Tag: walt disney world (page 1 of 2)

Watching Happily Ever After fireworks from inside Cinderella’s Royal Table

We love the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, Happily Ever After, and we’re always looking for new and different ways to view the show … especially since that front-of-the-castle mob scene can be exhausting! We’ve tried watching from Fantasyland, from the deck of California Grill, from ‘Ohana at the Polynesian, and soon will be attending the dessert party at Magic Kingdom. This last trip, though, we tried something outside the box: we had dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table during the show.

To start with, some tips on how to watch Happily Ever After from the castle. Once you pick a day to go, find out what time Happily Ever After is scheduled for that night and then try to get a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner shortly before that time.  This can be a tough-to-get reservation, so you have to make it a priority when you can make dining reservations 180 days before your trip. Once you get the reservation, make sure to re-check that timing of the fireworks show when it gets closer to your trip. Times can change, and you’d need to make adjustments.

Cast Members will start roping off access to the castle as much as an hour before the fireworks show, so leave yourself plenty of time to get to Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is located in the rear of the castle. We had been shopping on Main Street, for example, and at 8 PM started heading to the restaurant. Front and side entrance to the castle was already roped off, and we had to go around the long way either through Liberty Square or down by the tea cups, and for the most part, you’re going against the crowdflow. We had plenty of time to get to our 8:30 reservation, but were glad we’d left early. Even when you reach the back, you’ll need to let them know you have a dining reservation or you won’t be let into the roped-off area around the castle. At your reservation time you’ll be checked in and taken in to meet Cinderella, and then escorted up to your table. For an ideal view of the fireworks, you’d want to be seated at the windows.

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Watching Happily Ever After from our table at Cinderella’s Royal Palace.

Unfortunately, Cinderella’s Royal Table does not take seating requests of this nature. As we and every other person who asked was very politely told, it’s simply not possible due to the fact that almost everyone would make this request. You’ll still be able to see from a great many tables in the restaurant, but the window spot is definitely best. You’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope for a little pixie dust on this one. Here’s a bit of information, though — there are a number of two-person-only tables at the windows. At least one or two four-tops as well, but because of the small, angled space, it seems like the restaurant tries to take advantage of every bit of space and sort of crams those tables in there. So if you’re just a party of two … you might stand a better chance. Still not a guarantee, though — we saw couples seated at four-tops elsewhere in the restaurant.

When Happily Ever After begins, the princesses leave the dining area and the music and voiceover from the show is piped in to the restaurant. The fireworks begin and you have a truly magical view.

Some of the fireworks are shot off behind Fantasyland and you have a perfect view of those here. Others shoot off from the castle itself, literally right above your head! It isn’t too loud but it can be dazzling.

fireworks

Obviously, you miss the castle projections that are part of what tells the story of Happily Ever After — you’re in the castle they’re being projected on. I certainly don’t recommend skipping those entirely, so catch the show with a clear view of the projects another time. But if you’re looking for a different experience, I very much recommend this one.

A bit of video from the show — you’ll hear a lot of “Oh mys!” from a young lad seated nearby. We were all glued to the view.

Review: Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian

Having Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room has been on my Disney bucket list for some time.  Since the tea room is relatively small, reservations can be a little hard to come by, and it’s also difficult sometimes to carve out time in a busy Disney Parks afternoon. I very highly recommend doing so, though, after our delightful experience there.

The cafe is small, light and airy, but the seating is comfortably intimate without being too tight. We were seated and offered ice water while we went over the tea options on the menu.

afternoon tea

Having already had lunch that day, we opted for the simplest/smallest tea, the Bedfordshire Tea. I will end up saying this over and over, but it was far more food than you might think. Somehow even now it seems like a few finger sandwiches and desserts would not be enough to fill anyone up, especially if you’re Disney foodies like we are. But it was substantial. We noted another couple two tables over ordered the Cheshire Tea, which adds a fruit and cheese plate. The plates were enormous. Next time, we’ll skip lunch and order the Cheshire. Neither of us are fans of caviar so I don’t think we’ll ever go for that option, but it’s available for those who are, with the Berkshire Tea.

Then we made our dessert choice. The Bedfordshire Tea has these three courses. The first is finger sandwiches, the second is a scone, and then the final course is dessert. You each choose between one of three desserts: pastries, including a mousse-filled swan, macaroons, and a chocolate-covered strawberry; strawberries topped with whipped cream; or,  an English trifle with custard, ladyfingers, fruit and cream.  We decided to each choose something different and share. I got the trifle, and my husband got the pastries.

afternoon tea

Next, we made our tea selections. There were a few that looked interesting, and I decided to go with the Rose Garden black tea. It was really good. My husband can’t have caffeine of any kind, so we were happy to see a very nice herbal tea selection on the menu. It’s nice when there’s more than just your basic chamomile. He chose Thoroughly Minted and liked it a lot, but wants to try Golden Caramel Rooibus next time.

afternoon tea

afternoon tea

Very soon, a pot of your chosen tea is brought to your table, complete with a tea cozy. This keeps the tea very warm — in fact, be careful when you remove the cozy and pour, the pot is hot. It holds a lot of tea, but if you run out, they’ll happily bring you more.

afternoon tea

The first course of finger sandwiches arrived. This was the only disappointing part of the experience, with one notable exception. Starting clockwise from twelve o’clock, the sandwiches pictured below were chicken curry, goat cheese and fire-roasted tomato, cucumber, caramelized onion tart, and egg salad. I found the chicken curry, goat cheese, and cucumber sandwiches to be fine but bland, and the egg salad to be unpalatable because it contained celery (that might be just me, but I hate celery in egg salad). My husband, on the other hand, considered the onion tart to be one of the best things he’s ever eaten, so it saved the day.

afternoon tea

Moving forward, though, things went back to being delectable. The scone (second and bottom tiers, below) was nicely made, not too dense; I think it was orange and golden raisin in flavor.  I tried each of the accompanying gooey bits in turn. Loved the marmalade and clotted cream. The lemon curd was too tart for me, and overpowered the scone. The berry tart was a quick, enjoyable bite.

afternoon tea

Finally, dessert. The macaroons were light and flavorful, and the strawberry dipped in chocolate certainly didn’t disappoint. The mousse-filled swan was beautiful to look at, airy, and a perfect bite. As for the trifle , I enjoyed every bite — and it’s a lot of bites! The trifle is seasonal, so mine was a lemon custard and blueberries. Not even two of my favorite flavors, but still delicious. And filling. The trifle alone, with tea, would have been a nice-sized dessert/snack. I recommend each getting different selections and sharing as we did.

afternoon tea

The Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Tea Room of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is held seven days a week, on the following schedule:

New Dooney & Bourke Haunted Mansion merchandise now available

A new Dooney & Bourke Haunted Mansion collection is now available online and at Disney Parks!

The collection was first released as a Parks exclusive, alongside a Princess Tiana collection. As reported by the Disney Parks Blog, a release party was held on July 22 in the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs.

dooney & bourke haunted mansion

The handbag artwork was created by Paola Gutierrez, Senior Graphic Designer with Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media Creative Group, and comes in a rich purple hue with a repeating pattern featuring the Haunted Mansion’s Madame Leota. Three bags are available, a Shopper ($268), Letter carrier ($198), and Wristlet ($98).

dooney & bourke haunted mansion

The letter carrier was my favorite bag in this new collection, seen here at the Marketplace Co-op.

Important to note: pictures on the Disney Blog and elsewhere on the net made the bags, and the band, look more of a blue-violet than a true purple, but as you can see in the photo above, taken at the Marketplace Co-Op at the first weekend of release, the actual bag is a rich, vibrant color.

The Madame Leota design also appears on a limited release retail MagicBand, presented in a specially designed box. As with all MagicBand 2’s, guests can use  their bands to enjoy their Disney vacation to the fullest, with “effortless theme-park entry, FastPass+ redemption and Disney PhotoPass , to skipping the front desk and going directly to your resort room.”

dooney & bourke haunted mansion

The new Dooney & Bourke Haunted Mansion collection can now be purchased at select merchandise locations at Disney Parks, on DisneyStore.com, or via the Shop Disney Parks app.

Sneak Peek: Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

We had the opportunity to attend one of Walt Disney World’s Passholder Previews for Pandora, Animal Kingdom’s new land. Be warned: there are lots of photos ahead, showing off Pandora’s amazing visuals and delights.,  including new rides, food, and beautiful architecture.

pandora

Come in for a sneak peek into Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, opening May 27, 2017. Click To Tweet

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As soon as you walk into Pandora, the landscape changes. There’s the lush foliage and flora you’re used to at Animal Kingdom, but it’s … different somehow. Alien. You’re in another world. The floating mountains loom in the distance and the sounds of birds are everywhere around you. All the strange and exotic blooms of Pandora are there for you to enjoy. From what the cast members told us, the nighttime views are even more spectacular, when Pandora’s bioluminescent plants come to life.

 

pandora

Our first stop, after taking in all the sights, was Pongu Pongu, where we each ordered a Night Blossom. This non-alcoholic frozen beverage (seen here in the souvenir cup) is a mix of limeade combined with apple and pear flavors topped off with passion fruit boba balls. It was very sweet, but I thought incredibly refreshing.

pandora

We enjoyed our drink in the outside seating area for Satu’li Canteen and then stepped inside for lunch. The quick service setup will look familiar to any Disney visitor — you place your order at the register, then pick it up at the counter. This restaurant, though, will be the first to offer mobile ordering through the My Disney Experience app, beginning May 27th. Make sure you’ve installed the latest update before you go.

pandora

The food at Satu’li Canteen? Pretty darn good. I got the Chopped Wood-Grilled Chicken Bowl with wild grains and rice and the creamy herb dressing (seen here). My husband got steak with potatoes and the onion sauce and enjoyed his just as much. Both were tasty and filling. In fact, we were too full for dessert but the offerings looked delightful.

Now … the new rides.

First up, Avatar Flight of Passage. For the Passholder Preview, we were taken through the standby queues, though there were no lines at all given the limited attendance allowed. It gave us a chance to enjoy the scenery, and to appreciate all the work that went into designing this world.

 

pandora

pandora

pandora

pandora

pandora

 

pandora

I have a feeling this queue will never look so empty again! It was a long, long walk to get to the ride, and it gives you pause to think how many parkgoers will fit in it. Rumor has it that the queue can accommodate a 6 hour wait, but I would hope for anyone’s sake that’s overestimating.

After you reach the end of that very long hallway, you wait until a “link room” is available. At that point, you and fifteen other riders are ushered into a room where the link process is explained to you, as well as a brief history of the Avatar program.

 

pandora

 

At this point, we were asked to turn off cell phones and cameras, so I can’t give you pictures of the room where the ride takes place itself. My experience, though, was this: as I expected, I wasn’t able to ride. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Flight of Passage does not accommodate all body types, and this is true. In addition to being somewhat Pooh-sized, I’m a tall girl (over 5′ 10″) with long legs. No amount of scootching up or pointing my toes or sitting up straight or any of the tips you’ve heard were going to make a difference when my knees were already right up against the seat, with no room to move. Some tall people and some people more “Pooh” than I am have ridden, but it all depends on each person’s individual body shape. If you’re all leg and not tiny, you may run into the same problem I did. The Cast Member was super nice and helped me, and sounded absolutely miserable that I wasn’t able to ride (she was more upset than I was, but more on that later).

So, I stepped outside through the exit door and waited there on a bench while my husband rode. While I waited, I had a great time talking to Cast Member William, who told me that this is a frequent occurrence and one the CMs feel terrible about. He said, and I hope he doesn’t mind me paraphrasing him here, that as Flight of Passage Cast Members it’s their sole purpose to give us an excellent ride experience, and that they’re truly disappointed when they can’t accommodate a particular rider.

We also talked a bit about why I wasn’t upset at missing the ride — I never had any intention of doing it, even if I had fit (but wanted to see if I did) because I have a lower back fusion and continuing disc problems, and this ride seemed like it would easily aggravate that. (A cast member I spoke to indicated his own mother won’t ride for the same reasons.) Disney gives its usual health disclaimer for this ride, warning those with high blood pressure, motion sickness, and “other conditions that could be aggravated”. For me, because of the back restraint on this ride, as well as the banking and leaning that would take place, this was too big of a risk for my too-easily-aggravated back condition. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe for anyone else, but if you’re in my shoes, be careful.

My husband, however, did ride, and enjoyed it very much. You wear 3D glasses and the visuals are perfect and seamless. You truly feel as if you’re flying, and part of that is because of the sounds, smells, and feel of your banshee beneath you, as well as the wind in your face as you soar and dive through Pandora’s skies. Everyone’s thrill level is different, but many are describing Flight of Passage as “Soarin’ meets Star Tours meets Mission Space” — three great rides rolled into one and set in the exotic world of Pandora.

 

pandora

pandora

 

For a complete change of pace, we then went on the Na’vi River Journey, a beautiful boat ride through Pandora’s nighttime world. The ride is serene and lovely — we rode it twice — and the technology is stunning. The boats have two seats and legroom is ample for a comfortable ride.

Both rides will offer FastPass+, but Park visitors can only choose one of the two Pandora: World of Avatar rides in their first three selections. In other words, you can FastPass Flight of Passage, Kali River Run, and Dinosaur, and then if you like, try to get a same-day 4th FP for Na’vi River Journey. This may or may not be easy to do at first, so choose wisely (and use MDE to your best advantage).

Pandora is an exciting addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with a great deal to enjoy visually, two new rides, an excellent quick service dining option, and banshees of your own to buy at Windtraders gift shop. Face painting, a drum circle, and other activities can be found throughout the land. While some may have questioned adding Pandora to Animal Kingdom (due to the fact that, well, Pandora doesn’t exist, unlike DAK’s other inhabitants), its message of conservation and protection ties in closely with Disney’s commitment to environmentalism. I think visitors both young and old (and even those who’ve never seen “Avatar”) will enjoy this new land to explore.

Celebrate the 4th of July at Disney’s Grand Floridian

4th of july fireworksStarting to make your summer plans, especially for the 4th of July? Independence Day can be an exciting but crowded day at Disney World. Guests from all over will be there celebrating and enjoying the Parks. If you aren’t up to braving the enormous crows at Cinderella’s Castle that night but still want to enjoy the fireworks in a beautiful and exclusive venue, you might be glad to hear that Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort & Spa will host a special limited ticket event to celebrate July 4th.

The entire event will be held at the marina at the resort. Dinner will include grilled steak and shrimp, other cookout favorites, dessert, and includes both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. After the meal, guests will have a terrific viewing location to watch the 4th of July fireworks show performed at the Magic Kingdom, including music piped into the area during the show for a full experience.

The tickets will be $120 (plus tax) for adults and $59 (plus tax) for children (ages 3-9). Reservations are already available for the event by calling (407) WDW-DINE. I would recommend making your reservation as soon as possible for this first-time event that is sure to be popular. You do not have to be staying at the Grand Floridian in order purchase tickets to the event.

Review: AMC Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theatre

Last weekend my husband and I went to Disney Springs to see Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s new live action version of the animated classic. (The movie was wonderful,  by the way!) We decided to head up to WDW for the movie so we could do some shopping, be immersed in Disney, and to try out AMC’s Dine-In Theatre.

Seating is reserved. The chairs are comfortable, but getting old; the leather is stiff and aging. They lean back but in a desk chair kind of way, not like the feet-up recliners you see in a lot of theaters these days. In front of you there’s a table for your food, which conveniently has a foot bar I found very comfortable to prop my feet up on. It’s not stadium seating at all, though; there isn’t much slope to the floor so I wouldn’t get seats too far in the back. Overall, the theater viewing room itself needs a refurb soon.

disney springs amc

Our movie was at 11 AM, so we got there a little early to get our food order in right away. There are menus waiting for you, as well as silverware and 3D glasses, if needed. You can look at the full menu here on Disney’s site, but it offers a wide array of choices, including but not limited to burgers, boneless wings, nachos, sushi rolls, flatbreads, teriyaki bowls, mac & cheese, salads, wraps, tacos, chicken tenders, fish & chips, and doughnuts. You can also, of course, order traditional movie fare such as popcorn, candy, and drinks.

When you’re ready to order, you press a button at your table.

disney springs amc

Shortly thereafter, a waiter arrives and takes your order. The food arrived rather quickly after that — we had everything, drinks, appetizers, and main course, before the movie started. The waiters were all extremely helpful, polite, and attentive. Definitely a little of the Disney spirit of customer service going on there.

Review: AMC Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theatre at Walt Disney World Click To Tweet

You don’t have to order early, though. And if you need anything during the movie, like a refill or napkins or dessert, just push the button and your waiter comes by again. This, though, was my biggest concern about a dine-in theater. I hate it when people talk, use their cell phones, or do anything distracting during the movie. It drives me crazy. People ordering food, waiters walking around, all during a Disney extravaganza and remake of one of my favorite movies, that I’d waited over a year for? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Weirdly, though, it wasn’t at all distracting. The aisles are wide and the waiters really know how to be unobtrusive. It was fine, no problems, no distractions. Trust me, if there’s ANYONE this arrangement was going to bother, it was me, and it didn’t.

So, on to the food!

disney springs amc

We ordered two appetizers, the first being the Crispy Brussels Sprouts. They were very nicely seasoned, crunchy-crispy, and the cheese was a nice added touch. I know everyone isn’t a fan of Brussels sprouts (though I don’t know why not!) but these were delicious.

disney springs amc

We also got the loaded tater tots, and these were a little disappointing. The tots did have cheese sauce, bacon, scallions, and Ranch dressing, but not the way I’d imagined it — there was just a drizzle of each on top of regular old tater tots. Which are always yummy, but I expected something a little more decadent.

disney springs amc

Both of us had burgers and fries as our entrée. The fries were pretty good, especially while they were still hot. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, nicely greasy. The burger wasn’t exceptional, though. The bun was fine but the patty itself was overcooked and dry.  My husband got the Royal Burger, which was loaded with bacon, brie, carmelized onions, sweet fig jam, and Royal sauce, and he didn’t notice that it was dry, given all those gooey toppings. A better-cooked burger to start with, though, would be a good improvement all around.

We had a great time at the AMC Dine-In at Disney Springs and would definitely go to a movie there again, especially a Disney movie, just to feel a little more immersed in the land of the Mouse. A few updates, a fresh coat of paint, and a better meat thermometer and I’d give it an A+, but even without those it’s a fun experience I can definitely recommend.

 

Review: Le Cellier Steakhouse

Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion serves tender steaks, fresh seafood, cheesy poutine fries and other regional cuisine inspired by the provinces of Canada. From Disney:

Under sweeping stone arches and flickering candle sconces, this sizzling steakhouse recalls the wine cellars of grand château-style hotels like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac and Fairmont Château Laurier. Enjoy such signature dishes as the Canadian cheddar cheese soup and the “Le Cellier” mushroom filet mignon—or, for a lunch-time exclusive option, design your own 3-course feast from a selection of luscious prix fixe menu choices. And for a sweet ending to any meal, save room for maple crème brûlée or one of our other decadent desserts!

le cellier

I’ve had the pleasure of eating at Le Cellier twice and enjoyed both experiences greatly. The first time was during the Christmas holidays; the restaurant was decorated in a festive but understated way with garland and white lights. We had a wonderful time.

When we had the chance to return last month, we were worried that our meal, and our impression of Le Cellier, wouldn’t live up to the first impression it gave. Luckily, it very much did.

le cellier

My husband and I both started with the Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup. Made with Moosewood Beer and Applewood Smoked Bacon, this is unbelievably tasty. I thought it would be fun to dip Le Cellier’s famous pretzel bread in the soup, but in all honesty that made for too salty of a bite. As an aside, when we tried the “same” soup at Biergarten last year, we found it overall too salty, as well. But the soup offered up at Le Cellier is perfect.

le cellier

We tried the poutine on our previous visit and… we’re not fans. I love a good french fry and my husband does as well. But we like fries that are crisp, on the outside at least, and drowning fries in gravy or cheese creates a texture we’re not fond of. You know, my mother used to make what was, I’m told, a fantastic pork roast. I don’t like pork roast, though. So even the best pork roast in the world, which for all I know hers might have been, wasn’t ever going to be my favorite thing to eat. It’s the same thing with poutine. Le Cellier’s might be fantastic, if you like that kind of thing. We found it soggy. But it might be just what you’re looking at on a plate of smothered fries.

For the main course, I can never resist filet mignon. Le Cellier’s is served on a bed of mushroom risotto and with an asparagus relish (which I omitted) and truffle butter sauce. The risotto is creamy and rich; I didn’t quite finish all of it as a result. If I had one complaint it might be that the flavor is a little too strong and could overwhelm the flavor of the filet.

le cellier

The beef itself was cooked to an absolutely perfect medium rare, as requested. It had a nice char, but truly could be eaten with a butter knife, it was so tender. And delicious — drenched in the truffle butter, this might have been the most wonderful steak I’ve ever had. Is it buttery and rich? Yes. If you don’t like your beef that way, you might want to ask them to omit the sauce. I personally couldn’t resist ever bit just as it was.

Review: Le Cellier Steakhouse in Disney World's Epcot lived up to expectations & then some. Click To Tweet

le cellier

My husband enjoyed the Angus New York Strip, and he felt just as I did about the beef — perfectly cooked, tender and delicious. As per the menu it is normally served with a potato turnip gratin and crispy onions. This didn’t appeal to him (personally, I love turnips) so he asked if he could substitute the sides for those which normally accompany the Rib-Eye instead. Of course his request was accommodated, and so instead he enjoyed Crisp Fingerling Potatoes and Frisée salad with Bacon Viniagrette and Heirloom Carrots. He wasn’t excited about any of them; the salad was okay and the rest unmemorable.

Another disappointment was the side of Smoked Macaroni & Cheese that we ordered to share. We were debating between that and the Loaded Mashed Potatoes, and I think we should have gone the other way (next time!). The dish was creamy and the bacon crumble added nice texture, but when they say “Smoked”, they mean smoked. I found the flavor way too smoky. The portion size was very generous, though, and this was easily shared.

On our previous visit, my husband ordered the creamed spinach and enjoyed it very much. Our waitress also recommended the aforementioned Loaded Mashed Potatoes (and I ignored her, more fool I) so those are two sides you might want to give a try if smoky cheese isn’t your thing either.

le cellier

Finally, we arrived at dessert — who can resist? And neither of us could resist ordering the house specialty, the Maple Crème Brûlée. I can very highly recommend it, especially if you don’t have too much room left for dessert. The served dish wasn’t skimpy, but the creamy brûlée was light and airy, and didn’t feel overwhelming. The whipped cream tasted fresh, and the crisp, crunchy maple tasted wonderful. We were both very glad of our choice.

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Overall, we had a wonderful time at Le Cellier. You have to want steak, and you have to want it buttery and seasoned.  If you’re a fan of poutine, as well, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. The service was excellent and we enjoyed our experience there, both times. Give it a try and see if you agree that Le Cellier is not to be missed.

WDW News roundup: Rivers of Light (finally), Pandora, and Star Wars dates

This was a big week in Walt Disney World news as dates were confirmed for some highly-anticipated new attractions at the Parks: Rivers of Light, Pandora and Star Wars Land!

First, Rivers of Light is finally opening on February 17, 2017 — in just a few short days! “Get swept away in a timeless show that celebrates the beauty of all living things. With a brilliant fusion of water, sound and light, it’s quite unlike anything you’ve experienced before!” Both FastPass+ and dining packages (at Tiffins and Tusker House) are now available. After all the delays and setbacks, we’re looking forward to seeing this evening show at Animal Kingdom.

pandoraSpeaking of Animal Kingdom, on The Walt Disney Company Q1 FY17 earnings call, Bob Iger announced that Pandora: The World of Avatar will open on May 27, 2017. According to the Disney Parks blog, this new land will feature two exciting new rides:

First, the family friendly Na’vi River Journey will send guests through a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with a Na’vi Shaman, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. And second, Avatar Flight of Passage will offer guests the jaw-dropping experience of exploring the world of Pandora atop a Banshee.

Also opening will be dining at Satu’li Canteen and a gift shop for Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more, Windtraders. Can’t wait until May? Read up to prepare for your Visit to Pandora now.

Big week in Walt Disney World news- Rivers of Light, Pandora & Star Wars Land openings revealed! Click To Tweet

Lastly, on that same call, Iger also revealed that Star Wars-themed lands at Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be opening in 2019. From the Disney Parks blog:

At each location, guests will be transported to a never-before-seen planet – a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space – where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life. Check out some of our earlier images, including a glimpse at one of the signature attractions which lets you take the controls of the Millennium Falcon!

MagicBand 2.0 Review

Disney has, as was rumored earlier this year, revamped MagicBands with a new removable “icon” that allows users to accessorize and wear their MagicBand in new ways. As an annual passholder, I received my new band in the mail just yesterday. As reported, new and renewing passholders are now being sent the new bands. While it’s expected that Disney will start shipping them to resort guests sometime soon, there’s no word yet on when. For the time being, then, for those who haven’t experiences them yet, here’s my hands-on review.

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My hands-on review of Disney's new MagicBand 2.0 Click To Tweet

In every picture I’ve seen of the MagicBand 2.0, they look huge. Huger than the old band, big, kind of enormous. Mine in the picture above sort of looks gigantic too, even! The strange thing is that they’re not, really. When you’re wearing them, they feel the same. The Michey-head icon area is definitely wider than the rest of the band, which is the same size as before. But looking at it, I think it’s natural to focus on the icon, and not the rest.

MagicBand 2.0 is no heavier than earlier versions — I don’t have a scale that accurate to measure precisely, but comparing my new band to the one I received on a trip a few weeks ago, they seemed to weigh the same.

magicband

The other big difference is that the icon, that center Mickey-head puck, is removable, as you can see from the screws above. According to the Disney blog, if you buy an accessory or MagicKeeper, it will come with a tiny screwdriver to help you install your icon. Well, that’s helpful, but it brings home again that contrary to some initial thoughts, this change did not come about to save on producing multiple RFID units or because of conservation in general.

Speaking of MagicKeepers, which is what Disney is calling the alternatives to wearing your MagicBand on your wrist, they’re not for sale yet. Here’s a preview of what initial offerings will look like:

magickeepers

To be frank? So it’s a band or a keychain… not very exciting, in my opinion. I’m not a person who needs a MagicKeeper — I don’t mind wearing mine on my wrist — but I’m always interested in new Disney gear. This is underwhelming. Anyone could have just looped their previous MagicBand around a keychain fob in the first place, without all this icon removing business. I wear a watch on a lanyard that way, sometimes. I’m hoping future MagicKeeper offerings are a little more exciting.

Walt Disney World, a few seconds a day – December 2016 edition

Just got back from an 8-day visit to Walt Disney World! Much to report — we did a bunch of great signature events I want to share reviews on, but in the meantime, here’s a few seconds each day from our trip:

(I made this using 1SE — the 1 Second Everyday app on iOS. I love it and highly recommend it for all kinds of fun video projects!)

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