Monday, July 27, 2009


Yeah, that's right I said it!!! People, hide the kids, cover their ears, do something because we're not just talking about a vacation here....we're talking about one with free food.

Grub at no cost.

Munchies for no monies.

Snacks without smackers

Ok, that got lame quickly. (See below)

A pic of dessert to get you all stirred up:

If you're staying for three nights or more at a Disney Value Resort you'll get the Quick Service dining plan for FREE. F-R-E-E FOOD!!! You must be staying between September 29th and December 17th (Turkey Day excluded...c'mon now, people). There is LOTS of information to be had but you're a LOT better off getting it from one of the awesome agents at The Magic for Less Travel.............. the link to the right!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Greatest Hot Dog on EARTH!!!

Hot dogs: staple of every 4-8 year old’s diet and general, all-around food of the Gods. What’s in them? Who cares? All I know is that they are tasty, bad for me and always bring a smile to my face.

As with the burger-to-end-all-burgers on the Disney Cruise Ships (if you don’t know what I mean, we’ll get to it later), Disney has also nailed down the best tasting hot dog ever to be drowned in a torrent of colorful and artificial condiments.

At the end of Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, across from the ice cream parlor sits Casey’s Corner, perhaps the greatest quick-service dining establishment in all of the “world”. Casey’s is a simple place and the menu is small but it has all that it needs, hot dogs and French fries. Full stop. Nothing else needed. Casey’s has a multitude of registers (and they need them) as you walk through the door and is flanked by two dining areas. The indoor area is adjacent to the order area and also has an entrance from the Main Street Athletic Club next door. It features older cartoon shorts, all of which are sports-themed and are always playing on the central big screen. The outdoor dining area is beautiful on a nice day and features a piano that is sometimes graced by one of a few amazing players, one of which I remember seeing on my very first trip back in 1986.

As with any great hot dog stand, Casey’s supplies some amazing fries as the perfect side. C’mon people; a piping hot frank with fries and an ice cold soda. What could be better? The location also makes it the perfect place to grab a snack and get a good parade spot.

What makes Casey’s All-American Beef hot dogs so fantastic? Frankly, the secret ingredient (if there even is one) could have fallen to Earth in a glowing heap and I wouldn’t care and you won't either once you try them. If you never have then run, don’t walk, to that corner the next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom.

Oh, one more thing. If you’re sitting outside, in the name of all that is holy, DON’T FEED THE BIRDS!!! Trust me, those birds are angry.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Toy Story Midway Mania!

So, what is the hardest ride to get on at WDW right now? If you said Soarin’ you’re close. Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and elections though. Without a doubt, the hottest Fastpass in Mickeyland right now is one for Toy Story Midway Mania.

TSM is like Buzz Lightyear but with a college education. WDW officially opened their Toy Story Midway Mania in Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 31, 2008 and Disneyland opened theirs in California Adventure on June 17, 2008. Ever since then, the lines have been long and the Fastpass machines working overtime. Believe me when I tell you that if you aren’t at the Studios before noon, you probably won’t have a shot at getting a Fastpass as they are usually gone by then.

The educational difference between Buzz and Toy Story has to do with the game play. Sitting in a carnival ride vehicle with one other person next to you and back-to-back with two others, you’ll move from one screen to another, each with a different game. Beginning at the first screen you’ll have a practice round where you can become acquainted with your little carnival cannon by throwing pies. With a pull string at the back, you can aim the cannon at any part of the screen (it’s anchored to the car). One thing to note: you don’t have to wait for the string to return before shooting again. Feather that bad boy back and forth as fast as you can and shoot as much as possible. Forget the accuracy here kids, we’re going for POINTS!!!

After the practice screen, you’ll move to five other mini games including egg, dart and baseball throwing, ring toss and suction cup shooting. The final bonus round will help you rack up some additional points and then you’ll find out what your “prize” will be. You don’t actually get a prize; it just shows what it is for your point range. ; )

The best thing about the game is that there are only two of you shooting at a screen at any given time and you always know where your eggs, darts, etc. are going. It’s a bit easier than trying to decipher which little red dot is yours amongst a sea of hundreds!

The lines are long, for sure but it is SO worth it to check this ride out. Get there early in the morning, at park opening if you can. Grab a Fastpass and then jump in line. That way, you’ll get in before the line gets too long and have a chance to ride again before it gets CRAZY crowded! Have fun!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sleeping Beauty Castle

We’re all familiar with Cinderella Castle. It’s nearly impossible to see any commercial or add for WDW without at least a silhouette of it in the background. So, why don’t we pay that much attention to Sleeping Beauty Castle? A good friend of mine likes to cast aspersions on this pretty pink castle simply because it's short. Hey, a short castle is STILL a castle! Personally, if I were Princess Aurora, I’d be upset about this.

When the castle first opened, the upper level featured a walkthrough assortment of dioramas that depicted the story of “Sleeping Beauty” and were then redone in 1977. In October of 2001, the walkthrough closed and remained that way until recently. In November of 2008, the doors were opened yet again and were greeted with LONG lines of people eager to get a first look or the first in years.

Aurora and Her Castle

How about some quick facts about Aurora’s castle?

- Sleeping Beauty Castle rises to a height of 77 feet, less than half that of Cinderella Castle.
- The drawbridge in front of the castle was only utilized two times: when the park opened in 1953 and during the rededication of Fantasyland in 1983. The gears were removed during a refurbishment in 1996.
- The coat of arms over the door is that of the Disney family.
- When the moat around the castle is cleaned, the money collected is donated to charity.
- The castle’s original color was blue.

While it might be shorter than its younger sibling, the castle is still beautiful and is a bona fide part of popular culture and American history now. If you’ve never seen it then that’s just one more reason (or excuse) to visit Disneyland!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vinylmation Sneak Peek!!!

Well kids, this will be a short one but that’s ok. This blog is MUCH more about the pictures than the writing. We talked about those cute little Vinylmation guys not too long ago. As the wildly popular first series comes to a close we’ve been able to get some pictures of the series to come.

Urban Series #1 is a collection of 12 individual 3” figures and four 9”. The collection is extremely varied in style and features the upside-down and Dragon Mickeys that are shown in the current Vinylmation pin series. Don’t miss the 9” figure of Mickey emerging from a suit that says “Mortimer”. Remember, that was the original name that Walt gave him after his initial sketches before Lily suggested that it wasn’t the best name and they eventually settled on Mickey. Very, very cool!!!

Park Series #2 has lots of good stuff. We’re particularly fond of the 9” Incredibles and “Mine” figures!!!

Urban Series #2 is just as varied as the first. The solar system and penny arcade 3” figures are some of the highlights although that 9” piggy with the egg on his tummy kinda freaks me out.

Last but not least is the awesome Holiday Series #1. How can you not love the snowman and Christmas Tree Mickeys, not to mention the 9” turkey Mickey!!!

Take note that all of these posters have a disclaimer that the artwork is subject to change. We don’t have any hard dates on the release of the upcoming series other than Urban Series #1 has an apparent date for some time in March. We’ll keep you posted as we find out more so start saving your money now!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure!!!

It seems like some of the people I talk to tend to say that their kids just can’t get into Epcot. Sure, everyone wants to ride Mission Space, Soarin’ and Test Track but apparently some just have a hard time getting into the World Showcase.

Well, you can forget that problem.

Not too long ago, Disney introduced “Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure.” Now you and your family can join Team Possible to bring down villains that have invaded the World Showcase!

Before you ask, this interactive experience is completely FREE and you only need your park ticket to sign up. No deposits are even necessary.

Find any of the Team Possible kiosks at the International Gateway, Italy, Norway or entering the World Showcase from Future World and sign up for your mission. You’ll be given a ticket that looks something like a Fastpass that will tell you where and when to report to receive your mission. Once you report, you’ll receive your Kimmunicator which will be your lifeline to the rest of Team Possible. It enables you to receive directions and clues as well as activate hidden, interactive clues. Through animated instructions on your Kimmunicator screen, Wade will tell you how to use it and then direct you to the country where your mission will take place.

From here is where the REAL fun starts. And I do mean fun. Even if you don’t have children, this is a blast and my wife and I saw lots and lots of people partaking in the fun who were well above voting/drinking age. ; )

Wade and the other members of Team Possible will guide you through your mission, directing you to different areas where you will unlock clues, give secret code phrases to Cast Members and track down villains. There are seven different missions and each takes place completely within one country, taking around twenty to thirty minutes. If you’re running low on time and want to finish early, just use the “Help” function to get some extra clues and speed things along.

I really can’t say enough good things about this. Trust me, you should try it out. Oh, and by the way, I make a seriously dapper secret agent. : p

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What Will You Celebrate?

Guess what, people? It’s my birthday!!! Woohooooo!!! Yes, I’m intolerable on my birthday. You don’t care that it’s my happy day though (although you SHOULD!). Now is a great time though to talk about celebrating in the happiest place on earth.

This year, more than ever, Disney is encouraging us all to celebrate with them with their theme for 2009: “What Will You Celebrate?” Well, what is it? Is it your birthday? Anniversary? Engangement? Wedding?!?!? C’mon guys there is always something to celebrate and there is NO better place to do it. Last year I was lucky enough to celebrate my 30th birthday with my wife, friends and my parents even showed up to surprise me. I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect way to celebrate.

But, where do you start? The task can certainly seem daunting but don’t let it intimidate you. One of the greatest things about this year’s promotion is that Disney is letting anyone visiting on their birthday do so for FREE!!! Did you wake back up? Good. Yes, I did say “free”. For 2009, anyone visiting on their birthday will be (with appropriate documentation and id) given a one day base ticket good only for that day. Already have an annual pass? If you do, you’ll be able to choose from the following:

• A birthday FASTPASS® exchange card for a certain number of attractions at the Theme Park you visit on your birthday.
• A birthday fun card in an amount equal to the price of a 1-day Magic Your Way base ticket for you to use for certain purchases including select merchandise, recreation or tour experiences, or for Disney's PhotoPass® on-site services at participating locations at Walt Disney World® Resort; or
• A 1-day Magic Your Way base ticket for you to use any time until your next birthday.

People, we’re talking about free stuff here. Period. Case closed. That should be enough for most of you! Of course there is more though. If you’re celebrating an occasion with a special dinner and would like a cake you have two options. Most table-service restaurants will have six inch chocolate or vanilla cakes that are available with no notice, just let them know that you’re interested when you arrive. If you prefer a custom cake (like the one in the pictures) Disney even has a Cake Hotline. Simply call 407-824-2474 and follow the voice prompts and you’re on your way to ordering a cake for almost any occasion. If you prefer a custom dessert instead of just cake you can call the same number and they’ll be more than happy to help you out.

Want some party favors? If you’re eating at a buffet restaurant or a character meal you can order a goodie bag with a party hat, game, coloring book and crayons. Want to up the ante? You can upgrade to the deluxe party pack which includes everything mentioned plus a magnet, Mickey straw and a celebration tote.

Not worried about how much you’re spending? You can go to and choose from a number of different options for almost any occasion. They aren’t cheap but they have a host of fun and/or romantic touches that can add even more magic to your vacation.

There are great little things you can do that don’t cost anything too. Stop by Guest Relations or Guest Services in any park and you can get a birthday button (NOT my handwriting!), a “1st Visit” button, or even just a celebration button to let everyone know what it’s a special time for you and your family!

Obviously the list of things you can do to celebrate goes on and on. Hopefully we’ve given you a taste of the wonderful things you can do in almost any price range to help you have a magical memory for whatever your special occasion is. So, what will you celebrate?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Vinylmation - How to Get Robbed by a 3" Mickey

Have you ever heard the term “Disneyana”? It’s basically the term that sums up all things Disney and is particularly used to refer to Disney collectibles. Think I’m making this up? Go to Ebay and look. There is a Disneyana section and there is a LOT of stuff in there. Trust me, there are many, many kindred freaks just like us! In mid December of 2008, Disney made an amazingly successful addition to that end and they’re called Vinylmation.

The first series of the Vinylmation collection was released and almost immediately began selling out. During our Christmas trip we experienced stock-outs in the gallery stores throughout the different parks. Vinylmations are 3” tall Mickey-shaped PVC figures that are painted to resemble different characters or icons throughout the Disney universe.

Series #1 includes:

- Teacup
- Electric Light Parade
- “Sour” Apple
- Figment
- Kermit
- SMRT-1
- Sorcerer
- Monorail Red
- Yeti
- Fireworks
- Haunted Mansion aka “Creepy Eyes”
- Balloon Chaser

The Vinylmation figures are $10 each and are sold in “blind” packaging. That means that you buy a box and the figure is sealed in a foil package. You don’t know which one you got until you pay and open them up and no, there are no exchanges, returns or refunds (it’s even printed on the foil!). People, let me tell you, this is a QUICK way to spend some money. There are twelve different figures in the first series and we came home from our Holiday trip with thirty-nine of them! Yeah, I got jacked by a three-inch-tall inanimate figure and I’m not ashamed to admit it (and cry about it).

But hey, you can’t take it with you can ya? We had a lot of fun opening each of these little guys. It truly did become a game of: Which one to choose? Who should choose this time? Did we already get him? And we ultimately had to carry a little list around. Is it a quick way to kill a lot of cash? Yes. Was it a blast? Of course!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tables in Wonderland

Well, when it comes to a Disney vacation most of us are all for anything that will save us some money. For years now, Disney has had a dining card available for Florida residents and Annual Pass holders that allow them to receive 20% off of meals in most sit-down restaurants and some counter service locations throughout the WDW property. “Tables in Wonderland” (formerly the “Disney Dining Experience”) can be purchased for $60 by Annual Pass holders and $85 for non-AP holding Florida residents. Both AP holders and Florida residents also have the option of adding a second card for an additional cost of $25.

There are a few things to note about using the card. There are blackout dates – namely holidays - on which you cannot use it. When using it for a meal, an 18% gratuity will automatically be added to the bill. There seems to be a lot of controversy over this that makes people feel as if they are only saving a few percent. Let’s think about this though: you were going to tip anyway (let’s hope ;o) so that tip would have been added to the original check amount so you’re still saving a substantial sum on the check. Let’s check out the example below, from the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian (yes, real men DO drink tea):

So, the original check amount would have been $38.14 and we saved 20%, or $7.63 based on that. The 18% gratuity (that is based on the original amount before the discount) is added at $6.57 along with the tax and our total check is now $39.37.

Still with me? Good. Now, if we hadn’t gotten the discount, the original amount would have been $38.14. Let’s add the tax and we get $40.62. Add a 15% tip to that and the grand total is now $46.71. Using the card you would have saved at LEAST $7.34. If you had tipped 18% on the original amount then the card would have saved you $8.56.

WHEW! That was a lot of math but it shows that the card does save money on the average check. As for recouping the cost, that will probably happen faster than you think. Odds are, if you are a Florida resident or an Annual Pass holder, you get to the “World” fairly often. My wife and I paid $60 for our card. Over the course of our last trip we used it for ten meals and two bar tabs. Bearing in mind that those meals ranged from the food court at Pop Century all the way through to California Grill, we saved over $140 with the card. Subtract the $60 cost of the card itself and we had a net savings of over $80 and that was in one trip!!! Heck, if you do a trip to Victoria and Albert’s the card will pay for itself in one meal! LOL

If you visit WDW fairly often, sit down and think about what you spend on a sit-down meal for you and your family and how often they occur. You may be surprised how quickly the savings would add up if you had a “Tables in Wonderland” card!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

T-Rex: Eating with (and like) a Dinosaur

There are tons, TONS of great places to eat on Disney property. Whether you’re in one of the parks or at a resort or in Downtown Disney, the choices can be a bit daunting at times. The newest addition to this family is Downtown’s T-Rex.

Opened in mid-October, T-Rex is owned by Landry, the parent company of the popular Rainforest Café chain of restaurants. As you might expect, the theme of T-Rex is somewhat similar to that of the Rainforest locations except, of course, with dinos instead of monkeys! T-Rex is an ENORMOUS restaurant (the capacity sign lists it at, I believe, 992) and has several themed areas in which patrons can dine. Want a drink? You’ll be seated under a plethora of aquatic life capped by a huge octopus. Diners might be seated in the ice age, or under a school of jellyfish near the bar or next to the “Kitchen of Fire”. Periodically, there is a meteor shower where they can be seen streaking across the ceiling and even spot the points of impact, marked by flashes of light.

The “critters” throughout the restaurant are a sight to behold. From the gigantic namesake T-Rex near the entrance (complete with baby next to it) to the Woolly Mammoth (with a soundbite strikingly similar to that of the elephants on the Jungle Cruise ;) to a very large, very angry looking Pterodactyl, the creatures inhabiting the dining room are a lot of fun.

Check-in is similar to that of Rainforest Café, where you put your name in at a podium and then wait in line to be called to your table. While the line can look very, very intimidating, it does move surprisingly fast so don’t be discouraged. But let’s talk about the most important thing…..the food.

The food at T-Rex, in my experience (all four of them) so far has been extremely good. The menu is large with plenty of choices for all kinds of appetites. There is a great deal of variety both in the food and the drinks. There is even a selection of martinis capped with, and no I’m not kidding, cotton candy. The best thing about T-Rex though, are the desserts. I can’t even begin to describe how great the sweets at this place are. One to note is the “Meteor Bites”, a coupling of chocolate and vanilla doughnut holes that come with dipping sauces.

The pinnacle though, the top of the mountain, as it were is the “Chocolate Extinction”. Believe me when I say that songs will be written about this dessert. If we were cave men, we would draw pictures on the walls about it. People will tell their grandchildren about it. I am NOT lying. Four slices of cake (it’s more like a giant brownie with a layer of caramel in the middle) with scoops of ice cream (that are topped with Butterfinger bits) surround a cup of dry ice that is erupting as the plate is served to you. The menu says “Serves two to four” and it really should say “Bring a lot of friends.” because it’s a lot of food.

I could go on and on (can’t you tell) about the food at T-Rex but you really need to try it for yourself. The animatronics aren’t earth-shattering (yes, pun intended) but they are great fun and lend a lot to the atmosphere. The service has been great, the prices are reasonable and the food is wonderful. What more could you ask for?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Wow, Christmas and the New Year are gone, GONE people! Can you believe it?

Well, we were lucky enough again this past holiday season to celebrate both Christmas and the ringing in of the New Year with our families and about 100,000 of our nearest and dearest friends. With the crowds that reign down upon the happiest place on Earth during the holidays one can be particularly appreciative of anything that saves you time or gets you through a line faster. This is the PERFECT time to take advantage of Disney’s patented Fastpass system.

Fastpass was first utilized by Disney in 1999 and is a sort of virtual “line” for guests. High volume attractions have a system of kiosks that are set aside to dispense Fastpasses. Here’s how it works:

1. Find the attraction that you’re interested in and find out if it is one that participates in the Fastpass system. It’s important to note that NOT ALL attractions use Fastpass. Those that will typically kill you with 90 or 120 minute waits (can you say Toy Story Mania?) will be those that participate.
2. Take note on the overhead sign of what the time frame is that the current Fastpasses are being issued in (they are issued for one hour time spans i.e. – 10:40am to 11:40am). If passes are currently being issued starting at 5:40pm and you have a priority seating for dinner at 5:30pm, it may not be the best time to get one.
3. Insert your park ticket into the Fastpass kiosk and you’ll get a Fastpass for the time noted on the overhead board.
4. Return to the attraction during the time frame noted on your Fastpass and enter the Fastpass line
5. Have FUN!!!

Sounds easy? It is! There are a few things to note about Fastpass though:

- They can and sometimes DO (say Toy Story Mania AGAIN) run out. As many have seen recently, a new and hot attraction like Toy Story Mania may have the Fastpasses for the entire day run out by 11am and those getting them at 10am may have a return time of 8pm.
- From the time that you obtain a Fastpass, you’ll have to wait a short time to get your next one. This is to prevent people from bouncing all over the place and getting a million of them. Check the bottom of your Fastpass for the time that you’ll be able to get your next one.
- Sometimes, along with the Fastpass that you want to get from the machine, you might get another one as well. In other words, while getting one for Tower of Terror, it might also spit out one for Lights, Motors, Action! You’re not high from the popcorn butter, this is just Disney’s way of working the park traffic to spread things out when it’s getting too heavy in one area or another.
- Yes, you can sometimes use a Fastpass even after the time frame has passed. Lots of people have used 5:40pm – 6:40pm Fastpasses at 8pm but this is never guaranteed! Per the rules, you’re supposed to use them in the time frame printed on them.

There, I think that about covers it. Trust us, Fastpass is a GREAT way to save you and your family time and maximize your park hours to see as much as possible. It may seem intimidating at first but once you get there and see how things work you’ll become a pro in no time!!!