My New Book – A Tale of Two Resorts: Comparing Disneyland and Walt Disney World

A Tale of Two Resorts

Update: My new book, A Tale of Two Resorts, has made Amazon’s Theme Park Guides Best Sellers List. Thanks to everyone for all of the support!

Looking for a great gift idea for the Disney fan in your family? Do you know someone who is trying to decide between a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Maybe you know someone who has visited one resort and is curious about the other? Or maybe that someone is you! My new book, A Tale of Two Resorts: Comparing Disneyland and Walt Disney World, is now available from Amazon just in time for the holidays!

This reference book is loaded with facts and information about all of the hotels, restaurants, attractions, experiences, entertainment choices and resort extras that are available at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Each chapter includes handy side-by-side charts that compare the weather, crowds, events, accommodations, admissions, transportation, and dining that each destination offers. And of course, there’s helpful advice about budgeting, planning your trip, and organizing your day. My favorite feature? As a fellow mom who has experienced the highs and the lows of taking kids on a variety of rides, I have included a Word of Warning for each and every attraction that needs one, giving you a heads up on what you need to be aware of before taking your child on that particular ride.

Whether you, or the person you are purchasing this book for, is going to Disneyland or Disney World and especially if the decision between the two destinations is still being made, A Tale of Two Resorts will give you all of the information you need to make the better choice and plenty of advice for planning that magical vacation!

Please click this link, to purchase your copy today!

Looking for more incredible books for the Disney fans in your life? Please check out Theme Park Press! Theme Park Press is the world’s leading independent publisher of books about the Disney company, its history, its films and animation, and its theme parks. Their catalog includes guidebooks, memoirs, fiction, popular history, scholarly works, family favorites, and many other titles written by Disney Legends, Disney animators and artists, Mouseketeers, Cast Members, historians, academics, executives, prominent bloggers, and talented first-time authors.

Disney World News – Frozen Gingerbread Castle

Frozen Gingerbread Castle

Frozen Gingerbread CastleIt’s that wonderful time of year again when Disney goes all out decorating every square inch of the resort for the holidays. We aren’t just talking Osborne Family Lights and Frozen transformed Cinderella Castle friends, every resort hotel is also included in the festivities. This year at the Contemporary Resort, guests are being treated to an all-new Gingerbread Holiday Ice Castle on the 4th floor Grand Canyon Concourse inspired by Disney’s animated hit Frozen. This 17 foot tall masterpiece is embellished with snowflakes, sugar and chocolate-coated trees. And, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without our favorite characters Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven. There is also an Ice Castle Kiosk where you can purchase Frozen themed merchandise, build-your-own snowman marshmallow kits, Frozen ice desserts and gingerbread treats.

Thinking about making your own Frozen Gingerbread Castle? Here’s what they used:

  • 423 lbs. of chocolate
  • 514 lbs. of flour
  • 212 eggs
  • 67 lbs. of spices
  • 35 lbs. of sugar syrup
  • 311 lbs. of honey
  • 222 lbs. of icing
  • 1,500 gingerbread shingles

Check out this fun time-lapse video of the Gingerbread Castle being assembled:

If you get the chance to see this masterpiece in person this year,
be sure to look for the 14 “hidden Olafs” in the display.
Happy Holidays!

(photos and video courtesy of Disney)

Disney World News – What’s Happening With Disney Springs?

Disney Springs

There are always changes happening at Disney World and one of the biggest that is taking place right now is the transformation of Downtown Disney into the newly reimagined Disney Springs. When Downtown Disney’s largest expansion in history is complete in 2016, the dining, shopping and entertainment options will have doubled, Buena Vista Drive will have been expanded to ten lanes (including a dedicated bus lane), an I-4 interchange will have been added to allow for direct access, two pedestrian bridges will have been built as well as two parking garages (the first of which opens tomorrow offering 4,000 guest parking spaces).

Disney Springs will include four areas known as The Landing, Marketplace, West Side and Town Center that will be host to over 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues. A lot of progress has already been made with the addition of two Starbucks locations, nightly entertainment at the Waterview Stage, the announcements of THE BOATHOUSE and Morimoto Asia, and the recent installation of the Springs Bottling Co. sign. Check out this time-lapse video:

Another soon-to-be-realized change is the walkway between The Landing and the West Side will be fully opened by the end of November.


Later this month, we’ll also see the opening of the Food Trucks at Exposition Park in the West Side which will serve as their new permanent home. If you haven’t tried them yet, here’s the scoop:

Fantasy Fare Food Truck – This truck offers favorite foods from Disney Parks around the world such as hand-dipped corn dogs from Disneyland, chicken & waffles from Magic Kingdom and Croque Monsieur from Disneyland Paris.

 

Namaste Café Food Truck - This truck offers foods from Disney’s Animal Kingdom such as tandoori shrimp, naan with samosas, butter chicken and lamb kefta.

 

Superstar Catering Food Truck  – This truck offers the flavors of Disney’s Hollywood Studios with menu items such as a pot roast sandwich, margarita flatbread and a turkey meatball sub.

 

World Showcase of Flavors Food Truck - This truck features favorites from Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival such as pierogies, beef sliders and a grilled chicken breast gyro.

 

Would you like to know more about the back story of Disney Springs? Check out this interesting video:

I’m so excited to explore all of the changes to Downtown Disney on my next visit and I can’t wait to see the World of Disney Store once it has been expanded. I better start saving souvenir money now!

What are you most looking forward to with the reimagined Disney Springs?
Please leave a comment!

(all photos, concept art and videos courtesy of Disney)

Destinations in Florida - Florida Travel Specialists

Happy Birthday – Why I Still Love Mickey Mouse

Hawaiian Mickey Mouse

Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Mickey Mouse! Even though I am much older than most of Mickey’s fans, I still love that guy. Why would a grown woman still hold a special place in her heart for a Disney character? Well, I’ll tell you. To me Mickey Mouse embodies all that is good in the world. He is a symbol of fun, family, friendship, goodwill, charity, hospitality, love, peace, education, acceptance, hard work, determination and dreams. He stands for and represents daily all of things that we should strive to be and to teach our children become. I love to watch Mickey interact with kids, families and people of all ages from around the world when I’m visiting Disneyland and Disney World. He welcomes everyone warmly and with joy. If only everyone could be a little more like Mickey Mouse during this holiday season and every day!

A few of my favorite Mickey Mouse photos throughout the years…

Check out these fifteen fun facts about Mickey Mouse from Disney Parks Blog:

  1. Walt Disney wrote the first script for “Plane Crazy,” the first short created to star Mickey Mouse, while traveling on a train from Chicago to Los Angeles.
  2. Walt initially named Mickey Mouse “Mortimer,” until Walt’s wife, Lily, suggested “Mickey” was a better choice.
  3. Disney Legend Ub Iwerks was a lead animator for Mickey Mouse in “Plane Crazy,” and produced an estimated 700 drawings per day for the film, some during the day (as a part of a secret project for Walt) and others after hours in Walt’s garage.
  4. The short film “Steamboat Willie” was the first short starring Mickey Mouse released, but was actually the third created. The first two, “Plane Crazy” and “The Gallopin’ Gaucho,” initially failed to find distributors, but were picked up and released later.
  5. When penning Mickey’s movements, early animators drew inspiration from popular comedic film stars of the day – like Charlie Chaplin.
  6. The first Mickey Mouse Club was formed by theater owner Harry Woodin in Los Angeles. On his own accord, Woodin devoted Saturday afternoons in his theater to showing only Mickey Mouse shorts and led children in a Mickey Mouse pledge. Walt later partnered with Woodin and spread the idea of Mickey Mouse Clubs to movie theaters across the nation.
  7. The first Mickey short in which Mickey spoke was “The Karnival Kid,” the ninth Mickey short, which was released in July 1929. His first words: “Hot dog!”
  8. Walt Disney wasn’t satisfied with the first few actors chosen to provide a voice for Mickey Mouse, so he did it, and continued to do so through about 1947.
  9. A Mickey Mouse comic strip, penned by Ub Iwerks, launched in January 1930, and at its height was printed in 40 newspapers in 22 countries.
  10. The first piece of Mickey Mouse merchandise was a tablet of paper that featured the mouse, designed for children. The first Mickey Mouse doll was designed in 1930.
  11. Mickey Mouse made his debut appearance in the “Macy’s Santa Claus Parade” (now “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”) in 1934. Measuring 40-feet-tall, the balloon was hand painted and guided by men and women dressed in Mickey/Minnie Mouse costumes.Mickey Mouse
  12. When Walt was contemplating a name for his first theme park (Disneyland park), he once considered calling it “Mickey Mouse Village.”
  13. Mickey Mouse was the first animated character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was given on his birthday (November 18) in 1978.
  14. Mickey Mouse has been a prominent feature at Disney Parks since Disneyland park opened its doors in 1955, with guests interacting with him in character meet and greets, viewing him in parades or snapping up Mickey Mouse merchandise.
  15. The Partners Statue, a sculpture of Walt and Mickey holding hands, debuted at Disneyland park on Mickey’s birthday in 1993. A second Partners Statue debuted at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in 1995.

For more great Mickey Mouse photos like the one from the parade, check out Disney Parks Blog.

Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse!
See ya’ real soon!

Disney World News – Holidays Around The World At Epcot

Holidays Around The World

Every year at Epcot, the holiday season is celebrated with a special event called Holidays Around The World. This year the festive happening will be held from November 28 through December 30. It is filled with yummy food, joyful music and wonderful traditions from countries around the globe. Here’s the scoop from Disney Parks Blog:

Holidays Around The WorldIt’s the most wonderful time of the year: Holidays Around the World at Epcot where the World Showcase countries reflect the seasonal traditions – including tastes of homelands far, far away. Starting our stroll at Promenade Refreshments, try the Turkey Waffle – a filling sweet potato waffle with roast turkey and green bean casserole (all-in-one holiday dinner). Then head to Canada for pecan-maple bark, a nod to our Northern neighbor’s bounteous maple sugar production. Next door in the United Kingdom, it’s hot applejack cider with whiskey and a blend of seasonal spices – sip while you listen to stories of Father Christmas. France sweetly celebrates with the classic bûche de noël au chocolate (chocolate cake shaped like a log) at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, and glace au apin d’epices (gingerbread ice cream) at L’Artisan des Glaces. Japan adds teriyaki chicken karaage, a Japanese version of crispy fried chicken bites with teriyaki sauce, at Kabuki Cafe, and you can hear the story of the hollow-round Daruma doll and the Japanese customs of the New Year. Up next, American Adventure, with freshly baked gingerbread men, chocolate chunk cookies and sugar cookies, hot chocolate, hot apple cider and peppermint bark at the Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery (perfect snacks for the Candlelight Processional). Look for Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations throughout the holidays, plus our favorite Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers. At Italy you can meet La Befana, the kind-hearted witch who arrives on the eve of the Epiphany to grant gifts to good children – like panettone, the sweet bread loaf served at the Gelato kiosk, along with sweet moscato wine and ciocolata calda (hot chocolate). In Germany, listen as Helga tells the story of the first Christmas tree as you nibble on stollen fruit cake and sip glühwein (hot spiced wine). Learn about the Christmas gnome in Norway and indulge in the traditional rice cream at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (so popular they leave it on the menu year-round).

I hope you get the chance to enjoy this heartwarming Epcot tradition this holiday season!
Happy Holidays!

Disney World News – Holiday Treats At Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Very Merry Christmas Party Gingerbread Men

Every year during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Disney offers special tasty treats and this year is no exception. Check out these yummy holiday desserts being served at select locations in Magic Kingdom (photos courtesy of Disney Parks Blog)!

As we head down Main Street, U.S.A., stop inside Main Street Bakery and you will find a reindeer cupcake. This delicious cutie is a vanilla cupcake with peanut butter and is adorned with peanut butter and mocha frosting.

Reindeer Cupcake

Also being served at the Main Street Bakery is the Candy Cane Cupcake. This scrumptious dessert is a peppermint infused chocolate cupcake topped with peppermint buttercream and sprinkles.

Candy Cane Cupcake

A little further down Main Street and you will come upon Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. They are serving up a holiday sundae that includes vanilla and mint chocolate chip ice cream topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and peppermint sprinkles piled high in a waffle bowl.

Holiday Sundae

Next up is Liberty Square, where we find a waffle sundae being offered at Sleepy Hollow. This treat includes vanilla soft serve and holiday sprinkles served a top a pumpkin infused waffle that has been dusted with cinnamon and sugar.

Waffle Holiday Sundae

And our last stop is in Fantasyland at Gaston’s Tavern, where you will find a Christmas Tree cupcake. This yummy dessert is a fine combination of spiced confetti cake, buttercream frosting, holidays sprinkles and of course, the all important star on top!

Christmas Tree Cupcake

Anyone else hungry now? For more information and to purchase tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, please check out this link. If you won’t be able to attend the party this year, you can always make your own holiday cupcakes at home by clicking this link for a tasty Frozen cupcake recipe!

Happy Holidays!

TouringPlans – What’s On TV In Disney World

Please check out my latest article about what’s on TV in Disney World featuring an interview with everyone’s favorite Must Do Disney gal, Stacey Aswad!

Disney World News – Celebrating New Year’s At Disney World

Disney World New Years

If you will be in Disney World for New Year’s this holiday season, several dining options are being offered. Here’s the scoop from WDW News:

Guests visiting Walt Disney World Resort can ring in the new year with special holiday meals at more than a dozen spots within the theme parks and resorts.

At Epcot World Showcase, Biergarten Restaurant in Germany is offering both lunch and dinner celebrations; La Hacienda de San Angel in Mexico is offering a New Year’s Eve dinner; Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada has three seatings, and Monsieur Paul in France starts celebrating at 11:45 a.m. with seatings throughout the day and evening.  The World ShowPlace pavilion also will host a custom dinner package.

In the Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland Terrace will feature a New Year’s Eve fireworks dessert party twice nightly on December 30-31. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Hollywood & Vine will host a special holiday dinner buffet.

In the resorts, special dining for ringing in the New Year is planned at Flying Fish Café at Disney’s BoardWalk; Victoria & Albert’s and Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa; The Wave…of American Flavors and California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort; and Trail’s End Restaurant at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground (lunch and dinner).

For information and reservations, please call 407-WDW-DINE .

Be sure to call right away, seating is limited and fills up quickly!

Happy Holidays!

Disney World News – A Frozen Holiday Wish Now Appearing At Magic Kingdom

Frozen Holiday Wish

Another great offering from Disney World this year is A Frozen Holiday Wish stage show! Here’s the scoop from Disney News:

New this year, Queen Elsa from Frozen will use her incredible powers to transform Cinderella Castle nightly beginning November 5 into a glistening ice palace for the holidays — thanks to a special effects spectacle bathing the castle in 200,000 shimmering white lights. Magic Kingdom guests are treated nightly to the dramatic Castle Dream Lights celebration and A Frozen Holiday Wish stage show.

In case you won’t be traveling to Disney World this holiday season, please check out the video below courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Holidays!

Disney World News – The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Returns

Osborne Family Spectacle

A favorite Disney World holiday tradition returns to Hollywood Studios again this year! Here’s the scoop from Disney:

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights features millions of dancing lights, plus animated displays and 3-D effects perfectly synchronized to electrifying holiday tunes amidst snowfall. The rich tradition takes place on the Streets of America, dazzling guests from November 7, 2014 – January 4, 2015.

If you aren’t going to be able to see the lights in person this year, please enjoy this video from 2011 that gives the history of the display as well as a sample of the Dancing Lights!

Happy Holidays!