Monday, March 30, 2015

Lunch At The Crystal Palace

   You've heard it many times before. Crystal Palace isn't any good. Crystal Palace is just for families with young kids.  Crystal Palace is overpriced. Well guess what friends? Get over it.  The Crystal Palace has made a pretty decent return to form in the last couple of years in terms of food...and the atmosphere is as charming as the Dapper Dans singing to you on your birthday, by which I mean, exceedingly charming.

   The Crystal Palace is a Magic Kingdom institution.  This restaurant opened with the park in 1971 and the intrinsic bright nature of the space has remained pretty constant, despite changes in theme and layout.  Designed to fit in on Main Street USA, the architecture is obnoxiously Victorian, with flourishes everywhere.  The extravagant glass roofed style was more prominent in Europe, but there were lesser versions found in the US.  The space also ushers us into Adventureland as well, where the more exotic Victorian touches lend themselves nicely.  Think Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen...makes sense now, right?

   The interior is very big indeed, designed to house many hungry tourists at once. The large population plus the fact that this is a self serve buffet equates to lots of activity.  If you think this hustle and bustle will bother you, request a table near the windows, where there is way less foot traffic.   In our experience, observing the lively nature of character meals is half the fun whether or not your getting involved yourself. 

   As vegetarians we are always cautious about going into any buffet restaurant.  Its not the options that scare us so much, but the fact that it is a fixed price (obvi...) and we often feel like there isn't as much bang for our proverbial buck.  However, we were completely blown away by the amount and variety found at Crystal Palace.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Satellite Falls on the Disney Fantasy

   There are quite a few differences between The Magic (which we cruised on last year) and The Fantasy (which we just cruised on).  Whether its restaurants, on board activities, bars, or whatever...there is A LOT to get accustomed to between the two ships.
   One of the things that I was most curious about was Satellite Falls, a pool area specific to the Disney Fantasy.  Lets take a quick walk around the area and see if we can wrap our head around it...

   So what exactly is Satellite Falls? It is an adults only area of the ship located on deck 13 at the very front of the ships motion.  It includes a gorgeous wading pool and fountain for guests to relax in, that utilizes one of the ships satellites, hence the name.  The other satellites are used to cover groupings of wicker chairs providing plenty of shade in the area. 

   At the very front of the area is a long grouping of comfy lounge chairs hugging the curvature of the front of the ship.  These are prime real estate on the ship for those looking to relax and read.  Between your book, your drink, and the panoramic view of the ocean, you could spend hours watching the world go by. In fact, me and Adam fell asleep here on three separate occasions.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Magic Kingdom's Hub

   You might begin and end your visit to the Magic Kingdom on Main Street USA but the hub of the park is where the action is.  This circular center piece is the beginning of limitless fun. Will you be touring Adventurland first, with its distant drums and palpable sense of discovery? Or should you consider the grandiose ball of Fantasyland, ripe with attractions (and people...)?  You see, the Magic Kingdom's hub acts as a starting point, a place to recover, and a place to recalibrate your day.

   The panoramic vista that makes up the hub (when not under construction that is...) is a true thing of beauty.  No where in the park is more attention paid to landscaping.  The extensive planting is always fresh with the promise of perfect family photos.  The (now restricted) moat creates gentle dips in elevation that soften the harshness of the cement center, and add a flow to the whole area. The landscape is festooned with hardware that recalls that of Main Street USA. In fact, we should really be thinking of the hub as an extension of the iconic street.  The lamps, bridges, benches, and kiosks are all elaborately designed and very pretty. 
   The only thing throwing this vast area off is the monstrosity of Cinderella Castle. The parks visual centerpiece, and arguable icon of the entire resort, is not our cup of tea.  Flat texture, garish colors, and obnoxiously enormous make this a true eyesore.  The castle forecourt stage only makes things worse. Taking up space and cluttering an otherwise well designed area, the stage is good for only one thing...the Villains Mix and Mingle during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.  The long running Dream Along With Mickey has its charming moments for sure, but is mostly pretty horrid.  The biggest problem with this show is the congestion it brings to the hub 1,000 times a day.  If you hear Peter Pan or Maleficent on the speakers near the hub, avoid this headache.
    While there are plenty of places to sit around the hub the general lack of shade and over abundance of people passing through make this less than optimal for relaxation.  You're better off ducking into a quiet nook found in each and every land throughout the park, yes including Fantasyland. This is not the spot for a lengthy retreat.  Some people would argue that the hub is best when utilized for parade viewing. However, we prefer the Country Bear side of  Frontierland especially for the nighttime parade.  The hub does offer near perfect views of the nightly fireworks, but stake your claim early, or make Fastpass+ reservations far in advance.  There is nothing in the world as perfect as watching Wishes! from the hub. Tears for days.
     Since you will inevitably pass through several times in a day it will also influence the tone of your visit. The wide expanses can either be awe inspiring or anxiety inducing.  To influence the former take a moment to breathe in and contemplate the meticulous beauty of the park you're currently enjoying.  You made it to your happy place! You're at Disney World, in the Magic Kingdom...right in the thick of everything you love.  When the frustration of a hot and crowded day are setting in (as they often do) just remember how lucky you are soaking in that cliched Disney branded magic.

   How do you feel about the hub at the Magic Kingdom? Love it? Avoid it? Let us know on Twitter, or Facebook! And don't forget to follow along on Instagram!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Quickie: Random Shots From Pizzafari

   I think I'm going to bring back the Sunday Quickie series on Disney Hipster Blog.  For those that don't remember they're akin to Silent Saturdays or Wordless Wednessdays...quick posts with little to no writing.  Mine are usually based off of a quick succession of photos taken in the parks.  USUALLY I had an idea for a blog post at the time the photos are taken, and then realized once I got home that it was either a stupid idea or that I don't have enough good photos.  This is the life of a truly lazy blogger.  Anyway, since Pizzafari is about to go through some huge changes, here are random shots from said restaurant...