SamsDisneyDiary Episode #39 – “FIFA World Cup 2014 at Walt Disney World” (June 2014)

World Cup Brackets as seen at the ESPN World Cup "Odyssey Center"

World Cup Brackets as seen at the ESPN World Cup “Odyssey Center”

Are you a FIFA World Cup Fan?  Not sure where to watch the games while visiting Walt Disney World?  Disney has you covered, and covered in a big way!!  Every game will be broadcast in the United States on a Disney owned network (ESPN, ESPN2 & ABC).  Not only does Disney have you covered now, they had you covered during Epcots Flower and Garden Festival this past fall.  Remember the “Soccer Goofy” topiary that premiered at Flower and Garden?  Well, it turns out that topiary is tied directly to the FIFA 2014 World Cup.  While all of the other topiaries have been removed, Soccer Goofy is still in place and is directing guests to the 2014 World Cup Headquarters located at the “Odyssey Center” in Epcot.   The Odyssey Restaurant is the building located on the bridge between Test Track and Mexico, best known for the first-aid / baby care location and restrooms.

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #39… the Blog Continues after the video

World Cup Merchandise Selection at the Odyssey

World Cup Merchandise Selection at the Odyssey

Of course, I had my camera and did my best to capture the ESPN FIFA 2014 World Cup Walt Disney World Headquarters.

The Odyssey Restaurant is now the “Odyssey Center”, and it’s been converted to the ESPN FIFA 2014 Brazil World Cup Headquarters.  The Odyssey has been converted into a World Cup Heaven, with multiple HD TVs, a big screen projection, couches, tables, outlets, a bar and snack bar.  The Odyssey is the place to watch World Cup action.   The Odyssey is open for every World Cup match, from June 12th through the final on July 13th.   Check ESPNFC.com for times once the round of 16 starts.   The Odyssey is just the beginning for viewing options.  If you are staying at a Disney resort, you’ll find every game on your in-room TV: ESPN (Channel 19), ESPN2 (Channel 20) and ABC (Channel 8).   You can leverage Disney’s Park internet access and use

The former Odyssey Restaurant has ben converted to the Odyssey Center, the ESPN FIFA WDW Headquarters

WatchESPN.com or download the app, or leverage the good ole AM radio with ESPN Radio 580.   If you’d rather watch with a crowd, you’ll find viewing locations all over Walt Disney World property, check with the front desk of your resort.  Every property has at least one viewing location, most with multiple locations.  In addition, you’ll find viewing locations at select bars and restaurants at Downtown Disney, and ESPN Wild World of Sports.   Looking for merchandise?  You got it, and you’ll find it at select locations including the Odyssey, Mouse Gear, Epcot countries, Pop Century, the All-Star Resorts, Downtown Disney, ESPN Club and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.   You can also test your soccer skills at the Disney soccer experience near Germany in world showcase.

Draft Beer Selection at the Odyssey during FIFA Matches, Samuel Adams Seasonal (Summer), Florida Lager, Racer 5 and Safari Amber

Draft Beer Selection at the Odyssey during FIFA Matches, Samuel Adams Seasonal (Summer), Florida Lager, Racer 5 and Safari Amber

The main attraction is the Odyssey Center in Epcot.  I can’t think of a better place to get out of the heat, grab a snack, and take in some World Cup action.  The snack bar is a little limited with basic snacks such as Mickey Pretzels, popcorn, roasted almonds,  pecans & chips, a sandwich and wrap.  Remember, you can always grab something (Mexico is nearby) and bring it in.  I did find the beer selection interesting, Samuel Adams Seasonal (Summer), Florida Lager, Racer 5 and Safari Amber.    Safari Amber being the “Animal Kingdom” special lager, I’ve never seen it served outside of Animal Kingdom.

Keep in mind that the Odyssey is only open during World Cup matches.  Download the schedule at ESPNFC.com and relax with a lager watching the World Cup right in the middle of Walt Disney World.

Thanks for watching, reading and listening.  Be sure to follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary, Instagram www.instagram.com/SamsDisneyDiary,  www.facebook.com.samsdisneydiary and check out the Disney Nerds Podcast subscribe in your favorite RSS reader here.

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SamsDisneyDiary Episode #38 – “Festival of Fantasy” (May 2014)

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” – Walt Disney

That famous quote holds true not only at Disneyland, but at every Disney Park around the globe.   With all of the recent changes in Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, I was recently able to do something not possible just a few short months ago.  Sure I experienced the all new “Festival of Fantasy Parade” at Magic Kingdom but more interesting, I experienced it with a reserved viewing location via FastPass+.  I love the parade, and I love FastPass+.  Now remember, I’m not Media.  I have no special access.  I’m just a fan like all of you, so my best bet to get a good spot for the parade?  FastPass+

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #38… the Blog Continues after the video

Fire Breathing Dragons in front of Cinderella's Castle.  Perfect!

Fire Breathing Dragons in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Perfect!

Let’s start with FasPass+.  With the new and evolving, advanced attraction reservation system you have the ability to schedule up to 3 FastPass+ attractions per day.  Staying on-site, off-site or as an annual passholder, all qualify for FastPass+, as long as you have a pre-purchased park ticket, register at www.mydisneyexperience.com and start reserving your favorite attraction..   Or in my case, your favorite experience such as Festival of Fantasy.    The system is still in “testing” but getting closer to its final form every day.  Just recently Disney announced the ability to select additional FastPass+ reservations after you have used your three (based on availability)  (By the Way – The original Fast Pass paper tickets have all been retired, you won’t find any in WDW…  you need to head to Disneyland if you want one ;-)

Bell and Beast lead the Festival of Fantasy Parade.

Bell and Beast lead the Festival of Fantasy Parade.

Having never experienced Festival of Fantasy, I wanted to be sure to select it as one of my three.  My other option is to line up on Main Street hours before the parade start time, that’s valuable park time in my book.  Location is everything, and the location for the FastPass+ parade viewing is outstanding.  Located directly in front of Cinderella Castle, behind the partner statue…  a perfect backdrop for the beautiful Festival of Fantasy floats.  If you haven’t seen the parade it’s a must do for your next trip.  I would recommend grabbing the FastPass+ for the 3:00 parade, and early FastPass+ for the mine train, and pick your third favorite.  Then after the parade head to a Kiosk for your fourth selection… or head to another park for your fourth selection, lots of options.

Captain Hook , under the Peter Pan Float

Captain Hook , under the Peter Pan Float

So… what about “Festival of Fantasy”, the “ALL NEW” afternoon parade replaced “Celebrate the Magic” as the staple 3:00 parade… but be sure to check the times guide.  During busy weeks the parade runs twice, and the times vary usually 12:30 and 3:30 (i.e. NOT 3:00).  Remember, the times guide is your friend.

I purposely waited a few months before seeing the parade.  Disney literally rolled out the Red Carpet for a media event when the parade premiered, you can see the “red” carpet in lots of internet pictures.  I don’t want to see what Disney can do for the media, I wanted to see what they produce for the average park guest.   And even with a missing float (the Mickey/Minnie hot air balloon did not take part in the parade) the parade is outstanding.

Anna and Elsa, part of the lead float.

Anna and Elsa, part of the lead float.

With over 100 performances and countless Disney Characters, the best part of this parade?  It’s all new!  No recycled floats, none imported from California.. It’s all new and designed to fit Magic Kingdom.  The floats are noticeably bigger and taller than any parade in WDW history.  So tall, being in the first row can be distracting… almost as if the parade was designed for the person standing a few people deep… lots of activity above 6 feet in the air.

The parade is designed to represent the attractions and themes of Walt Disney Worlds Fantasyland, hence “Festival of Fantasy”.   The floats are specifically designed to represent the stories of Fantasyland.  “Tangled”, “Peter Pan”, “Brave”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Storybook Circus”, “Little Mermaid and lots of Princesses… even a prince and a “Fire Breathing Dragon”

For all of the videos, subscribe to the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.  Like the show on facebook www.facebook.com/samsdisneydiary, Instagram.com/SamsDisneyDiary follow the blog at www.samsdisneydiary.com follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiaryand be sure to subscribe to the Disney Nerds Podcast http://thedisneynerdspodcast.podbean.com/feed/

Categories: 3:00 Parade, Festival of Fantasy, Magic Kingdom, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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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: , , , , | 1 Comment

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