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...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Forgive How Sporadic DHB Will Be For A While...

   Its really ironic that just last week I was writing about how much this blog, and the consistency of it, mean to me.   In the last week Adam and I have decided to sell our home and buy a much bigger supposedly better house (with a yard!!!!).  That being said, we have had a very stressful week getting our house "showroom ready."  In fact, we're having an open house in about thirty minutes from now, as I realized I haven't blogged since Monday. Yikes.  This makes me think that the fine balance of life and Disney Hipsters has been thrown off for the time being.   Anyway, the whole point of this is to say that if my posts are more sporadic than normal, don't fret.  As soon as life calms down a bit I will get back on schedule.

   For the sake of being a blatant showoff, look how adorable our place looks!!!!   we had to par down A LOT of our african artwork for the photos. :/ Also, since I don't want to leave you with nothing, here is a string of posts I did a few years ago about how we incorporate Disney into our home...

   - Disney in our bedroom.

   - Disney in our tea hutch.

   - Disney on our refrigerator.

   - Disney in our living room. 

   Wow. Our house really looks different since I posted these!  Our transition to an Adventures Club theme is really paying off, as it looks a lot more grown up and lived in, while remaining super whimsical.   Anyway, please forgive me if I don't have time for the blog as we make this transition.  Love all of you! :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Finally! A Vegetarian Review Of Biergarten

   So, we love Biergarten. Lets just get that out of the way right at the beginning.  But since you listen to DHP you probably already knew that.  You may be wondering then, in the past three and a half years why have we never written about this fabulous restaurant??? Well, I'll tell you.  Because of the dark by design nature of the restaurant it is IMPOSSIBLE TO GET GOOD PICTURES OF ANYTHING, BUT ESPECIALLY FOOD.  But screw it, I feel like writing about Biergarten today, and thats what I'm going to do. Bad pictures and all...

   Biergarten is a large buffet style restaurant in the back of the beautiful Germany pavilion at Epcot.  Your party will check in under the archway leading into the restaurant.  The giant portico where you will be waiting to be seated also houses Sommerfest, the counter service restaurant.  If you are really getting antsy for some beer, grab one while you wait and enjoy the atmosphere of St. George platz...

   One thing you need to keep in mind when planning your meal at Biergarten is that seating is family style, and you will likely be dining with strangers.  A lot of people have a problem with this, for whatever reason.  However, the fun interactions we've had with random table mates is a big reason why we fell in love with Biergarten in the first place.  Just embrace the very least, talk about Disney World and your mutual love of Epcot/beer/glockenspiels. 
   Biergarten is among the most beautifully themed restaurants at Walt Disney World.  The inside is an "open air at dusk" German beer garden.  The whimsical architecture, trees, and waterwheel that surrounds the stage and tables really ramps up the awesome atmosphere.   Speaking of stage!  The absolute highlight of Biergarten is Oktoberfest Musikanten, the amazing oompah band that plays here daily.  Their show is a raucous good time that we look forward to each trip. They. Are. Perfect.  Try and plan your advance dining reservation around their show.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

How Disney Hipster Blog Helps Me

   I love writing Disney Hipster Blog. I know that there isn't as much actual writing as there should be, and that we rely entirely too much on photos of ourselves.  However, I think we have filled up our niche market. After three and a half years of solid growth I feel like things are dying down somewhat.  And you know what? I'm so happy about that.
    When it comes down to it, my job is scrolling through old Walt Disney World photos. Thousands upon thousands of photos.  Because I don't live anywhere near a Disney park, and because I "write" a blog that tends to focus on parks (even though WE DO OTHER THINGS TOO...) I have to archive my trips a little more than the average guest.  This archival process has left me with so many amazing photos...and hence memories.  I love the obligation I feel to documenting the things we love and hate during our Disney World vacations, because it make ME happy.
   My blog has been criticized in the past for being lazy and obsolete.  No, we do not provide news coverage (though we tried a few times...) and since I have a hard time articulating my thoughts on history that subject has been a struggle that I still continue. One thing that I think we have really stuck with is creating original creative content (Let's Move To Disney World, Christmas In Adventureland, etc...) of which I am so super proud. But like I said, this blog makes ME happy.
    These almost 1,000 blog posts have served as a giant scrap book.  And while the Disney Hipster Podcast may only come out once a month now, and our dreams of branding Disney Hipsters further may have fallen by the wayside, the truth remains that this blog remains a delightful hobby for me that I get so much joy out of.  Again, I'd like to reiterate that I do not fancy myself a writer in any capacity, but I enjoy sharing these silly posts with you guys a couple times a week.
   Writing Disney Hipster Blog has taught me so much about Disney World, and also helped me hone my knowledge and ability to articulate my thoughts.  For that I am so grateful.  This blog post started off sounding like a breakup letter, but its actually quite the opposite.  Because I write DHB mainly for myself, and HAPPEN to have tons of readers, I am going to continue this for as long as it makes me happy.  Think of this as a re-commitment letter.  Anyway, I'm not sure what spurred this post.  Truth be told, when I opened blogger this morning it was to write a long overdue Animal Kingdom Artifact.  
   I hate getting serious and here are some of my favorite photos from the years BEFORE Disney Hipster Blog...

Me on the teacups in 2007. The ugly brown hair is bananas. 

I love seeing Adam this happy. :)

Coldly standing next to things since the beginning. 

    Thank you so much for reading and your continued support.  I love the Disney Hipster Melange. What? You didn't know you had a nickname?  If you don't already, go ahead and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesday Quickie: Old Peter Pan Lunchbox...

   Recently, while tolling an amazing and expansive antique store I found an old tin lunch box.  The vessel featured our beloved Peter Pan and friends, but in that sort of off faux naif style that was so popular on lunch boxes. (and third party merchandise...)  Anyway, I didn't buy it because we have too much garbage to begin with, but snapped some pictures to share.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Vegetarian Options At Flo's V8 Cafe on the Disney Fantasy

   If you're about to embark on a cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy, and happen to be a vegetarian you're in luck.  There are options aplenty on this enormous ship.  Besides your three rotational dining restaurants and the two adults only fine dining restaurants there are also a few quick service locations on board as well.  One of the most busy is Flo's V8 Cafe...and because we're good reporters we decided to try every vegetarian item available.

   Flo's V8 Cafe is located on deck eleven towards the forward of the ship.  Because this is on the main open deck near the pools, and because its the only option where you can just walk up in your bathing suit, this place can get pretty mobbed.  Cabanas is located near here as well, but if you're just looking for quick efficient food between dips in the pool, this is your best bet. 
   Flo's is set up in three bays, ala Cosmic Rays at the Magic Kingdom.  But don't let that turn you off.  This restaurant is extremely efficient, considering there is no payments involved.  The different pods are "themed" to a different Cars character and (kind of?) reflect in the menu served...

   Luigi's Pizza is a pretty obvious choice for theming.  There are usually three or four pizzas available at a time in the window available by the slice.  During our seven night cruise the vegetarian options remained consistently margarita pizza and veggie pizza.  This not real pizza by any stretch of the imagination, but its not nearly as bad as the stuff still served at Pizzafari or Pizza Planet.  And if you're truly exhausted from a busy day this will hit the spot. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Let's Move To Disney World Demos...

   Last night I was feeling nostalgic about the recording process of Lets Move To Disney album of songs I wrote about Disney World.  I released that album last year, but most of the songs had been recorded as early as September of 2011. (aka, DHB's first month of existence) It made me miss the writing process, which basically involved me playing very rough versions of songs into my phones voice memo app.  Since I stopped performing live I have no need for lyric sheets so I stopped writing the words down and use the voice memo thing so I won't forget them.
   Anyway, here are some of the (slightly) less awful things I found in the vault of about 250 voice memo/lyric chamber...

   YES! I know what you're going to say. I realize that Christmas In Adventureland was NOT on Let's Move To Disney World. However, the fun times recording the video for that song warranted its inclusion here I think.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Randomly Thinking About The Barnstormer's Transformation

   Some of the greatest contributions of New Fantasyland come in the scrappiest forms.  Scrappy in the sense that they're A) overlaid existing attractions, B) Perhaps not the most loved previously.  I'm talking mostly of The Barnstormer, which until this point we haven't discussed much on this blog.
   I love the current iteration of The Barnstormer, which is saying a lot since I merely tolerated the Toon Town version.  The track is just the same, but everything else is 100% more adorable. The previous "crop-dusting" theme was very weird and never felt right, while the current Great Goofini as a daredevil theme works perfectly in the context of Storybook Circus.

      The previous Barnstormer was over the top, with primary colors as the focus.  The over the top primary ethos was implemented in everything from the queue rails, to the over abundance of "funny" signs.  This was true throughout Toon Town, but held particular prominence in The Barnstormer.
   As an off the shelf coaster the overlaid theme is particularly important to the reception of the experience. Great examples being Space Mountain and Primeval Whirl...which are both basically the same ride.  Their different overlaid themes create such different experiences that each coaster is on the far end of the spectrum of guests love. (For the record, I love both attractions quite a bit.)  So it seems the old Barnstromer was doomed from the start.  Where do we get the idea that putting up more signs makes something more themed? Why do we need to scream at the guests? HAVE FUN! SEE HOW WACKY THIS PLACE IS! THIS IS CRAZY! (right?)  The whole concept and implementation of the previous theming felt desperate and insecure.  The fact is that the attraction WAS fun, it WAS wacky, but that was all lost in the tackiness of it all.  It went too far trying to woo us.
   Currently the soft earthy rusted tones add gravity to the ride...this is a cartoon, yes...but not in Toon Town.  No longer is the stroll through this corner of the park jarring. It feels real. The Barnstormer, along with the rest of Storybook Circus,  are no longer the awkward cousins sitting in the corner on Thanksgiving.  Storybook Circus is such a welcome breath of fresh air, I can hardly believe it actually exists. But thankfully it does.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our Day On Castaway Cay...A Vacation Video!

   Its been a few months since we posted a video on Youtube (surely you haven't forgotten all about Christmas In Adventureland!!) and even longer since we talked about Castaway Cay, aka our favorite place on earth.  So we thought we would kill two birds with one stone.  This is a video of our day on Disney's private Bahamian island this past January. Enjoy.

   I wake up every cold horrible morning hoping that I'm on Castaway Cay...but alas, here I am in New Jersey suffering.  Time to countdown to next January when I can get back to the beach at Serenity Bay. Sigh.

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