More New Stuff (and some traditional favorites) at Walt Disney World

Lady and the Tramp topiaries in EPCOT'S Italy, WDW. ©Jean Janssen

Lady and the Tramp topiaries in EPCOT’S Italy, WDW.
©Jean Janssen

Tinkerbell's Butterfly Garden, International Flower and Garden Show,  EPCOT, WDW. ©Jean Janssen

Tinkerbell’s Butterfly Garden, International Flower and Garden Show, EPCOT, WDW.
©Jean Janssen

Day 3 at Disney in mid May, we were able to catch the end of the International Flower and Garden Show at Epcot.  The unique topiaries scattered throughout both sections of the park are fun to see even if you are not an avid gardener.  Check out Tinkerbell’s Butterfly Tent and you will see more of these winged beauties (butterflies, not fairies) than in many butterfly houses.  The festival is long-running and worth planning a trip to WDW in the spring.  It was our first visit to the festival.

With another new offering, Disney has cleverly incorporated the Explorer Scout concept from UP into the Animal Kingdom Park.  Visitors can work on badges as they tour the park. ©Jean Janssen

With another new offering, Disney has cleverly incorporated the Explorer Scout concept from UP into the Animal Kingdom Park. Visitors can work on badges as they tour the park.
©Jean Janssen

Daisy with her butterfly net may have been my favorite topiary at the Flower Festival at EPCOT, WDW. ©Jean Janssen

Daisy with her butterfly net may have been my favorite topiary at the Flower Festival at EPCOT, WDW.
©Jean Janssen

Rocky and I enjoy mixing up our food choices while at WDW.  You can certainly go the whole visit eating fast food which includes some healthy choices, but if you are willing to spend the extra money and time, the sit-down restaurants can be fun, a welcomed air-conditioned change from the heat, and sometimes the food is really good.  EPCOT offers lots of food choices.  While you can eat next to a multi-story aquarium or character dine in a rotating restaurant in the front of this park, the international offerings in the various “countries” in the back are the way to go at EPCOT.  If your ticket allows moving between parks, you may want to make an evening of it and come have dinner and stay for Illuminations.  The restaurants in Germany and France are our favorites.  You can also get some good fish and chips in England, which is what Rocky and I did on this visit.

Like Rocky, you too can be part of the musical entertainment at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness Campground, WDW.  Dinner show starts with all the wine, beer, and sangria you care to drink.  There is fried chicken and other comfort foods (or other foods on special request).  The six performers and two musicians (plus you on a washboard) perform intermittently through the two-hour evening.  the show has run for 41 years and is still really hard to get into.  The best way to reach Pioneer Hall is to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then the boat to Fort Wilderness.  Pioneer Hall is a short walk from the boat dock. ©Jean Janssen

Like Rocky, you too can be part of the musical entertainment at the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness Campground, WDW. Dinner shows start with all the wine, beer, and sangria you care to drink. There is fried chicken and other comfort foods (or other foods on special request). The six performers and two musicians (plus you on a washboard) perform intermittently through the two-hour evening. The show has run for 41 years and is still really hard to get into. The best way to reach Pioneer Hall is to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then the boat to Fort Wilderness. Pioneer Hall is a short walk from the boat dock.
©Jean Janssen

At the Animal Kingdom, we like Yak and Yeti with its Asian fusion offerings.  If you are a member of the Landry’s Club you also get points here as they operate this restaurant.  (Actually, there are quite a few Landry’s restaurants-especially at Downtown Disney-so it is worth bringing your Landry’s card with you on the trip.)  At the Magic Kingdom, my favorite is the Liberty Tree Tavern with a colonial America setting.  But come here hungry; the restaurant serves good food family-style and all you can eat.  We do like the new Be Our Guest, but it is almost impossible to get into the sit-down dinner service.  You can always try it at lunch where you order at the counter and it is delivered to you at your table.  The food is good and the beast’s castle setting is fun.  Check out the restaurant’s limited-seating (and dark) library where the portrait changes and the rose petals fall.

Today, after EPCOT, we went over to Hollywood Studios to use our pre-booked fast passes and enjoy one of Rocky’s favorite Disney restaurants, the Sci Fi Drive-In.  (The 50s Prime Time Diner at Hollywood Studios is my favorite there.)  We could only get a fast pass for one of my two favorite rides there since they were in the same category.  We picked a bogus fast pass for something we didn’t intend to ride and at a time before we even got to the park.  When we arrived we rode Toy Story (a fast pass must) and Star Tours (Rocky’s favorite).  At that point we had used up all fast passes and were able to get one for Rock N Roller coaster from the kiosk.  (To tell the truth, we also rode the coaster a few more times since the line wasn’t bad; there is also a single-rider line for this attraction.)

In the back side of our convertible at the Sci Fi Diner in Hollywood Studios, WDW.

In the back side of our convertible at the Sci Fi Diner in Hollywood Studios, WDW.

At the studios, they were showing an extended Maleficent preview in a nice air-conditioned theater.  That movie opened this week in theaters and I picked up a fun hat at the park to wear to the premier back home.  Rocky rode Star Tours a couple more times since the ride varies a little each time.  It makes me kind of queasy, so once was enough for me.  At our reservation time, we went to the Sci Fi Drive-In where you sit in convertibles set  facing a large movie screen and watch previews from sci fi movies from the 50s and 60s.  The room is made to look like a drive-in movie theater.  The food is just ok, but the setting is so clever that we are repeat visitors.  For a meal, make reservations.  If you walk-up, try an odd time and just have dessert (a caramel shake perhaps).  The desserts and soda drinks may be the best thing on the menu.

Both Rocky and I have been to Disney many times and we both love hats so we limited our souvenirs to these two special items-the new light-up ears to go with nighttime disney shows and some Maleficent horns to wear to the movie premier this week. ©Jean Janssen

Both Rocky and I have been to Disney many times and we both love hats so we limited our souvenirs to these two special items-the new light-up ears to go with nighttime disney shows and some Maleficent horns to wear to the movie premier this week.
©Jean Janssen

Those light-up ears on Rocky. ©Jean Janssen

Those light-up ears on Rocky.
©Jean Janssen

We ended the evening with the live-action show that is Fantasmic.  This show needs an update for repeat visitors, but we hadn’t been in a while and Rocky suggested we give it a shot.  It was the same show, but there is a new twist that has been added to the evening entertainment that Rocky had heard about before we went. (The twist also offers Disney an excellent opportunity to sell a new product.)  You can purchase a pair of the classic Mickey ears with a unique cap and light-up ears.  While the color of the ears just fluctuates between colors most of the time, during the show the ears light to the music.  It is great to look out over the crowd and see the “ears” follow the show.  I ended up not minding that the show was the same since “the ear show” became the entertainment for me.  The same ears also work with two of the nighttime shows at the Magic Kingdom.  They will also set you back $25.

The Mad Hatter gives Natasha a big hug at the Grand Floridian's character breakfast at Park Fare, WDW.

The Mad Hatter gives Natasha a big hug at the Grand Floridian’s character breakfast at 1600 Park Fare, WDW.

Rocky was quite the gentleman when he met Mary Poppins at the 1600 Park Fare character  breakfast in the Grand Floridian, WDW. ©Jean Janssen

Rocky was quite the gentleman when he met Mary Poppins at the 1600 Park Fare character breakfast in the Grand Floridian, WDW.
©Jean Janssen

Day 4 was a short one for us since we needed to leave the parks by 2 pm to head back to the hotel and catch the Magical Express for the airport.  We stowed our luggage with the bellmen and went over to the Magic Kingdom when it opened.  At this time of day you can ride quite a bit with a minimal wait.  After an hour in the park, we took the monorail over to the  Grand Floridian for our character breakfast.  If Rocky had to do one of these character breakfasts, he wanted at least some speaking characters he could interact with.  It was fun, but the buffet was chaotic.  We saw Alice, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Pooh, and Tigger.  By far, we had the most fun with the Mad Hatter who was great and had the voice down perfectly. Then it was back to the Magic Kingdom to use our fast passes at a time when the park had gotten extremely crowded and hot.

It didn't matter that the ride wasn't opening for a few weeks, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride attracted a lot of attention in Fantasyland, the Magic Kingdom in WDW.  Four attendants made sure no one "accidentally" went inside.  The ride officially opened this week. ©Jean Janssen

It didn’t matter that the ride wasn’t opening for a few weeks, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride attracted a lot of attention in Fantasyland, the Magic Kingdom in WDW. Four attendants made sure no one “accidentally” went inside. The ride officially opened this week.
©Jean Janssen

This one if for Emma who reads the blog and loves Tigger.

This one if for Emma who reads the blog and loves Tigger.

We had a fabulous trip and are ready to go back at any time, well maybe not during the summer when the heat is at its worst and so are the crowds.  We caught the Flower and Garden Show, but just missed the Star Wars weekends in late May/June.  Oh well, we are always looking for another excuse to go back.  Besides I didn’t get to ride that new mine train.  Have a magical day.

 

About travelbynatasha

I am a retired attorney who loves to travel. Several years ago I began working on a Century Club membership achieved by traveling to 100 "foreign" countries. Today, at 49 years of age the count is at 82. Many were visited on land based trips. Some were cruise ports. Some were dive sites. Most have been fascinating.
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