Magical Memories – Visiting Pizza Planet

As you wander the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios, there is a great quick service restaurant called “Pizza Planet”. It is based on the restaurant that Andy frequents in the Toy Story movies. Robert and I had a great time here during our last visit to Walt Disney World.

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This 2 story restaurant offered plenty of seating both inside and out. The food was yummy and the arcade was a lot of fun. Our lunch consisted of personal sized pizzas for each of us (1 adult and 1 child), a salad, applesauce, our drinks and a cookie for Robert. You can use your quick service credits from your dining plan to pay for this meal. After we ate, my son had so much fun being a ninja slicing fruit, hip hop dancing, practicing his skee ball skills, and of course, challenging me to air hockey.

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I do have to say my favorite details were the little green aliens seen hanging from the ceiling. I loved these guys in the movies.

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And what Pizza Planet restaurant would be complete without “The Claw”!

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If you are looking for a quick and easy place to grab your lunch or dinner, Pizza Planet is a great choice. It will also give you a great chance to sit and cool off while your children burn off some extra energy (and quarters).

If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at Robyn@travelwiththemagic.com or call me directly at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125. I have an unexplained passion for Disney and making sure that everyone is getting the most that they can out of every visit!

The Importance of “Down Time” for Kids at Disney

When we take a family vacation to Walt Disney World, we make sure to leave a “park-free” day in the middle of our trip. We sleep late, have leisurely meals, maybe go for a swim. And it’s wonderful to recharge before hitting the parks again.

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But it’s also important to have some “down time” for the kids DURING the park days, too!

Lots of people will suggest taking a break to go back to the hotel in the middle of the day, but for my family, I’ve found that taking a break IN the park works just as well, without the travel time! We just plan some time to unplug from the hustle of going from one attraction to another, and the rigors of following the lines. There are places in each park where you can relax a bit, and let the kids run off some steam or just do some exploring.

At Magic Kingdom, you can ride a raft over to Tom Sawyer’s Island to spend an hour or so. The kids can wander the island, explore the caves, use their imaginations in the fort, try the different bridges, or just chill on the dock for a game of checkers.

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At Animal Kingdom, there’s a great playground called The Boneyard. It has lots of climbing places and slides. Kids can pretend they are archaeologists unearthing dinosaur bones in the gravel pit, too. And there are some shady spots where parents can hang out and enjoy the breeze from the fans in there!

There’s also a really neat playground area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and if your kids have seen “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, it’s sure to be an especially big hit. All the play areas look like larger-than-life items the movie kids found in their yard!

There are many fun things for your family to do at Walt Disney World, and you can try them all! Let me or one of our other agents start planning a trip for you, and remember our services are always FREE!

Brenda@travelwiththemagic.com – (800) 670-4312 x 140

Magical Memories; How to Build a Lightsaber

The next time you wander the streets of Downtown Disney, take a moment to visit the “Once Upon a Toy” shop. You will not be disappointed. Located in the center of the action figures and blasters, lies a neat activity – Build your own lightsaber! What child wants to pass up the opportunity to create their very own lightsaber. They have the advantage of being able to choose each and every piece. It is a lot of fun!

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My son has a blast doing this. He can choose whether he wants to build a single or double saber. He also gets to choose the color, handles, and more. There is always a cast member supervising the station, offering assistance. They are there to make sure that all of the pieces get locked into the right place.

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There are 2 locations for your child to have the chance to create their own piece of magic from your trip – Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney and at the shop in Hollywood Studios called Tatooine Traders. Tatooine Traders is shop designated strictly for the Star Wars fan on your trip. The shop is located right next to the Star Tours attraction. There is not much difference in price between a single or double saber – $21.95 for a single and $24.95 for a double. After they build weapon of destruction for battling the dark forces, they can climb on this speeder located just outside of the Tatoonine Traders.

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If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at Robyn@travelwiththemagic.com or call me directly at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125. I have an unexplained passion for Disney and making sure that everyone is getting the most that they can out of every visit!

Start Your Day with Cape May Cafe!

Cape May Café Character Breakfast is one our favorite ways to start our day at Walt Disney World! Cape May Café is located in the New England style Beach Club Resort.  The meal is in a buffet style, which is tremendous, since it has something for everyone (even the pickiest of eaters) and is a great value as part of the Disney Dining Plan (one sit down credit only)! We like to knock out two things from our long Disney to-do list, eating a great meal and hanging out with Minnie, Donald and Goofy. This New England styled beachfront themed restaurant is unique in atmosphere, but consistent with Disney magic and excitement. Cape May Café Character Breakfast quickly becomes a must do on everyone’s list!

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I always feel a little guilty when we eat here, with all the scrumptious options. Adding a bit of exercise goes a long way to justify the additional trips through the line and eating more than we should. We like to add a brisk walk by starting from Disney’s Hollywood Studios and making our way along the Walkway leading to the Boardwalk.

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The Walkway is a shady, lazy path along the canal leading to the Boardwalk area and a favorite of walkers and runners. With the distance from Disney Hollywood Studios to the Beach Club Resort being 2.07 miles, we feel like we “deserved” a good breakfast!

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We arrived about 15 minutes early and were seated immediately. Plan your walking pace accordingly though, it’s easy to get lost in the brisk morning air and pleasurable surroundings! Goofy, Donald and Minnie were making their rounds at all the tables when we arrived, and you can definitely feel the excitement in the air. The characters stop at each table, so be patient, they will be by yours! This is a great opportunity to have your cameras and autograph books handy.

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My family loves coming to Cape May Café because of the buffet. Of course you will find the favorite Mickey Waffles, but our Cast Member made special note that the restaurant had more healthy options on the buffet this year like quinoa, fruit salads, spinach salads, whole wheat breads and low fat yogurt. I do like to indulge, but having healthy options helps us balance our meal.

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There is a lot of activity at the restaurant, but you don’t feel rushed at all. Full and happy, we always like to catch the boat back to Disney Hollywood Studios. As you leave the Resort, the boat dock is to the right in the Bay. Just look for the Lighthouse!  The Cape May Café is a win-win for my family. From the comfortable, open feel, to pictures with the Minnie, Donald and Goofy in their nautical outfits, to the crayons and paper tablecloths, you have a very family friendly place to eat!

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Even though Donald maybe Number 1, you and your family will come out as the winner by adding this breakfast to your itinerary. Isn’t it time to make your Dining Reservations?

sylvia@travelwiththemagic.com

Star Wars the Weekend 2013

Once a year the galaxy far, far away comes to Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios! It’s the place where The Clone Wars and A New Hope unite generations over a beloved saga in the magic of Star Wars the Weekend (SWW)!

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In order for you and your family to get the most out of SWW you need to plan!

Hollywood Studios usually opens at 8am. The park traditionally opens at least 30 minutes early to accommodate the large crowds. This year my family got there by 7 and the park opened at 7:28. The Stormtroopers will be guarding Hollywood Boulevard. Stop, take pictures and interact with them. They are a lot of fun.

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Now once inside the park, what do you do first?

You split up. If you have children ages 4 to 11, you will want to head over to the Epic Stunt Theater to sign up for Jedi Training. Space is limited and your child MUST be with you. Next, head over to ABC Sound Studio to sign up for the Padawan Mind Challenge.

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While you are signing up for these 2 events, give a family member your Keys to the World (room key or park ticket) and send them to get fast passes for Toy Story Mania. Toy Story Mania fills up FAST and if you don’t have fast passes, you can be waiting 2 or more hours.

There will be plenty of opportunities to take pictures with SWW characters. You will find the good guys around the Star Tours and Premiere Theater area and the “bad” guys will be hanging around the Back Lot area. Have fun and interact. Ask Queen Amidala questions about the Senate or the weather on Naboo. And be sure to bring something to trade with the Jawas. Any little trinket or small toy from the dollar store is perfect!

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And don’t miss the Legends of the Force Motorcade. The parade includes all your favorite Star Wars characters, the Celebrities and the Florida 501st Legion.

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As with any Disney parade, you need to get your spot early. The parade travels down Hollywood Boulevard at 11 am. We like to line up around 9 – 9:30 to get a spot in the shade and to get a street view for the kids. Everyone will be crowding in. Take turns saving your spot with other family members.

Your next stop is Darth’s Mall.  A MUST DO for SWW.  Great merchandise that can only be bought during SWW will be here, as well as pictures with C3P0 and R2D2.

Ashely Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano in the Clone Wars, will be at the Mall promoting her line of Star Wars clothing, Her Universe. Ashley is an awesome person to follow and meet. Be sure to purchase your Her Universe merchandise before getting in line for an autograph. She will only be there an hour each day so check the event times and be there early!

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There’s plenty more to see at Darth’s Mall, so plan a couple of hours here.

If you need to get out of the heat, consider taking in one of the Celebrity Appearances. These events take place in the Premiere Theater, and you line up across the street in an alley (shaded). You probably don’t need to be there too early, an hour will get you in. This year I saw “An Ewok’s Take” by Warwick Davis, a very funny and entertaining actor. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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A day at SWW is not over till you see the Hyperspace Hoopla! The Hyperspace Hoopla, located on the stage at “the hat”, is a dance-off between The Rebel Alliance and The Empire. A lot of fun! This is a big attraction and the crowd will reach from the hat all the way to the entrance of the park. So get there early!

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Make your dinner reservations for around 9. The Hoopla is only 30 minutes, and you will need to re-fuel from a busy day. We love the Sci Fi Theater and a cold milkshake for then end of our day! How about you?

Planning is the key to a great SWW, and I have many more tips to make it smooth and enjoyable! You will not only want to catch your favorite Star Wars characters but also want to include all the fun at the other parks. It’s easy to get it all in if you know what to do – and it’s time to plan your 2014 SWW Adventure! I’m here to help!

Sylvia@travelwiththemagic.com

Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster

“Can we do it again? Right now?”- That was my 9 year old son’s reaction after his first ride on Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster. It was exactly what I said after my first ride years ago. This FAST roller coaster opened in 1999 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is located next to Tower of Terror on Sunset Boulevard.

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If you know me, you know I love music – so I love that music is the first thing you’ll notice when approaching this attraction. Aerosmith music plays outside and almost forces you to sing out loud (Admit it!) as you walk toward the BIGGEST guitar imaginable. After waiting in the shaded, outdoor queue line, you’ll notice posters on the lobby walls of real talent signed to record labels owned by The Walt Disney Company. Kids love pointing out their favorite artists while they wait! From here, you will enter the recording studio where Aerosmith is not quite finished with a session…but it will have to wait- They are late for a concert! Don’t worry, Steven Tyler wants you to meet them there…so he sends his fastest limo. The rest is…CRAZINESS!

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Upon getting into the “limo”, you can already feel your adrenaline rushing. The limo slowly approaches a tunnel and waits for the green light to go. No matter how many times you ride this coaster, you will always feel that anticipation waiting for the red light to turn green. When it does, you’re sent on an awesome, upside down, corkscrew highway (modeled after LA Freeways) complete with an Aerosmith soundtrack (5 speakers per seat!). Your limo will go from 0 to 57 mph in 2.8 seconds. But you will love it… I promise! When your limo finally delivers you to the red carpet, you’ll have experienced the 2nd fastest attraction at Walt Disney World (aside from Test Track) and you’ll want to do it again, and again, and again…

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There are fun Hidden Mickey’s to be found all around this attraction area; in the pre-show, the limos and the track itself. See how many you can find – but you must be 4 feet tall to ride!

For more information on attractions, parks, restaurants and more – Contact me today!

Erin Santamaria 1-877-377-0505 or erins@travelwiththemagic.com

You can also find me on Facebook or Pinterest.

Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is known for making guests feel like they stepped back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood – Disney style.  If you’d like to keep this feeling right on through lunch or dinner visit the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant located on Hollywood Boulevard.  The restaurant is an authentic replica of the famed restaurant located in Los Angeles and is officially licensed by the chain.  You will truly feel transported back in time.

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 The feel here is total Hollywood.  This is a place where you might have seen movie executives meeting over lunch or starlets and their managers eating dinner.  The décor is identical to the original Brown Derby restaurant.  From the mission style iron and woodwork to dark leathers all the way down to the caricatures of movie stars on the wall; this restaurant exudes 1930’s Hollywood.  Fun fact:  the black and white caricatures are reprints while the gold framed ones are originals!

 And then there’s the food!  This would not be a Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant without the original Cobb Salad.  This is where the famed chopped salad got its start and it’s as popular as ever.  It can be ordered as an appetizer or entrée with the entrée size mixed tableside.

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 While the restaurant is known for its salad it also offers up a wonderful oyster and brie soup, crab spring rolls, prawn and other unique appetizers.  Entrees include filet of beef, duck, salmon, pork chops, bison as well as vegetarian offerings.  For dessert treat yourself to another Brown Derby original, the Grapefruit Cake.  This is heaven on a plate – grapefruit sponge cake and cream cheese frosting.  Of course if you aren’t a fan of grapefruit there are other to die for desserts including fruit cobbler, crème brulee and chocolate mousse.

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 The Hollywood Brown Derby is included on the Disney Dining Plan as a Signature Restaurant (requires 2 table service credits).  It is also offered as part of the Fantasmic! Dinner Package where guests pay a set price that includes dinner and reserved seating at that evening’s Fantasmic! show.  The restaurant also participates in the Dine with an Imagineer program which includes a special dinner with an imagineer.

My name is Susan Heidenrich and I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation.  I am a Disney Destination Specialist with Travel with the Magic and my services are complementary.  Please email me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com.  You can also follow me on facebook!

Walt Disney World’s Park Hopper Option

The park hopper option can be added to any Walt Disney World base ticket and is good for the length of your stay.  This option allows you to visit more than one park in a day.  For example you could spend the morning at Magic Kingdom then “hop” over to Epcot in the afternoon. The park hopper option is an additional $35 per person to add to a one day ticket or $57 per person to add to a 2 day or longer ticket.  This cost is not per day, it is the total price per person excluding tax.

While park hopping can be useful for any length of stay, if you have 5 day or longer park passes then I highly suggest adding the hopping option.  Once you’ve experienced all four theme parks, hopping allows you to go back and hit the highlights at each park again without having to devote an entire day to one park.  This is great when you may only want to ride a couple of attractions or eat a meal in any one location.  You could spend the morning at Animal Kingdom which tends to be the first park that closes for the day and then hop over to the Magic Kingdom for dinner and fireworks.  Or spend the day at the Hollywood Studios and then hop over to Epcot Illuminations that evening.  Or use the hopping option to bounce over to another park for evening Extra Magic Hours.  The possibilities are endless with park hopping and this feature allows you the flexibility to go where you want, when you want, and experience what you want.

 

For the ultimate in park hopping visit all 4 parks in one day and experience at least one attraction in each!

 

Whether you choose to park hop or not it’s important to have a good itinerary with a solid plan of action.  This is where I come in!  One of my complementary services is to work with you to prepare a touring plan that fits your style and make sure you have ample time at each park to experience those things important to you.  I’d love to help you get started with a wonderful Disney Destination vacation.  My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a Disney Destination Specialist affiliated with Travel with the Magic.  Contact me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com.  You can also follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/SusanHeidenrichTravelwiththeMagic.com for information, specials and tips and tricks on Disney vacations.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

Looking for a unique dining experience while vacationing at Disney World?  You’re in luck because there are quite a few but one that stands out to me in particular is Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant which is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, near the Streets of America.

From the exterior outside, nothing really stands out in particular.  You may even walk past it and not even realize exactly what it is.  When you walk inside the restaurant it looks as if you have entered a dimly lit soundstage with movie memorabilia scattered throughout. There are walls blocking you from seeing where the tables are at this point. There are a couple of benches and a desk where you check in but nothing too exciting…yet.  I have eaten at this restaurant several times (since it’s my son’s absolute favorite) and my experience is to expect a bit of a wait upon arrival, even with advanced reservations.

Once your name is called, you will follow the host on a walk down the hallway.  As you enter the room you will be dining in, you are immediately transported to a drive-in movie theater.  I’m always amazed as I walk in to this restaurant.  This is truly some of Disney’s best themeing, in my opinion.  The room is dimly lit and rather quiet which can be a nice break from the excitement of the parks.  You will see rows of 1950′s style convertible cars lined up facing a large movie screen. Each car has two or three rows for seating. There are also a few picnic style tables in the back of the restaurant so I would recommend requesting a car table upon arrival to add to the ambiance.  Be warned though, if you are sitting in a car table, you will not be dining face to face with your family.  More than likely you will be seated two by two with the “driver” (complete with driver’s license) in  the front and “hitchikers” in the back which can be a little cumbersome with younger children.

 

While dining, you will view campy horror movies that are just down right over the top and silly but it’s fun.  I was worried my son would get scared (he’s overly sensitive), the first time we dined here without knowing what to expect but he absolutely loved it. He now requests to eat at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant each visit.

Besides the ambiance, some other reasons to like Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant are the following: The food is actually quite good, the servers I’ve had have all been wonderful and the prices are rather reasonable. You can find entrees such as Shrimp Pasta, Whole Grain Pasta, Rib-Eye Steak and various sandwiches but burgers, fries and milk shakes are definitely their specialty and what I would recommend.

If you haven’t dined at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, you should!  I think you’ll be glad you did!

If you are planning a trip to Disney World feel free to email me at corby@travelwiththemagic.com or you can call me at 800-670-4312 x128.

 

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

The most spectacular light display returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios® each year in November and December.  As you stroll down New York Street and the streetlights fade and snowflakes begin to fall, you’ll be dazzled by the millions of lights, dancing in synchronized splendor to a high-energy holiday symphony.  I recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios with my family and we had a wonderful time watching this show.  If you have any questions please contact me at Casey@travelwiththemagic.com.

Have a happy holiday!