Perfect Timing on New Year’s Eve in Epcot

My family vacationed at Walt Disney World from December 30, 2013 -January 3, 2014. There is so much to share about our magical trip, I hardly know where to start. My brain is buzzing while my fingers are frozen on the keyboard! So let me begin in the middle of our trip with a highlight from New Year’s Eve!

We arrived in Epcot at about 6pm and used a backstage walkway that was open to walk over to Future World. My 10-year-old son gets very anxious inching through crowds, so these walkways were a lifesaver!  I had previously booked Fast Pass+ for our favorite Epcot attractions, Soarin’, Test Track, and Spaceship Earth. We really enjoy Soarin’, but The Land (the pavilion housing Soarin’) can get very busy on any given day at Epcot. I was concerned that my son would be uncomfortable getting through the crowds inside, so we chose to skip it this trip. Instead, we headed straight for Test Track and breezed past the 200 minute wait in the Standby Line with our Fast Passes.

My son designed a killer car for us, while my daughter and husband worked on their own creation. We were ready to battle it out for capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power. As we sped outside, our hearts racing with excitement, we heard the first explosions and saw the starbursts of fireworks from the 6:30pm display of Illuminations! I thought my heart would burst with the sheer joy of that moment. I’m not sure if I laughed or cried (probably both), as we continued to race around the track as the fireworks rang through the sky. We exited Test Track in awe of the pixie dust that had just rained down upon us, marveling at our perfect timing,  and eager for the next steps of our magical evening.

Valet Parking at Downtown Disney

After a 9 hour drive to Orlando, the last thing we wanted to do was circle endlessly in search of a parking spot at Downtown Disney. It was raining on and off, so we also really didn’t want to park at one of the remote lots. The parking lots at the Marketplace and Pleasure Island were actually full as we arrived. But thanks to our Tables in Wonderland membership, we got the rock star treatment!

Valet parking is available for a limited time at Downtown Disney, Entrance 4. We pulled up and followed the well-marked lane that led us in front of Cirque du Soleil. We were immediately greeted at our car and provided the valet ticket. It was a pleasant walk to Raglan Road through a light drizzle. After a delicious, fun dinner and some shopping, we texted the valet with our ticket number and received an automatic reply that our car would be ready in 10 minutes. Our vehicle was pulled up and doors opened just as we arrived. Best of all, valet parking was FREE because we are Tables in Wonderland members! We just had to show our receipt verifying that we dined at a Tables in Wonderland participating restaurant. Honestly, the valet service would have been worth $15 last night, but it was great getting that additional value from our TIW card!

I’ll share my review of Raglan Road soon!

Valet parking is available at Downtown Disney through the holiday season. I hope they consider extending it, as it is a fantastic service!

Magical Countdown to 2014! Part 3 Downtown Disney

Decisions, decisions! Where to spend New Year’s Eve in Walt Disney World? In previous posts, I described New Year’s Eve events at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. In this post, I’ll fill you in on some great options at Downtown Disney.

If you have teens or tweens, Disney Quest’s New Year’s Eve Party may be the ticket for your family! Your ticket includes dinner,  unlimited video games and all the DQ attractions. There will also be character meet and greets,  dancing and a confetti drop at Midnight! Tickets are $55 in advance which is a great deal for dinner and full night of entertainment!

If you are looking for a more upscale, adult oriented experience, Paradiso 37 is hosting a party with reserved seating,  live entertainment, a five course dinner, bottle of champagne and a house level open bar for $180 per person.

Raglan Road is celebrating 2014 with champagne toasts at 7pm and again at Midnight with live Irish music and the Raglan Road Irish Dancers throughout the night.

Raglan Road

Have you seen Cirque Du Soleil La Nouba? As of today, tickets are still available for the 6pm and 9pm performances on December 31st.  La Nouba is a mesmerizing and beautiful show that will make for an unforgettable New Year’s Eve.

Downtown Disney is sure to be a fun spot to celebrate! Which of these options will you choose for your countdown to 2014? Hurry and make your plans now before it’s too late. Let me know how you plan to spend New Year’s Eve!

Magical Countdown to 2014! Part 2

New Year’s Eve is 10 days away, and I’ll be celebrating in Walt Disney World! In Part 1, I summarized events at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Today, I’ll give you the details of New Year’s Eve happenings at Magic Kingdom!

Magic Kingdom offers the most family-friendly environment for your 2014 countdown as no alcohol is served in the park (except for guests lucky enough to dine at Be Our Guest for dinner). The day is packed with character greetings, shows and special events marking the holiday season! Highlights include:

©Disney

Click here for a complete New Year’s Eve schedule at                          Magic Kingdom!

Remember that Magic Kingdom is the most popular park for New Year’s Eve and the park may close. TouringPlans has a great description of how Disney implements phased closures of the parks:http://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/capacity-closures

Your best bet is to stay at a Disney Resort, arrive early and settle in to enjoy the festivities.  This would be a great day to prebook attractions using FastPass+ as lines will be long throughout the day and night.

Stay tuned for highlights of New Year’s events at Epcot and Downtown Disney! Choices, choices. Where will you spend New Year’s Eve? I’ll write about my family’s countdown plans soon too!

Disney to the Cronut Rescue!

Have you heard of the Cronut? It’s a croissant doughnut combination created by Chef Dominique Ansel and a hot item at his New York City bakery. I still have not tasted it, but this weekend I was caught up in the Cronut craze when Goldbely, an internet purveyor of gourmet foods from around the country, had a flash sale of Cronuts. They released batches of Cronuts for sale every hour. Only the fastest clickers were rewarded with the prize of ordering two Cronuts, sold for the same price at the bakery ($5 each) with free shipping. I tried many times throughout the weekend but my Cronut craving was denied. There are no clear plans to ship Cronuts again, and I have no plans to travel to New York City any time soon. So my dreams to try this tasty concoction were thwarted, until this morning….

Disney came to the rescue with the announcement that their pastry chefs have created a cinnamon-sugar topped croissant-doughnut available at the Refreshment Port for $4.49 (or one snack credit). You can bet that I will be tasting and reporting back when I visit Epcot in less than two weeks!

Disney’s Croissant Doughnut!

Magical Countdown to 2014! Part 1

Are you ready for the most magical countdown of the year? Join me as I review all the possibilities to spend your New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World. Over the next several posts, I will share NYE happenings throughout Disney. I’ll then share how I will ring in 2014 with my family and post frequent updates from the parks!

In true Disney World style, there really is “more to do than can ever be done” on New Year’s Eve. Downtown Disney, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Epcot all have exciting options as do several of the Disney Resorts.

Behind Door #1: Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Hollywood Studios will be open from 8am to Midnight with Extra Magic Hours for resort guests until 3am. The evening will feautre:

  •  Showings of Fantasmic! Nighttime Spectacular
    at 6:30pm, 8pm, and 10pm.
  •  The Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special (a family-friendly, improv comedy show) will also be running throughout the afternoon and evening.
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol throughout the day
  • Hat & Horn Distribution beginning at 6pm at the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • Disney Junior Dance Party from 8:30pm to 11:30pm
  • DJ Elliott at the Sorcerer Hat State from 6pm to Midinght
  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights 
  • Mulch, Sweat & Shears at the Sorcerer Hat Stage at 8:30pm, 9:30, 10:30 and 11:25
  •  New Years Eve Fireworks starting at 11:50pm

Hollywood Studios NYE

Doesn’t it sound amazing? But wait! There’s more! What’s behind Door #2? Read my next post to find out!

One Beer at a Time

I’m in a mixed marriage. I believe in Disney. My husband is an atheist. But he loves me and fully supports my raising the kids on Disney. Over the years, I’ve slowly tried to convert him. Avoiding lines with my obsessive touring plans has helped. Beer helps too. Liter pilsners at Biergarten and Guinness Draught at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney have become favorites.

Earlier this week, I read about a tapping party for a Winter Tartan Socttish Ale at Big River Grille & Brewing Works at Disney’s Boardwalk. (Thank you The Adult Side of Disney!) Since my husband is working in Orlando this week, I shared the info with him. Lo and behold, he not only went but texted me pics, info and breaking insider news!

First the beer, a Winter Tartan Scottish Ale.

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Winter Tartan Scottish Ale

Hubby stated it is delicious and very smooth with a hint of vanilla as advertised. He learned that it is infused with Madagascar vanilla beans added for the last two days of the two week brewing process.

The Brewmaster is working on his latest creation: a Blood Orange IPA. That will be worth a return trip!

The food didn’t fare as well…

Complimentary Cheesecake Appetizer
Hazlenut Crusted Chicken with Cherry Sauce
Hazlenut Crusted Chicken with Cherry Sauce

Not much flavor and lackluster presentation…

It sounds like Big River knows that food isn’t their strength. Their parent company, Craftworks, has plans to turn  Big River into a Rock Bottom Brewery. The site will be remodeled inside and out.

My husband had a great night chatting with the brewmaster and other patrons. Maybe a little bit of Disney magic is starting to rub off on him, one beer at a time.

Giving Tuesday- Give Kids the World

A few weeks ago, I received some disappointing news. I had been wishing for a special kind of pixie dust to be sprinkled my way, and I found out it wasn’t my time. I actually went into a bit of a funk. I knew I had to shake it off and focus on all the magic that already exists in my life.

I am so fortunate that I live in comfort and have healthy children. I am am fortunate that I have traveled with my family to Disney World for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or for no reason at all. I am fortunate that I have the time and the technology to blog about these things.

I decided the best way to shake off my blues was to sprinkle some pixie dust on others. Give Kids the World is an organization that provides fantasy vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. I made a donation and started a virtual team.  Turns out today is Giving Tuesday, a day for giving back. I hope that you will choose to join this team and make a donation of any amount. Perhaps you will even ask others to join us as well.

Follow this link to donate to my virtual team:

http://support.gktw.org/site/TR/Event/Events?team_id=1432&pg=team&fr_id=1040

For more info on Giving TuesdayL  http://http://community.givingtuesday.org/News

Traveling through Life Disney Style