The Week in Review July 16 – 20, 2012

It was a super busy week at On the Go in MCO!!!

We talked about the Holidays, Giveaways, Merchandise, Miniature Golf, and more. So let’s take a look backnat all of this week’s posts!!!

Giveaway!!! Don’t forget to enter to win your very own Customized Autograph Book by July 27th!!!

The Tinkerbell Autograph Book I made!!!

Betsy took us along as she cooled off playing the Summer Course at the Winterland Summerland Miniature Golf Course.

Join us as we play the Summer Course at Winter Summerland!

This Week LEGOLAND Florida announced that they wouldn’t be raising ticket prices!

 

LEGOLAND Florida Prices Stay The Same

In Videos this week, we got see something we thought we would never do…We got to see Vanilla Ice Perform at the Gaylord Palms Christmas in July Event! We’ll be bringing you more details about what Gaylord Palms has in store for the Holidays next week, but here is some Ice, Ice Baby goodness to hold you over…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAwYOlNPYb8

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On Facebook, we have added some our pictures from the Gaylord Palms Christmas in July Event to our Page. While you’re there, Like Us!!!

The Gaylord Palms will be having a Merry Madagascar Ice starting in November!

We found some great new Merchandise this week at Walt Disney World!!! First we took at look at the new Limited Edition Ear Hat Ornaments that are sure to get you in the Holiday Spirit!

WALL-E Resin Ear Hat Ornament – Front

Then we found some Halloween Trading Pins and the Halloween Lanyard out at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

2012 Halloween Pin - Duffy
2012 Halloween Pin – Duffy

In More Halloween News, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has been hard at work getting ready for Howl-O-Scream by growing some crazy pumpkins.

A member of the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Horticulture Team showing off one of their many pumpkins!

For Wordless Wednesday, we take a look at the Mickey made of Mickeys at D Street at Walt Disney World Downtown Disney West Side.

Vinylmation Mickey at D Street at Downtown Disney West Side

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Halloween Trading Pins Are Out At Walt Disney World!!!

It is my favorite time of year again…time for Halloween Merch at Walt Disney World!!!

I was beyond excited to find Halloween Trading Pins and Holiday Lanyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios last night!!!

I am in love with the Duffy Pin!!!

I hope you enjoy this first look at the 2012 Halloween Trading Pins and Lanyard!!!

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Creating a Tinkerbell Autograph Book and Giveaway!

I have always taken a lot of care and pride in creating Autograph Books for Zoe to use on our visits to Walt Disney World, and it was time to make a new one so I thought I would share my love of Disney Crafting with you!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bor1BRuaL0g

And now for the fun part! If you would like to win a customized Autograph Book, please enter our Giveaway by Midnight on July 27, 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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It’s Time To Get Ready For Christmas With These Limited Edition Ornaments From Walt Disney World

Last year I was completely obsessed with the Ear Hat Ornaments that came out, since these hats have a special place in my heart.

So when Steven Miller posted on the Disney Parks Blog that the Ear Hat Ornament collection was expanding I had to go out and find them in the parks!!!

Aaron Babcock, Product Developer for seasonal merchandise, told me that last year’s ornaments were so popular that they expanded the collection.

“We were thrilled with the response from our guests about the porcelain ear hats,” said Aaron. “This year, we have significantly expanded the assortment to include hats inspired by villains, princesses, classic characters and even Pixar characters. We’ve also added a tremendous amount of detail to each new ornament.”

The Ear Hat Ornaments are in the parks now at Disney’s Days of Christmas and World of Disney at the Downtown Disney Marketplace, The Emporium on Main Street USA and the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom and will be available online soon!

These Ear Hat ornaments are made of resin and are a numbered limited edition of 6500, with the exception of the princess collection.

Also Haunted Mansion, Swashbuckler, and Sorcerer Mickey ornaments have been released!!!

I think that my favorite new Ear Hat Ornament is Wall-E Ornament!!! Which one is your favorite?

I hope that you enjoy this look at the new ornaments!

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Cooling Off at Winter Summerland – Summer Course

One of my favorite activities outside the parks is playing miniature golf at Walt Disney World. There are four courses between the two miniature golf locations: Winter Summerland with the Winter and Summer courses and Fantasia Gardens with the Gardens and the Fairways courses. You can see some great pictures here that Shelley took of the Winter course from when we played last year. I have played all four of the courses at WDW, but the Summer course is definitely my favorite. It is a great place to escape the parks to slow down and enjoy a nice afternoon with family or friends. Now that the miniature golf courses are included in the Water Parks Fun & More option (before 4pm only), it makes it even easier to sneak away for a quick 18 or even 36 holes. Course hours are typically 10am to 11pm, weather permitting, so please call ahead if it looks questionable. Regular fees are $12. ages 10 and up and $10. for children 3 – 9. There are also great discounts for Annual Passholders and Cast Members at 50% off as well as half off second rounds if anyone wants to play another 18.

Disney does theming and attention to detail better than almost anyone else, and this is a huge part of what makes this miniature golf experience even more magical than your average putt putt place. The course is designed by Santa’s elves and themed around some of your favorite summer activities like fishing, going to the beach, surfing and building sand castles. Each hole has a sign introducing it with a clever tip with instructions on to how to best attack the hole to get the best score. Some of my favorite details are the names on the surfboards and inner tubes, as well as the bumper stickers on the “elfstream” trailers. I think it is great that the Imagineers took the time to put such great care in to creating these courses.

Each time I visit the Winter Summerland courses it makes me feel a little bit cooler, and happier (jollier?) with the great Christmas theme, even if I’m playing the warmer themed Summer course. I imagine the Christmas music playing in the background doesn’t hurt in setting the mood. This is one of my favorite things to do on a warm summer evening and I have a feeling I’ll be sneaking off for a round sometime in the very near future. Have you ever played these courses or Fantasia Gardens? Do you have a favorite? What are some of your favorite details? Let me know.

httpv://youtu.be/g4_TdshI26o

I’m including the gallery of pictures as well if you want to click to see some of the details a bit better. Enjoy!

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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!!!

 

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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

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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

 

 

 

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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?

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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
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