"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Friday, August 26, 2016

64 Days: Guy Fieri Comes To Disney Springs

I have no idea why this hasn't been bigger news among the Disney social media crowd, but Guy Fieri's signature sandwiches are coming to Disney Springs!

According to the OrlandoMyWay website, part of the refurbishing and re-imagining of the old Planet Hollywood will include Guy Fieri's signature sandwiches on a new and improved menu.

Looks pretty cool, huh?
I've never even had an inkling of a desire to visit the Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs. We went to the Myrtle Beach location while it was open and that was plenty. But I'm kind of loving what Disney is doing to their version. To make it fit into the new Disney Springs vibe, the outside globe motif is giving way to a sort of planetarium kinda thing. The artist's renderings look really good. I just figured that would make me less annoyed by what seemed to be an intrusion of Universal's City Walk onto Disney property, but if I can get a genuine Guy Fieri burger, I may be tempted to actually venture inside once it's finished. And as John is a HUGE Guy Fieri fan, I may not have a choice..... :-)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

65 Days: New Bus Routes To Disney Springs

I'm not saying Disney noticed that I needed to get from Animal Kingdom to Disney Springs during our trip this October, but I DID just make Morimoto Asia ADRs two days ago and this announcement came out today, sooooooooo......

Whether it was my vacation panning that brought it on or not, as of this Sunday Disney will begin offering Disney Bus Transportation from each of its theme parks to Disney Springs. Buses will run from 4 pm to 11 pm, or two hours after park closing, whichever comes first. There will be no transportation the other way, from Disney Springs to any of the parks. You'll still need to transfer at the nearest resort for that trip. Buses will depart Disney Springs for the resorts as always, making a trip for drinks after a day in the sadly dry Magic Kingdom easy as pie.

The awesome Kenny the Pirate has a good article on this addition where he predicts buses will arrive bound for Disney Springs about every 10-20 minutes at park exits.

Clearly this is Disney's way to encourage after-park dinners and cocktails and shopping, but it's another one of those win-wins, ya know? I WANT to go to Jock Lindsey's for a nightcap after a long day in the parks. Thanks, Disney!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

67 Days: To Plan or Not To Plan

I read this morning someone saying that planning out each part of a vacation is bad as it makes the entire experience seem like it goes by too fast. It makes even something you've not done before too predictable and robs you of potentially great spontaneous experiences. As someone on Twitter pointed out, that's about the opposite of what Disney pushes us to do. We are asked to plan dining reservations six months out and even schedule rides 60 days in advance. Is that a bad thing?

I'm in general a big fan of spontaneity in travel. I've decided upon waking up that I'd rather be in Charleston and off we went. We've gone on day trips and decided not to come home at the end of the day. It's not unusual for us to just want to GO and leave the driveway without any clear destination in mind. You'd think the planning and scheduling required for a Disney trip would drive me nuts. But it doesn't.

In reality, I am a huge fan of Disney planning. I even go on the Disney website and plan imaginary trips. Just for fun. For a real trip, I am online the minute I'm able scheduling ADRs or FastPasses. I know what we'll be doing and where we'll be doing it most every hour of our trips. Jeez, as I write that, it doesn't even sound fun to ME. But it is.

Done well, proper and thorough Disney trip planning can lead to a truly stress-free vacation. I'm lucky. I know my way around,between and through Walt Disney World's resorts and parks intimately and I plan accordingly. I know my family and what we like and thankfully we're a very mellow bunch, so scheduling to make sure we see everything in the least time isn't required. As odd as it sounds, I manically schedule us into relaxation.

Monday, August 22, 2016

68 Days: I Lack Adult Supervision

I mean you just innocently go on to check availability for adding a night to your October trip and before you know it you're talking yourself into Wilderness Lodge for that night instead of remaining at Coronado Springs. It's totally the website's fault. And my new friends' of the Small World Club Twitter community. They are, in the words of the lovely Miss Lisa, enablers. Not that she was any sort speed bump, she's just sitting next to me on the couch saying "Oh yeah, that sounds great. Do it!"

I lack adult supervision.

Adult supervision is totally over-rated.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

69 Days: FastPass Dreamin'

Home from our end of summer trip and finally got the final (hopefully) schedule for John's high school marching band competitions. That finally settles which day of our trip will be spent in which park, and just in time as my window for making FastPass reservations opens one week from Tuesday! How exciting is that?

We'll be leaving straight from John's last competition on Saturday, October 29 in Cary, NC. Not ideal, as we'll be driving through the night and that will make Sunday a bit sleepy for us. Seeing as Hollywood Studios is very much under construction, we'll spend Sunday there. Monday will be Magic Kingdom Day with the Keys To The Kingdom Tour and then Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. We'll hit Epcot and the Food and Wine Festival on Tuesday and Animal Kingdom on Wednesday. We'll leave Thursday, but are in no hurry so will probably be hitting Magic Kingdom again until lunchtime.

I'm thinking play it safe and secure afternoon FastPasses in the Studios, Rock-n-Roller Coaster for sure and also Toy Story if we can. We'll need to squeeze Monday's at the Magic Kingdom between the end of the tour and 7:00, so I'm think Seven Dwarves and Haunted Mansion (thinking it'll packed on Halloween). We may miss the new Frozen ride at Epcot in favor of the new movie version of Soarin', but definitely in the morning so we can hit the Food and Wine soon as it opens. I'm thinking we rope drop the safari at Animal Kingdom and use the FastPass for Expedition Everest later in the day.

This is just a basic, preliminary plan. I haven't even researched exactly how many we get in each park and what the tiers look like yet. I feel so behind already :-)

Any suggestions on the plan as it is so far?

70 Days: Adding To The List, Pisgah Inn Edition

This trip was in reality a business trip for the lovely and talented Lisa. The North Carolina Association of Municipal Clerks held its summer conference in Asheville, and since Lisa had a room anyhow, she wanted John and me to tag along. This was great for John and me as we got a vacation in Asheville, but we didn't get to see as much of Lisa as we'd have liked. Nor did Lisa get as much time to tour around as she's have liked. But Saturday afternoon afforded us time between lunch and a dinner reception to go adventuring as a family, so off we went.

Finally together on an adventure
Since John and I drove north on the Parkway on Thursday, we decided to take mom south, somewhere none of had yet been. It was raining as we left, but we were undaunted, because, I mean, why worry about something you can't change? We found a very nice visitor center, which everyone enjoyed despite my family mocking me on the way in over my love of informational signage and maps. Oh, and speaking of maps, I was woefully unprepared for this trip as I felt miserable the night before and didn't study my books or maps before we left. We survived.

Not only did we survive, we made a new discovery, the Pisgah Inn, the Peak of the Parkway. Well, it wasn't completely a surprise. I may have a little bit of a fascination with maps and my have (as John predicted on the way in) found one I didn't have in the visitor center. I saw on that map, while the boy drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway (how cool is THAT!!??!!) and I was in the back seat, the little dude-in-a-bed symbol on the Parkway and hoped we'd make it that far before having to turn around.

The clouds made it even more beautiful
The ride up was awesome. The rain stopped, or we drove above it, and we were treated to cloud-covered mountain views to the east and clear as a bell mountain views to the west. It was a pretty package and quite a treat to get such different views on one short trip. And there were tunnels, which are always fun.

Lisa took a few tunnel photos....
We finally did make it all the way to the Pisgah Inn, which sits plop on the side of the mountain at nearly 5,000 feet. All the rooms have porches or balconies looking out over the Pisgah National Forest, there's a restaurant and a general store. Rooms are not cheap, but nothing in Asheville or the vicinity is and at $155/night, it is really pretty reasonable considering the view.

So now we have unspecific yet very real plans to go stay there for at least a long weekend. Turns out the drive to the Asheville area isn't as long as we thought. We could leave here in the morning and be in Asheville by early afternoon. It's a totally do-able long weekend.

So, one more destination added to the list :-)