Disney blog postings
|Earliest: May 30, 2003||Latest: June 26, 2017||Total: 92|
|November 13, 2015|
Eating Gluten Free in Disney World
Walt Disney World can be an awesome vacation even if you have to eat Gluten free. The key thing to remember is let your server know and a Speciality Chief will come to your table and help you have a truly awesome experience.
Here are some of the notes from our experience at various establishments that we visited. We made reservations far in advance and mention the Gluten allergy, even though it's technically not an allergy.
Click on the establishment name to visit the official restaurant page and make reservations for your next trip.
Riverside Mill Food Court
Port Orleans Resort Riverside
- On our first day at the food court we were a little confused on what to do. There wasn't anyone around to ask questions. We finally ask someone who was stocking mugs. They went in back to get a Chief to help us out.
- It turns out that we need to see the Chief every time to place an allergy free order. We later discovered that its not easy when the food court is very busy
- Some of the people that worked in the kitchen were not aware of what meals were available Gluten Free
- The Chief told us they can pretty much make everything on the menu Gluten free, however you still need to see a Chief for validation.
- If you do ask for something at the counter, the order taker had to ask a Speciality Chief if it was Gluten free safe. At the time, I was ordering a cheese burger and I knew they had Gluten free bun. The Speciality Chief basic gave the thumbs up to the person putting together the order that all that was needed was the bun not toasted. The speciality chief was the only to hand me the order, basically ensuring me that it was safe to eat.
- One evening they had a printed menu of available Gluten Free meals, but we never saw it again. Not having a menu made it hard when we walked into the food court to know what could be made Gluten Free. For example, on pasta day the only Gluten free pasta they had was elbows. Which is fine since my daughter likes Mac & Cheese, but sometimes she wants spaghetti.
Hollywood and Vine
Disney's Hollywood Studios
- We have eaten breakfast here before, but this is the first time eating here Gluten free. We made reservations far in advance and let them know that members of our party had a Gluten Allergy.
- Shortly after we were seated the Chief came to our table.
- The Chief did a walked through on the buffet line to point us out which buffet items were not Gluten free. He also indicated which items could be made Gluten free to order. We did ask for Gluten free waffles.
- They made a special order of Gluten Free Mickey Waffles that were very yummy. He gave us such a large plate of waffles that we didn't need to ask for more.
- The chief returned back and made sure we were satisfied with the order and if we had any questions.
- We were very impress with their service and everything was yummy.
The Crystal Palace
- We love eating at the Crystal Palace and have eaten there plenty of times. Who doesn't like meeting Tigger, Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore.
- We made reservations far in advance, you kind of have to, and let them know of our allergy.
- The chief came to the table with lots of options.
- They went over some of the things at the buffet, he specifically said that he didn't want to insult our intelligence and pointed to some of the things that did contain Gluten.
- They brought a small try of Gluten Free options, which were basically frozen items; such as Katz Gluten Free Donuts and regular Gluten Free waffles. (Nothing like the made to order service we got at Hollywood and Vine)
- Food was yummy and everyone had a good time
The Contemporary Resort
- We made reservations far in advance and let them know of our allergy. We have eaten here plenty of times and enjoy seeing Mickey and Friends
- After we got seated the Chief came over and wanted to know if it was really an allergy. (We were a bit surprise by this.)
- He described some of the things in the buffet that we could eat, but left off some things. Basically giving us the brief version of what we could eat.
- They brought out a small tray of food, but it was mostly fruit and Gluten Free pancakes.
- There were a lot of good food in the buffet and we did like their food, but was a bit disappointed with the service and most likely won't be going back on a future visit.
We were a little disappointed with the service at Chief Mickey and felt that 'Hollywood and Vine' were more thoughtful with being Gluten free.
Hope the above information is helpful and you found it useful. If you have any particular questions, please feel free to send me an email.
|November 12, 2015|
Port Orleans Riverside Resort
Seven reasons not to stay at the Port Orleans Riverside resort
- Large Property layout - The Port Orleans Resort is a fairly big layout. Depending on where your room is, you could be in for a long walk to the lobby or Riverside Mill Food Court. No so much fun on the last day when you have to bring the luggage to the lobby. Also it can be a long walk to get your morning coffee.
- No pool towels at the secondary pools. You are encouraged to go to the main pool and get towels. Some people did bring towels from their rooms. I recall that the hotel discourage guest from doing this.
- Small Laundry area - The laundry area is near the pools, so you can go swimming while you wait for your laundry. However, our wait was longer because their weren't any available washing machines. Do you really want to spend vacation time waiting for someone else's laundry to be done before starting yours?
- Long lines at the Riverside Mill Food Court. During peak times you can anticipate a long wait to ordering your food and then waiting in a different line to pay for it. Also there's nobody working the waiting area to answer any questions.
- Poor cable - During our stay many of the popular Disney channels were not working. This is a problem if you have a youngster that might want to fall a sleep to Mickey and friends at night.
- Too Many Bus Stops - There are four bus stops on the property with the main stop being the last stop. This means that it takes that much longer to get back to your room. (Art of Animation has only one stop.)
- Not stroller friendly - The room we stayed at didn't have a ramp near the garden stairs. We saw plenty of guests that had to ask their children to get out of the stroller just to get up and down a small set of stairs.
Seven Reasons to Stay
- Ferry Boat to Disney Springs - One of the few places on Disney property where you can go to Disney Springs by boat. Nice romantic way to start an evening at Disney Springs. Boats are running about every 20 minutes during Disney Spring hours.
- Riverside Mill Food Court was yummy - Lots of good choices and plenty of seating. We didn't eat at Boatwright's since the wait times were very long, but from what I read online it seems to be the place to go.
- Unique room designs - The bed headboard has a cool 30 second firework show. My daughter loved the princess pictures on the walls and getting a special welcome from Tiana.
- Horse buggy Rides - A chance to ride in a carriage across the resort property. Great fun for the whole family!
- Quiet Rooms - We found it very quiet where we stayed. We didn't hear anyone in the halls or banging in the rooms around us.
- Fulton's General Store - Lots of Disney goodies and essential supplies in case you forget to bring something. Double check before you leave, otherwise you'll pay a premium. But if you forget an item, they will have it in stock! (Also the only place on Disney Property to get an Eeyore Penny Souvenir.)
- Lively Nightly Entertainment. I just happen to catch some of the entertainment at the River Roost Lounge and the crowd was fired up and singing along to many hits. I didn't get a chance to watch the whole show, but it appear to be a hit even from the people standing in the nearby hallway.
Some additional things to note from our stay during the first week of November, 2015
- There is a quality hair dryer in the room. This isn't a cheap wall mounted hair dryer. There's no need to bring one if your staying at this resort. If your room doesn't have the right one, you can always call the front desk and request one.
- The washer and dryers only take credit cards, no need to bring a bag of quarters or extra cash for the laundry room.
- There is a small dorm room size fridge in the room. Ours didn't seem to keep our drinks all that cold. The refrigerator has no freezer space.
- The coffee machine in the room was just Ok. The one in the Riverside Mill Food Court is better since you can add sugar and fresh cream.
- There are plenty of soda and ice vending machines around and they were well stocked up. I didn?t check the prices on this trip but I think it would be around $3 for a 20oz bottle.
- Plugs are somewhat hard to find in the resort rooms. You should consider bringing a mini extension cord especially if you have multiple USB devices and want to charge them overnight.
- You can buy water at the bus stops, but it cost you $3 for a 20oz bottle. Your better off filling up a Disney mug before heading out.
|November 10, 2015|
Olszewski Haunted Mansion miniature
For about 35 years, if you wanted a Haunted Mansion souvenir you went to the small cart next to the popular attraction. In 2014, Disney converted a Liberty Square shop into a souvenir store for the Haunted Mansion. They stocked it with all sorts of new Haunted Mansion goodies.
True Haunted Mansion fans know that to get the good stuff you need to head to Main Street USA and Disney Springs. That's where you'll find unique collectable souvenirs.
This past week I stopped in the Main Street Cinema on Main Street USA - formally the movie theater.( They still have a screen on the back wall showing some classic Disney cartoons.) In the store I saw several Olszewski's miniature displays of popular attractions around Disney World. In the corner on one of the cases, I spotted a very familiar attraction:
Yes, that's a pretty good replica of the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. The back comes off and you can interchange the inside to see the dinning room or the attic. As I recall, this item will set you back at least $499.
When I was looking at it, a cast member took it out of the display because someone just purchased it. I was thinking that it was good that I stopped in the store when I did and got a picture of it.
As impressive of a souvenir as that was, I remember in 2009 seeing a $4,000 miniature version of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. This was being sold at the Art display store just above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I am not sure who purchased that item, but it certainly is the most expensive Haunted Mansion premium souvenirs that I have seen Disney in any of the parks.
You can find a lot more Olszewski's light box displays in Disney Springs. They are certainly worth looking at if you are interested in a reasonably price souvenir. If you like miniature versions of popular attractions, your best best is the Main Street Cinema on Main Street USA in Disney world.
|November 9, 2015|
Disney World Photo Notes
Just return from a fun week at Walt Disney World. The park was very busy and it was a very humid week. During the seven days, I took 4,329 Photos and 409 videos. I used both my iPhone 6s Plus and Olympus XZ-2 iHS cameras. I used my Olympus XZ-2 iHS camera more than my iPhone.
During the evening, I took advantage of the Free WiFi at the hotel and back up all the photos on my iPhone 6s Plus to Google Photos and Flickr. I used both because Google Photos has an awesome search capability, while photos uploaded to my Flickr account don't get compresses. There was one day where it took all night to back up about 300 photos/videos to Google Photos.
I found that using both camera was the way to go, since the Olympus XZ-2 iHS takes much better photos in low light conditions. I tested taking some night shots around the Haunted using the iPhone 6s Plus and found that it was much darker than pictures taken with the Olympus camera.
Olympus XZ-2 iHS Photo Notes
Pictures taken with the Olympus XZ-2 iHS were mostly done using the 4:3 format; 3968 x 2976. The only exception was some photos that were taken in High Definition, which were taken using 1920 x 1440 resolution. I didn't know that using the 'HD mode' would result in a smaller resolution size, so I wouldn't select this option in the future.
With all the photos and videos that I took with the Olympus camera, the battery held out very well. I carried a couple of extra batteries and didn't need to use them at anytime during the whole week. I charged the camera battery every night, and that charged was enough for the whole day. In the future, I'll just bring one extra battery for a "just in case" situation.
iPhone 6s Plus Photo Notes
Pictures taken with the iPhone back camera were using the 4032 x 3024 resolution. This is important to know because Google Photos will downsize any photo uploaded that are bigger than 2048 using the longest dimension. This means that any photo that I upload using my iPhone 6s Plus will get recompressed. There will be some loss of quality, but shouldn't be noticeable for any posting to social media or emails.
I saw a lot of tourist taking pictures only with their cellular phones. I think if your going to spend a lot of money to travel to any vacation place, you should at least have a decent camera to take pictures to remember the trip. Granted if your only taking pictures to post on social media, then ya a cellular camera is fine.
The battery life in the iPhone 6s Plus did very well. I brought along my Jackery 6000mAh USB Power Hub and used it a couple of times to power up my phone. There are a couple of spots in the Magic Kingdom were you can charge your USB device; One behind the Haunted Mansion store in Liberty Square, and the other in the store as you get off Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. These are great to have, but do you really want to be sitting around waiting for the phone to get charged? Having a 6000mAh USB Power Hub is perfect size to power up your phone while your waiting in line or eating lunch. The device is small enough that you may forget having it in your pocket.
|October 27, 2015|
Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort
On our next Disney World vacation we are staying at the Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort.
This is the first time that we are staying at this Disney moderate resort so we are not exactly sure to expect from this resort. We have heard some great things from travel critics and Disney loyalists.
Before heading out on any trip, I do some information gathering. I do this so that we can have the best stay possible. This becomes easier and easier as more and more people blog about their traveling experiences.
Here's some things that I discovered about the resort:
Penny Souvenir Machines
According to themouseforless.com we should plan to bring lots of quarters and pennies with us. There are 15 different coins we can get at Disney?s Port Orleans Riverside Resort. Using the Penny machines is a good way to collect unique souvenirs. The designs you get at each hotel is unique to that hotel. Since some locations do change them often, it could be unique for that vacation.
Apparently the Disney?s Port Orleans Riverside Resort is the only place where you can get an Eeyore press penny. So if your an Eeyore fan, or know someone that is, head over to the Fulton?s General Store to get your coin made! The store is open from 8am until 11pm everyday.
There?s a great post on disneydining.com on the ?9 Reasons why you should collect pressed pennies at Walt Disney World.? It makes a great read if your undecided on using the Penny Souvenir machines at Disney World.
- blog.touringplans.com - Some pictures of the machines and coins.
- presscoins.com - Posted a note of some of the coin machines were moved to the Port Orleans French Quarter.
Check in times
Most of the Disney Hotels have standard 3pm check-in times. Port Orleans-Riverside isn't any different. We have found that some case the resort may check you in early. In any case, all the Disney Resort hotels will hold your bags with the Bell Services should your room not be ready when you arrive. Make sure to leave a cell phone number, and they will send you a text message on when the room is ready.
You can always change clothes once you arrive at the hotel, but if your using the Magic Your Way luggage check in, plan for your luggage to arrive a few hours later. This is especially important if you are need and medicine in the suitcase such as an inhaler. You should plan on being without your luggage for a few hours after you arrive at the hotel.
Disney?s Port Orleans Riverside Resort is participates in the Disney Online Check-In Program, which allows you to enter in some information up to 60 days before your arrival
As mention by
- touringplans.com - General information about checking in and out of the resort.
- portorleans.org - Resort Services information.
- allears.net - Good breakdown on the resort. Updated frequently.
Distance to the Magic Kingdom
It's going to take 12-15 minutes to get to the Magic Kingdom via the Walt Disney Bus ride. This is good to know in advance if we want to get to the park early, or if we go back to the room during the day and want to return for in time for a dinner reservations. There are signs posted on how often the buses run to/from the parks.
The good thing is that the Magic Bus doesn't connect with another hotel, so you'll express back to your room after a long day. There are four stops at the Disney?s Port Orleans Riverside Resort.
We have found that if you have early breakfast reservations at the park, you might be better taking a taxi to the Ticket and Transportation center. However, the first bus leaves at 6:45, and I am certain that there isn?t any reservation at the Magic Kingdom before 7am.
- portorleans.org - Walt Disney Bus System explained
- forms.wdwmagic.com - Previous guest explain their bus wait times.
Every hotel has some hidden Mickey in the lobby. When your checking in be sure to ask the Cast Member where their favorite hidden Mickey is. Usually they just give you a general clue.
Riverside Mill Food Court
The Riverside Mill Food Court closes at midnight every night. This is important to know if we want to get some water or a snack after a long day in the park.
While it's very convenient to buy a drink at the soda machines on our floor, it's much cheaper in the cafe. Since we are on the Disney Dining plan, it comes with a souvenir mug. This gives us the privilege to to get unlimited refills on our drinks at the Riverside Mill Food Court. It's technically not free since it was included as part of the meal plan. Your simply maximizing the privileges that you already paid for.
The good thing about the cup is that it's very practical to use long after the trip. The cup from our last trip has gotten plenty plenty of uses around my office. I use it to get a large cup of coffee from the Verismo Coffee Maker machine.
|October 26, 2015|
Selfie Sticks in the Magic Kingdom
We are heading back to Walt Disney World very soon! This will be the second trip in 2015. We are going back on a hotel discount by using Disney?s bounce back program. This promotion provides a 15% discount on any moderate hotel stay to those that are staying in the park. You can find the discount information in the mini-magazine when you check into your Disney hotel. Make sure to read the entire brochure, you can miss a great savings opportunity!
To get in the Disney mood, I changed the desktop picture on my laptop to the picture of the Haunted Mansion taken from Frontier-land. It also gives me the right frame of mind to think about what I may need to bring on this trip.
I am pretty disappointed that Disney has a complete ban the use of Monopods (Selfie sticks). I remember having my xShot in Disneyland back in 2009. While walking down Main Street, people around me were watching and wondering what camera device I was using. I was able to take really good pictures of the Haunted Mansion exterior as the ride was closed. I used the xShot to take pictures over the fence.
I fully understand Disney not allowing Selfie Sticks on the rides as they could be extremely dangerous. However, prohibiting people from taking Selfie pictures around the parks with their own cameras seems weird. Perhaps the Selfie Sticks were cutting into the sales of Disney Photo passes.
Disney provides a handy list of all the things you can't bring. It's a good list to review for packing because you don't have issues at the park security gate. Many of these same restrictions apply to Universal Studios and Knotts Berry Farm.
I'll be having both my Olympus XZ-2 iHS and iPhone 6s Plus to take pictures and videos. The Olympus XZ-2 iHS takes much better photos/videos in the dark.
|February 12, 2015|
Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Earlier this year we went to the Disneyworld and stayed at the Finding Nemo suites in the Disney's Art of Animation Resort. Here are some things consider packing if you are going:
Laundry - In each of the theme hotel rooms are laundry facities. You should consider packing some laundry supplies such as detergent and dryer sheets. If anything pack a dryer sheet since it can help make your clothes smell good. Also don't forget to pack a laundry bag to carry the clothes back and forth from the laundrymat.
Money - Bring some extra change with you in case you need to use the vending machines. A 20oz bottle cost $3 at the room floor vending machines. Many of the machines accept dollar bills, and only one of them accept credit cards. There's also a souvenir penny machine in the seating area of the cafe.
USB hub - Buy a good travel size USB hub charging station. This will make it easy to charge all your devices, Phones, Cameras and tablets. Got a FitBit? Don't forget to bring that charger too! You can get a good multiport USB Hub for $30.
Stickers - If you get the meal plan, which you should do if your staying for more than 5 days, you should bring some stickers to easily identify your souvenir mug. Disney only has a few unique designs, and if you have a large party it might be hard to tell the souvenir mugs apart.
Bath Toy - Disney doesn't have any restrictions on toys in the pool. Pack up some pool/bath toys for your toddler. Your toddler will be the most popular person in the pool as everyone will want to play with the toys.
Luggage Scale - If you plan on buying a lot of things at the parks, having a digital luggage scale can save you a lot of trouble at the airport. You'll be able to balance all your luggage and know a head of time if you are over the 50 lbs limit.
Dish Soap - In the Finding Nemo suites, they have a kitchen sink but no dish soap. Pack up some Dish soap in a 3oz travel container. You'll need it to clean out the souvenir mugs between uses. You can buy some dish soap at the store, but you'll end up spending $4 for a small bottle.
HDMI Cable - If your tablet has a HDMI connector you should consider bringing an HDMI cable to watch movies on the TV. In the Finding Nemo rooms both TVs have an easy HDMI hookup. Yes, the rooms have Free Wi-Fi access.
|January 16, 2015|
Olympus XZ-2 iHS has the ability to create RAW files. RAW format is the uncompressed version of a photo that the camera takes. This is useful when you take pictures and wish to edit them later to manual touch up the photo.
The Olympus XZ-2 iHS' RAW file type is ORF and the file size is 18,869 KB. This means on a standard DVD, I can only store 227 files.
On a recent trip to Disney World, I took 425 RAW pictures which takes up 7.67 GB of space!
Apple's iPhoto is one of many photo applications that supports the RAW format for editing.
|May 20, 2014|
Disney World Video Camera
I am in the very early stages of looking for the perfect camera for a trip to Walt Disney World in 2015. I do have some very specific requirements for the camera. For example, many rides in the Magic Kingdom are in low light, so the camera should work great in low light conditions.
I created another webpage of the various cameras that I have found. If your looking for the perfect YouTube camera for your Blog, or a camera for Disney World you don't want to miss the why some cameras are better than others.
I plan on picking the perfect camera by September. This will give me plenty of time to learn how to use all the functionality of the camera. In addition, I'll be able to learn how to take excellent video with the camera.
Note: The review page is constantly changing as new cameras are announced and as I discover different cameras that is worth looking at.
|July 25, 2013|
Haunted Mansion Refurbishment
This year the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland will be closing for refurbishment on August 26, 2013 for it's annual seasonal changeover. Disney closes this popular attraction to turn it into the Haunted Mansion Holiday through the Christmas season.
Disney adds characters from Tim Burton's "The Nightmare before Christmas" into the the ride. This year it's extra special since this is the 20th Anniversary of the movie.
To get ready for the celebration, you can buy t-shirts at the Emporium on Main Street. Also be sure to check out some of the stores in New Orleans Square for additional Haunted Mansion merchandise.
The ride will be open on Friday the 13th of September, which seems like a perfect time to visit the Haunted Mansion!
If you should be at Disneyland when the Haunted Mansion is closed for the Refurbishment, you can use the opportunity to take some pictures of the Haunted Mansion. It's very hard to take pictures of the attraction with no one in the picture, and this will be a good opportunity.