A few quick pieces of news here before we get underway.
The Downtown Disney Marketplace bus stop will be closed through February 24th. The Pleasure Island stop near Planet Hollywood is currently the only stop. I was surprised that there was no service to the Wilderness Lodge from Downtown Disney until 10:45am.
All single and multi-day tickets purchased at the theme parks should now be of the plastic RFID enabled variety. Annual Passes are still the “paper” Tyvek material. It currently is not possible to add an Annual Pass to an RFID Key to the World card nor is it possible to convert an Annual Pass into RFID ticket media.
Finally, Joffrey’s coffee will be replacing Nescafe coffee Resort wide, save for the EVIL STARBUCKS LOCATIONS OPENING SOON. Joffrey’s French Roast will be the default option at Disney operated quick and table service outlets. Joffrey’s will also be offered in-room at the Moderate and Deluxe resorts.
Also, the April Crowd Calendar was updated with the changes announced a couple of weeks ago. The May revision will follow in a couple of days.
We’ll stop by the Villas section of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge before heading over to breakfast at Roaring Fork. This one looks a little HDR’d out, but isn’t.
All pictures today are via the new-ish Art Series Sigma 35mm F1.4 lens. Well, almost all. There’s an archive footage shot inside Roaring Fork later along with a couple old breakfast shots and the picture of the bus depot is from a camera phone. At F1.4, the depth of field is narrow, like it is in the shot above where only the leaves and branch closest to the camera are in focus.
Also at F1.4, the lens lets in about as much light as possible, resulting in faster shutter speeds and less blurry photos on the move. It’s fairly difficult to get a shot like this on Pirates of the Caribbean when the boat is moving.
The Villas’ lobby is a cute little rustic area.
There’s something about fake birdhouses at Disney Deluxe Resorts, though this one isn’t quite as weird as the many found over at the Grand Floridian. I prefer the duck at Old Key West.
A Disney vacation seems like enough work without hitting the gym for some triceps dips, but the Wilderness Lodge’s health club is available here at the Villas. It’s free for guests staying at the Wilderness Lodge, but you may be charged $12/day if you’re staying elsewhere. Massages are also available. More information for the Sylvester Stallones among us here. I don’t think they have an injection room.
Otherwise there are a few areas to lounge about. The seating arrangement seems a little awkward with the chairs facing away from the couches and toward the entrance, but maybe it’s meant to be inviting. I’m sure Disney hospitality has run brain wave studies.
Looks like they’re ready for me with a single rocking chair sitting six inches away from the fire. Forever alone.
All of the wood accents make me want to go out and chop down some trees.
Back inside, there are more tables and leather chairs set up with games.
I guess they trust you with the pieces here. Or it costs less to replace the occasional theft than it does to hire someone to check them in/out.
Like Fort Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge is big on trains.
If you don’t want to spring for the cost of the Magic Kingdom Steam Train Tour, this might be a fun way to interact with the same people that host the tour for free. You could start the morning at Magic Kingdom, hop on the boat or bus over to Wilderness Lodge at 11am, check out the chat, and grab lunch at Roaring Fork or Whispering Canyon Cafe. I’m not sure if the schedule is always the second and fourth Tuesday of the month, but I’m pretty sure it is.
We’ll grab breakfast at the hole-in-the-wall Roaring Fork. This picture is archive footage. The two ordering stations are behind us and the two registers are behind us on the left.
Almost all of the Disney resorts serve Mickey waffles for breakfast. But few offer such decadent options as the Lodge.
It’s usually one large Mickey. A fruit topping is often offered, like you’ll find at the All-Stars and Pop Century, but we’re usually not talking bananas foster or chocolate chips with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. The Contempo Cafe looks to offer Mickey Waffles with bananas and salted caramel, which sounds good. I’m not sure if any of you can report back on how those are.
More of the usual breakfast items are also available. I’ve never been too wowed by Disney’s usual breakfast entrees.
The Bounty Platter is a gut bomb of powdered eggs, grease, saturated fat, and “this needs salt.” Some people are “big breakfast” people though. I’m not one of them – I like to feel light on my feet in the morning.
Mickey Waffles by themselves are quite good across the board.
The bonuses here are the toppings with a rich whipped cream and the freshly cut berries. The waffles are pressed fresh and have Disney’s signature malty taste. There’s probably a better waffle somewhere, but I don’t think you can fault Disney’s version. The waffles are served with Disney’s usual bacon, which is overly crispy and flavorless for my taste. I like my bacon to be a little chewy.
For $2.40 less, you’ll receive two Mickey waffles, two slices of bacon, and a side of apple sauce and milk. Or you could order two different varieties for $10.
The Bananas Foster Waffles were lauded by the two members of the group that ordered them.
The Lodge was otherwise how we left it. They were doing some painting and other landscaping work, which is most common this time of year.
Here’s what’s on the menu at Artist Point:
Artist Point is usually excellent across the board with inspired food, attentive service, and a pleasant atmosphere.
Leaving Wilderness Lodge, we’ll take the boat to Magic Kingdom, which takes around ten minutes.
Pulling into Magic Kingdom, it looked awfully busy out front as we arrived at 11:13am. Something like half the turnstiles are still behind walls, causing long looking lines at the turnstiles. Fortunately, we walked all the way down to the left where there was no one in line. I didn’t take a ton of pictures because I was accompanied by a few friends. Ordinarily, I sort of slither around taking pictures of wait times boards and walkways.
Wait times remained short – 15 minutes at Buzz, 20 at Space, 30 at Tomorrowland Speedway.
20 at Pooh, 20 at Dumbo, 40 at Journey of the Little Mermaid.
15 at it’s a small world, 45 minutes at Peter Pan’s Flight, and 15 at Haunted Mansion.
These are among the shortest waits and lowest crowds you’ll find this year at Magic Kingdom in the late morning. Fast forward a week and crowds will be heavier as we move through Mardis Gras and into the very busy President’s Week. Crowds then taper off a bit until Spring Break season begins in the second week of March. I had mentioned that a couple of weeks in September would be less crowded. I don’t have any solid crowd predictions for September yet, but I’ve probably been at this long enough to hazard a guess. We’ll see the lowest crowds of the year most days from September 3rd through 20th. Even Labor Day weekend crowds over August 30th – September 2nd will be pretty light. Crowds pick up in the final week of September with the Tower of Terror 10-Miler and start of the Food and Wine Festival. September 21st through 25th should look like what you see today with light crowds at the recommended Park. There are always bottlenecks around Magic Kingdom though. The construction around the Mine Train has caused crowding back there. The area in front of Big Thunder and Splash Mountains is often crowded. Adventureland, with the Pirate Tutorial show and stroller parking in the same place can be clogged up too. But like I said last week, barring a world catastrophe, you’re looking at the second least crowded time of the year.
The Frontierland Hoedown is a “spontaneous,” almost never advertised show/character introduction/dance party outside of the Pin Traders in Frontierland. You can see the schedule at http://wdwent.com/mk/mk.htm under “Frontierland.” Note the schedule is only available a week in advance and is updated routinely on Saturday afternoon/evening. You’ll find the other show schedules on the site as well.
With kids, you might plan to be in the vicinity about five minutes before the Hoedown begins. Br’er Fox, Br’er Bear, a couple of the Country Bears, Clarabelle Cow, and Horace Horsecollar usually join in on the fun. It starts with the characters arriving and then breaks into a choreographed dance. Somewhat annoyingly, the cast members in Frontierland will not cop to the fact that the Hoedown exists. Generally speaking, you can expect a, “I’m not sure what you’re talking about” along with a wink at best. Others will flat out deny any knowledge. It’s sort of like Characterpalooza at Hollywood Studios, where cast members will look like you’re asking them if Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian are going to appear alongside Alf and Master Chief if you ask about the characters. There’s always the very slight chance that a scheduled show won’t happen, but if WDWENT says it’s on the schedule, you can count on the show. To achieve the desired effect, feign surprise by not telling anyone else in the group what’s about to happen.
The crane over Cinderella Castle had popped back up after being down off and on over the past few days. BASICALLY RUINING MY VACATION IN THE PROCESS.
You can kind of see Rapunzel’s Tower in the distance.
I’m not sure how many of you follow the ridiculousness that is the “Disney faniverse,” but certain bowels of the “Disney online community” freak out about stuff on a daily basis. Whether it’s a new hairstyle for Cinderella, the arrival of a tower in Fantasyland, Orange Bird sippie cups, a fictitious overhaul of the Imagination Pavilion, inaccurate details about the implementation of FASTPASS+, lies about maintenance budgets being cut, or whatever else, there is always something. Always. Every day.
I invite you to shake your fist and play the Public Outrage card, which is a poster located outside the pin store in Frontierland. I’M OUTRAGED!
This quaint establishment used to be the Crow’s Nest, offering the finest in Kodak disposable cameras. It’s expected that it will play a part in the upcoming Adventureland interactive game.
A wall up at the Pirate’s Tutorial.
Water pressure at this fountain on Pirates of the Caribbean looked to be weaker than it was on August 19th, 1994. I’M OUTRAGED! See how much fun this is?
I don’t know about you, but I’m not inviting this bro and his donkey to play at my son’s Bar Mitzvah.
Over at Epcot, Mission: Space is being touched up.
The Test Track Pizza Trailer is back.
An Instagram’d out photo in an attempt to stay relevant in 2k13. We’ll take a quick walk over to Hurricane Hanna’s, the quick service/pool bar outside of Stormalong Bay and in between the Yacht and Beach Clubs. From the United Kingdom Pavilion, you’re about a ten minute walk over, exiting through the International Gateway. That probably makes it closer than the United States Pavilion if you’re famished and looking for a burger, sandwich, or something else on the menu. You can easily walk the five minutes back to International Gateway and re-enter Epcot at your convenience or hop on a Beach Club bus and head elsewhere.
I’m leery about shoving my camera in people’s faces around pool areas, so I don’t have a ton of pictures of the establishment. It’s all outdoors with a handful of tables behind us and a few more off to the right.
Hanna’s is actually two separate operations. Directly above is the bar. The picture above that shows the quick service arm. As far as I know, you can’t order items from the bar at the quick service and vice versa. Someone may have to correct me.
There’s no one sitting at the bar because the whole place is infested with bees. I’ve circled a few in the picture above. Several of them lay dying on the counter while the cast member refills the empty napkin dispenser and plastic utensils. Saying you’d be risking your life filling your mug with root beer seems a little dramatic, but it also seems a little ridiculous to have a dozen bees flying around the dispenser. Since they were out of napkins, I went over to the bar and asked for some and there were no fewer than eight bees buzzing around the liquor bottles. I mentioned the bees to the bartender, who replied, “It’s that time of year.”
Here’s what’s on the new quick service menu:
Interestingly(?), prices are up $1 on entrees since the menu came out of “testing” last month. This iteration of Hurricane Hanna’s, now called Hurricane Hanna’s Waterside Bar and Grill, reopened just last month after a refurbishment that took a couple weeks longer than expected. The bar offers a separate menu:
- Sea Salt Fries with Malt Vinegar – $3.29
- Chilled Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce and Lemon – $8.69
- Pulled Pork Sliders with Cider and Apple Slaw – $6.19
- Seared Tuna with Olives, Arugula, Tomato, and Lemon Vinaigrette – $7.19
- Hanna’s 1/3lb Bacon Angus Cheeseburger with Vermont Cheddar and Hanna’s Steak Sauce – $10.39
- Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich with Four Cheese Blend, Tomato, Avocado, and Arugula -$9.99
So the same Burger and Chicken Sandwich are available, but there’s no mention of anything else from the Waterside Grill portion.
I ordered the Lobster and Shrimp Roll on Parker House Bread with Citrus Mayonnaise – $10.99.
It’s basically a bed of lettuce and red onion topped with a hefty helping of shrimp, lobster, and scallops. I know how you people from the northeast get about anything even remotely resembling a sandwich with seafood on it, but I thought this was quite good. There’s no filler. The seafood was seasoned with what is probably Old Bay and served ice cold. The bread was light and fluffy. I held it up and considered grabbing a fork and knife, but since I have no shame, I just went right after it. This is one of the most filling sandwiches I’ve had on property and it’s worth mentioning that the fries were served crunchy and piping hot – probably the best quick service fries I’ve had on property. And I’ve probably consumed more Disney quick service fries than anyone on the planet. Considering the price of seafood, this seemed like a compelling value compared to similarly priced hamburgers and chicken nuggets.
My dining companion, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Blog, opted for the Grilled Cheese and Smoked Bacon Sandwich with Vermont Cheddar, Apple Butter, and Blue Cheese – $9.99.
He described it as one of the best sandwiches he’d ever had on property. And I can tell you this guy gets around on the sandwich front. I would have peeled it back for you to take a picture, but we don’t know each other that well yet. Maybe next time. He did note that you’d have to like blue cheese to enjoy the sandwich. If you don’t, they can probably omit it.
Other than the bees, the other problem with Hanna’s is that it’s going to take some time to receive your food. And there isn’t much room to stand around while you wait after you order, so you feel like you’re just sort of in the way as other people try to figure out what you’re up to. You certainly have time to fill your beverage cup, get stung by a few bees, and situate the kids at a table in between the time you order and the food arrives. One positive is the self-serve beverage machine is out in the open. That makes refills a lot easier, assuming you’re not carrying around Pooh’s hunny pot. Another deterrent may be the small outdoor-only seating section when it’s hot out. It would be at least a few minutes from Hanna’s back to your room, which would be less of a problem with some of the cold items or drinks.
Bar drink menu:
Most of the drinks should sound familiar. They also have specialty drinks:
- Category 5 – Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Creme de Banana, Peach Schnapps, Orange and Pineapple juice, and a Splash of Grenadine with a “Float” of Bacardi 151 – $8.75.
- Storm Chaser – Skyy Vodka, Bacardi Superior Rum, Blue Curacao, Sweet and Sour, and Sprite – $8.75.
They also serve the following wines:
- Dr. Loosen Riesling
- Kenwood White Zinfandel
- MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir
- Placido Pino Grigio
- William Hill Chardonnay
So that’s Hurricane Hanna’s.
Leggings are not pants. Character testing is in full force these days. Prince Eric and Ariel were greeting at the International Gateway.
Gideon, the drunk cat from Pinocchio, along with Max, Mickey, Smee, Pinocchio, one of the Country Bears, and maybe another character were greeting out in front of the World ShowPlace in between the UK and Canada Pavilions. Character testing is also common in the alley to the left of Liberty Inn in the United States Pavilion, outside Innoventions West on the Imagination Pavilion side, and around the fountain area, usually behind it on the World Showcase side. Characters are most common before 5pm.
Feels crowded. We ended the afternoon at Habit Heroes. The only difference I noticed from the first day was that when you repeat the Heroes oath at the end, they no longer say, “I, state your name…” at the beginning. You just say something to the effect of, “I pledge…” I guess too many people said “state your name” instead of stating their name. Silly vacationers!