Disney World Free Dining 2014

The Disney World Free Dining offer has just been released for Disney Visa card holders. This free dining promotion is expected to be released to the general public on May 7, 2014.

With Disney World Free Dining you get this FREE!-Tuna Niçoise Salad at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Tuna Niçoise Salad at Be Our Guest Restaurant

For 2014, the Disney World Free Dining Plan is being offered for stays 8/31/14 – 10/3/14, 10/26/14 – 11/1/14, 11/9/14 – 11/20/14 and 12/12/14 – 12/23/14. The offer excludes the Villas at Grand Floridian, Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation Resort, All-Star Movies, Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, campsites and 3-bedroom villas. As usual, the Value resorts get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free, and the Moderates, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas receive the regular Dining plan.

FREE with the Disney World Free Dining Plan-Oak-fired Filet of Beef at Disney's California Grill

Oak-fired Filet of Beef at Disney’s California Grill

Time to make those ADRs!!! Will you be taking advantage of this offer??? Find all the details at Mousesavers!

More Free Wi-Fi at Disney World!

On August, 1, 2012, Inside the Magic announced that Magic Kingdom is now providing free Wi-Fi access covering the entire park. Additionally, they received official word that Disney plans to provide free Wi-Fi at all four theme parks and the Downtown Disney area by early 2013.

How will free wi-fi in the parks be used?

Most likely, this is part a larger plan by Disney, related to the NextGen FastPass system currently under development. I have not been too involved on the speculation as to all the details of the NextGen system, but if you are interested, the Inside the Magic article linked above has links to the announcement and some other information.

This new free wi-fi offering at Magic Kingdom may also be related to the recently announced “My Disney Experience” app for iPhone and Android devices. This will be an upgrade to the current “Disney Mobile Magic” app that we wrote about back in 2010. Again, I am not getting too involved in the speculation surrounding this release, but it sounds like it will be an enhanced version of the Mobile Magic app, possibly integrated in some way with the NextGen system. Only time will tell. I do know that data coverage, at least with Verizon, can be spotty in the parks, so hopefully the wi-fi coverage will be more reliable, making the “My Disney Experience” app more enjoyable to use.

This is not to say that the in park wi-fi will be restricted to Disney content. You will have full Internet access using this connection. So tweet, like, +1, and share on all your favorite social networking sites till your heart’s content!

I don’t know about how quickly others consume their data plan, but I don’t usually have an issue with overages. Fortunately, I am still on the Verizon unlimited plan, but I still use less than the standard 2GB. Regardless, I am sure there are those of you that could see a savings with this free wi-fi announcement.

What do you think of the availability of free wi-fi in the parks. Will it be a distraction from touring the parks? Will we see more mindless zombies staring at their phones while bumping into the crowds of people? Will the free connectivity make it possible for you to get away from work while still being connected? Let us know!

New First Course offering at California Grill

We recently had the pleasure of eating at the California Grill for the first time. We will get to a review of the whole experience in an upcoming post, but we wanted to mention a new first course that our server said was added to the menu May 30th.

The Squash Blossom “Oscar” with Petite Crab Cakes, Farmer Jones’ Asparagus, and Sauce Bearnaise. Yes, to some I am sure this sounds strange, especially when you realize you will be eating a whole squash blossom, including the flower.

Squash Blossom Oscar at California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Squash Blossom Oscar at Disney’s California Grill

The squash blossom is stuffed with provolone, asiago, and parmesan cheeses and tempura battered. The proportions of the three cheeses was perfect, with no one flavor overwhelming another, and the tempura was light and crispy. The Crab Cakes were made with fresh chives, tarragon, and lemon, and just enough mayonaise to hold the crab together. Our server made sure to mention that there was NOT any bread crumb filler in these crab cakes. They were lightly pan fried and served over the bearnaise, instead of smothered in it.

Squash Blossom Oscar with Crab Cakes and Asparagus at Disney's California Grill

Squash Blossom Oscar with Crab Cakes and Asparagus at Disney’s California Grill

Since there was two of everything, this was a perfect first course for the two of us to share. We were equally impressed with how wonderful this selection was and it is always nice to see Disney maintaining the menus with unique and seasonal offerings. Speaking of seasonal, I imagine that squash blossoms don’t stay in season for long, so if this sounds like something you want to try don’t wait too long!

New Adult Drink at Joy of Tea in China

Not being a tea lover, I don’t usually give the Joy of Tea at Epcot’s China Pavilion a second look…

Joy of Tea Kiosk

Joy of Tea Kiosk

…but the picture on this display caught my eye, and the title stopped me dead in my tracks. Tipsy Ducks in Love?? Let’s get a closer look.

Tipsy Ducks In Love-A new adult beverage in Epcot at Joy of Tea

Tipsy Ducks In Love-A new adult beverage in Epcot at Joy of Tea

Hmmm, tea (of course), coffee, whiskey, (oooh) and chocolate (now ya got me). We had to try one of these! Although I did not see the tea/coffee/chocolate go into the cup, I did get to watch as the whiskey was generously poured over the top. Whipped cream, they asked? But of course! And I was told to stir it well before trying. (Note that there is a non-alcoholic version available for the kids too.)

Tipsy Ducks In Love-A new adult beverage in Epcot at Joy of Tea

Tipsy Ducks In Love-A new adult beverage in Epcot at Joy of Tea

This was delicious, not as sweet as I would have thought with the chocolate, wondering if a dark or more bitter chocolate was used. You could certainly taste the whiskey, but it was just the right amount to blend with the other ingredients. Tea? Coffee? I’m sure they were in there, but it was the chocolate and whiskey combination that really made this perfect.

As we turned to continue through the countries, we were stopped by the raised bridge for the Illuminations barges. So we sat and enjoyed this new drink in a bit of shade. We were approached by a woman who noted that our drink looked very refreshing (and that we really seemed to be enjoying it!) and inquired as to where we got it. I pointed out the Joy of Tea just down the hill and then watched her wander a bit near the bridge and finally turn and head down to the kiosk herself! (Leaving her perplexed family behind, no less!)

So hopefully this drink will stick around, at least through the summer. It certainly is a cup of Joy!

Kilimanjaro Safaris Update

Back in February, Disney posted on its blog that Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safaris will be getting an update some time in spring of 2012. The updates mentioned additional space for the zebras and removal of the Audio-Animatronics “Little Red” elephant and the items related to the poachers camp.

Whenever we are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we try to get in a morning, as well as an evening ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris. On the morning of Sunday April 29th 2012, we noticed one cast member with a “I’m Celebrating… Wilson’s retirement” button while we were in line, which reminded us of the Disney announcement about the safari update. The morning safari was not much different, but we did notice that the termite mounds had recently been renovated. Basically a fresh coat of paint that looked like it was left over from the Big Thunder Mountain renovation.

Later in the day we went back to catch the last safari of the day at about 7PM. Sitting in the front row, we asked our cast member driver Ryan about “Wilson’s retirement”. Ryan said this was the very last time he would be running the safari under the poaching theme but gave no indication of what would be changing the next day. As we passed “Little Red” we said our good bye’s and made sure to come back to the park the next day to see and hear the changes.

When we returned on April 30th, we found no changes to the queue. Wilson is still in the elephant poaching movie playing as you wait in line. At this point we don’t know if this will stay or go or be updated.

The first thing we noticed as we boarded the bus and left for our trip was that it is now a “Photo Safari” not a “2 Week Safari”. We only did one safari that day, but without the Warden interaction, our driver just talked more about the animals and their surroundings in general. Unfortunately the “wobbly” bridge was (as usual) not working and “repairing it with duct tape” seems to be the only new thing to say about that. The broken gate near the end is still there, but no real comment was made about it. The wooded area beyond the gate has been cleared a bit and there is some fresh sod down, no doubt in preparation for the eventual zebras. The geysers are still working, but the poacher’s campsite was gone and a (probably temporary) fence was up in its place.

The Poachers Camp on Kilimanjaro Safaris has Been Removed

As of April 30, 2012, the Poachers Camp has been removed from Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom

Little Red and the trucks were also completely gone. When we got to that point in our trip, our driver asked if anyone had any questions. Either we had a bus full of newbies or it was still too early in the morning, but no one had a comment about the missing baby elephant. Again we sat close to the driver. We mentioned that we knew what was missing and our driver responded “Then this is as awkward for you as it is for me.”

Wilson's trucks and "Little Red" removed from Kilimanjaro Safaris

Wilson's trucks and "Little Red" removed from Kilimanjaro Safaris as of April 30th, 2012

At the end of the “Photo Safari” we asked our driver about the timeframe for completion. He seemed to think that it will be another year and a half until the zebra’s are fully integrated into the safari route, which is very different than the fall of 2012 mentioned on the Disney Blog.

We’re not sure what other changes are scheduled to be made at this time or if it is now just a slow wait for the grass to grow. Hopefully there will be more to report when we are back down there in early June! If you have any updates, please let us know in the comments!

Disney Dining Plan now accepted at Anandapur Tea Company!

As big fans of the Iced Chai Tea and the REAL coffee available at the Royal Anandapur Tea Company, we were always a bit disappointed that this food location was not on the Disney Dining Plan.

Royal Anandapur Tea Company

Royal Anandapur Tea Company in Asia in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Well, on our recent trip to Walt Disney World we were delighted to find that the Royal Anandapur Tea Company now accepts snack credits from the Disney Dining Plan for most of the items on their menu. This applies to all drinks that only come in one size, but only the small sizes of the drinks that come in small, medium, and large, and for some reason does not apply to the “Flavored Latte”. (See the photo below) The Frozen Chai Tea found here is one of our favorite non-alcoholic drinks on property, especially on those hot summer days. At $4.89 for the small, this is also a very good value for your snack credit.

Royal Anandapur Tea Company-Now on the Disney Dining Plan

Royal Anandapur Tea Company now accepts Snack Credits on the Disney Dining Plan

Although not as great a value for your snack credit, this is also one of the few places on property where you can get a REAL cup coffee. That alone may make it worth the snack credit for some, but being a coffee addict as well as one who loves to squeeze every penny from my snack credits, I would rather pay out of pocket for the large. Regardless, its always great to see Disney expanding its Dining Plan options!

2012 Disney Free Dining Reservation Window Extended!

You now have until December 17, 2011 to take advantage of the 2012 Disney FREE DINING promotion when you book your 4 night/5 day Magic Your Way vacation package for select arrival dates January thru March of 2012. Book a trip with a Moderate, Deluxe or Villa resort and get a free Disney Dining Plan or book at a value resort for the free Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan. The arrival dates have not changed, they are January 8th thru the 12th, January 21st thru February 2nd, February 11th thru the 16th, March 3rd thru the 8th and March 24th thru the 29th.

We personally think the free dining deal is THE BEST Disney deal out there! And what better way to get rid of the winter doldrums than a trip to sunny Florida and the happiest place on earth!

For more info check the Disney Web Site.

Star Wars Blu-rays releasing soon!

The complete Star Wars Saga in High Definition and full 6.1 DTS Surround Sound!

Pre-Order:

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]
Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy (Episodes I – III) [Blu-ray]
Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV – VI) [Blu-ray]

These items will be released for shipment on September 16, 2011.

Here is the full press release:

Bring home the adventure and share Star Wars™ with your whole family – when STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment! To be released beginning on September 12 internationally and on September 16 in North America, the nine-disc collection brings the wonder of the entire Saga direct to your living room, where you can revisit all of your favorite Star Wars moments – in gorgeous high definition and with pristine, 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Dive deeper into the universe with an unprecedented 40+ hours of special features, highlighted by never-before-seen content sourced from the Lucasfilm archives.

Special Features:

STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA ON BLU-RAY is presented in widescreen with 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Special features include:

DISC ONE – STAR WARS: EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE

Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, Dennis Muren and Scott Squires
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC TWO – STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES

Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC THREE – STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH

Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll and Roger Guyett
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC FOUR – STAR WARS: EPISODE IV A NEW HOPE

Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC FIVE – STAR WARS: EPISODE V THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC SIX – STAR WARS: EPISODE VI RETURN OF THE JEDI

Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC SEVEN – NEW! STAR WARS ARCHIVES: EPISODES I-III

Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; a flythrough of the Lucasfilm Archives and more

DISC EIGHT – NEW! STAR WARS ARCHIVES: EPISODES IV-VI

Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; and more

DISC NINE – THE STAR WARS DOCUMENTARIES

NEW! Star Warriors (2007, Color, Apx. 84 Minutes) – Some Star Wars fans want to collect action figures…these fans want to be action figures! A tribute to the 501st Legion, a global organization of Star Wars costume enthusiasts, this insightful documentary shows how the super-fan club promotes interest in the films through charity and volunteer work at fundraisers and high-profile special events around the world.

NEW! A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later (2010, Color, Apx. 25 Minutes) – George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams look back on the making of The Empire Strikes Back in this in-depth retrospective from Lucasfilm created to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie. The masters discuss and reminisce about one of the most beloved films of all time.

NEW! Star Wars Spoofs (2011, Color, Apx. 91 Minutes) – The farce is strong with this one! Enjoy a hilarious collection of Star Wars spoofs and parodies that have been created over the years, including outrageous clips from Family Guy, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother and more – and don’t miss “Weird Al” Yankovic’s one-of-a-kind music video tribute to The Phantom Menace!

The Making of Star Wars (1977, Color, Apx. 49 Minutes) – Learn the incredible behind-the-scenes story of how the original Star Wars movie was brought to the big screen in this fascinating documentary hosted by C-3PO and R2-D2. Includes interviews with George Lucas and appearances by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX (1980, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Learn the secrets of making movies in a galaxy far, far away. Hosted by Mark Hamill, this revealing documentary offers behind-the-scenes glimpses into the amazing special effects that transformed George Lucas’ vision for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back into reality!

Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi (1983, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Go behind the scenes – and into the costumes – as production footage from Return of the Jedi is interspersed with vintage monster movie clips in this in-depth exploration of the painstaking techniques utilized by George Lucas to create the classic creatures and characters seen in the film. Hosted and narrated by Carrie Fisher and Billie Dee Williams.

Anatomy of a Dewback (1997, Color, Apx. 26 Minutes) – See how some of the special effects in Star Wars became even more special two decades later! George Lucas explains and demonstrates how his team transformed the original dewback creatures from immovable rubber puppets (in the original 1977 release) to seemingly living, breathing creatures for the Star Wars 1997 Special Edition update.

Star Wars Tech (2007, Color, Apx. 46 Minutes) – Exploring the technical aspects of Star Wars vehicles, weapons and gadgetry, Star Wars Tech consults leading scientists in the fields of physics, prosthetics, lasers, engineering and astronomy to examine the plausibility of Star Wars technology based on science as we know it today.

Disney Free Dining promotion for 2011!

Disney has released another free dining promotion! As of April 28th, Disney Visa cardholders can use their visa to book a “Memories Vacation Package”. (See below if you do not have a Disney Visa card.) You must book at least a three night stay with at least a two day base admission ticket. The package includes a Disney PhotoPass Book which does add about $100 to the price of the package. Guests staying at a value resort will receive the quick service meal plan at no charge. Guests staying at Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas will receive the regular dining plan at no charge. This offer is valid for stays most nights 8/28/2011-9/24/2011.

This deal will become available to the general public on May 5th, 2011.

2011 Disney World Free Dining Pin Code

Select Disney World fans are receiving the opportunity to book free dining by using a special pin code that they receive by email. This offer is valid for arrivals most nights 4/23/11-8/13/2011. Book by 4/30/2011. Value and moderate resort bookings include the quick service plan for free, Deluxe and Villa resort packages receive the standard dining plan.

No word yet on if this will become available to the general public. We can only hope!

Update! Free Dining Announced for 2011!