SamsDisneyDiary Episode #37 – “Celebrate the Magic” (February 2014)

Celebrate the Magic Official Logo

Celebrate the Magic Official Logo

Sams Disney Diary 37 Celebrate The Magic (13)Back in Episode #17, I covered one of the final performances of “The Magic, The Memories and You”. The nightly castle projection show premiered as part of the “Let the Memories Begin” marketing campaign in 2011. Just a few months after the retirement of “Let the Memories Begin”, “Celebrate the Magic” picked up the castle projection mapping.

The beauty of “Celebrate the Magic” is the flexibility of the technology. Being able to easily insert and remove clips allows Imagineers to customize the show based on current interests. The popularity of Frozen resulted in the addition of “Let it Go” just a few months after the movie premiered. There was also a new Jungle Book sequence, no doubt tied to the Diamond DVD release of the movie. The show touches numerous Disney properties and ties them together effortlessly.


Here is the Video Edition of SamsDisneyDiary Episode #37

Sams Disney Diary 37 Celebrate The Magic (5)Not only does the show get a seasonal touch, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, etc…(Check out SamsDisneyDiary Episode #23 for the Christmas Show 2012) the ability to change a clip just about any time has the potential to lead to a new experience on your next trip. Frozen wasn’t even in theaters during my last trip, and now it has the longest section of the show. The show starts and ends with the “Celebrate the Magic” and a Walt Disney cameo. Tinker Bell introduces the show and transforms the castle into a paper canvas, where we see a young Walt Disney sketching Mickey Mouse as “Steamboat Willie”. The song then leads a kaleidoscope of Mickey, Donald and Goofy with short clips of various Disney characters and a nod to World of Color and Fantasia. Tinker Bell spreads some pixie dust on a paint brush that in turn leads us into each show section. These are the sections that can be easily swapped, allowing the show to be longer, shorter or have more content.

In February 2014, the sections looked like this:

  • Alice in Wonderland; Casey Jr; Dumbo; Wreck it Ralph
  • Lion King; Tarzan
  • Jungle Book
  • Lady & The Tramp; Princess Melody, Tangled
  • Buzz Light-Year; Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Frozen
I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a Mouse

I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a Mouse

All followed by the closing melody of “Celebrate the Magic” with various iconic Disney characters and the closing cameo of Walt with the famous, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a Mouse”; A wonderful quote, but one we all know started with a man, not a mouse.
The show runs twice a night, check the Times Guide. The first show will be after the first parade, just before Wishes. The best part of “Celebrate the Magic” is the fireworks start just 5 minutes after it finishes. The best place to see the details is the hub area. Yes, I know it’s crowded! If you time it just after the parade, you can stand in the parade route for both “Celebrate the Magic” and Wishes. There is typically a second showing after Wishes, before the second parade. Be sure to check the Times Guide! Disney also talks about the “Glow with the Show” ears and “Celebrate the Magic”. During my trip in February 2014, there were no “Glow with the Show” hats to be found or seen. Not sure what happened there? Anyone know?

For all of the videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary. Like the show on facebook http://www.facebook.com/samsdisneydiary, Instagram.com/SamsDisneyDiary follow the blog at http://www.samsdisneydiary.com follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary
And check out the Disney Nerds Podcast at http://www.TheDisneyNerds.com

Categories: Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #36 – Holiday Wishes (Main Street & Bay Lake Tower)

Holiday Wishes 2013, From Main Street Holiday Wishes 2013, From Main Street[/caption]

Sam’s Disney Diary has always been my way of capturing memories and sharing my latest Disney related experience.  As mentioned in my last episode, I covered Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in detail last year, Episode #22.  I may have followed that episode up with a look at Holiday Wishes, the nightly fireworks spectacular offered during Mickey’s Christmas Party.  That said, I had the opportunity to attend the 2013 Christmas Party and follow that up by experiencing Holiday Wishes from the “Top of the World Lounge”.  “Top of the World Lounge” is the full service bar located at the top of the Contemporary’s Bay Lake Tower.

Bay Lake Tower, the DVC extension to the Contemporary Resort, is open to guests staying at the resort and DVC members staying on property.  To gain access, you’ll need to have your current room key or Magic Band and valid DVC membership card with valid ID.

Holiday Wishes 2013, From Bay Lake Tower

Holiday Wishes 2013, fireworks all the way around!

Evening fireworks music is always pumped in offering the same sound as the Magic Kingdom, with a view high above the Magic Kingdom.   It’s a few floors higher than the California Grill and offers a different angle.  You can also see Illuminations over at Epcot, but that sound is not provided.  Viewing the fireworks is unique.  The castle is visible, but you won’t be able to tell what is being projected.  Seeing just how far behind the castle the fireworks actually are is remarkable.  When you’re on Main Street, they appear to be directly behind the castle.

To get the best of both views (Main Street USA and Top of the World), I edited together both.  This episode of SamsDisneyDiary is my tribute to Holiday Wishes 2013.

For all of the videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.  Like the show on facebook www.facebook.com/samsdisneydiary, follow the blog at www.samsdisneydiary.com and follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary

Categories: Christmas, Disney, Fireworks, Holiday Wishes, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Walt Disney World, Wishes | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #35 – Celebrate the Magic at MVMCP 2013

A look down main street USA during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party 2013, it's snowing on MainStreet!

It’s Snowing on Main Street (During Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party)

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party is an annual hard ticketed event at Walt Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom.  I covered the party in detail last year in Episode #22, including Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade.  So rather than cover the event again, I thought I’d cover what’s new for 2013.  A few of the events I covered over in the wdwfanzone include:  Cinderella’s Holiday Wish, The Brand New “Jingle Cruise”, and even a look at the “Glow with the Show” Mickey Ears over at the Osborne Lights.   As always, you can get all of my videos including the WDWFanZone at www.youtube.com/SamsDisneyDiary.

Walt Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom Advertising Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

The Entrance to Walt Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom Advertising Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Back in Episode #17 I covered the last “The Magic, The Memories & You”.  That show marked the premiere of the nightly Cinderella Castle projection show.  A projection show that completely engulfed the castle, transforming it into just about anything the Imagineers could think of.  New for the Christmas Party in 2013 is “Celebrate the Magic”.  Seen once a night at 9:15pm, just before the 9:30 Holiday Wishes, “Celebrate the Magic” transforms Cinderella Castle into a canvas of all-inspiring holiday magic.

This episode of SamsDisneyDiary was filmed on the first night of the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2013. 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2013 Map and Guide.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Map 2013

Guide to Treats, Merchandise, Food/Beverage and Entertainment

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Map 2013

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Map 2013

For all of the videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel at ww.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.  Like the show on facebook www.facebook.com/samsdisneydiary, follow the blog at www.samsdisneydiary.com and follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary

Categories: Celebrate the Magic, Christmas, Disney, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #34 – Happy HalloWishes

HalloWishes Lights up the night time sky at Mickey's No-So-Scary Halloween Party

HalloWishes Lights up the night time sky at Mickey’s No-So-Scary Halloween Party

Continuing the Halloween theme of Episode #32 & Episode #33, this episode is dedicated to “Happy HalloWishes”.  As with all entertainment included with Mickey’s “Not-So-Scary” Halloween Party, Happy HalloWishes can only be experienced as part of the party.  As you would expect, Happy HallowWishes is the night time fireworks spectacular.  Presented high about Cinderella’s Castle, the night sky is lit up in a fantastic fireworks display.  Featuring special voice appearances by your favorite Disney villains, HalloWishes is sure to please.  HalloWishes also features the perimeter fireworks allowing parts of the show to happen all around you.  The perimeter fireworks are typically included with special parties and events and are not part of standard Wishes.  If you haven’t seen them, be sure to put them on your list.

Sams Disney Diary Episode #34 Happy HalloWishes

HalloWishes Lights up the night time sky at Mickey's No-So-Scary Halloween Party

HalloWishes Lights up the night time sky at Mickey’s No-So-Scary Halloween Party

Some quick tips:  Unlike the “Boo-to-you” Parade and “Villain’s Dance Mix & Mingle”, HalloWishes is only shown once per night, typically 9:30 (between the two parades).  As always, check the schedule.  You can view the fireworks all around the Magic Kingdom, but having the castle in view adds to the experience as the castle lighting is coordinated with the fireworks.  Personally, I like the view left of the castle near Casey’s, under the tree in front of the fence.  That’s where the video was shot.  Most of the large fireworks are left of the castle, so you’re right in front.   You can also see the fireworks on Main Street or the Hub.    Always check your schedule; it’s so important to get one BEFORE the party.   If you have little ones, the first parade is 8:15, Mix and Mingle 8:50, fireworks 9:30.  It’s possible to stay in the same spot for all three, maybe see the parade and Mix & Mingle from the Hub, and then move towards Casey’s for the fireworks.   Then there’s Trick or Treat until they fall asleep in the stroller (Been there, done that).  Or maybe get a quick ride on Peter Pan or Winnie the Pooh to keep them engaged… Lines will be 5-10 minutes.

If you don’t have little ones, or your little ones are night owls, do Trick or Treat, characters & attractions first.   Then find a spot for HalloWishes at 9:30, Villains Mix & Mingle at 10:05, and the second parade at 10:30.  The second parade is key; it will be MUCH less crowded.  You can also catch the last Mix and Mingle at 11:15pm…  I’ve found that the villains stick around a little longer after that last show.

HalloWishes Lights up the night time sky at Mickey's No-So-Scary Halloween Party

HalloWishes Lights up the night time sky at Mickey’s No-So-Scary Halloween Party

Ready to Capture Happy HalloWishes

Ready to Capture Happy HalloWishes

Take some time to do a little planning.  One last thing…what about dinner?  With your Halloween party ticket you can enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00pm even though the party doesn’t start until 7.   A dining reservation for 4:15-4:45 works perfect.  Dinner is done and out of the way before the party starts.  If there is a specific character you want to meet, head to that queue first and get it over right at 7.  Make sure you’re in the right line, and if it’s too long… come back at the end of the party.  You don’t want to spend the first hour of the party in line.

For all of the videos subscribe to the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.  Like the show on facebook www.facebook.com/samsdisneydiary, follow the blog at www.samsdisneydiary.com and follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary

Categories: Disney, HalloWishes, Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Not-so-scary Halloween Party, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World, Wishes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #33 – Villains Mix and Mingle

Villains on Stage

Disney Villains take center stage during Villains Mix and Mingle

Special entertainment is a big part of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.  Special event entertainment like “Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade” (the feature of SDD Episode #32) and Villains Mix and Mingle (a party exclusive castle stage show) can only be seen by attending the Mickey’s Not-So- Scary Halloween Party.  For the Villains Mix and Mingle, your favorite Disney villains perform a short Halloween themed stage show (on the castle stage), and after each performance are available for a special meet and greet.

Sam’s Disney Diary Video Episode #33 – Villains Mix and Mingle

Be sure to check the schedule for show times.  The last Mix and Mingle of the day tends to have the lowest crowds.   The crowds thin significantly after the second parade and fireworks.  If you’re looking for a perfect picture with your favorite Disney villain, this is the place to be and is another reason to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

This episode of SamsDisneyDiary features the Villains Mix and Mingle.  For all of the videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.  Like the show on facebook www.facebook.com/samsdisneydiary, follow the blog at www.samsdisneydiary.com and follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary

Categories: Disney, Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Not-so-scary Halloween Party, SamsDisneyDiary, Villains Mix and Mingle, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #32 – Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Main Street USA ready for Halloween

Main Street USA ready for Halloween

Every fall the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom is transformed into the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a hard ticketed event held select nights from 7pm till midnight.   The Not So Scary part means it’s friendly to children of all ages; the hard ticketed part means you’ll need a special ticket to attend.

On those select nights in September and October (possibly November 1st / 2nd), the Magic Kingdom is transformed into Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Guests are encouraged to dress up in your favorite costume and trick-or-treat throughout the Magic Kingdom.

Check out the Video Blog Below, and keep reading for more details.

Party Balloons line Main Street USA ready for Mickey's No-So-Scary Halloween Party

Party Balloons line Main Street USA ready for Mickey’s No-So-Scary Halloween Party

The party starts at 7:00pm, but your event ticket, purchased separately, will get you into the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00pm.  It’s possible to enjoy a full day at the Magic Kingdom without using a standard ticket, or a day off of your Park Hopper.  The event does sell out, so make sure you get your tickets ahead of time.  Don’t count on availability the day of the event.  When you enter the park, you’ll get your event wristband.  If you don’t have a wristband, you won’t be able to participate in the evening’s activities.

First things first, get an event guide!  It’s your map, it’s your times guide.  It’s everything you need to plan your night.  You may even be able to get your map a day or two before the party.  Ask at Guest Relations.  Guests are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes, and boy, do they!  You’ll see some of the most elaborate costumes I’ve seen outside of official Disney Costumes.  A costume is NOT a requirement, but does help with the Halloween spirit.

Candy at a distribution station during Mickey's Not So Scary

Candy at a distribution station during Mickey’s Not So Scary

The Halloween party is all about treats and special entertainment!    Both the treats and the special entertainment are only available during the Halloween Party!!  Sure, the ride lines will be shorter than normal, but where else can you see the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade and Happy HalloWishes!

There are 9 trick-or-treat locations around the Magic Kingdom.  You’ll get a trick or treat bag, or can bring your own; all of the stations have different candy.  And this is the good stuff!

  • Adventureland:  Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and Pirates of the Caribbean queue
  • Liberty Square: Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Fantasyland: Peter Pan’s Flight queue, Pinocchio Village Haus, Storybook Circus (Near Pete’s Silly Sideshow)
  • Tomorrowland:  Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain & Stitch’s Great Escape!

And 2 trick-or-treat trails with multiple treat stations

  • Frontierland: Near Splash Mountain queue
  • Tomorrowland: Enter near Space Mountain and exit at Storybook Circus
Peter Pan getting ready to ride his Flight.

Peter Pan getting ready to ride his Flight.

Does it get any better than free candy in the Magic Kingdom?  (OK the candy isn’t free; you paid to attend the party didn’t you?)  The candy and the spectacular entertainment can only be experienced during the Halloween party.

Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade will have you singing, “Boo to You and You and You and You and You…. Happy Halloween” for the rest of the night and next morning.  Happy HalloWishes adds a wonderful Halloween twist and full circle fireworks to Wishes.  New for 2013, the Celebrate the Magic castle show adds a Halloween twist and Character Dance Parties rock Tomorrowland and Liberty Square.  The Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball takes over the Rockettower Plaza Stage replacing the “Rock-It Out…Stitch’s Club 626” Dance Party (2012), while Woody’s Happy Harvest Roundup returns again in 2013 at the Diamond Horseshoe.

Boo-To-You Halloween Parade is only available during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Boo-To-You Halloween Parade is only available during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

The Villains’ Dance Mix & Mingle returns adding some advanced elements combining parts of the Celebrate the Magic castle transformation with the Villain’s Castle Stage Show, which is a nice touch.  If you’re looking for character meet and greets, you’ll find plenty, including the classic characters in their Halloween costumes.  Stick around after the Villain’s Mix and Mingle Stage Show for meet and greet opportunities with the classic Disney villains.  Check the

Cinderella's Castle during Hallow-Wishes

Cinderella’s Castle during Hallow-Wishes

event map for the location and times of special character appearances, including Jack and Sally (Nightmare Before Christmas) new for 2013.

Of course, there is special merchandise available during the party, including a special Sorceress of the Magic Kingdom Halloween Party card available only during the party.  A welcome addition for 2013 is the limited time food and beverage selections, including:  Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae at Sleepy Hollow, Ghost Cupcakes at Gaston’s, Candy Corn Soft Serve at Storybook Treats themed Specialty Cupcakes and Cookies at Sweet Treats on Main Street and Hitchhiking Ghost Popcorn Buckets at the Popcorn Carts.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of SamsDisneyDiary, check out the video channel at www.youtube.com/SamsDisneyDiary and like the show on www.facebook.com/SamsDisneyDiary and follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary

Categories: Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Not-so-scary Halloween Party, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World, Wishes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #31 – Disney’s Yacht Club

The Main Entrance, pulling up may be the only time you see the front. You'll spend most of your time behind the resort, facing Disney's Boardwalk and Crescent Lake

The Main Entrance, pulling up may be the only time you see the front.

Welcome back to Sam’s Disney Diary, Episode #31, a look at another one of my favorite Walt Disney World Resorts…Disney’s Yacht Club!!! For all of my latest blogs, be sure to visit www.samsdisneydiary.com, follow me on twitter @samsdisneydiary, like the show on Facebook at facebook.com/samsdisneydiary, and for all of my videos, including my trips into the WDW Fan Zone subscribe to my Youtube channel www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.

I did my best to capture the feel of Disney’s Yacht Club in my latest video.  The Blog continues with more details below the video.

From Disney’s Website:
“Delight in the formal grace of a grand New England-style yacht club at this lakeside hotel. Relax in the inviting elegance of a plush lobby replete with nautical touches, explore the whimsical Stormalong Bay and rent a variety of watercraft from Bayside Marina. Sharing many amenities with its pastel-toned sister, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is walking distance to Epcot and a convenient boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.“

Yacht Club at Night

Yacht Club at Night

Of course, I’m talking about Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, summarized in three words… Location, Location, Location!!! Located in the “Epcot Resort Area” along with the Swan and Dolphin and Disney’s Boardwalk, the Yacht Club shares many amenities with Disney’s Beach Club. You’ll typically hear them referred to collectively as the Yacht and Beach Club, but they are separate resorts. With separate registration desks and restaurants, they are designed to complement each other as only Disney can. The Yacht Club shares the waterway, Crescent Lake (connecting Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios), thus putting you right in the middle of the action. It’s a short walk to Epcot and a quick boat ride to Hollywood Studios. Location isn’t the only asset: Yachtsman Steakhouse, Stormalong Bay, Bayside Marina, and Beaches and Cream!!! Now

The sand bottom feature pool at stormalong bay. Kids Meals are served in the green buckets. Lots available for use.

The sand bottom feature pool at stormalong bay. Kids Meals are served in the green buckets. Lots available for use.

we’re talking!!! But before we get to the goodies, let’s talk first impressions. The Yacht Club, like all of the Epcot Area Resorts is considered a Deluxe Resort. (The Swan and Dolphin treated differently, as they are the only non-Disney resorts on property (Managed and operated by Starwood – Think Sheraton/Westin). When you arrive, you’ll be greeted as you enter the lobby. If you pre-registered, your check-in process will be expedited…think check-in Fast Pass. A must if you’re staying at any Disney resort.

The lobby itself transports you to the turn of the century summer seaside of late 1800s New England. The Yacht Club architecture is inspired by the seaside mansions of New Port and Bay Head. The lobby and room décor are laced with a nautical theme with dark oak floors and lots of sitting areas. Of course, you’ll find a spot for the kids to watch a Mickey short, and don’t forget to check out that globe. Did you spot the hidden Mickey?

The Yacht and Beach club share many amenities, looking at a map you can see that the main buildings are mirrors of each other, with complementary themes and shared services. The biggest difference? Yacht Club has a Conference Center while Beach Club features the Beach Club Vilias (a DVC Properity)

The Yacht and Beach club share many amenities; including the main building

Looking at a map, the Yacht Club and Beach Club share the same main building, almost a mirror of each other. The biggest difference being the Yacht Club has a convention center, while the Beach Club includes the Beach Club Villas, a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) property. The building provides a central location between both the Yacht and Beach Clubs, making it easy to access the amenities at either location.

The average room is about 380 sq. ft. and most can accommodate 5 people with two queen beds and a day bed. The day bed is fine for a small child, but not very comfortable for a teenager, leading to some arguments

Standard Room. Two Queen Beds and a trundle.

Standard Room. Two Queen Beds and a trundle.

over who was going to use it…nothing a long day in the parks couldn’t fix. There are a variety of room types and options include suites and a club level. Our room was a standard room, ground level facing the marina, great location, very quiet. A water view near Stormalong Bay could be a little noisy during the day. The nautical theme continues into your room, extending the look and feel of the turn of the century seaside yacht club.

If you’re like us, the room is just a place to sleep and not why we are at the Yacht Club. Activities include: a 24 hour playground, The Lafferty Place Arcade, volleyball, tennis, fishing, jogging, bike & boat rentals, “Movies under the Stars”, the nearby Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf, a Pirate Adventure Cruise for kids aged 4 -12,

Stormalong Bay

Stormalong Bay

Sandcastle Club for kids up to 9, 3 quiet pools, and of course… Stormalong Bay– 750,000 gallons of water covering over 3 acres!! The main pool features a sand bottom, and the life size shipwreck hides one of the highest hotel water slides at Walt Disney World plus an elevated tanning deck and 3 whirlpools, and did I mention… a lazy river that reaches over 6 feet deep!!!

All of that within a quick walk to Epcot!!! You could easily work up an appetite and head to your favorite country… or stick right at the Yacht Club. Hurricane Hanna’s Grill offers counter service right at Stormalong Bay, Beaches and Cream Soda Shop ( No Way Jose!), and what many consider the best steak on property at the Yachtsman Steakhouse (The only restaurant on property with an on-site butcher and dry aged specialties). Where do I start??!!!

New day, New Sandcastle

New day, New Sandcastle

Stormalong Bay, an exclusive water recreation center for guests of the Yacht and Beach Club, I stop short of calling it a water park as it only has one slide, but it is a perfect escape from a long day in any park. Easily the most popular resort pool, you will need to show a room key to get a wristband for access. The wristband must be worn while you are in the pool, making it the most guarded resort pool on property. With one of the tallest resort water slides on property, a lazy river and a sand bottom feature pool, the popularity is well deserved. The lazy river is up to 7 feet deep; that’s good, and that’s bad. It’s good if

Stormalong Bay

Stormalong Bay

you are a swimmer, but not so good for little ones who aren’t strong swimmers. There are life vests near the entrance, so be sure to grab one for the kids. The vests can also be used on the water slides. The water slide is a little walk from the pool across the main walk way and onto the ship wreck. The base of the shipwreck is the kids’ slide; you walk past it for the feature slide. The sand bottom feature pool is a great way to spend an afternoon; kids will love building a sand castle or just playing in the sand. It’s not real sand, but it acts like sand and can be molded into castles and sculptures. The island in the middle of the pool offers a great location to just play. The poolside kids’ meals come in a plastic bucket, perfect for immediate use in the pool. In addition to Stormalong Bay, there is also a quiet pool situated in a private garden.

Hurricane Hanna's Waterside Bar & Grill

Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar & Grill

Hurricane Hanna’s Poolside Bar and Grill offers a wide selection of signature cocktails and frozen drinks and the always popular “Hurricane Reef Caribbean Pilsner”. The grill offers the basic selection of burgers and bar food, and you’ll also find the kids meals served in a bucket. You can sit near the bar or have a server bring your items to you.

A Kitchen Sink under construction... Right before the "Whole Can of Whipped Cream"

A Kitchen Sink under construction… Right before the “Whole Can of Whipped Cream”

Nearby, you’ll find the Lafferty Place Arcade and Beaches and Cream. The arcade offers a wide selection of the latest video games and price redemption games. Typically we visit the arcade while we wait for a table at nearby Beaches and Cream. Beaches and Cream Soda Shop is a destination in itself. Featuring both counter service and sit down accommodations, Beaches & Cream is a nostalgic look at Atlantic seashore style ice cream shops. I’ve been told Beaches & Cream offers the best burgers on property. I’ve been there many times, and every time end up with dessert ;-) My favorites: If it’s a small group, or just

Beaches & Cream: The Kitchen Sink!!!

Beaches & Cream: The Kitchen Sink!!!

me, a No Way Jose! Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream, Peanut Butter and Hot Fudge topped with whipped cream chocolate and peanut butter chips and a cherry!! WOW! If I’m with a group, then it’s a Kitchen Sink!! Served in a “kitchen sink”, it features 8 scoops of ice cream and every topping in the house! What’s in a Kitchen Sink? Disney Parks Blog recently posted the ingredients here, What’s not in it? Love the ½ cup of drained maraschino

Beaches & Cream: No Way Jose!!

Beaches & Cream: No Way Jose!!

cherries on top!! The downside, Beaches & Cream is SMALL!! They have a takeout window, but you can’t get the signature items to go, only dishes/cones and sundaes. No “No Way Jose” or “Kitchen Sink” to go. The wait can get long, especially if you’re trying to grab a Kitchen Sink after Illuminations. You’re much better off skipping out of Epcot during the day. Your entire party will need to be present to get a seat. The arcade is right next door, and the pagers work in the arcade. It’s worth the wait, just plan accordingly. You could spend an evening with a dish of ice cream then catch a Movie under the Stars and camp fire on the beach near the shipwreck. Check the activity schedule for movie listings and other poolside activities.

Bay Side Marina, features boat and Bicycle rentals. This is also the start of the Pirate Adventure Cruise and Illuminationis Fireworks Cruise.

Bay Side Marina, features boat and Bicycle rentals. This is also the start of the Pirate Adventure Cruise and Illuminationis Fireworks Cruise.

Over at Bayside Marina, you can rent a bike or motorized boat. From a two person Sea Raycer to a 6 person Boston Whaler, you’ll have access to Crescent Lake. Crescent Lake connects Epcot to Hollywood Studios so there’s lots of area to explore. Bayside Marina is also where kids 4-12 can start the Pirate Adventure Cruise, and where you can charter an Illuminations Fireworks Cruise. Ever watch the fireworks from under the bridge between United Kingdom and France?

All this fun is making me hungry. The Captains Grill offers a variety of American seafood classics in a traditional New England yacht club setting. Captains Grill is open for

Yachtsman Steakhouse: Best Steakhouse on Property! Featuring the only Butcher on Property, steaks are aged at least 7 days.

Yachtsman Steakhouse: Best Steakhouse on Property! Featuring the only Butcher on Property, steaks are aged at least 7 days.

breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner includes New England style seafood and steaks; but, if you’re looking for a steak, you need to visit the Yachtsman Steakhouse. This signature dining experience is highlighted with the only on-site butcher on Disney property. Steaks are dry aged and are incredible!!! It is a signature experience which means there is a dress code, and it’s more expensive than other options. They do have a kids’ menu or you may consider the Sand Castle Club, keeping the kids entertained for a few hours while mom and dad enjoy a wonderful steak. Of all the steakhouses on property, Le Cellier in Canada and Shula’s in the Dolphin, Yachtsman is my favorite.

Bottom Line: You really can’t go wrong with an Epcot Area

Beaches & Cream: Kids Mickey Mouse

Beaches & Cream: Kids Mickey Mouse

Resort. Spend the day at Epcot, leave via the International Gateway and be minutes from your room. Yacht Club offers access to Stormalong Bay and a boat stop that’s central to both Epcot and Studios (you should consider walking to Epcot). They are all deluxe resorts, the top tier from a pricing point of view. If you can afford it, go for it. If not, there are many other options including Port Orleans Riverside, offering activities you don’t usually find in a moderate price resort. I reviewed Port Orleans Riverside a few episodes ago here: SamsDisneyDiary Episode #28 – Port Orleans Riverside: Losing
yourself on a trip down the Mississippi Bayou, right in Walt Disney World

For all of my latest blogs, be sure to visit http://www.samsdisneydiary.com, follow me on twitter @samsdisneydiary, like the show on Facebook at facebook.com/samsdisneydiary and for all of my videos, including my trips into the WDW Fan Zone subscribe to my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.

Lots of Pictures from my trip to Disney’s Yacht Club Below! Thanks for reading, tell a friend!!

Categories: Beaches & Cream, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Resorts, SamsDisneyDiary, Stormalong Bay, Walt Disney World, Yacht Club, Yatchtmen Steakhouse | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #30 – Star Wars Weekend 2013

End of a long day at Star Wars Weekend 2013

End of a long day at Star Wars Weekend 2013

I was lucky enough to overlap my early summer 2013 trip to Walt Disney World with Star Wars Weekends.  I covered Star Wars Weekends at Disney Hollywood Studios in detail last year; in fact, l dedicated two full video episodes of Sam’s Disney Diary.  The first one focused on the Legends of the Force Motorcade (#14), and the second video on Hyper Space Hoopla (#15), the nightly Star Wars Character Dance Off.  So rather than rehash everything, I’ll focus on what’s new for 2013.  You can find all of the details in my Star Wars Weekend 2012 Blog with both videos here.

Sams Disney Diary The Video: Episode #30

The biggest difference from 2012 to 2013 is the Disney Company acquisition of Lucas Films, making the Star Wars characters part of the Disney family.  If you follow the Disney Company news, you’re aware of the acquisition.  It wasn’t noticeable at the event which is the way it should be.

"Legends of the Force" Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome, Jedi Mickey leads the parade.

“Legends of the Force” Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome, Jedi Mickey leads the parade.

On my side, I made an investment in a SLR Digital Camera; I’ve posted some of my better pictures in the slide show below and in the video edition of this blog.  I need to upgrade my video equipment now ;-)

"Legends of the Force" Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome,

“Legends of the Force” Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome,

A few of the differences I spotted: (by no means is this a holistic list of changes, just what was noticeable in my eyes)

New Maps:  Star Wars Weekends maps have taken on the same style as the updated park maps. Meaning, the orientation of Hollywood Studios is different than usual and takes a little getting used to.  If you’re familiar with the My Disney Experience maps, it will be familiar.  The maps are also updated every weekend; I attended Weekend 4, June 7-9, 2013.

New parade route and time:  Back in March, Disney cancelled the “Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun” afternoon parade; rumor has it Disney is doing some backstage construction making it difficult for the floats to maneuver backstage.  To accommodate the backstage construction, the “Legends of the Force” Motorcade has been combined with the Celebrity Welcome and moved to 11:00am.  The parade route travels down Hollywood Boulevard where the celebrities are introduced.  After introduction, the celebrities’ cars and parade vehicles travel back down Hollywood Boulevard.  The change provides an opportunity to view the parade again with a much smaller crowd.

Jedi Mickey making his first appearance on the Hyper Space Hoopla Stage.

Jedi Mickey making his first appearance on the Hyper Space Hoopla Stage.

Hyper Space Hoopla:  Two new characters that hadn’t participated in Hoopla in the past, at least not that I’m aware of:    Lando Calrissian, I’m not sure if that had anything to do with Billy Dee Williams appearing this year…could be.   And Jedi Mickey, making a triumphant entrance at the end of Hyper Space Hoopla!  That appearance was possibly enabled via the Lucas Films acquisition.  I’m not aware of any other classic Disney character appearing on stage with the Star Wars characters.  Mickey’s appearance was definitely one of those Disney WOW moments… even had goose bumps.  Here’s hoping it keeps that same feeling and doesn’t get to feel “overdone” in future SWW.

Darth’s Mall was once again near the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, a temporary merchandise location in what is typically a cast member parking lot.  Of course, there were lots of limited edition merchandise available and some new experiences.

Lando Calrissian make an appearance at 2013 Hyper Space Hoopla, Billie Dee Williams was one of the celebrity guests.

Lando Calrissian make an appearance at 2013 Hyper Space Hoopla, Billie Dee Williams was one of the celebrity guests.

Angry Birds Star Wars Experience:  It was a play area where you could take aim against the Galactic Empire Angry Birds.  Grab an Angry Birds shooter and see if you can hit the target.  Nothing too exciting here, but something for the kids.

Star Wars Lego Center: You can help build the Lego mural celebrating the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi.  While you’re at it, kids of all ages can customize a Star Wars vehicle in the nearby Lego stations.

The D-Tech Me Storm Trooper experience.

The D-Tech Me Storm Trooper experience.

D-Tech Me Experience: Disney D-Tech Me was back once again, this time located inside Darth’s Mall.  Last year, I participated in the Carbon Freeze Me Experience at the Carbon Freeze Chamber in ABC Sound Studio (that location was being used for a Limited-Time-Magic “Lone Ranger” Preview).  This year, it was a Storm Trooper Experience.  It’s the same technology covered back in Sams Disney Diary Episode #25 D-Tech Me Princess.  The theming wasn’t as immersive as the Carbon Freeze Me Experience, but it appeared to be crowded.   The Storm Trooper Experience did showcase both men and women figurines, something missing from last year when the target audience appeared to be men and boys.  Pricing was in line with prior years, but I did not participate this year.  My investment in the Carbon Freeze Me Experience is still sitting in a box on a shelf… no need to add to that collection – Maybe next year.

New for 2013...   Star Wars / Cars!   Combine classic Star Wars Characters with Disney/Pixar Cars..  and you get...  Fillmore as Yoda, Matter as Darth Vader, and Lightning McQueen as Luke Skywalker.

New for 2013… Star Wars / Cars! Combine classic Star Wars Characters with Disney/Pixar Cars.. and you get… Fillmore as Yoda, Matter as Darth Vader, and Lightning McQueen as Luke Skywalker.

Star Wars/Cars:  Disney has long combined franchises as with The Muppets and Star Wars, for example.  This year, Star Wars Weekends introduced the combination of Star Wars & Disney Cars.  How about Lightning McQueen as Luke Skywalker or Mater as Darth Vader?   Move over Muppets, the Cars are on a roll.  If you’re a Muppets fan, don’t worry, there were plenty of new Muppet / Star Wars merchandise. Beaker as C3PO…it doesn’t get any better in my book.

Annual Pass Holder T-shirts: SWW has long included Annual Pass Holder exclusive merchandise but mostly pins.  For 2013, an Annual Pass Holder t-shirt was added.

There are lots of photos in the photo gallery, and be sure to check out Sams Disney Diary Episode #30, the video edition with a complete Hyper Space Hoopla.  Both are below.

To get all of the latest videos, be sure to subscribe to youtube.com/SamsDisneyDiary.  You’ll also get my latest video series SamsDisneyDiary in the WDWFanZone.  The full blog is at SamsDisneyDiary.com, and you can get all the updates by following me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary.

Lots of Pictures from Star Wars Weekend 2013…  Tweet me if you like!!! @SamsDisneyDiary

Categories: Hollywood Studios, SamsDisneyDiary, Star Wars Weekend, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #29 – Yehaa Bob: Port Orleans Riverside: A Closer Look

In my last blog and video, I took a tour of Port Orleans Riverside (Episode #28) which, in my opinion, is the best moderate resort in Walt Disney World.  With features such as boat rentals, a campfire, a fishing hole, ‘ol Man Island, bike rentals, a large arcade and a full marina, Riverside offers amenities typically found at deluxe resorts, at a moderate price.  If you missed Episode #28, be sure to check it out.  To get all of the latest videos, be sure to subscribe to youtube.com/SamsDisneyDiary.  You’ll also get my latest video series SamsDisneyDiary in the WDWFanZone.  The full blog is at SamsDisneyDiary.com, and you can get all the updates by following me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary.

The River Roost at Port Orleans Riverside is host to Yehaa Bob Wednesday - Saturday.

The River Roost at Port Orleans Riverside is host to Yehaa Bob Wednesday – Saturday.

In this episode, we are heading back to Port Orleans Riverside… this time headed directly to the River Roost Lounge.  Starting at about 8:30 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays this is where you will find the one and only “Yehaa” Bob (Bob Jackson).  Bob has been tickling the ivories of his custom ragtime piano since 1997.  And believe me, Bob is a master of ragtime, and a master of encouraging audience interaction.  If you’re looking for a “Yehaa” of a good time, this is the place to be.

Earlier this year (2013), “Yehaa” Bob Jackson received the prestigious Walt Disney Legacy Award.  This annual award is the highest honor a Disney Parks and Resorts Cast Member can receive.  It is given for “Keeping the magic alive through exemplary performance and commitment to the traditions and ideals established by Walt Disney”.

The show starts 8:30 and runs till about 11:45. Some of the songs may be the same, but the show is always different.  Starting at around 8:15, Bob will mingle with the audience.  If you are celebrating anything special, be sure to let him know.  It’s also a good time to put in any special song requests.

Bob always has time to pose for a picture and sign an autograph.

Bob always has time to pose for a picture and sign an autograph.

The 8:30 – 11:45 show time works well.  If you’re staying at Riverside and spending the day at a park, you will most likely be getting back to the resort in that time frame.  Consider getting off the bus at the main stop, and you’ll be sure to hear the activities at the lounge.  The River Roost is next to the River Mill Food Court, so heading to your room first to grab your resort mug is a good idea too.  You’re also able to grab some food in the food court and bring it to the River Roost.  You may want to be a few minutes early if you want a table.   Table service is also available; remember the River Roost is a full service bar, complete with drink specials and appetizers.  River Roost also accepts Disney’s Tables in Wonderland Discount…  Try that with a dining package ;-)

Bob always has time to pose for a picture and sign an autograph.

Bob always has time to pose for a picture and sign an autograph.

Any way you slice it, it’s a great night cap to an incredible Disney day.   Best part, NO additional cost!  In fact, you don’t even need to be staying at Riverside.   If you’re not staying at Riverside, you can catch a Sasagoula River taxi from Downtown Disney, or just grab a bus from the TTC or any park to Port Orleans (You’ll want the stop closest to the Riverside Lobby).  If you have a car, just let the guard know you’re looking for Yehaa Bob.  The river taxi and bus, like all Disney transportation, is complementary.   Look for the river taxi location with a yellow flag.  This services both Port Orleans French Quarter and Port Orleans Riverside.   You’ll also get to see the Tree House Villas along the river on the way.  The stop for the yellow flag is the “Marketplace” dock near the Rainforest Café.   (This could change with the introduction of Disney Springs; get the wrong boat, and you’ll end up at Saratoga Springs or the Tree House Villas.)

The show itself is broken into 3 sets.  Of course, the most popular and kid friendly is the first show at 8:30.  Bob is always aware of his audience and will

Yehaa Bob, a must do at Walt Disney World

Yehaa Bob, a must do at Walt Disney World

adjust the songs accordingly.   You’ll hear “Head and Shoulder, Knees and Toes” and songs kids are sure to know during the first set…  As the evening goes on, you’ll hear songs like “Hey Jude” or “Piano Man”, with the last set including songs like “I like Beer”.    The crowd will thin out as the night goes on as well, but the show is just as entertaining.   During the two breaks, Bob is happy to take photos, sign autographs and sell a CD or two.

If your in the river roost before the show, you can grab a quick picture and put in any requests.

If your in the river roost before the show, you can grab a quick picture and put in any requests.

Overall the show is a fun way to cap off the day, but it is an audience participation show and does get loud.  If you’re looking for a quiet evening and night cap, you may want to try Muddy Rivers (the pool side bar) or enjoy the River Roost on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.  (Muddy Rivers is open till 9:30pm)

Bob has his own website and posts his full schedule over at http://www.yehaabob.com/.   You will also find his CDs and T-Shirts.

Of course, I had my video equipment ready to go along with my trusty tripod, and I was able to capture one of Bob’s full first sets.  Yep, I was the guy with the tripod on the table ;-)  Remember, there is nothing like being there in person.  If you’re visiting Walt Disney World and looking for something different, head over to Riverside and look for Bob.  I leave you now with Yehaa Bob Jackson… and a lot of him!   I personally enjoy just closing my eyes and listening.  It takes me back to the River Roost and one of my many evenings with Yehaa Bob!!!

You can watch the full set in the video below… It’s long, but I love it!!!

It’s a long video and podcast, but it includes a full, uninterrupted set from one of Bobs shows…  Follow me on twitter @SamDisneyDiary and subscribe to the Youtube channel at www.Youtube.com/SamsDisneyDiary for all the latest videos.

Categories: Port Orleans, Resorts, Riverside, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World, Yehaa Bob | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #28 – Port Orleans Riverside: Losing yourself on a trip down the Mississippi Bayou, right in Walt Disney World

Port Orleans Riverside a view of the Riverside Mill and Market

Port Orleans Riverside a view of the Riverside Mill and Market

My perfect day at Port Orleans Riverside: Breakfast at the “Riverside Mill & Market”, a trip to Fishing Hole on ‘Ol Man Island for “Cane Pole Fishing” (or maybe a chartered fishing boat), a stroll through the Alligator Bayou, a ride on a Sea Raycer (or maybe a bike), a trip to the Swimmin’ Hole, a few trips on the water slide and some poolside activities: Goofy Bingo & Name that Disney Tune. A snack from “Muddy Rivers Pool Side Bar”, finish in time for the 3:00 Ol’ Man Island Pool Party, some more pool side games or maybe some time on the nearby children’s playground, pool side again for the 4:30 “Best on the Bayou Dance Off”. dry-off (change clothes) and head to the nearby Campfire on de’ Bayou for the 5:30 Disney Storytelling, dinner at “Boatwright’s Dining Hall” (or the dinner food court menu), a Movie under the Stars at 7:00 and Ye Haa Bob at the River Roost at 10:00!

Believe it or not, that’s not everything there is to do there. This episode of Sams Disney Diary is all about Port Orleans Riverside Resort. Read on below the video.

Sams Disney Diary Episode #28 the Video, click the image below to watch.

Hotel reservations tend to be an afterthought when planning a Walt Disney World vacation, with 4 full theme parks and the Downtown Disney shopping district and a limited amount of time. Your room can become a crash pad. You’re in late at night, out early the next morning. Walt Disney World features 24 Disney owned themed resorts (there are 8 more on property not owned by Disney).

Port Orleans Riverside Lobby, The Sassagoula Steamboat Company

Port Orleans Riverside Lobby, The Sassagoula Steamboat Company

Each resort is themed with as much, or more, details than the parks themselves. The magic of Disney parks is removing you from reality: “Here you leave Today and enter the world of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy. The same holds true for each of the Walt Disney World resorts, entering a nostalgic era captured by Disney as only they can do it.

Inside one of the Alligator Bayou rooms, double queen beds, and a not so hidden Mickey.

Inside one of the Alligator Bayou rooms, double queen beds, and a not so hidden Mickey.

While most people will hustle to and from as many parks and attractions as possible, most miss the simple details of the resort they are staying in, maybe memorizing the walk to and from the bus stop and restaurant or food court but not much more. It is quite possible to lose yourself in the beauty of any of the resorts and simply spend the day, or morning, or afternoon exploring. Port Orleans Riverside is a perfect place to get lost in the details. Of course there is a swimming pool with a slide that most families will take advantage of, especially in the summer heat. But, did you know you can charter a guided fishing excursion, or stop by the Dockside Fishing Hole… and fish the old fashioned way? The opportunities to just get away are limitless.
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside opened February 2, 1992, as “Disney’s Dixie Landing Resort”. In early 2001, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort and Disney’s Dixie Landing Resort became “regions” of a united Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. Those regions shortly after became Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter, respectively. These sister resorts are operated independently, but share all amenities.

Inside an Alligator Bayou room.  The Banquette Bench Seat folds down to reveal a 63"x30" bed.

Inside an Alligator Bayou room. The Banquette Bench Seat folds down to reveal a 63″x30″ bed.

It’s a short 10 minute walk from food court to food court, allowing guests to experience the theming of the Mississippi Bayou and the romance and pageantry of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter. Guests can also catch the Sassagoula Water Taxi which runs between resorts about every 20 minutes. From Riverside, the water taxi heads towards French Quarter before continuing the trip to the Downtown Disney area, the only Disney area accessible without using the Disney bus service. From French Quarter, you can take the water taxi directly to Downtown Disney or Riverside.

Port Orleans Riverside Marina and Sassaqoula River Water Taxi

Port Orleans Riverside Marina and Sassaqoula River Water Taxi

As is typical with Disney transportation, well not so much the buses, the transportation is an attraction unto itself. The Sassagoula River winds from Riverside to French Quarter continuing past Disney’s Old Key West and Tree House Villas then past Downtown Disney West Side, the former Pleasure Island to its stop near the Marketplace (next to Captain Jacks). Take note of your boat and the location of the stop, otherwise you may find yourself on a boat to Saratoga Springs. Regardless, the water taxi is a great way to enjoy the river and relax while heading to Disney’s premier shopping and entertainment district, be it Downtown Disney or Disney Springs.   As mentioned previously, the two resorts are considered “sister resorts” and both offer a unique experience complementing each other. There are some differences to consider, but considering the short walk between resorts, it’s more than possible to experience them both. If you do plan to visit both, you may need a day to do so. Even as a huge fan of the parks, getting away from the crowds for a day and just relaxing can add important down time to your vacation. Consider it a vacation within your vacation. Both resorts have a food court, a feature swimming pool, an arcade, a playground, and a lounge with entertainment.

The Port Orleans Riverside marina at Night

The Port Orleans Riverside marina at Night

The Alligator Bayou is themed to the rural bayou of Southern Louisiana.  Lots of Photo Opportunities

The Alligator Bayou is themed to the rural bayou of Southern Louisiana. Lots of Photo Opportunities

Both are also considered “moderate” resorts within Walt Disney World Resort complex and are priced accordingly. In my opinion, they are the best value on property. The recreation activities alone rival those available at most of the deluxe resorts. The theming and amenities far exceed anything in the value resort space. Riverside is clearly the larger of the two resorts and is the central location for most resort wide activities. Riverside has 2,048 rooms compared to 1,008 at French Quarter.
Most guests will find themselves traveling from French Quarter to Riverside for extended resort activities; however, the sprawl and size of Riverside may position your room farther away from registration and the food court. I’ll spend most of this blog/video/podcast reviewing the Riverside Resort I had the opportunity to visit recently (two separate occasions). The first was my first stay at Riverside; I had previously stayed in the French Quarter back when it was still known as Dixie Landings. I’ll focus on the Riverside section of Port Orleans for this blog.

The Magnolia Bend Mansion Buildings offer southern charm and elegance, not to mention lots of Photo Opportunities.

The Magnolia Bend Mansion Buildings offer southern charm and elegance, not to mention lots of Photo Opportunities.

Riverside itself is divided into two unique and complementary themes. The Alligator Bayou is a series of smaller “lodge” buildings set in the rural bayou of Southern Louisiana. The Alligator Bayou includes 17 individual two story buildings. The second half of the resort is the Magnolia Bend, a series of majestic southern plantations complete with white columns and majestic staircases leading to the second floor. There are four uniquely themed mansion buildings representing the different styles of southern architecture: The Acadia House, Magnolia Terrace, Oak Manor and Parterre Place. The total number of rooms is roughly identically split across both sides of the resort.

The rooms, like the theming, are quite different. Obviously the décor matches and extends the outside theme; but more specifically, the Alligator Bayou rooms feature a trundle bed and therefore represent one of the limited locations at Walt Disney World that 5 can stay in a single room. Another note:

Port Orleans Riverside The Sassaqoula River from the Water Taxi

Port Orleans Riverside The Sassaqoula River from the Water Taxi

The two story Alligator Bayou lodges do not have an elevator while the three story mansion buildings do. Disney recently converted two of the mansions to “Royal Guest Rooms”. According to the story (The Princess and the Frog), Tiana frequently entertains her princess friends, and these Royal Rooms feature special mementos she has left for her friends. The bathroom faucets are in the shape of the

Port Orleans Riverside Marina Boat Rental, why not get a Sea Raycer and head down the Sassagoula

Port Orleans Riverside Marina Boat Rental, why not get a Sea Raycer and head down the Sassagoula

Genie’s lamp for example, and the headboards are illuminated with fiber optic special effects. The perfect touches for your princess. Enough about the rooms… with so much to do at the resort, you won’t be spending much time in them.

As you would expect, the theming starts even before you check in. You are pulling up to the “Sassagoula Steamboat Company” as you enter the lobby, and you are registering for your Sassagoula river voyage. Check-in, to your right, is themed to resemble an old-style river boat complete with Mississippi River ports of call and a few Hidden Mickeys. HINT: if you can check-in on-line, DO IT! There will be two check-in lines, one for pre-registered guests and the other for everyone else. That pre-registration is your fast-pass for check-in. Just past the registration desk is the Medicine Show Arcade, a surprisingly large facility packed with over 70 of the latest video games. It is much bigger than I had expected and bigger than most of the arcades found at deluxe resorts.

Port Orleans Riverside Marina and "Sassagoula Steamboat Company"

Port Orleans Riverside Marina and “Sassagoula Steamboat Company”

Left of the main lobby you’ll find the gift shop, “Fulton’s General Store” featuring a standard collection of Disney vacation merchandise along with a nice selection of groceries. Beyond the general store is a hall leading to “The River Roost Lounge”, “Boatwright’s Dining Hall” and the “Riverside Mill & Market Food Court”. All are themed to keep the Mississippi Riverside look and feel including a working mill inside the food court and the look of a working shipyard in Boatwright’s Dining Hall, the sit down restaurant. All of these locations are housed in a single building, designed to look and feel like a

Port Orleans Riverside Medicine Show arcade, much bigger than most Arcades on Property.

Port Orleans Riverside Medicine Show arcade, much bigger than most Arcades on Property.

riverside village. Stepping beyond the main building you are fully immersed into the Sassagoula Riverside village. You have stepped directly into the Sassagoula River Marina area, the entertainment center for the resort. At the nearby “Riverside Levee”, you can rent your favorite watercraft: A 21 foot Sun Tracker Pontoon, 17 foot Boston Whaler or smaller two person Sea Raycer. You’ll be able to find a motor craft for you. Canoes are also available if you would rather skip the motor, and if water isn’t your thing they have bicycles and surrey bikes available as well. With about 2 ½ miles of river, you can do some exploring on the waterway. You can take the bike all the way around Port Orleans, including French Quarter. The bike trail doubles as a jogging path around the entire resort. There is also a pin board at the rental counter… do you have your traders?

Port Orleans Riverside be sure to check the Recreation Activities schedule.

Port Orleans Riverside be sure to check the Recreation Activities schedule.

You can also sign up for the “Bayou Pirate Adventure”. This two hour cruise for children ages 4-12 takes young adventurers who will join Captain John Lafitte on a pirate adventure down the Sassagoula River.

Port Orleans Riverside: The Swimmin hole sits right behind the Legend of Ol Man Island

Port Orleans Riverside: The Swimmin hole sits right behind the Legend of Ol Man Island

Hair wraps and braiding are available at the marina dockside, and you’ll also find horse-drawn carriage rides nearby. It’s a scenic ride along the banks of the Sassagoula toward French Quarter, and there you make your way around the New Orleans-style streets on the way back towards Riverside. It’s a very relaxing way to see some of the neighboring resort, including a glimpse of its feature pool, Doubloon Lagoon.
Speaking of pools, if your kids are like mine, the pool is the first thing that needs to be checked out. What I found most enjoyable about the pool at Riverside is that it’s more than just a pool. “Ol’ Man Island” is a 3 ½ acre island in the center of Riverside. Though it feels secluded, the island is easily accessible from the main building and guest rooms. As you enter, you’ll find the marquee with the “Legend of Ol’ Man Island”. The sign reads:“Settled in 1835 by a young man, the island became his home in the solitude of the bayou country. Years later Riverside was settled and prospered, and Ol’ Man island was discovered by the children of the town. They would steal away to play on the island where a wondrous world had been created. The Island is a tribute to the Ol’ Man and the happiness he gave the children and all of Riverside’s neighbors”

Port Orleans Riverside: Feature Pool: The Swimmin' Hole

Port Orleans Riverside: Feature Pool: The Swimmin’ Hole

It’s more than a swimming pool. You’ll find the feature pool “the Swimmin’ Hole”, Muddy Rivers Pool Bar, hot tub, children’s pool, children’s playground, campfire site and fishing hole. Be sure to check the recreation activity schedule when you check in. It should also be posted near the entrance to the Island. These activities will keep the family busy all afternoon. The schedule changes daily and typically starts just after lunch. A sampling of activities: Goofy Bingo, Water Relays, Disney Charades, Water Basketball, Name that Tune, Don’t forget the Disney Lyrics, Disney Memory, Match Game and Duck, Duck Donald. There is also a daily Ol’ Man Island Pool Party at 3:00 and a “Best on the Bayou Dance Off” at 4:30. Then at 5:30 head over to the nearby Campfire on de’ Bayou for some Disney storytelling, and there is even a Movie under the Stars on select nights near the Oak Manor mansion building.
In addition to the ‘Old Swimmin Hole, there are 5 quiet pools through Riverside, 3 in the Alligator Bayou and 2 in the Magnolia Bend. During peak season, there is an outdoor movie near one of the quiet pools in the Magnolia Bend.

Port Orleans Riverside: Muddy Rivers

Port Orleans Riverside: Muddy Rivers

Are you hungry? At poolside you can grab some light dining at Muddy Waters Pool Side Bar, or maybe head to the “Riverside Mill Food Court”. It features 5 serving stations, and you’ll find something any time of day. Salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza and a bakery provide a variety of quick options. You can ask for any of the offerings “to go” for a quick trip pool side or a snack at one of the quiet pools.
If you’re looking for a sit down dinner, Boatwright’s Dining Hall is the only table service restaurant at the resort. Open from 5:00 to 10:00 daily, Boatwright’s features southern hospitality in a casual but creative setting. N’Awlins favorites like Cajun crawfish bites, gumbo and jambalaya are some of the features.

The River Roost Lounge, home to the one and only "Ye Haa" Bob

The River Roost Lounge, home to the one and only “Ye Haa” Bob

If New Orleans cuisine isn’t your thing, remember you’re only a short boat ride away from Downtown Disney. If you’re heading downtown, make sure you leave enough time to experience Riverside’s live entertainment. Wednesday-Saturday nights, the River Roost Lounge is home to the famous “Ye Haa” Bob Jackson. Bob’s Family Friends sing-along comedy show is a must see, especially if you’re staying at Riverside. Remember that quick boat ride to Downtown Disney also serves as a transportation route for others staying on property, all to see Bob’s show!

Wednesday - Saturday evenings "Ye Haa" Bob is a must see at the River Roost Lounge

Wednesday – Saturday evenings “Ye Haa” Bob is a must see at the River Roost Lounge

The interactive audience participation show can be seen inside the River Roost, but if you would rather watch from afar, there are plenty of comfortable places between the General Store and the lounge itself. Bob absolutely takes requests. Is there any place else on property you can hear “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “SpongeBob?”

Bob is a recipient of the Walt Disney Legacy Award, the highest honor a cast member can receive and an honor well deserved. You can be sure the video and podcast edition of SamsDisneyDiary will have an extended look at Bob’s performances. It is the perfect way to cap off a night at Port Orleans Riverside.   What are you most fond of at Port Orleans Riverside?

Thanks for reading Follow Me on Twitter @SamsDisneyDiary or contact me via email SamsDisneyDiary@mail.com don’t forget the youtube channel for all of my videos www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary and like the page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/samsdisneydiary

More Pictures From Port Orleans Riverside:

Categories: Port Orleans, Resorts, Riverside, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com. Customized Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,229 other followers

%d bloggers like this: