Cafe Orleans Review

Cafe Orleans is a table-service restaurant in the heart of Disneyland’s New Orleans Square.  Most of the restaurant is outside, looking out onto Rivers of America, Frontierland and different passersby.  The outside seating is all under umbrella so weather isn’t much of a factor unless it’s ridiculously hot or frigidly cold.  The menu (follow the link) consists of Cajun-Creole fare and ranges in price from about $15-$30 (per entree).

We went to Cafe Orleans on our latest trip to Disneyland.  We went the afternoon after running our 10K so there’s a chance we were on a little bit of a high to accurately judge a restaurant.  With that being said, my thoughts are pretty even with those of other review I’ve read.  Whatever ‘runners high’ I was on was probably setback by my legs feeling like jello that had been sitting out in a lukewarm room just a little bit too long.

We had made a reservation for Cafe Orleans in the middle of the afternoon  and arrived a bit early.  Thinking that it wasn’t peak lunch hours, we assumed that we would be able to sit pretty quickly.  Even with eating around 3 PM, the restaurant was pretty full and checking in early didn’t accomplish much.  I heard them tell other guests who didn’t have a reservation that the stand-by wait would be at least an hour.  So, all that to say, if you are going to Disneyland, Cafe Orleans may be one of the few restaurants you may want a dining reservation for (although getting a reservation too far in advance isn’t necessary).

After we were seated, ignoring the ambiance of this restaurant and area was impossible.  There isn’t much theming of the actual sitting area because the restaurant is in New Orleans Square.  The theming was already there and they didn’t need to add anything to it.  The restaurant has a great energy as you can watch all of the people passing by.  The view is great, especially if you get a table right along the fence line.  There’s also something very charming about sitting under all of these umbrellas and sipping a cold drink.  We had a beautiful day to enjoy and really loved the restaurants atmosphere.

Cafe Orleans view

The Pommes Frites at Cafe Orleans are Disneyland of legend.  They are (thinly cut) french fries with parmesan, garlic and parsley on them.  Pommes Frites also come with a delicious cajun spicy remoulade.  The fries alone are absolutely delicious.  Ours were perfectly cooked, crisp but nowhere near burnt.  The flavor shouldn’t have been as good as it was, being simply french fries with a few ingredients on top but, they were delicious.  When you add in the sauce, it became one of my favorite items I’ve eaten at Disneyland.  The sauce has a nice flavor and wasn’t very spicy, if you worry about that kind of thing.  The remoulade blended well with the Pommes Frites.  I could have eaten about three orders of these and been perfectly happy.  They are a perfect appetizer.

Pommes Frites Cafe Orleans

For our entrees, we both ordered crepes.  Melissa ordered the Braised Beef Crepe and I ordered the Chicken Gumbo Crepe.  They each came on top of a pea puree and had mixed vegetables on top.

cafe orleans beef crepe

The Braised Beef Crepe was just okay.  The meat was tender and had good flavor but there wasn’t much else to it.  Although there was a nice bordelaise sauce on top, the crepe was somewhat dry.  We both liked the vegetables on this dish.  The dryness of the Braised Beef Crepe was the main letdown.  The crepe also could have used something else inside to add to the braised beef.

Gumbo crepe Cafe Orleans

I liked the Chicken Gumbo Crepe a little more.  Again, the dish was a little too dry for me to give it much praise.  The crepe was supposedly filled with all of the gumbo ingredients – chicken, ham and sausage.  What I got was mostly chicken but it was still good chicken and had more layers of flavors than the Braised Beef Crepe, probably due to a little bit of sausage and ham in there.   While I think the word ‘gumbo’ probably scares a few people off because of the spiciness of gumbo, I didn’t find this to be very spicy.  Disney usually takes it pretty easy when it comes to spice and that was the case here.

Cafe Orleans inside crepe

The pea puree on both plates was surprisingly good.  I’m not a huge fan of peas but this was a pretty decent augmentation to the crepes.  The sweetness helped add a flavor that wasn’t there and the texture was pretty smooth.  While there might have been just a little too much puree and slightly too little crepe, the presentation was very nice.  How you get pea puree to look nice is beyond me but, congratulations Disneyland, you did it!

After our entrees, I think we both had wished we had ordered the Monte Cristo, which Cafe Orleans is known for.  We didn’t order it because the crepes sounded more appealing at first but if and when I go back, I’ll be trying a different option and it will most likely be the Monte Cristo.  My dog’s name was Monte.  He was a great dog.

Cafe Orleans beignets side

There were several intriguing options for dessert but it wasn’t much of a choice, if I’m being honest.  Mickey Beignets were ordered after we barely gave the menu a courtesy glance.  They were ordered and they were delicious.  The dough was light and fluffy.  Combining that with the powdered sugar on top made for a sweet, melt-in-your-mouth pastry.  The Vanilla Creme Anglaise that we dipped the beignets into was equally delicious and added a little substance to the dessert.  The other dip was a Fruit Coulis which we both liked but not as much as the creme.

Cafe Orleans Mickey Beignets

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal at Cafe Orleans.  The entrees may have left a little to be desired but that was more than covered up by our appetizer and dessert.  The location and atmosphere were phenomenal, as we dined and relaxed in the middle of the hustle and bustle.  I didn’t think the prices were bad, considering the location and comparing the food to other theme park restaurants.  I’d love to try Cafe Orleans again and will in the future.

Cafe Orleans Rating – 9/10

Thank you for reading!  If you’d like to check out more dining reviews, here is a link to our Disney Dining page.

– Andrew

Question of the Week (10/25/15)

Every Sunday our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answer.  Leave your answer in the comments!

Belle purple rose

Question of the Week: What Disney Parks stereotype or advice that you commonly hear bothers you most?

Andrew – This is a predictable answer if you know me but I generally disagree with the ‘go outside the parks to eat’ piece of advice. I think you miss some of the environment of the parks if you never eat there, plus there is some excellent food if you know where to go. I also think it wastes time that you’re already paying for if you eat outside of the parks, so there isn’t as much value in it as some would lead you to believe.

dole whip 1

Melissa H. – This applies to Disney in California – but I generally disagree with people who say you can do each of the parks in just one day for each (so two days total) and experience everything. I’ve actually heard LOTS of people say this to people who have never visited before. I guess if you go in an extremely dead season and only want to experience the rides, you could probably get it done. However, Disney has SO MUCH more to offer. There are incredible shows, attractions which change in atmosphere depending on time of day, character meet and greet experiences, and just places where walking around is an amazing experience. Have we done the parks in a short time? Yes. Did we get a chance to actually experience them? No. And I am saying this as someone who had visited multiple times prior to this experience.

dwarfs

Cassie – My answer goes along with Andrews, which I totally agree. I’ve heard people say all the time not to eat in the parks and pack your own food or eat outside. I’ve also heard not to eat in the parks because of the price or quality, which I don’t agree with at all. The food IS super yummy and not that expensive. Eating at Disneyland, especially the Disney specific foods, are all part of the experience.

Tree of life

Kelsee – I don’t necessarily agree with the advice of “don’t take young children to the parks, wait until they are older.” There is a window of opportunity to capture the most magic and it usually starts ending by age 7-8. Don’t get me wrong, kids this age and older still have a blast. However, just like believing in magical figures like Santa and the tooth fairy, kids start getting wise to the characters at the parks and question things. The innocence of being totally captivated and believing in all things magical is at its peak when kids are still little. I don’t think parents or any adult should be discouraged in taking young children to the parks, especially because it’s more than just about the rides, it is memories that will last forever.

Tom Sawyer Island Big Thunder blue night

Thank you so much for reading Wandering in Disney!  If you like what you’re reading then please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  If you have any questions or comments for us please leave them in the comments or send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  We look forward to another week of posts here on the blog and hope you have a great week!

Andrew’s September Disneyland Trip Report – Part 4

It’s time to continue the longest 4-day trip report ever!  If you missed parts 1, 2 or 3 then click on those links to catch up.  You can also check out our trip reports page to see other trip reports we’ve done.

After a successful day in California Adventure, it was still relatively early (around 9:30) as the parks were closing pretty early on weekdays during our trip.  With that in mind, we planned to go to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar after we were done at the parks.  We made the quick walk to the Disneyland Hotel and got in line to enter the bar with a cult-like (a big cult, at this point) following.  The resort was starting to fill up, as many people had checked-in on Thursday for the Half Marathon Weekend.  The line was fairly long but we eventually got in to Trader Sam’s after 45 minutes or so.

Trader Sams_edited-1

Trader Sam’s had been on the top of my Disneyland to-do list for several years.  The destination somehow escaped us on our last trip so I was eagerly awaiting seeing the inside.  I won’t do a review of Trader Sam’s this time around, as I was soaking it in and didn’t want to take pictures.  It also has the feel of a place that shouldn’t be photographed, which I mean as a compliment.  Photos are allowed though, just don’t use the flash.  With all that being said, I’ll write quickly of our experience here.

Trader Sam’s is one of my favorite spots in all of Disneyland.  Sure, the inside is crowded and pretty loud but it is a bar.  The environment is incredible.  The photos and art around the bar provide a wonderful back story and the bartenders and servers do an excellent job of taking you to whatever fantasy world Trader Sam’s is.  The environment in this place is one of the best in the whole resort.  I know many people go to Disneyland with children but, if you can, somehow find a way to make a trip to Trader Sam’s, you won’t regret it.

I ordered a HippopotoMai-Tai and the Pu Pu Platter, which consisted of Wings, Portuguese Sausage, Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans, and a delicious Slaw.  Melissa, not being much of a drinker, had one of Sam’s No-Booze Brews.  Which one she had escapes me, but she really liked it.  So, even if you don’t drink at all, this place has options for you.  I liked my Mai-Tai, which came in an awesome souvenir glass that I cherish.  Most alcoholic drinks in Disney Parks aren’t very strong but that’s not the case here.  While these aren’t overly strong, you actually get more of what you pay for. The Pu Pu Platter was also good, especially the long beans and the slaw.  All of the food that went by us also looked good and I wouldn’t hesitate to try most of the items on the menu.

I think it’s a major jump to say that Trader Sam’s environment helped inspire the 60th anniversary entertainment at Disneyland.  But, is it a coincidence that Disney has started focusing on environments that you don’t want to leave (like Cars Land, Trader Sam’s, their new nighttime entertainment, and the soon-to-be Star Wars Land) after Trader Sam’s opened?  Probably not, although Universal’s work on Harry Potter and Cars Land deserve the lions share of the credit.  I could stay in Trader Sam’s for hours and enjoy it and I believe Disney is trying to create new places like this all over their resorts.  Obviously, that is beneficial to us fans.

After our drinks we walked back to our hotel for some much-needed sleep.  We slept in the next morning (me more than Melissa) and took our time getting ready for the day.  We had decided prior to the trip that we wouldn’t go in to the parks this day because we didn’t want to push ourselves much before our race the next day.  We checked out of our hotel in the late morning and dropped our bags off and our next hotel, the Camelot Inn & Suites.  I’ll have a review up shortly on that hotel.  Why did we move mid-trip?  That’s a fair question.  Mainly, so I can come back and write more reviews for people.  Also, Camelot Inn was a bit closer to the parks and we wanted that for the day of our race, and the days after.  We dropped off our bags there and headed over to the Disneyland Hotel for Half Marathon Expo.

RunDisney check in

If you want a detailed version of all our pre-race and race activities, I already have a recap of that.  In short, these events are incredibly well done and organized.  I wasn’t very excited about any of the merchandise they sold at the Expo but it was still fun to be there and feel the anticipation in the air.  We later ate lunch at the Tangora Terrace and then headed to Huntington Beach with some friends.  We make a point of seeing the beach each time we get to Southern California and I’m glad that we do.  It’s nice to have some time to relax on a Disney vacation and there’s no better place to do it than on a beach.

Tangora Terrace outside seating

We turned in moderately early that night as we had an early wake-up call.  As I said in the 10K Report, I was pretty nervous about getting up before 5 AM on the day of our race.  I’m not an early riser and I wasn’t sure how my body would respond.  But, everything was completely fine and the race went well for us.  I look back on that morning and this day more and more fondly.  The sense of accomplishment we had that day was a feeling worth chasing after.  As you probably know since you’re reading a Disney Parks blog, Disney is good at celebrating moments, feats, milestones and accomplishments.  That’s part of what makes runDisney so great.  No one thinks your accomplishment was small or unworthy of praise even if running a 10K (or 5K, for that matter) would be easy for them.  Since I’ve already written about this, I’ll stop rambling and move on.

Cars Land 10K

After we finished our race, and watched a few others finish, we celebrated with breakfast at Steakhouse 55.  We really enjoyed the restaurant and even thought it provided a decent value.  I’ll have a full review soon.  The environment at Steakhouse 55 was fun that morning, as most of the people dining were runners who had just completed their race.  After breakfast we hobbled back to our hotel room and slept for a while.

We were back in the parks around 2 PM and rushed straight to Mickey and the Magical Map.  Like Trader Sam’s, this show had been on our to-do list for a while but something or another always got in the way.  As Cassie has said previously on this blog, Mickey and the Magical Map is absolutely worth seeing.  Driven by its big musical numbers, the show has a palpable energy and leaves everyone smiling.  My favorite ‘scene’ in the show is the King Louie song (surprising, I know).  I thought the King Louie performance was incredible and really livened everything else up.  There were, and still are, rumors that this theater would go away with all of the changes coming to Disneyland.  If the Fantasyland Theater is on its farewell tour then I would hope that this show, or a show with a similar idea, would find a new place in the park.  Mickey and the Magical Map is pretty unique compared to the rest of Disneyland’s entertainment, and it adds a different dimension to the park.

King Louie drummers Magical Map

After the show, we wandered around New Orleans Square awaiting our late lunch reservation at Cafe Orleans.  This was a very fun meal and I would highly recommend this restaurant.  Again, a full review will come soon.

After our relaxing lunch, we caught the tail-end of Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.  I’m not a big fan of this parade, as it’s not nearly as unique or ambitious as Festival of Fantasy in Magic Kingdom or Paint the Night.  I wonder if we could see a new daytime to parade come to Disneyland in the next few years, they are probably due for one.

Giraffe fence

donald and the castle parade

Next, we park hopped to California Adventure and spent a little time in the Grizzly Peak area, going on Soarin’ and then Grizzly River Run.  I spent some time taking photos around the Grizzly River Run after that.  I love that guests can walk through little parts of the attraction and check out some of the theming involved.  You can get some pretty unique photos in that area and it adds to the idea of this being a National Park area, with paths to explore.  This is a quiet area that isn’t walked much.  On one hand, it should be because this is a beautiful area and unlike anything else California Adventure offers.  On the other hand, I selfishly hope that the area won’t become popular so that I can enjoy it without many others around.  I’m guessing it won’t ever become very popular, as people don’t typically go on little trails in the parks which is a real shame.  I’ll go on all of your little paths, Disney!

fog grizzly river run

Grizzly Park Service truck

Eureka Grizzly_edited-1

After that we caught the neon lighting up Cars Land at dusk and then rode Radiator Springs Racers.  We weren’t moving very fast this day but I think we both enjoyed that.  We probably rode five attractions total on this day but we saw several shows, ate good meals and just enjoyed being there.  This was one of the best days of my life, partly because of the race and partly because of how we spent our park day.  There was a glow around the day that I think Melissa and I soaked it in as best we could.

Stanley Oasis water tower_edited-1

World of Color was next up on the itinerary.  We watched the show for the second time and my opinion stayed the same (review coming).  We spent some time down by the water during the post-show.  The post-show is one of my favorite parts of World of Color which says something about the show and about the post-show.  I love the sense of belonging that the post-show offers and we stayed until the end of that both times we saw it.  That’s also a great opportunity for photos, whether you want some of the pier or with your family.  The fountains are still going but your camera isn’t at as much risk of getting soaked.

World of Color roller coaster tall

World of Color lots of colors

Melissa and I at World of Color

Four trip-report installments and that’s our first selfie!  I’m proud.  After we took some photos, Melissa and I grabbed a snack and went to Disneyland for Fantasmic!  The new FastPass service for Fantasmic! worked fairly well for us, as we showed up right when the gate was about to open to redeem the FastPass and we got a spot near the center.  It also stopped people from lining up hours early.  No complaints here, as it seemed like they might have ironed out a few kinks in that service.

Melissa saved our spot as I went and got a chimichanga.  I had just ran that morning so I was treatin’ myself.  Why is this ground beef wrapped in a deep-fried tortilla so delicious?  I don’t know but I will gladly eat one anytime, even if I don’t run that morning.

Fantasmic! was very good, as usual.  I’m sad that it will be shut down for a year but that blow is softened by the quality of Paint the Night and Disneyland Forever.  I hope that the year off will bring some new updates to Fantasmic! and that they might tweak the show just slightly.  A few different or new scenes might make the show even more fresh and enjoyable.

Big Thunder at night

The park wasn’t far from closing when the show ended.  We rode Big Thunder Mountain, which is a must-do in the dark, and then Melissa went off to a few shops.  I had Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country and Rivers of America mostly to myself that night as security was very kind and didn’t start closing those areas for a good 45-minutes after the park closing time.  At one point they started walking towards me, meaning that I can’t get past them.  They immediately stopped once they saw what I was taking a picture of (I think it was the Haunted Mansion) and asked if I got my shot and if they got in the way.  They backed up, to make sure that I could get what I wanted.  That was a very nice interaction, as they didn’t have to take the time to make sure I got what I was looking for.

Golden Horseshoe night

Tom Sawyer Island Big Thunder blue night

I had a wonderful time that night, even though most of my photos didn’t turn out how I wanted.  The night was peaceful, serene and beautiful.  I couldn’t think of a more fitting end to a perfect day.  Eventually I made it back to Main Street, took a few more photos and we headed back to the hotel.  Tired but completely satisfied, we were excited for our last day in the parks.

Corn Dog wagon at night

That is where we’ll pick up our 5th and final installment of the trip report. I’m always looking for feedback on trip reports. Would you like more photos? More detailed plans of what we did and why we did it? More opinions on areas and attractions? Please let us know in the comments and we will try to include that in future trip reports. Thank you very much for reading and have a great day!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (10/19/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers.  Leave your answer in the comments!

Question of the Week: What is one of your signature ‘tips’ that you give to someone who is going on a Disney vacation? We’ll make it hard and try not to copy each other answers on this one!

Lightsaber

Melissa L. – My tip would be to set aside money for food. My family would always being in food with us and I didn’t know what I was missing until I joined Andrew’s! It can be expensive, but it adds so much to your trip and is delicious!

Cassie – My tip is for those who want to hit up as many big/popular attractions as possible: My advice is to start out early! Get as many big rides out-of-the-way in the morning and then you’ll have the rest of the day not to stress about long lines. It’s also a good idea to always have a FastPass, as soon as you use one up, grab another!

Leslie dragon

Andrew – My tip is one you might not be able to apply all year around but… I very rarely stand in lines that are over 30 minutes long, and I think that’s more enjoyable. We usually accomplish this by going to the parks early or staying late. Riding in single-rider lines and utilizing FastPass is another way around standing in those dreaded long lines. Other places, such as TouringPlans, offer great daily itineraries to keep you out of long lines if you don’t like planning out your whole day yourself.

By staying out of long lines, I feel like I’m usually more energized and can take a lot more time to enjoy the little things. The only time we do choose to go in long lines is if we haven’t done one of our favorite attractions on the last day of the trip or it’s the last ride of the night and we get in line right before park closes. Disney Parks don’t close their lines down until the park actually closes so if the park closes at 9 you can generally get in line for a ride at 8:59 no matter how long the line is supposed to take.

Miss Piggy

Leslie – My tip is stop and smell the roses. Make time to just spend soaking in the atmosphere. I see too many families get frustrated and end up upset with each other while on vacation. Families spend so much money to get to Disney that it is a good reminder to just enjoy being with each other. Yes it is hot, yes the lines are long, yes they said you wouldn’t be able to see Mickey Mouse because the parade is starting but you’re here. You’re where magic is real, dreams come true, and memories are made. Enjoy it.

Kelsee – My tip is more of a kid-oriented tip but, I always suggest to knock out the Fantasyland rides in the morning. That way, kids are happy and you don’t have to wait in the long lines because most, if any, do not have fast passes. However, before you hit Fantasyland, fast pass a bigger attraction so you can ride it after getting done with Fantasyland.

Fantasyland & Matterhorn

Don’t forget to leave your answer in the comments!  Thank you for reading our blog, we hope you enjoy it.  If you do, please subscribe to the blog via email and like our social media pages.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  Also, if you have any questions about the Disney Parks or planning a vacation, leave that in the comments or send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  Thank you for reading and have a great week!

FastPass+ Guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I find that FastPasses are the biggest source of frustration to first-time or infrequent park goers.  Many people don’t know what they are, how to use them, or what to use them on.  With this in mind, I’m going to write a guide to each U.S. park on when and where to use FastPasses.

Tree of life open AK

What is a FastPass and how do I get it?

Let’s not put the cart before the horse, though.  Back to the basics, and if you often frequent the parks, the next few paragraphs are just common knowledge.  A FastPass is basically a reservation to go on a ride.  Depending on if you are in Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you can either make these reservations for an attraction online or at the park.  Since we’ll be discussing Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World today, we’ll get into the world of FastPass+.

With FastPass+, park guests can select 3 attractions before their vacation (60 days before if they are staying on-site in Disney World, 30 days if not) to FastPass.  I plan to do a specific post on how to do this in the future, but in short you do this on the Disney website.  Here you can select which order you want to do those 3 attractions and (for the most part) what time you want to do those attractions.  It is beneficial to get these FastPasses as soon as your 60 day window is up, although it’s less of a priority at Animal Kingdom than it would be at Magic Kingdom, due to the Animal Kingdom being less crowded.

water flamingos AK

After you have selected 3 FastPasses for the Park then all a guest has to do is show up and use them.  Using them isn’t hard.  Seeing how Animal Kingdom is in Walt Disney World, a guest will most likely have a MagicBand on their wrist (this is your ticket to the parks and your room key, among other things).  A Magic Band will also hold your FastPass reservations.  When using a FastPass you will have a 1 hour window to get on the attraction.  For example, say I made a FastPass reservation for Gorillas Gone Wild (this isn’t real) with the times being from 9 AM to 10 AM.  I can show up anytime from 9 AM to 10 AM to use this FastPass.  Then away I go as I try to escape Gorillas throwing bananas at me while they aren’t wearing shirts (again, not real).

As long as you are planning to be at the parks in the morning, my suggestion would be to make your FastPass times as early as possible.  This is because after you have used your 3 FastPass+ reservations, you can select a new FastPass at the FastPass+ kiosks located around the park.  While you may not get the attraction you really want, you can still avoid a few lines by doing this.  This trick is much better utilized at Magic Kingdom than Animal Kingdom.

elephants in the rain

FastPass+ Strategy and Rankings for Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom, specifically, might not need FastPasses as much as the other parks due to the enormous amount of land and all of the trails that help scatter people around the park.  That all may change once the World of Pandora opens in 2017 but, for now, the FastPass+ game isn’t as competitive here.  Truthfully, that’s why I started with this park because it’s not as hard to figure out and the strategy isn’t as important.

Here is what available for FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom:

  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Primeval Whirl

As you can see, there isn’t a ton on this list.  It is even easier to navigate when you realize how short some of the stand-by lines are for these attractions (and not the FastPass line).

Harambe theater

Let’s start with the shows on this list, which are Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical, and It’s Tough to Be a Bug!  The first two on that list are great shows, the third one will be the death of me but other people like it.  Just not me and the screaming children.  Anyway, as long as you show up to these shows 15 minutes before the doors open (check the park schedule for showtimes) you will most likely get into the show.  While the seat may not be quite as good as if you had a FastPass+, the viewing areas aren’t huge so you likely won’t get stuck with a terrible seat.  With a FastPass+ to these shows, you are supposed to show up about 10 minutes before the show begins so the possible few minutes that you save here is very minimal.

We’ve checked 3 off the list that you don’t need a FastPass+ for.  Another one that you probably don’t need a reservation for is the meet & greet here.  Not only have I never seen this line long, I have never seen this line period. I’m guessing it won’t take long to get to meet some Disney legends.  Disregard all of that if King Louie is available for a meet & greet.  King Louie is worth all of your FastPasses (I’m halfway serious but that was bad advice).

Primeval Whirl is loathed by many Disney fans, myself included, but it does have a line at times.  If generic, carnival roller coasters is your thing, then by all means spend a FastPass here.  But, I would definitely hold on to mine instead of spend one on this attraction.

upside down tree

DINOSAUR is a pretty fun ride back through time and is a decent use of a FastPass+.  I’ve seen it without a line and I’ve seen it with a 40 minute line, so it’s hard to predict what the wait time will be without knowing a specific day in which you go.  I would reserve this attraction online as one of my 3 main FastPass+’s if I was to go in the winter months but not in the summer months because…

Kali River Rapids is wildly popular on a hot day at Animal Kingdom.  This is a fun river rapids attraction and ties with DINOSAUR as Animal Kingdom’s 3rd most popular attraction.  It’s very nice to have a late morning FastPass+ for this attraction in the summer months.  If you do use a reservation for this attraction, I would use it as my latest one in the day because that is when it gets the hottest.  I wouldn’t use a FastPass+ on this attraction from November-February because lines are much shorter when it’s cooler outside.

That leaves Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris as the best places to use FastPasses.  They are unequivocally Animal Kingdom’s best, big attractions.  I would make these my first two FastPasses of the day.  Many people race to Expedition Everest as soon as the gates open, and I would still do that and then ride Everest twice.  If you are looking for something different to do with these attractions, make your FastPass+ reservations for them late in the day to get a different experience on them.  Of course, this limits the FastPasses you can get throughout the day in the park but you don’t necessarily need those here.

cropped-ak-everest4.jpg

Here is the rankings in order of where I would use my FastPass+.  The top-3 are the ones that I would reserve online.

  1. Expedition Everest – Rush to it at park opening, ride it and then ride it again during your FastPass+ window.  It’s worthy of two rides.
  2. Kilimanjaro Safaris – If roller coasters aren’t your thing, then do what I said for Expedition Everest on this attraction.  Usually lines die down for this ride before closing, so make your reservation for the morning and then, if you want to go again, try right before you leave the park.
  3. Kali River Rapids – Again, if it’s one of the warmer months of the year this is a great use of a FastPass.  If it’s around Christmas time, you won’t have to wait long.  By the way, the queue for this attraction is great if you don’t mind standing in line.
  4. DINOSAUR – The alternate to Kali River Rapids in the cold months.  After completing the first three on this list, I’d try to get a FastPass to this one at one of the kiosks.
  5. Primeval Whirl – If you are going to go on this, a FastPass might not be the worst idea.  The queue area is very bland and there’s not much to look at while in line, plus the line is unnecessarily long sometimes.
  6. Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost – If you are taking small children then this wouldn’t be a waste, as the line could be hot and boring.  It doesn’t usually have much of a line though.
  7. Festival of the Lion King – This is pretty easy to get into but it has less seating than Finding Nemo so it comes in 7th.
  8. Finding Nemo – The Musical – There are lots of seats here but if getting a great seat is a priority then FastPassing this isn’t a bad idea.
  9. It’s Tough to be a Bug – You can generally walk right in to this.  Walk right to your doom.

Safari

Do you have any tips for FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom?  Would you change the order of my rankings?  Let us know in the comments, along with any questions you might have.  Thank you for reading!

-Andrew

Getting Stuck on a Disney Parks Ride

Of all the times I’d been to Disneyland (which is an awful lot) I’d never before been stuck on a ride. That is, until a few weeks ago when I took a day trip to The Happiest Place on Earth with my fiancé. Sure, I have felt the disappointing plunge when you finally go to use your fast past and the ride is broken down. And sure, I have felt the sadness when you are almost to the front on the ride and been turned away because of malfunctions. But, I have only once been fully on a ride when it broke down, and it’s kind of a fun story.

So here it goes. On September 15th, just 3 days after my fiancé Alex and I had gotten engaged; we decided to celebrate at our favorite place! Equipped with our “Happily Ever After” buttons and grinning from ear to ear, we set off to enjoy a lovely day at the parks. September is notoriously the hottest month in Southern California, and this day was no exception. Not only was it hot, but it was also super muggy out as it was raining on and off all day. On muggy Disney days my main goal is usually to ride as many water rides as possible to stay cool while having fun! I also LOVE visiting the parks when it rains, but I’ll eventually write a blog about that, so more on that later. Anyways, we grabbed our Splash Mountain Fast Passes and went about our day until it was time to use them.

Cassie Splash Mountain

After enjoying a lovely lunch at The House of Blues and riding a few smaller rides it was 2:00pm and time for us to use our Fast Passes for one of my very favorite rides, Splash Mountain! We headed straight to the front of the line and got great seats. Alex was in the very front (the seat where you definitely get the most wet) and I was right behind him. The rest of our canoe was filled with giggling 30 something women, who it seemed, had never been on the ride before, or maybe even to Disneyland. They were loud and laughing and having a great time.

We took off as usual and were pretty wet within the first few drops. Everything was going great and the ride was as fun as always! It was nearing the “big drop” part of the ride and my heart started racing as it always does. I don’t care how many times you go on Splash Mountain; the “big drop” is still always a major rush and will make you scream! So, we build, and build, and build, seeing boat after boat drop off the edge ahead of us. There is only one boat in front of us at this point and we are almost to the very top when the ride screeches to a halt…

Cassie Alex

Now, I’ve had many rides “break down” before and you sit stagnant for several minutes. The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are notorious for keeping you at a stand still for long periods of time, so I figured that was what was happening here. In my experience in the past, you just sit still and wait and they will start-up again. It became pretty clear to us that this was not one of those times.

After about 8 minutes: we are sitting in our spots at about a 45 degree angle, the music fades off and the ride gets totally silent. The giggling women in the back are, at this point, very concerned and confused, while Alex and I are just chillin’, thinking the ride will start-up again any second.

15 more minutes pass…our rears start to fall asleep. I had never realized that these seats were so uncomfortable before, but it’s basically like sitting on a bicycle seat.
5 more minutes pass…I am starting to go a little stir crazy. Pretty sure Brer Rabbit is taunting me with that smile.

3 million more minutes pass (ok, I might be exaggerating, but it felt like that.)…A cast member peaks her head around a corner at us, doesn’t say anything, and leaves.

5 more minutes pass…The Disneyland cast member is back and here to save us! The women in the back seem much more antsy to get off so we let them go first. It is very difficult to evacuate the ride because of the angle, but we all manage to safely exit the canoe. After all the members of our boat are safely back on solid ground the cast member begins to evacuate the canoe in front of us. As hard as it was for us to get out of our seats, it was twice as hard for those at the very top who were just about to go over the big drop. It took one woman almost 10 minutes to safely exit her seat, as they kept trying to evacuate her from different angles.

Cassie getting of on Splash

Our hero cast member leaves us there for a little while, standing at the shores of Splash Mountain, while she goes and saves some other folks. The giggling women are happy again, and proceed to take about 800 selfies standing inside the ride. The cast member comes back and has us exit in a single file line.

Cassie rainbow

My favorite part of getting stuck on Splash Mountain was getting to exit the ride and seeing all the behind the scenes parts of the ride. We twisted and turned through secret passageways and tunnels, at one point seeing a gushing waterfall where the water is pumped in for the entire ride. There were cast members scurrying around this way and that, making sure everyone got off the ride safely. Eventually, the ride plopped us out at an exit in the back and we were finally free! There was a beautiful rainbow that greeted us back to land over The Rivers of America. Because of our troubles, they gave us front of the line passes to use on any ride in the park at any time of our choosing, which I thought was a nice touch.

Now, that I look back on it, the whole experience was actually pretty fun, and I am glad it happened. I mean it’s not every day you get to see the inner workings of a Disneyland ride! So, if you ever get the chance to get stuck on a ride enjoy it! Realize that you are in safe hands and try to be positive about the experience.

– Cassie

Question of the Week (10/12/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here are this week’s question and answers, please leave your answer in the comments!

FoF Croc

Question of the Week: The news of the week was Disney raising annual pass prices at both resorts. It sounds like a regular ticket price increase won’t be far behind. What are your thoughts on the price increases, as they tend to happen once or twice a year?

Cassie – I think the (huge) price jump is actually pretty outrageous. I feel like it is making it almost impossible for the middle class to afford, making it only affordable for the wealthy. I personally don’t know if I’ll be able to afford to renew my pass next year. I am disappointed.

Harambe theater

Kelsee – Considering I’ve never had the luxury of living by Disneyland or Disney World, I guess I have a more balanced opinion and see both sides. On one hand, I see where Disney is coming from. Pass holders don’t usually purchase hotel rooms, dining packages, etc. From a business standpoint, I see why they would raise the pass prices and “weed out” the lower spending bracket of park visitors. Do I think it’s ethically right? No. However, business is business and they have a lot of upcoming projects they need to find money to compensate for. I don’t think Walt would be making such drastic price changes such as these because his original vision was for the park to be for families, but that was more than 60 years ago. I have family that live in Southern California and I know they are not happy with the price increase, which I wouldn’t be either, as Cassie said. On the emotional side of things, I’m disappointed in the company for their recent changes, but as I stated previously I understand why they are doing it. I don’t see the regular admission jumping up too much more, maybe $10-20 at the most. I know that adds up, but I think it’s doable and it wouldn’t make me stop going.

As a Once Upon A Time fan, like Rumpelstiltskin says “All Magic Comes With a Price.”
As unfortunate as that statement is, it rings very true for the parks.

Grand Flo

Andrew – I’m mainly with Kelsee here. I don’t really have a problem with them ever raising prices, specifically with annual passes. As other entertainment entities keep increasing their prices (movie tickets, sporting events, etc.) it’s not fair to expect Disney to just keep their prices the same because ‘it’s what Walt would have wanted’. The prices for the parks are high but businesses have to match prices with demand. 10-14 hours of entertainment is not cheap no matter where you are.

As far as this specific price increase for annual passes, it may be a little steep. The numbers look a little shocking if you just look at the big picture and that isn’t a good look for Disney. Still, I’d rather them raise prices here then pricing out families who are trying to save up just enough for their once in a lifetime trip.

Hungry Bear Splash River Boat

In no way do I think Disney is cheap. And I don’t necessarily disagree with those that think their prices are too high, I just think there are two sides to the picture. There are other problems with Disney Parks that frustrate me more than their price increases.

Melissa L. – I agree with all the above. It stinks to have to pay more money, but at the same time, it’s not going to keep me from going.

Carthay Circle old fashioned

What do you think of the Disney price increases?  Let us know in the comments.  If you like what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to our blog and like our social media pages.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  Also, send us any trip planning questions, post ideas, or anything else Disney-related in the comments or to our email (wanderingindisney@gmail.com).  Thank you for reading and have a magical week!

Andrew’s September Disneyland Trip Report – Part 3

Trip Report Saturday is back!  Melissa L. and I (Andrew) went to Disneyland at the beginning of September.  If you missed earlier installments of the trip report, here are parts 1 and 2.  

RSR rock

After our tasty, quiet breakfast at Flo’s, Melissa and I took the somewhat private walk from Cars Land to Pacific Wharf.  As I’ve said before on this site, this is one of my favorite parts of the new and vastly improved Disney’s California Adventure.  The walk between the lands is scenic, as you move from the detailed rockwork in Cars Land to the relaxed feeling of the wharf.  If you go this route early in the morning or late at night then running into other guests isn’t likely.  It’s a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle.

We eventually made it to Paradise Pier and rode Toy Story Midway Mania and California Screaming’.  We also did Goofy’s Sky School which is the most terrifying attraction in that park outside of It’s Tough To Be A Bug (when it’s open).  Now, I know many of you are judging me, and my courage, after admitting to be afraid of a kiddie-coaster and a 3D movie about A Bug’s Life.  That’s fair of you, but I did kill 3 spiders in our yard the other day!  Anyway, Goofy congratulated me on learning to fly his way.  Fitting that he already had a bird on his arm because I almost sent him another one as I staggered by.  Fly better, Goofy!!

goofy's sky school

After Paradise Pier we walked to the newly renovated Grizzly Peak Airfield.  I was really impressed with the changes they made to the area.  Instead of the somewhat tacky look that was there, Grizzly Peak Airfield is more subtle and really fits the area of the park.  What might be most encouraging about this renovation is that there was no big attraction added or a new meet & greet in the area.  Disney saw an area that wasn’t visually appealing and fixed it.

The backstory of Grizzly Peak Airfield is that it;s a place where planes would land while fighting fires in the area.  This is really shown in the freshly, rethemed Smokejumpers Grill.  A smokejumper is a firefighter who parachutes into an area to fight a wildfire.  This area is a nice tribute to those brave souls.  We had a nice time exploring Smokejumpers Grill, although the menu didn’t appeal to us, and the rest of the area.  The colors in the area and the kinetic flow from the airfield to the actual Grizzly Peak is a major improvement over what was there.  Here are a few pictures, and a couple more quick thoughts.

Grizzly Peak Airfield sign

Grizzly Peak mural

Grizzly Peak Airfield Soarin'

As you can see, the colors are much softer and deeper.  The mural and signage around the area might be my favorite part outside of the tower in the picture above.  That tower is such a nice touch and fits the area so well.  I also think that the paint job on the Soarin’ building looks great.

Smokejumpers Grill

Grizzly Peak exit sign

What these pictures don’t adequately show is how the area really augment the trees around it.  While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that guests will think they are in a national park instead of a theme park, the area isn’t far from accomplishing that mission.  The renovations to this area are what make me hopeful for Disney other Disney projects in the future.  They know they can’t just add great attractions but they must make areas look good, as well.

Oh yeah, we went on a few attractions!  Grizzly River Run is great.  It was closed the last time I was in Disneyland so I had forgotten just how much I love that attraction.  First of all, the scenery is beautiful.  The ride itself is really fun and surprisingly long.  And the theming is incredibly done.  I love most river raft rides and this is easily my favorite.

We also went on Soarin’ with the new projection system.  The change is noticeable and needed.  I’m looking forward to viewing the new Soarin’ film next time!

RSR queue

Our FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers was available so we went from a newly improved area of the park to its crown jewel.  It’s really remarkable how far California Adventure has come in the last 8 (or so) years.  There are still several weak areas around but the highs definitely outweigh the lows at this point.

Radiator Springs Racers was great, as usual.  The attraction is still the most popular ride at the park (by a longshot) so our plan of attack for the ride is usually to get a FastPass as soon as we get to the park so that we can ride the attraction together.  Then, when we want to ride it again (and we always want to ride it at least a few times while in California Adventure), we use the single rider line.  I don’t think that riding this attraction together adds a ton to the experience.  In fact, sometimes it’s even more fun when you line up to race against the person (or people) you came to the park with.  The single-rider line is nothing to be afraid of either, as the seats are pretty wide and you don’t get too close to the person next to you (if you are someone who worries about that).

Grizzly Peak wide

Like Disneyland, California Adventure had gone through some ‘sprucing up’ before the 60th Anniversary.  While California Adventure didn’t leave quite the impression on me as it’s neighbor, it is definitely in tip-top shape.  I’ve never really took the time to appreciate Grizzly Peak until this trip.  It’s really beautiful.

Mater's daytime

Mater’s is a great little ride.  While it’s nothing more than a B-ticket (C-ticket if you catch me on a really good day) the detail that it took to create it was something all Disney Parks need to strive for.  There is that annoying (but great for the ride) song that is written specifically for the attraction.  There is the interesting track system that improves on a basic kids ride.  Most of all, I’ve never seen someone frowning while riding this.  I think it might be impossible.  While sheer terror overtakes me on Goofy’s Sky School and It’s Tough To Be A Bug, Mater’s usually sees me laughing uncontrollably.  This is the type of complimentary attraction Disney should be making.

Little Mermaid black and white

The rest of the early afternoon was spent on Little Mermaid, watching some street entertainment (the garbage can drummers are a lot of fun), and Paradise Pier.  It had turned into a beautiful day after a somewhat cloudy morning.  I wandered around for a while and took some photos around the World of Color viewing areas, shooting into Paradise Pier.

drummers dca

Paradise Pier rose close darker

Pacific Wharf closer

After all of that, it was time for lunch.  We ate at Wine Country Trattoria (here is my review from that meal, in case you missed it) and then headed back to our hotel for a nap.  It was really nice to have a hotel that was so close to the parks so that we could take a break in the afternoon.

After our break we went back to California Adventure for the evening.  Once in the park, we went straight to Hollywood Land and spent some time there.  Outside of A Bug’s Land, this area is probably the part of California Adventure that needs the most help.  We went on Tower of Terror and, obviously, that attraction doesn’t need help.  We went over to the Animation Academy to see why all our other writers rave about it and, sure enough, that place is a hidden gem.  But, outside of those two attractions and an enjoyable shop connected to the Animation Academy, Hollywood Land doesn’t add anything for me.  This is especially true about the area with the Frozen sing-a-long and Monsters Inc. dark ride.  While neither attraction really bothers me, they also don’t excite me at all.  We walked through Mad T Party and that wasn’t really our thing, I could see why some people really like it.  I say all of this, because if there are more changes coming to California Adventure (Marvel anyone?) I would hope it will be here or in A Bug’s Land.  Eventually, I’d like to see Disney do a little more with Paradise Pier at some point too but now I’m getting off track.

Animation Academy

Anna sing a long show

Mad T Party

Tower of Terror old fashioned

Hyperion Aladdin theater DCA

If you noticed, I left off Aladdin from the things I like about Hollywood Land.  Honestly, Aladdin is a really good show that is needed in that park.  I really like it but I’m not sad that it’s giving way to a new show.  While everyone is on Frozen overload, I do think it will lend itself well to the Broadway style of show that Aladdin was.  My hope is that once Frozen enters the Hyperion Theatre that the sing-a-long will go away.  Putting the Muppets back in there would be fine for a while (yes, I love the Muppets) until they were ready to move on to their next project.  Not only do I think the area needs more to it, I also think most of it needs to be of higher quality.  Hopefully the wait for changes won’t be too long.

After our evening in Hollywood, we took a drive around Radiator Springs (a must-do at night) and then got some snacks/dinner from the Cozy Cone Motel.  This place was surprisingly good.  I loved the Pear Soda and crave it about once a week.  I may have a review of this place at some point, but I was really pleasantly surprised by it.

We had a quick dinner because we were in a hurry to get to World of Color.  While we didn’t have the best spot for either time we saw this show, we really enjoyed it.  We’ll have a review and discussion of the show up on the blog shortly so I’m not going to say a ton about it.  What I think all of the new shows do is invite people to stick around afterwards and soak it all in.  That is especially true for World of Color.  Both times we saw the nighttime spectacular we stuck around the waterfront for about 15 minutes afterwards, just listening to the music and watching the fountains.  That was a beautiful way to end a day at the parks and I love the sense of belonging all of these new night shows have.

World of Color blue

Paradise Pier left side

After World of Color, the park had closed.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to rush out of the park.  If you can, always try to walk through Cars Land after closing, especially on the path that I mentioned at the beginning of this post (roughly 18 hours ago).  There have been times where security guards have stopped us from walking this way but there was no one blocking this route that night so we headed back there, pretty much alone.  It was wonderful and very memorable.  I wish I had my tripod that night but I still got a shot or two that I liked.

Flo's V8 night trees

Cars Land Cadillac Mountains and signs night

Cars Land night as you go rock

It was a lovely night.  I spent a little more time taking some photos and Melissa went on to some stores.  Our day in the park was over but our night was just beginning!  You’ll have to read part 4 of the trip report to find out what we did though.  How’s that for a teaser?  We’ll continue in part 4, writing about the rest of our Thursday night, what we did on our day outside of the parks, and most of Saturday.

I’m always looking for feedback on trip reports. Would you like more photos? More detailed plans of what we did and why we did it? More opinions on areas and attractions? Please let us know in the comments and we will try to include that in future trip reports. Thank you very much for reading and have a great day!

– Andrew

Wine Country Trattoria Lunch Review

Located in one of the quieter parts of Disney’s California Adventure, Wine Country Trattoria offers Tuscan flavors as the restaurant tries to give it’s best Napa Valley impression.  Pasta, salads, sandwiches, and a few specialty items are offered here.  Wine Country Trattoria is open for lunch and dinner and entrees run between 15 to 25 dollars, generally.  We visited the Trattoria on our latest trip to California and this review will be based off of that trip.

The best thing Wine Country Trattoria has going for it is the locations leading up to the restaurant.  If walking to the restaurant from the entrance of the park, you would pass the hustle and bustle of Cars Land and then happen upon a tiny little vineyard that is growing.  If coming from the Paradise Pier side of the park, you slowly drift away from the business of the pier, pass the Pacific Wharf and enter into a pretty calm setting.  Either way, the walk to the restaurant slowly changes into a more relaxed atmosphere as you draw near to Wine Country Trattoria.

Wine Country path

The restaurant itself has a fine atmosphere.  When we were there, they were not using the seating inside of the restaurant (the park wasn’t busy enough to justify opening that section).  I would imagine the inside portion may have better theming, as it’s hard to theme open air.  The indoor section is housed in a beautiful building that looks rustic and fitting of the northern California area.  There are soft colors everywhere, making diners feel more relaxed.  If you are lucky, you will be able to have a view of Paradise Pier while sitting outside.  If not, there are still some interesting items to look at.  The outdoor seating is completely covered with umbrellas and, when we were there, the staff was very helpful in making sure that we had plenty of shade from the hot sun.

Wine Country building

Unfortunately, the rest of our experience with the wait staff was just okay.  There wasn’t much to complain about but it definitely didn’t exceed our expectations.  The service was a little slow, without much attention to detail.  We also felt a tiny bit rushed which, I know, contradicts the service being a little slow.  Again, it wasn’t anything major but we’ve had much better service elsewhere on this trip.

I’m not much of a wine drinker but this restaurant did have an impressive assortment of wines.  While we didn’t order any, you can look at what they offer here.  As far as the rest of the menu goes, there was a decent variety.  The pastas and the salads seem to be what they concentrate most on but I did see someone next to me with a chicken sandwich that I immediately regretted not ordering.  So, I went over and took it from her and had two lunches.  Just kidding, I was making sure you were still paying attention!  Congratulations if you knew I was joking, you win a prize that has yet to be determined.

Wine Country bread

The bread service was tasty.  I like a little variety to my bread and there wasn’t much here.  But, this was fresh and tasted good.  I would imagine that they bake it across the path at the Pacific Wharf every morning but I couldn’t tell you that for sure.

Melissa decided to go with the Alla Vongole for lunch which is pasta with clams.  The dish was pretty light, for being a pasta.  There wasn’t much of a sauce on it but the dish wasn’t overly dry.  The clams were the star of the dish and were very tasty.  Otherwise, the dish lacked a little bit of flavor.  While have a light pasta dish is nice, I think the lack of sauce may have hurt the overall flavor (sorry for the shadows in the photo).

Wine Country clams

I went with the Lasagna Rustica for my entree.  To be fair, I haven’t earned my membership with the Lasagna Judges Committee yet but I thought this lasagna was pretty average.  The pasta in it was good but not out of this world.  I didn’t recognize anything that made the sauce stand out and the same goes for the meat.  I thought the dish was decent but nothing more.  I should have gone with that chicken sandwich.

Wine Country lasagna

With many items still on our ‘To Eat’ list, we decided to forgo dessert and get it elsewhere.  You can check out the dessert options on the menu I linked above.

All in all, I thought Wine Country Trattoria was a little bit bland.  The area surrounding the restaurant is beautiful but the restaurant itself doesn’t live up to that.  The food was nothing I’d go back for.  Melissa and I play this game on our trips where we rank all on the restaurants on terms of places we’d like to try again.  Wine Country Trattoria finished last for both of us.  While there was nothing wrong with our meal, there was also nothing special about it.  About the best thing I could say is that it was better than Olive Garden (I don’t like Olive Garden).  Without a major overhaul, I don’t think I would try this restaurant again.

Wine Country Trattoria building

Restaurant Rating – 6/10

Have you tried Wine Country Trattoria?  If you have, let us know your thoughts in the comments.  Was my experience just an unlucky one?  Does my lack of experience in judging lasagna show?  Let us know and feel free to leave any Disney-related questions in the comments, as well.  You can check out more of our dining reviews here.  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (10/5/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers.  Leave your answer in the comments!

Question of the Week: I know some of you are considered ‘locals’ to the parks right now but… What would you on an off-day from the parks while on a Disney vacation? You can answer for Disneyland and/or Walt Disney World.

Grand Flo

Leslie – Does it count if I say work in Disney Springs? No, ok fine. If I was not a ‘local’ I would probably take the time to check out everything else the Orlando area has to offer including all of the other theme parks nearby. With many to choose from I have a lot of options. Not to mention the beaches are only a few hours away. If shopping is more your thing you could check out the Outlets as well as the Florida Mall which recently opened ThinkGeek’s first store and will be getting Carlo’s Bakery as well (you know, the guy from Cake Boss).

Andrew – At Disneyland, I love spending a day at the beach when we aren’t at the parks. Huntington Beach holds a special place in my heart and I could get some mexican food and sit there all day. If it’s a theme park week, I think Knott’s Berry Farm is really interesting and fun. Universal Studios will definitely be an upgrade and place to go once Potter opens early next year.

California Grill Fireworks

Orlando is a different game. The area isn’t as beautiful, in my opinion, but there is a ton to see. Universal Orlando is becoming great. Even out of the parks but staying in Walt Disney World could take up a few days as I’m a huge fan of touring the resort, the water parks, and the Boardwalk. I’m really looking forward to experiencing all of the new options at Disney Springs next time I’m down there! That’s becoming a full-day destination on it’s own.

Melissa H. – Mine really just depends on the length of our stay.

Sometimes I enjoy trying out another theme park or tourist attraction near to Disney. It can be fun to try out the feel of some different parks and see all the unique things they have to offer.

Grand Floridian drums_edited-2

If I am there for a while, I really just like to take a day “off”. I enjoy laying out by the pool and enjoying the sun or even going for a swim. I often bring a book with me on vacation and it is often just nice to find a comfy place to lay back and read or to use the opportunity to get caught up on rest since we usually spend a majority of our park days in the park from open until close.

Cassie – It’s such a horrible shame that I’ve never been to Disneyworld because I would HAVE to hit up Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando as well. Other than Disney, I’m the biggest Harry Potter fan of all time so that would be my #1 priority. Luckily, HP world is coming to LA next year!!!!!!!

Dragon Fire

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