Calling All Foodies: Best New Bites at Walt Disney World

Did you know there are new eats at both Epcot and Disney Springs, as well as a yummy new plant-based treat at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort? WARNING: Reading this blog may make you drool and become ridiculously hungry. Do not read on an empty stomach!

Courtesy of Disney DestinationsFirst up is some exciting news direct from the Japan pavilion at Epcot. Yesterday morning, all sorts of dignitaries gathered to celebrate the official grand opening of Takumi-Tei. In attendance were, of course Mickey and Minnie Mouse! Takumi-Tei is the newest signature table-service restaurant at Epcot. It is truly an upscale, immersive, Japanese dining experience offering a premium multi-course tasting menu featuring traditional tea service and wagyu beef, as well as an á la carte menu and more. Inside, the restaurant’s tranquil interior features five dining rooms, each inspired by one of five natural elements: water, wood, earth, stone, and washi paper. Congratulations to both the Epcot and Mitsukoshi teams on the opening of this amazing new restaurant!

Courtesy of Disney Destinations

While we’re on the topic of Epcot, you should definitely check out Coral Reef Restaurant. They recently added a few new items to the menu. On the appetizer list – you can try the new Seared Sea Scallops with saffron butter broth, tomato bruschetta, and crostini. New entrées include the Lobster Seafood Boil (with lobster, Jonah Crab claw, shrimp, mussels, Andouille sausage, corn, potatoes, ouzo-garlic butter, and spiced cioppino broth) and Grilled Swordfish (with warm white beans, roasted Cipollini onions, arugula, and lemon-herb vinaigrette). You’ll also find a new enhancement featuring one pound of steamed Maryland-style Snow Crab legs served with lemon and butter. And for dessert, try the seasonal cheesecake with a shortbread cookie and fruit compote. Mmmmmm!

At Disney Springs, there is a lot of news including three new additions, as well as new offerings at D-Luxe Burger and Earl of Sandwich.

The first of the new additions is a new food truck called “Cookie Dough and Everything Sweet” featuring, what else(?!), COOKIE DOUGH! That’s right, you’ll soon find edible cookie dough treats at Disney Springs! This new cookie dough-themed food truck will open later this month and will be parked near the other food trucks across from Candy Cauldron at Disney Springs West Side.  On the menu:

  • Springs Candy Taco – Candy Monster Cookie Dough, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry served in a waffle taco
  • Minnie Mouse Taco – Peanut Butter Fluff Cookie Dough, caramel sauce, whipped cream, a cherry, and a chocolate Minnie bow served in a waffle taco
  • Celebration Parfait – Celebration Cookie Dough with Celebration Mickey cake, vanilla custard, strawberries, whipped cream, and a cherry
  • Mickey or Minnie Funnel Cake – funnel cake topped with powdered sugar and Mickey or Minnie-shaped cookie dough
  • Cookie Dough Cup or Cone – Flavors include Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Fluff, Celebration, Cookies and Cream, Candy Monster, and Cold Brew

Also coming later this month, a guest favorite from the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort is heading to Disney Springs at the Marketplace and West Side: Sunshine Churro! These carts serve up a variety of classic and gourmet churros with flavors like watermelon, salted caramel, strawberry cheesecake, fruity cereal, and cookies and cream. We recommend trying churros dipped in milk chocolate or chocolate-hazelnut spread. YUM!!

And coming soon, Ample Hills Creamery will be opening a brand new location at Disney Springs West Side. The scoop shop will offer their popular handcrafted ice cream and mix-ins (like brownie bites, oatmeal lace cookies and butter pecan brittle) similar to the offerings available at the Ample Hills Creamery located at Disney’s BoardWalk. At Ample Hills, every component tells a story — from the ingredients, to the design of the pints, making it another “Instagrammable” foodie destination.

On the savory side, you’ll find a new Pepperoni Pizza Burger at D-Luxe Burger topped with artisan pepperoni, fried mozzarella and Pomodoro sauce. And at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, if you’re a bacon lover and haven’t had the new “Temple of Bacon” dish, then you’re totally missing out! It comes with thick-cut Applewood-smoked bacon dipped in milk and chipotle chocolate ganache from The Ganachery (another of our favorite best-kept secrets for a sweet and delicious treat in Disney Springs).

At Earl of Sandwich, try one of their new cheesesteak sandwiches! And you read that right – that’s not a typo! 😉 Choose between the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich with tender chopped beef steak or the Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwich with grilled chicken. Both are served on freshly-baked artisan bread and topped with provolone, mushrooms, sautéed green peppers, and onions. There’s also a Veggie Cheesesteak Sandwich featuring provolone, mushrooms, sautéed green peppers, onions, and HP sauce.

Finally, at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, if you’re looking for a unique plant-based treat, you should definitely try the Sweet Thai Coconut Mickey Onigiri at Intermission Food Court. It features coconut sticky rice with poppy seeds stuffed with roasted mango, mandarins, apples, and carrots wrapped in nori and is served with a sweet and sour fruit dipping sauce. Also at Intermission Food Court, you’ll find a Hades Cupcake offered the entire month of August. This chocolate cupcake comes with blue sour candy buttercream and a chocolate Hades piece.

Who’s ready to to plan a vacation filled with good eats and sweet treats? And, don’t forget, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival  is just around the corner! Contact us for a free, no-obligation quote today!

Vacations with Character® has earned the distinction of being an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

Tips for NBA Experience: Disney Springs

Today we’re sharing a look at the new NBA Experience at Disney Springs®, which opens Aug. 12, 2019.

NBA Experience in Disney Springs – Courtesy of Disney Destinations Travel News

This one-of-a-kind destination was created by Disney in collaboration with the NBA to let Guests feel what it’s like to walk in the footsteps of NBA and WNBA champions.

Your basketball dreams are just a layup away in this immersive world that features 13 basketball-related activities. Just to name a few: Dribble, for example, works on ball-handling skills, while Dunk! features an adjustable rim, so guests can make a highlight-reel slam. Test your trivia knowledge to see who knows the most about the NBA and WNBA or over in the arcade, challenge friends and family to get the high score in the classic Pop-A-Shot game!

Best of all, you can participate in these activities in any order you choose, and return to them throughout your visit to NBA Experience to improve your scores and skills.

To get you pumped up for the debut of this new venue, here are a few key features and tips to get the most of your NBA Experience:

All About the Guest – Almost every activity encourages you to be an active participant and get into the game. We recommend that you complete the optional registration once you’re inside. This allows you to customize and personalize your experience by adding your own nickname and choosing your favorite NBA or WNBA team. Your team’s logo will be associated with you throughout your stay on various leader boards and signage, and when you try the Shoot! activity, the court magically transforms to make it feel like you’re in your favorite team’s home arena! Plus, you can choose different basketballs to best fit your hand size (NBA, WNBA or Youth) and set your own skill level.

Immersive Environment – Walking into NBA Experience truly feels like stepping onto center court of an arena, complete with huge overhead video monitors, pulsing music and swirling lights. Whether you are huge NBA fans or new to the sport, you’ll get swept up in the energy!

Authenticity – Walt Disney Imagineering worked closely with the NBA to ensure NBA Experience is authentic. The hoops are regulation size (unless Guests need them adjusted to dunk!), and team and league logos are featured throughout the venue. For those new to the game, this is a great way to learn all about the league, its players and the game as a whole, straight from the source.

Interactive Technology – NBA Experience is not only a physical experience, it’s also a high-tech environment. The Champions area, for one example, features massive touchscreens that allow you to dive deep into league history, with notes about each of those legendary teams along with photos and video highlights while the Replay activity challenges you to make the right call in three different scenarios using your own personal interactive replay station; you can view the play from different angles, zoom in on key moments, and move the video forward and backward before deciding to confirm or overturn the call.

NBA Store –Don’t forget to pick up NBA-themed fan gear celebrating your favorite basketball players and teams at this specialty shop only located in NBA Experience!

It’s a slam dunk of fun for all ages and tickets are on sale now.  Be sure to contact us to book your vacation and ask about adding tickets for NBA Experience!

Vacations with Character® has earned the distinction of being an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

 

Disney’s Riviera Resort and the Elegance of the European Riviera

A Special Report From Disney Travel News!

Courtesy of Disney Destinations
Courtesy of Disney Destinations

For centuries, the European Riviera has inspired visitors to relax, rejuvenate and play along the Mediterranean. At Disney’s Riviera Resort, projected to open December 2019, the history and charm that enchanted Walt and Lillian Disney, and so many others, comes alive.

In each meticulous detail and around every turn, you will see how Imagineers are creating a resort that celebrates the elegance of a modern European retreat blended with a touch of old-world glamour and a uniquely Disney twist. Here’s a closer look at the careful planning and thoughtful features that make Disney’s Riviera Resort so special.

Courtesy of Disney Destinations

The overall design of Disney’s Riviera Resort is inspired by the elegant, early 20th century hotels situated along Europe’s Mediterranean coast. Like the region itself, Disney’s Riviera Resort will convey classic European designs mixed with modern expressions.

Its articulated stone base and smooth stucco façades will be accented with decorative metalwork and colorful awnings. French mansard roofs and Italian style arches and loggias will intermingle with other architectural styles found along the coastal region.

The center tower, with expressive roofs and ornamental details, will be at the heart of the resort. Adjacent wings are designed as if added progressively to accommodate more travelers. The resort itself is a layered story, inspired by the buildings and architecture in Europe that grew and evolved over time.

Courtesy of Disney Destinations

Each wing of the resort will grow in height, from eight to 10 stories, allowing for sweeping views of the resort to be seen from the rooftop restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera. If this sounds tantalizing, I should mention that bookings are now open for Topolino’s Terrace, with reservations available beginning on December 16!

Porticos, towers and terraces, as well as a unique, coastal-inspired color palette, will give each resort wing an exterior style all its own – a visual representation of the changes in design styles that influenced regional resorts throughout the century.

The window styles will vary across the façade of the resort, with variations in size, shape and mullion designs. Continuing the inspired architectural details, the iconic window awnings of the region will be married with shutters of varying colors and arrangements. A variety of decorative railings throughout the resort will feature a subtle Disney twist, with motifs of Mickey Mouse and his leading lady, Minnie.

Photo Courtesy of Disney Destinations

By incorporating these detailed differences into the design, Imagineers captured the progressive feeling of European architecture, imparting a sense of history and story that developed over time.

Under construction and projected to open December 2019, Disney’s Riviera Resort at Walt Disney World Resort will be inspired by Europe and imagined by Disney. Another perk: from the resort, you will be able to stay just a gondola ride away from all the excitement and experiences via the new Disney Skyliner system when it opens this fall!

Bookings for Disney’s Riviera Resort are open now so contact one of our amazing Travel Professionals to book this amazing resort for your next stay and create your Disney story in the middle of the magic! www.vacationswithcharacter.com

Vacations with Character® has earned the distinction of being an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

Disney Visa Card WDW Special Offer

Are you a Disney Visa Card Holder? NEW Discounts for Walt Disney World were released today!

Gran Destino Tower ~ Courtesy of Disney Destinations

This offer is for a limited time only for Dates of travel from 7/15/2019 – 9/28/2019. A minimum 2 night stay and 2 day base ticket must be included and the discounts are as follows:

* Art of Animation & All Star Sports – 25% off
* Port Orleans Riverside – 20% off
* Coronado – Gran Destino Tower / Water View – 30% off
* Animal Kingdom Lodge & Saratoga Springs – 35% off

Most importantly, and perhaps the most exciting of all, Cardmembers can experience the new Gran Destino Tower at the beautifully re-imagined Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort with a stay in a new tower – water view room for $199 per night, plus tax for stays most nights July 15-Sept. 28, 2019.

The number of rooms allocated for this offer are VERY limited. Contact us today to book! www.vacationswithcharacter.com

Vacations with Character® has earned the distinction of being an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

Top 5 Best Things to Do in Disney Outside of the Parks

Top 5 Best Things to Do in Disney Outside of the Parks by Nicole Ricucci

Your trip is booked, bags are packed, and you’re running through your itinerary in your head out of excitement for your Disney Vacation. You have everything planned for your time in the parks, but did you know there’s more to explore? Walt Disney World property covers over 40 square miles, and there’s loads of hidden gems for you to find.

Grand Floridian Monorail Station
®Disney
Resort Hopping.

Did you know you can visit any Walt Disney World Resort even if you aren’t staying there? While some amenities may be reserved just for guests with rooms there, many features are open for you to enjoy! Craving a dole whip the second you step off the plane but don’t have park tickets until the next day? Stop over to Pineapple Lanai at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and grab your favorite Adventureland treat! (Secret tip: the Polynesian beach is a great spot to watch the Happily Ever After fireworks show.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort Lobby ~ Photo Courtesy of Chris Gantek

Each resort has a different theme, and so much to see. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will have a pianist playing in the lobby periodically throughout the day. Sometimes you may even spot some royal special guests! It’s a great spot to relax if you need a quick quiet time break from Magic Kingdom, but don’t want to go back to your hotel. Don’t forget to take advantage of each resort’s dining options! Some of the best dining opportunities on property are located at the resorts.

Mini Golf
®Disney

If you and your family love some friendly competition, visit one of two mini golf courses available on property. Winter Summerland Mini Golf will make you think it’s Christmas in July at Santa’s off-season retreat, or if marching broomsticks and hippos in tutus are more your speed, visit Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Mini Golf. Both locations offer two 18-hole courses, just in case a rematch is needed. Adult tickets (age 10+) are $14.00 and child (age 3-9) tickets are $12.00. The family member with the lowest score gets to buy everyone else Mickey’s Premium Bars. Time to tee up!

The VOID at Disney Springs
@Disney

This incredibly immersive experience allows you to not only be a part of a video game, but truly step inside of it. As of right now, the VOID has two adventure options: Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, and Ralph Breaks VR. Strap in to a virtual reality suit and see yourself as a Stormtrooper or an internet character and actually walk through the game. This is an experience unlike anything before that you really need to try to understand the hype. Reservations are required and tickets are $29.99. Contact your travel agent to book your spot!

Disney’s Boardwalk
@Disney

Located right behind Epcot’s World Showcase, Disney’s Boardwalk is a beautiful walk with shops, restaurants, and nightlife. There’s even an art gallery! Ample Hills Creamery offers ice cream flavors you can’t get at home such as Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, Shirley Temple, and Oatmeal Lace. Head into Jellyrolls (21+) and listen to dueling pianos while enjoying a nightcap. You can even rent surrey bikes to ride along the path. When you’re ready to go back into the parks, follow the boardwalk back to the World Showcase which will put you right in between the UK Pavilion and the France Pavilion, or take the Friendship Boats over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Senses Spa and Salon
@Disney

Spending all day exploring the parks can be exhausting. Treat yourself to a massage, pedicure (or both, you totally deserve it) and many other spa treatments at Senses. There’s two locations, at Disney’s Saratoga Springs and Disney’s Grand Floridian. They even have packages for children (ages 4-12) with a tasty treat at the end. Don’t forget to relax a bit during your trip, it is a vacation after all.

For any questions or more ideas, be sure to contact your favorite Vacations with Character Travel Professional: www.vacationswithcharacter.com #NowMoreThanEver it’s a great time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort!

“Nicole is a travel agent with Vacations with Character, specializing in planning memories at Disney and Universal. She is a two time alumna of the Disney College Program and is passionate about theme park food, Disney Festivals, and Halloween Horror Nights.”