Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Look Back At Disney Hipster Blog 2015

   It has been another crazy exciting year at Disney Hipster Headquarters.  When we started 2015 we were still living in our old condo in Montclair...with NO IDEA that we would sell it and move on to greener pastures.  And while that move did impact blog output for a while, we hope it wasn't too bad, and I think we still stayed somewhat consistent considering our situation.
   This year was the first year where Disney Hipster Podcast was on a monthly schedule, reduced from its former weekly schedule.  This has been a great thing for podcasters and friends.  The show is a lot more fun now than it was a year ago...and since we make no money off of said show, we only record when its convenient and fun.  Those are the rules. :)
   We took three Disney vacations this year...kicking the year off on a seven night cruise on the Disney Fantasy (followed by ten hours at Disney World), a nine night visit to the Disneyland Resort in May, and finally an epic ten nights at Walt Disney World in September.   These were among my favorite vacations ever, and I can't wait for our next trip at the end of January.
   As for the future of this blog?  There are big changes coming in our personal lives that will inevitably change the consistency, but as far as I'm concerned I will follow the above rule: as long as the blog is still FUN and CONVENIENT I will continue writing.
   Now, lets look back at some of my favorite blog posts from the past year, in chronological order.

   - Just a few days into the new year was probably my favorite day of all time...saying goodbye to the sorcerers hat at Hollywood Studios.

   - One of my favorite things about writing this blog is that it is essentially a scrapbook of my Disney vacations.  I get to remember special moments at the tying up loose ends at Epcot. 

   - We got back from our cruise in early February, and I wrote the traditional quick trip re-cap.

   - We also detailed HOW WE SPENT OUR TEN HOURS AT DISNEY WORLD.  I really thought this would be a good idea...but no. Just no. 

   - I didn't make a lot of videos this year. Sorry guys! But I found time to compile the above video showcasing a fun day on Castaway Cay. 

   - Lunch at Crystal Palace? YES PLEASE! Turns out that this place is way better than everyone made it out to be. 

   - During our trip to Disneyland we met some fun new characters at Disney California Adventure!  What an amazing trip this was. 

   - And of course we had to review our absolute favorite...Rancho Del Zocalo.  So good. 

   - Early summer brought about the unfortunate exile of liquid cheese from The Magic Kingdom.  Such a sad sad day this was. 


   - Great atmosphere...meh food.  This is my general review of Carnation Cafe at Disneyland.

   - Contrarily wise, I am still mad about Animal Kingdom at dusk. Too pretty.  

   - This year Duffy bit the dust at Epcot.  Still mourning this loss honestly. 

   - We took the time to explore one of my favorite areas in Disney California Adventure, as we took a look around Pacific Wharf. 

   - During our September trip to Walt Disney World I made a valiant effort to document random foods that I ate...I think I did pretty good job of that. 

   - October brought my FAVORITE WEEK OF ALL TIME...HARAMBE WEEK! I even wrote a song for the occasion. 

   - In one of my favorite posts of all time, I explore all my bad/random photos that I take at WDW...

   Thanks again to everyone who reads this blog on a regular basis.  It is seriously one of my favorite projects, and it makes it even more awesome knowing that I have such a big support group.  I love you guys.  Happy New Year! Lets make it amazing...

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Tribute To Mickey's Death Wheel

   I'd like to take a moment and talk about Mickey's Fun  Death Wheel.  This enormous ferris wheel at Disney California Adventure is one of the most frightening attractions at any Disney park...and yet, its basically perfect.

   I can't imagine the open vistas of Paradise Pier  without pie eyed Mickey looming over me.  The wheel grounds the entire area, adds movement, and even more visual stimuli to an already bustling area. 

   I have only actually taken a spin on the death wheel twice. But one of my favorite activities is sitting outside the exit of the attraction, drinking a Karl Strauss beer, and observing the nauseous riders as they disembark.  Pure enjoyment.

   While the park, including the wheel, struggled to find an identity this attraction became an icon. It became something to look forward to. Even if you had no intention of riding, the first sight of the ferris wheel indicates a fun day/night/trip ahead of you.

   Thank you Mickey's Fun Death Wheel I truly look forward to seeing you...from a distance...but not riding you in the future.  Thanks for adorning my DCA Starbucks mug, and being an anchor in one of my favorite parks. 

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Vegetarian Dinner at 1900 Park Fare

   As we slooooowly whittle down the list of Walt Disney World restaurants, with the aim of eating at all of them, we've visited some restaurants with hesitation.  Thus is the case of 1900 Park Fare.  It's not that we were totally opposed to eating here, BUT when you consider all of the other restaurant options that have already proven gets kind of tricky.
   Hesitation aside, the day finally came this past September as we buckled down and made a reservation for this character buffet restaurant.

   1900 Park Fare is located on the ground floor of the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. The restaurant is tucked away in a corner, on the "monorail side" so keep your eyes open for it.  Check in is at a podium in a hallway leading to the restaurant. 

   The decor here is very hard to describe without sounding like a total dufus.  There is a lot of pastel, which is carried throughout the resort.  The main space is inspired by Victorian carousels, featuring some whimsical carousel animals right in the thick of things.  There is also a rather impressive vintage calliope on the wall. I've heard that this thing plays now and again, but it didn't during our meal. :/

   Besides the vaulted ceiling in the middle of the restaurant, the majority of the space has rather short ceilings.  We were seated in an area that kind of felt like an old Olive Garden that hadn't been update in a while. 

   Have you ever been to a buffet restaurant at Walt Disney World? If so you know exactly how this will go.  We've learned over time not to get too excited for these glutinous feeding frenzies.  Each restaurant touts a few specialties or cult foods...but honestly? They're all kind of the same. The big exception, in our opinion, being Biergarten at Epcot. 

   As far as vegetarians go, there are always some decent options, and you won't leave hunger.  There is the very standard little salad bar. Here, looking exceedingly paltry:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Photos Around World Showcase: Mexico

   On the very last day, during the last few hours of our most recent trip to Walt Disney World I was snapping a lot of pictures in Epcot.  More specifically, we were taking our time walking around World Showcase...and I was using photos as an excuse.  You see, I'll do anything to stay in the park a few extra minutes on that last day.
   These last day photos around World Showcase inspired a twelve week long photo series.  This is very similar to our shake to randomize series, except I can shake the camera until I find a combination that I liked opposed to sticking with whatever filters I landed on.  If you aren't familiar with Shake To Randomize, you can click here to read about it. 
   Also unlike that last trip around World Showcase, this series will be in the order they appear around the lagoon, from Mexico to Canada.   So lets get started with some photos from the Mexico pavilion.

Do not climb. 

Side of La Hacienda

Obligatory Fiesta Hoy could I not? 

   I'm glad we got Mexico out of the way, honestly.  This filter is pretty obnoxious with all the light leaks.  Under normal circumstances I would never use these photos, so I'm glad they found a home somewhere, but you have to be careful while actually documenting something important, because these would otherwise be garbage. 

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Thirsty River Bar Opens At Disney's Animal Kingdom

   This past Saturday was a glorious day indeed! The Thirsty River Bar opened in the Asia section of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  This is just another addition to a long string of improvements the park has seen in the last year.  Among them, Harambe Market, Starbucks, and expanded retail the overall retheme of Discovery Island.  However, the one thing this renaissance has lacked is a new bar.
   Luckily, our good friend and lifestyler etraordinaire Megan Stump was on location as the bar first opened, and was sweet enough to snap some great photos for us.

   Thirsty River Bar is located in the former Expedition Everest fast pass structure.  This space wasn't utilized for anything directly following the discontinuation of paper fast passes...but the structure was WAY TOO COOL to demolish.  Thank god those in charge agreed.  

   The bar is smaaaaallll...and doesn't offer seating. However, it does offer duel (sic!!!)  sided ordering, which makes it pretty efficient.  The decor is standard Anandapur...aka, amazing.  Lots of rustic details abound including some campy fun too.  The I Heart Anandapur sticker is everything. 

   I'm pretty in love with the above idol.  And in true Disney "themeing" there can NEVER be enough junk on shelves.
   But lets talk food and drink! The drink selection includes themed cocktails, both frozen and on the rocks.  These include the Durbar Margarita, which touts the addition of ginger to the standard mix, and the Himalayan Ghost, a mix of vodka, guava, and lemonade.  The beer list includes Victory Golden Monkey, Old Elephant Foot IPA, and Kingfisher on draft.  The bottle/can list consists of Funky Buddha Hefeweizen, Hitachino Nest White Ale, and Muduro Brown from Cigar City. 

   Food wise there is a lot of standard Disney park snacks.  Ice cream bars, fruit cups, hummus, and know the drill.  But there are a few "specials" including sushi, a turkey sandwich, a Banh mi,  and an asian noodle salad.  I would bet that these will change pretty frequently, ala Mr. Kamal's just around the corner.

   I hope you enjoyed our first look at Thirsty River Bar.  I certainly can't wait to visit in person in just a couple months!  I am really impressed with the utilization of the space.  Thanks again Megan for providing the photos.  Make sure to follow her on Twitter @Megadis13 

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Zawadi Marketplace at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

   I knew for a fact that at some point we had overviewed Johari Treasures at the Kidani Village side of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  (way back in 2012 actually...when there was still a Nespresso machine.) And I was ALMOST certain we had also taken a look at Zawadi Marketplace on the Jambo House side.  However, I apparently made that up in my head, because no such overview exists on this blog. Sad face, because I really love this store.  Well, lets not waste any more time...

   Zawadi Marketplace is your only proper store at Jambo House...and you will want to make a point of stopping by.  The space is very large compared to other similar resort stores.  Where The Polynesian and Grand Floridian have multiple smaller stores, Zawadi packs them into one massive shopping experience.
   The decor is appropriately themed in earth tones.  Plenty of browns and yellows here. The real artifacts from the lobby couldn't be implemented here, but the designers did a good job of carrying the theme inside regardless.  There are a few fake african masks flanking the cash registers, and a faux balcony complete with sunset.  The lights aren't as inspired as others found throughout the resort, but are pretty decent considering their humble position.

   Obviously you will find all of you branded Animal Kingdom Lodge merchandise here.  Recently we have seen not only a shift in direction with the Lodge's merch, but also a general expansion.  We have never been AKL merch people, but we're very excited to see whats on the horizon.
   At Zawadi you will also find plenty to gift items, souvenirs, kids clothing, and plush animals.  Consider this Animal Kingdom Lodge's version of the Emporium...if you want it, they probably have it. 

   I am always fascinated by the food staples they carry at Disney resorts.  Who is buying dried spaghetti and jarred sauce on vacation?  I'm honestly curious!  If you cook on vacation please write to us on Twitter...

   This store also carries a selection of grab-and-go treats and beverages.  You can also pick up mixers, wine, and beer in both singles and six packs.  If you're looking for a "value" the six packs of beer tend to be $ opposed to $6.50 per beer.  I know that is ridiculous, but if you're in a pickle and don't want to leave property to procure beer this might be your best bet. 

   Its a shame I don't have more pictures of the store, because it is truly a lovely charming place.  I love spending time in here every trip, trying to figure out whats new with the wares. Next time you're at Animal Kingdom Lodge, stop by for a quick look around!

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Monday, December 7, 2015

La Hacienda Restroom Signage

  We have a long running series here on Disney Hipster Blog documenting all the charming restroom signs throughout Walt Disney World, this series stems from a deep appreciation of these signs, and realization of how important they actually are. 
   Today brings us another round of signs.  However these are very special, and I think enter my top wdw restroom signs of all time list.   Lets head over to La Hacienda at the Mexico pavilion at Epcot...

   I have a lot to say about this restaurant both good and bad, but I'm saving that for another post entirely.  Just know that the restaurant is super pretty, with plenty of windows to let in that gorgeous Florida sunshine.  Tucked away in a little portico in the corner are the restrooms, and their amazing day of the dead themed restrooms signs.  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

BGM Of The Week: Buena Vista Street Christmas Loop

   I was going to wait until Monday to post this...but I just couldn't contain myself.  Our absolute favorite source of Disney background music, Mr. Theme Park Audio, has posted the Christmas loop from our beloved Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure.  I am seriously obsessed with Buena Vista Street and the everyday BGM...but this really steps it up a notch.
   This loop is surprisingly vocal heavy.  Where the Magic Kingdom/Disneyland/Epcot Christmas loops are all instrumental, this is loaded with standards.  I'm not talking all Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters...although there is plenty of that. (thank god) There are also lesser known versions on here as well, so get ready for some welcome surprises.
   Put this on NOW and enjoy a considerably more charming day than you would otherwise.

Friday, December 4, 2015

That Time We Predicted Thirsty River Bar At Animal Kingdom...And Them Rambled On About It.

   There is a segment on Disney Hipster Podcast called Hypothetical Question Dejour Of The Day, in which we are offered a question (sometimes ridiculous, sometimes realistic) and are allowed to creatively answer, no holds barred.  A lot of time these questions are along the lines of, If you could redo this space, what would you do? 

Apparently I have no actual photos of the space...whatevs. 

   A few months ago the hypothetical question was: If you could do anything at all with the former Fastpass kiosk area near Expedition Everest, what would you do?  Adam's answer was by far the groups favorite.  Simply serve different flavored cotton candy, and call them "Yeti Furs."  You know this would have been an immensely popular cult food item.  I went a more traditional route, and my mind drifted towards booze, as it often does.  I thought the space was perfect, albeit small, for a bar.
   Well guess what folks?  That space is just around the corner from opening as a bar.  It is doubtful that the space will offer seating, which is super unfortunate.  I'd love to hunker down in Annandapur with a beer, listening to the screams from nearby Expedition Everest.  However, if this is going to be strictly a grab and go bar situation I hope in my heart of hearts that the menu is at least somewhat inspired.