling apart. Wild mushroom ragout and trofie pasta accompany the short ribs along with a truffle creme fraiche. For dessert I did repeat one of my favorites in the seasonal berry gratin with a champagne – Grand Marnier sabayon. It was just as incredible as when I had first had it in November of 2010.

2. Jiko – The Cooking Place (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) This is the restaurant I have honestly been craving the most above all others on property. I love the atmosphere here with the gorgeous blue ceiling, setting sunset and beautiful (fake) birds flying overhead. It is an eclectic menu and I like to try different things each time I go. The first time I went was in July of 2008, when I first stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I remember having the ostrich filet as an appetizer and the Kenyan coffee barbecue braised short ribs (another favorite of mine apparently). They were both so tender and falling apart in my mouth as I took each bite. On subsequent visits I have had the Taste of Africa bread and dipping sauce service, kalamata olive flatbread, duck and stonefruit salad, oak grilled filet mignon with mac and cheese, and seared barbarie duck breast. I can say that each of the three times I’ve been, the last time being in November of 2010, the service and the quality of the food have been nothing short of fantastic.

1. Victoria & Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) Ah, la creme de la creme. Victoria & Albert’s is a 13 time AAA Five Diamond award winning restaurant. I’ve only been here once, and would love to go back if someone else is paying. This is not to say that the price isn’t worth it (I want to say it was about $475 for two with the wine pairing and gratuity included AFTER my Tables in Wonderland discount), it is. I’d just prefer to have someone else pay, and I’d like to do chef’s table next time. But I digress. This meal is easily within my top five, if not top three meals I’ve ever eaten. The service was beyond impeccable. Situated on the second floor of the Grand Floridian, Victoria & Albert’s is hidden behind large wooden doors with frosted windows. The decor is a refined elegance not to be found elsewhere at a Disney restaurant. It is one of only a few Five Diamond restaurants in the state of Florida. I went with my mom for my 29th birthday present in 2008 and it was an incredible dining experience. There were amuse bouche, palate cleansers, about seven courses, coffee, dessert, and the aforementioned wine pairing to go with each course. This is most definitely a culinary experience, not simply a meal. You need every bit of the three plus hours they warn you about when you book. One of my favorite aspects of the pre-arrival communications with the restaurant is the conversation about your allergies, likes and dislikes. This is so the restaurant can customize your menu to you so you are not being served something for hundreds of dollars that you do not enjoy. I don’t recall the specific menu items, as there were so many, but there wasn’t one I didn’t like. I’ve included a picture of the general menu for the evening. Each guest also receives a personalized copy of their menu to take home, which I am unable to locate at the moment.

 

Have you been to any of these restaurants? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorites?

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Celebrating The Fourth Of July At Walt Disney World

Patriotic fireworks displays, a rock ‘n’ roll concert, traditional outdoor activities, or your favorite characters in Patriotic Costumes, there’s a way for any and everyone in the family to celebrate the Fourth of July at Walt Disney World.

I will apologize now for the utter and total lack of pictures!!! Last year was our first Fourth here, and we stuck close to Celebration for the Fourth of July!!! But this year we are going to fix that since there are soooo many ways to celebrate at Walt Disney World!!!

Magic Kingdom Park – Disney’s Celebrate America! – A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky. This special pyrotechnic show, taking the place of Wishes on both July 3rd AND 4th, will light up the sky above Cindarella’s Castle. These fireworks are AMAZING!!!!! Last year we chose to view them from a different perspective! We had an early dinner at Kona on July 3rd, and then headed out to the Polynesian Beach to enjoy them. It’s important to know that both the Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts strictly enforce entrance to guests staying there or with dining reservations! Also, if you are thinking of watching from the beach you may consider bringing your own beach towel or blanket since towels are strictly for resort guests!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – What do you get when you mix traditional fireworks with the all-new Rockin’ 4th of July Celebration? A Fourth of July that is a cut above the rest! (Sorry for the bad landscaping pun…) Get your groove on at the Sorcerer Hat, aka BAH, with a DJ starting at 6 p.m. Then at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Mulch, Sweat & Shears take Guests on a musical road trip through America. Rock ‘n’ Roll hits from Memphis to Motor City will all lead up to a special fireworks presentation at 9:45 p.m. I am always a fan of Morris and the Boys taking the stage near the BAH and Fireworks in the Studios!!!! My best advice is that if you love the band, make sure you get there super early to get a great spot near the stage. However if you want a good view of both the band and fireworks, I really suggest grabbing a spot towards the center to back of the BAH area between the two lighting towers. This is an amazing spot, because you will really get to take in the spectacle that is the Fourth of July at Hollywood Studios!!! Don’t worry if you are lining up a little late, make sure you head over near the American Idol Experience jumbo screen since they typically will put video of what’s going on up there!

Epcot – Discovery Experiences at American Adventure present a bit of American history and heritage. From 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Guests may meet with Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross and Disney characters adorned in patriotic dress. An afternoon of live entertainment kicks off at 12:30 p.m. in the America Gardens Theater with the Voices of Liberty 4th of July Concert. This holiday special is a harmonizing partnership of the 8-part a capella Voices of Liberty, Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps, and Disney characters. In the evening, the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series takes the stage with four performances from Slippery When Wet – The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute. The grand finale to these classic beats is The Heartbeat of Freedom, a special tribute in the sky following Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at 10 p.m. We’ll be spending our Fourth of July in Epcot this year, and I am beyond excited to catch all of these great experiences…especially the Voices of Liberty Fourth of July Concert!!!!

It’s also important to note that both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney will not feature fireworks.

Two resorts that really get into the spirit of celebrating the Fourth of July are Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge! If you are a guest staying at these resorts, you may want to consider joining in the fun while you are there!!!

The schedule for activities at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground on July 3rd is as follows:

  • 10:15-11 a.m.: Patriotic Craft
    Show off your creativity with this fun Independence themed craft. Meet at Pavilion at Meadow Swimming Pool.
  • 11 a.m.-noon: Acorn Toss Dodge ball
    Join us in the field by Meadow Swimming Pool for our fun twist on Dodge ball.
  • 1:15-2 p.m.: What’s in your beach bag?
    Bring your beach bags and get ready for an exciting poolside game!
  • 2-3 p.m.: Giant Board Games
    Oversized games mean twice the fun! At Meadow Swimming Pool.
  • 3-4 p.m.: Pool Party
    Our daily poolside party! Games, dancing, fun and prizes!
  • 4-5 p.m.: Splash Ball
    All the fun of baseball with a soaking twist!
  • 6-9 p.m. Independence Eve Beach Party at Clementine Beach:
  • 6-7 p.m.: Sandcastle Building Contest – You provide the tools and creativity and we’ll provide cool prizes!
  • 7-8 p.m.: Dance Party – Celebrate America’s Birthday by dancing the night away!
  • 8-9 p.m.: BINGO – Free BINGO on the beach!
  • 9 p.m.: Disney Celebrate America! – A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky!
    A special Independence Day fireworks celebration at the Magic Kingdom Park visible from Clementine Beach
  • 7 p.m.: Red Light, Green Light
  • 7:30 p.m.: Campfire Lighting
  • 8 p.m.: Chip and Dale Campfire Sing-a-Long
  • 8:40 p.m. Movie – National Treasure at the Chip and Dale Campfire Sing-a-long

The schedule for activities at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground on July 4th is as follows:

  • 11 a.m.-noon: Red and Blue Noodle Races
    Join us at the Meadow Swimming Pool for fun relay races in the water!
  • 1-2 p.m.: Design your own Kites ($5)
    Create your own cool kite then fly them in the field nearby. Meet at the Bike Barn.
  • 2-3 p.m.: Goofy Bingo
    Can you match the all the Disney characters? Get five in a row for a chance to win fun prizes.
  • 3-4 p.m.: Pool Party
    Our daily poolside party. Games, dancing, fun and prizes!
  • 4-4:30 p.m. Chalk Art
    Meet at Meadow Swimming Pool to create a red, white and blue display.
  • 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Make Your Ice Cream ($4)
    Shake your way to a super delicious dessert! Meet at the Bike Barn.
  • 7 p.m.: Corn Toss
    Meet at the Campfire theatre for this fun tailgating game.
  • 7:30 p.m.: Campfire Lighting
  • 8 p.m.: Chip and Dale Campfire Sing-a-Long
  • 8:40 p.m.: Movie – Homeward Bound
  • 9 p.m.: Golf Cart Parade
    Register at the Bike Barn by 7 p.m. Parade will travel down Fort Wilderness Trail toward Pioneer Hall.

The Fourth of July activities at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge look super fun!!!

  • 1 p.m. Patriotic Craft – Come on over to the party cart by the pool, and make a patriotic memory to take home.
  • 2 p.m. Red White and Blue Pitchburst – Join us for our very favorite hot weather game. Hit the target to break a giant water balloon over a volunteer’s head.
  • 3 p.m. Big Blast Pool Party – Join us by the party cart for lots of fast paced poolside holiday fun and a treasure box prize.
  • 4 p.m. Big Beach Party Begins!!!
  • 4 – 4:45 p.m.: Sand Castle Contest (awards from 4:45-5:00).Bring your team (or join one on the spot) and show us your creativity and construction skills and maybe even win a prize!
  • 5 – 6:30 p.m.: Make Your Own Ice Cream. Join us on the beach for this super sweet deal! We will show you how to make your own ice cream. In a matter of minutes you can mix, shake and eat!
  • 6:30 – 7 p.m. Splash and Score This is another fun hot weather game. Come show us your skills!
  • 7:30 – 8:45 p.m. Campfire Fourth of July tradition means a campfire on the beach! Come on down and join us for campfire fun, followed by fireworks and a patriotic movie on the beach.
  • 9 p.m. – Fireworks Enjoy the movie, “National Treasure”, immediately following the fireworks.

However you decide to spend the Fourth of July, we hope that you have a very safe and fun holiday full of food, fireworks, and great memories!

We’ll be tweeting pictures and information about the festivities starting on July 3rd, so make sure you follow us on @onthegoinmco and like our Facebook page for all the fun!!!

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Animal Kingdom Roundtable

If you know me, you know how much I love Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I asked all the ladies here at On the Go in MCO for their opinions on the park.  Let us know what you think!

1. What is your favorite attraction at the Animal Kingdom and why?

Aurora- Safari hands down!!!! It is always a new and different view. I always learn something new. I love that some times you see the lion and some times you only hear him roaring. In all my years I haven’t heard him twice!!!!

Betsy- This is a toss up for me. For a ride, I’d definitely say Kilimanjaro Safaris since I love to see the animals in somewhat of their natural settings as opposed to a zoo. It is different every time, but always a great ride. As far as my favorite show, this is easily The Festival of the Lion King as this may actually be my favorite show at Walt Disney World. There are so many different aspects of this show I love, from the singing, dancing, fire twirling, aerial acrobatics, but my favorite is absolutely the Tumble Monkeys.

Cheryl- I love the Safari, being close to the Animals is amazing

Megan- This is tough.  I love the safaris, but I tend to get withdrawl symptoms if I spend too many weeks without seeing the Tumble Monkeys or the fire twirler.

Shalon- Expedition Everest. A great Rollercoaster that has a great back story and great queue. Even if the Yeti is forever in disco mode it’s still great to get a glimpse of him.

Shelley- My favorite attraction at Animal Kingdom would have to be Expedition Everest! I really wish that the Disco Yeti would be restored to its former glory, but with an amazingly detailed queue, cohesive story, and overall ride experience Expedition Everest can’t be beat! You can’t go to Animal Kingdom and skip Expedition Everest!

2. What is your favorite animal on Kilimanjaro Safaris?

Betsy- Wow, there are so many great animals. I love the giraffes, but I think I get most excited when I see the baby elephants. They are just so darn cute.

Cheryl- Okapi

Megan- Baby anything.  I was on the safari recently and I was able to see a baby warthog.  They’re are so cute!  For a venture off of the safaris, I love the White Cheeked Gibbons.

Shalon- Giraffe!!!

Shelley- Well first off, let me say that it would NOT be the ostriches!!! They are out to get me!!! LOL!!! But I can say that the white rhinos are my absolute favorite, because they are very graceful and powerful animals that seem to just peacefully exist on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Aurora- Giraffes!!!!!

3. What is your favorite place to eat at Animal Kingdom?

Cheryl- Tusker House and Restaurantosaurus

Megan- Flame Tree Barbeque.  I love the ribs and the pulled pork sandwichs.  A treat that I recently found at Restaurantosaurus is sweet potato fries.

Shalon- Yak & Yeti,  if you don’t have a reservation you can usually get a seat at the bar with the exact same menu!

Shelley- I would eat at Tusker House everyday if I could!!! Their selection of food on the buffet is just exotic enough for adventurous eaters, but with the sandwich, carving station, and kid’s areas picky eaters don’t have to panic. The characters are only out during lunch, and they play games and come around just enough to make sure the little ones are happy but also have time to eat.

Aurora- Yak and Yeti quick service (Anandapur Local Cafe) I adore the honey chicken! The portions are always huge and I feel full and I love the little Orange boxes!!!

Betsy- Flame Tree Barbeque is my go to restaurant. I love the food there, especially the ribs. This is one of the best values if you are ever on the dining plan for a counter service meal. I also really enjoy exploring the different seating areas themed after different animals and how they reflect the theme of the Circle of Life. Some of the animals are featured as predators in one pavilion, but then are depicted as prey in another.

4. If you could change any area in the park, what would you change and what would go there?

Megan- Dinoland.  I can truly appreciate the theming behind the area, but it is so hot and uncomfortable there.  I would like to take Chester and Hester’s and somehow expand the Dino Institute.

Shalon- Would be nice to have a larger town of Harambe with possibly another restaurant or quick service area offering more authentic food.

Shelley- I would change the Rafiki’s Planet Watch area, because while I think it has a great message I would love to see it updated to include more exotic animals in the petting zoo, more things along the train route, and new animal exhibits.

Aurora- I am not a fan of Dinoland at all. Primeval Whirl is such a horrid ride….. I would love to see all this changed to not be so carnie ish…. The carnival games are just lame. I don’t know what I would put there… Maybe some sort of sea animal place to pet sting rays and such to tie in with Nemo.

Betsy- I am honestly not a fan of Dinoland at all. I would do away with it completely and replace it with something maybe focusing more on animals found in North America. They could do a whole section on bears and tie it in with several Disney and Pixar films if they felt the need to, like Brother Bear or Brave. Or even do bears around the world showcasing polar bears, koalas, black bears, pandas. Anything with more animals would be fun.

Cheryl- Chester and Hester area.  I’m not sure what could go there.

5. If another continent were to be added as a “land”, which one would you choose and what would be the main attraction?

Shalon- Would love to see the long rumored Beastly Kingdom with a more intense coaster.

Shelley- Oooh! This is a difficult one…I think I would love to see a South America “land” where the main attraction would be gliding coaster through a dense rain forest where the queue would showcase the diverse animals, insects, and conservation issues around saving these vanishing ares.

Aurora- I would go with a Sea something . Dolphins!!! Something to bring Nemo all tied in. I think Disney needs some kind of interaction with animals like Sea World!

Betsy- I’d love to see Australia.  I know this has been rumored for a while, but I’d love to see kangaroos, koalas, a platypus or two (hello, Perry tie in) and think it would be awesome. I know there are a couple of kangaroos in the Oasis, but think a whole Australia themed area with like and Ayers Rock climbing area and playground for kids would be fun. For an attraction, maybe something water themed, which could tie in with Nemo too. Conservation of beaches or maybe a surfing simulator 3/4D film would cool showing some of more aquatic animals.

Cheryl- Antartica , Maybe a virtual snow ride of some sort.

Megan- Definitely Australia. I think that having kangaroos would be really exciting.  And they could expand and something for the Great Barrier Reef.

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Celebrate Canada Day at Epcot

On July 1st, Epcot will host a celebration of Canada Day in World Showcase’s Canadian pavilion. The festivities will be from 11am to 5pm and will be located at the Kidcot Fun Stop. Guests will be invited to learn more about this holiday, which was formerly known as Dominion Day and dates back to 1867. This “Discovery Experience” is open to guests of all ages and all will receive an award certificate once they complete the experience.

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler at My Favorite Moderate Resort

French Quarter entrance

A while back I wrote a post about my favorite value resort, Pop Century. Today I’d like to share with you my favorite moderate resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. The first time I stayed there back in December of 2007, it wasn’t exactly the most magical trip, but that had nothing to do with the resort (you can read more about that horrible/wonderful trip here). Even though it wasn’t the greatest trip, I fell in love with the resort. Part of my attraction to this resort is the fact that I used to live near New Orleans, and if you aren’t aware, this resort is primarily themed after the French Quarter section of that city.

I love the fact that you are greeted by a Cast Member who holds to door open as you enter the lobby. This little touch makes it feel like you are being welcomed home. One of my favorite aspects of the resort is its intimate size. Also a little known fact is that the notes featured by the along the check in area at the front desk are from the song “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Because it is so compact, the resort does not even offer preferred room locations. The standard rooms feature two queen beds, as opposed to two double beds as some of the other moderate and all of the value resorts. It is conveniently situated near Downtown Disney with a complimentary water taxi that ferries guests down the Sassagoula River back and forth from the shopping and dining district to French Quarter and its sister resort, Port Orleans – Riverside.

Grounds
Courtyard fountain
Fountain
Fountain
Detailed architecture
Gate
Planters
Ivied archway

The resort is very quaint and neatly manicured in its exterior design. It is almost organized like in small neighborhood apartments with courtyards and parks intersected by cleverly named streets. As is to be expected, the decor in the rooms is influenced by French theming, with regal golds and blues, with a fleur-de-lis thrown in here and there with the furnishings matching. This is one of my favorite places to stay because it always feels so peaceful and relaxed. Everything seems to be conveniently within walking distance from just about any location from the boat launch to the pool, gift shop, bus stop, lobby, bars and food court.

Porte Cochere
Greeter
Front Desk
Lobby
Krewe of Port Orleans
Disney's Port Orleans Resort
Queen beds
Window treatments
Sitting area
Hidden Mickeys
Dresser
Artwork
Fridge and bench
Sink area of bathroom
Ironing board
Bathroom

Ah, the food court. I absolutely love Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory! Again, I used to live in Louisiana, so my affinity for cajun food may be greater than the average guest. Having said that, they have one of my favorite breakfast/snack/dessert items anywhere on Walt Disney World property: beignets!!! If you have not tried this heavenly treat, get yourself over to French Quarter ASAP! It is essentially a fried dough pillow (hollow inside) covered in powdered sugar. Be warned, it can be very messy, but can make for very fun pictures of friends and family trying to eat them delicately to no avail. My favorite lunch/dinner item is definitely the gumbo, but I always like to add some extra kick to it.

The food court is playfully themed to Mardi Gras with beads, jesters, kings and masks in larger than life form hanging from the walls and ceilings in the majestic golds, greens and purples that are often associated with New Orleans. Attached to Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, just off the lobby, you will find one of two bars at the resort: Scat Cat’s Club. This great little bar often offers live entertainment with a musician/singer playing some classic oldies, soul music and he also takes requests for Disney songs along with other pop music. It is a fun location with one of my favorite brews on tap in Abita’s Purple Haze, but also features a full bar with drinks like Hurricanes you don’t find many other places on property.

Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory
Food Court decor
Food Court decor
Beignets!!!

Port Orleans French Quarter is great for kids and adults alike in activities. There is an awesome pool with a waterslide shaped like a dragon named Scales. A kids water play area and playground are also featured nearby For the grown ups there is Mardi Grogs, the pool bar, and a nice hot tub for a relaxing evening after a day of playing in the parks. In addition to the water taxi to Downtown Disney and Port Orleans Riverside, there is also a nice walking path to Riverside if you want to go catch Yehaa Bob at River Roost. If you are looking for romance, not much beats a private horse drawn carriage ride along the beautifully lit shores of the Sassagoula River. The gift shop at the resort is named Jackson Square after the famous area in the French Quarter if shopping is more your style.

Path along Sassagoula River
Sign along the path to Riverside
Horse drawn carriage
Pool area
Pool and play area
Playground
Pathway to pool
Jackson Square gift shop
Walkway to lobby from rooms
Entrance to food court

Some of my favorite touches at the resort are street signs with the fun names going with the theme of jazz and New Orleans. I love the details at Port Orleans French Quarter and hope that you can experience this gem of a resort in the Downtown Disney area. It is a great moderate resort that offers convenience and fun for a value if you aren’t looking for a deluxe property. Have you stayed at or visited French Quarter? What did you think? What are some of your favorite things?

Neptune's Parade
Rue D'Baga
Esca Crepepe
Reveler's Row
LaSalle Street
Grand D'Toure
Rue D'Blue's
Jazz Alley
Pontchartrain Way
Cake Walk
Cafe au Lait Way
Ragtime Alley
City of Port Orleans manhole cover
Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Summer Merchandise Is Out And About At The Walt Disney World Resort!

Yesterday while I was in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I peeked into Keystone Clothiers and I was really glad that I did!

The summer merchandise is out and it is so amazingly cute it hurts!

I hope that you enjoy this look at some of the new summer merchandise that is out in the parks!

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Our Thoughts on Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

A few of us had the opportunity to stay at Walt Disney World’s Art of Animation Resort, which opens today. We were able to stay in one of the Nemo Family Suites, explore the resort, take advantage of the Pool and Play areas, tour the soon to open Cars Family Suites, shop for resort specific merchandise, and eat at Landscape of Flavors. It was an amazing stay!!!

What was your favorite detail at the Art of Animation Resort?

The Big Blue Pool at Art of Animation was one of our favorite places!!!
Shelley: My absolute favorite detail of the Art of Animation Resort was how the trees around The Big Blue Pool were grown to have curvy trunks as if they were waving under the sea.
Aurora: The fact that in The Finding Nemo area that everything looked like it was under water. The way that the plants were placed and the way the trees were angled and the vibrant colors. The fish on the sides of the buildings with the colors being gradual blues made you feel like you were under water!
Betsy: There are so many to choose from, but I think one of my favorites has to be the diving mask by the Big Blue Pool that belongs to P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. I missed it the first time I walked by the pool, but loved it as soon as I noticed it.
Megan: I loved the large icons. My favorite has to be Crush outside of the EAC building.

What is your biggest tip for people staying at the Art of Animation Resort?

Squirt at the Righteous Reef Playground at night is alive with color!
Aurora: Take advantage of everything to see! Take a tour of the property. Take pictures. Make sure that you look for the small details. The kids will LOVE finding their favorite characters in hidden spots all over the resort. This place is a feast for the eyes.
Betsy: Take time to enjoy this resort! It is amazingly themed and detailed and I hope that people will take the time to appreciate the effort that the imagineers put into constructing a resort that is so immersive. I want to go back just to hang out by the pool, enjoy the atmosphere and the great food!
Megan:Take time to look at the sketches in the lobby. Try to find the piece of artwork in the chandelier in the Lobby signed by John Lasseter.
Shelley: Make sure that you take time to enjoy the resort during the day and at night, because there are so many creative uses of lighting that make all the difference and bring out details that aren’t as easily noticed in the daytime!

What should people know about staying at the Art of Animation Resort?

A view of the jogging trail from the Finding Nemo Family Suites.
Betsy: There is a great walking/jogging path along Hourglass Lake that is beautiful at night. We were only able to experience part of it due to construction, but by the time the resort is completely open in the middle of September this will be a great place to exercise or just to take a nice stroll along the lake with your family.
Megan: Make sure to schedule time to spend hanging out at the pool or to go for a run around hourglass lake
Shelley: In the far corner of the check-in area of Animation Hall, there is a children’s play/screening area with a twist! Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm artists will be on hand showing kids of all ages how to draw their favorite characters and holding “Animation Classes”.
Aurora: That this is not your typical value resort. They have raised the bar. The pool is AMAZING! The Scenery is Beautiful. The Themeing kicks all the other resorts butts. This place is not your typical small room resort!

 

What are you looking forward to experiencing again?

The amazing attention to detail can be found everywhere in the Finding Nemo Family Suites!
Megan: The rooms. I loved how spacious they were. The details in them made me feel like I was in the movie.
Shelley: I am really looking forward to bringing Zoe to the Resort to experience the pool, water play areas, and playgrounds! I think she will absolutely love all that there is to offer!!!
Aurora: I can not wait to stay in the Little Mermaid section! But I honestly can not wait to get in that Big Blue Pool again and float around listening to Mr. Ray Jabber under the water!
Betsy:  I think the Big Blue Pool is the thing I’m most looking forward to since I forgot my bathing suit this last trip. I want to hear the underwater speakers, play games by the pool, enjoy adult beverages at The Drop Off pool bar and just relax and soak it all in.

What would you eat again at the Art of Animation Resort?

Shelley's amazing macaroon cupcake! It is hard to believe that this is came from a food court of a Value Hotel!
Shelley: Absolutely!!! With soooo many vegetarian options with a world twist and a beautiful setting I have a feeling I won’t get tired of eating at Landscape of Flavors any time soon!
Aurora: I LOVED My Meatball Sub. I will get it with the home made potato chips this time however. I also loved my yogurt and would get that again for a breakfast option. I want to try the Make Your Own Salad with Chicken, Also the Make your Own Pasta. I was VERY Jealous of Shelley’s cupcake with the macaroons on top so I may have to get one of those!!!!
Betsy: I loved the mini buckwheat waffles that I had for breakfast. My mom used to make buckwheat pancakes when I was little and I haven’t had them in years. This most definitely satisfied that craving. Plus, they were super cute and had Dory on them. 🙂
Megan: Definitely! The food was well above the normal value resort food quality.
What is one thing that you wish the Art of Animation Resort had?

Aurora: I would LOVE to see a Toy Story Section added on somewhere down the line. That is one of my personal favorite movies and I think the Theming is ENDLESS!

Betsy: I know value resorts don’t have them, but I would love it if there was a hot tub. This resort is so different from all the other value resorts, and dare I say, several steps above the rest, that I wouldn’t think it would be out of place at all.
Megan: A slide. The pool would be over the top if it had a slide.
Shelley: I wish that the resort had a tour with insight into the design and a look at the Imagineers designed the resort.

 

We hope that these tips and thoughts help you as you plan a stay at Walt Disney World’s Art of Animation Resort!!!

 

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Landscape of Flavors Menus and More Food Pics

While we briefly gave an overview of the meals we sampled the other day for breakfast and dinner, I thought we should take a closer look at what I’m sure will become one of my favorite counter service locations on property: Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. There are so many amazing things to share about this great food court. It is like no other value resort in its attention to detail and theming that are prevalent throughout the resort common areas and suites.

One of my favorite details I wanted to share was all of the incredible artwork in the different dining areas themed after the resorts areas of The Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid. I wish I could take some of this artwork home to decorate my house! It feels like you are immersed in a very cool art gallery while enjoying some truly incredible food. I was trying to describe the menu to a friend the other day and think Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Kidani Village is the closest as far as the world flavors influence, but with some Riverside Mill from Port Orleans Riverside thrown in with the create your own pasta and salad options. Having said that, this food court really doesn’t feel like any other. The ambiance is very relaxed and welcoming. I cannot wait to go back and try some of the incredible offerings that this restaurant has!

Also check out our post from the other day with pictures of what we ordered for dinner and breakfast here.

 

Landcape of Flavors general pictures and artwork

 

Breakfast pictures and menus

 

Snacks and drinks

 

Dinner pictures and menus

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram