Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Last Photos at Disney's Animal Kingdom: 2016 and 2015

   Over the last few months we started a new series on Disney Hipster Blog where we document the very last photo we took at each park on every trip.  There were huge differences in the types of photos we took between The Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  Today we're continuing the series by visit my favorite park, Disney's Animal Kingdom. As with the other parks we will be going in reverse chronological order.

   The photo above is from our most recent trip to Walt Disney World this past may.  It seems kind of like a silly photo, but it was part of a blog post about cocktails at Animal Kingdom.  As many of you know, I often put off gathering blog ideas until the VERY LAST MINUTE of our trip.  Hence, ending on this photo. 

   Another boring random photo.  This is the inside of Riverside Depot on Discovery Island.  This store had just opened at the time of our visit in January.  We probably only spend three or four hours at this park during our short trip. 

   Here is a fun one from the inside of Yak & Yeti! We absolutely love the theming of this restaurant, though the food is nothing special.  So if you're into the theming, and just want a drink, stick to the bar. 

   In January of 2015 Adam and I spent exactly TEN HOURS at Walt Disney World.  This included a very short jaunt to Disney's Animal Kingdom.  This is probably my favorite photo from the entire day. 

   Join me next week as I delve further down the timeline of Animal Kingdom photos! None of these have been all that surprising to me so far, but lets see what happens next. 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Thinking About Attraction Refurbishment Schedules

   We are still nearly two months out from our (crazy/packed/amazing/magical) fall trip to Walt Disney World, but daily planning is in full force. Just like many of you, one of the first things we start tracking is the attraction refurbishment schedule.  It is just nice to know ahead of time what to be sad about as to not get your hopes up.

   This trip we seem to have pretty decent luck.  Most of the important lengthy closures are scheduled to reopen before our arrival.  It should be a relatively straightforward sprucing up of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, but sometimes things get pushed back. Since it is scheduled to reopen a month before our trip I think we're pretty safe.  Of all the refurbishments going on I would be most disappointed if the treehouse were closed.  Not because I spend so much time exploring its heights, but because it adds so much to the atmosphere of the area.  An Adventureland lacking a treehouse is a sad Adventureland.

Note: I didnt have a singe picture of the outside of Dinosaur, but I had literally a million
pictures of this guy. 

   Making me VERY nervous is the fact that Dinosaur is scheduled to be closed up until October 17th, just a few days before we arrive. With all lengthy refurbs there is a decent chance this will get expanded.  I know a lot of people hate on Dinosaur, but I really love everything about it.  Plus we will have a good friend joining us who has never had the pleasure of experiencing this charming attraction. So we're keeping our fingers crossed for this one. 

   Unfortunately you cant win them all.  There is rarely a time at Walt Disney World where every single headlining attraction is open.  We have had very good luck in recent years. (except for maybe Soarin, which we couldnt care less about) But our luck has come to an end.  My favorite Magic Kingdom "mountain" will be closed during our trip.   Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has so much going for it beyond the actual ride experience.  I'll especially miss the opening and closing narration. Sad. 

   We will be carefully watching the refurbishment schedule with bated breath.  Hopefully the two closures scheduled to reopen will remain that way, because lord knows I cant live without SwisskaPolka. 

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Five Vague Things About World Showcase That Make Me Happy

   With our trip simultaneously SO CLOSE and yet SO FAR away, I've got Disney World on my mind. I'm especially thinking of all the new situations I'll be in on this trip.  Not only is there tons of new stuff to do since our last trip in May, but we will also be accompanied by one of our best friends. Amber grew up visiting Disneyland and she has always wanted to visit WDW. For her 30th birthday she is finally coming down with us. I'm excited to see her light up at The Magic Kingdom, and be blown away by the detail of Animal Kingdom...but I'm most excited to take her to Epcot.  
   I know that the front of Epcot is basically a thematic wasteland. While I can still defend the likes of Spaceship Earth, Living With The Land, and Ellen's Energy Adventure I'll admit that the rest of Futureworld basically sucks.  However, the vast majority of World Showcase remains generally awesome.  Sometimes as regular visitors we forget just how great this area is, but just pretend for a moment that you have never seen this wonderland of booze, food, and delight.
   Here are five things about World Showcase that make me happy:

   I love the architectural detail and ridiculous strive for grandiosity around World Showcase.  Each pavilion provides a layered history often documenting real structures related to the themed land. St. George Platz at the German pavilion is a favorite, there is always something new to discover here, regardless of how many times I visit. If you have an interest, its worth looking up more in depths look into the inspiration for the structures.  Plus, the pavilion "weenies" are amazing photo opportunities. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Captains Gala Dinner Vegetarian Options On The Disney Fantasy

   Its been a while since we last visited the Disney Cruise Line. Since we have an EXTRA cruise this year in just a few months I thought this was a good time to dive back into our reportage of the Disney Fantasy.

   Most of you know how dining works on the Disney Cruise Line, but for those of you who don't here is a quick run down.  On DCL ships there are three main dining rooms.  You are assigned one restaurant each night of your cruise on a rotation.  Both your tables mates and server are with you throughout your rotation.  The three restaurants have their own menu for the first three nights of the cruise, after which specialty menus are implemented and are the same in each restaurant. 
   These specialty menus are usually themed somewhat. There is a "pirates" menu, a "prince and princess" menu, even a Star Wars Day At Sea menu. Today we're revisiting the vegetarian options on the Captain's Gala menu.

   Like every other menu on the Disney Cruise Line, vegetarians will have plenty of options, so don't worry about that.  And since the food is included with the price of your cruise feel free to order however many of those options you like.  The portions are on the smaller side (for Americans anyway...) for this exact reason. 
   As an appetizer we ordered the breaded eggplant, which is described as Filled with Sweet Ricotta and Mozzarella, served on Toscano Sauce and Drizzled with Aged Balsamic.  This is perhaps the biggest surprise of the meal...not because it was phenomenal or anything, but the fact that it wasn't terrible.  When cooking for such a large group of people this could have gone horribly wrong. 
   Luckily this was very reminiscent of the standard vegetarian option at any Italian wedding.  The eggplant held up and wasn't soggy at all.  The sauce wasn't overly salty at all, which can be a big problem on the cruise line.  Definitely a solid option. 

   No meal on cruise would be complete without a bad basic salad.  The Beef Steak Tomato and Vidalia Onion Salad was literally the most forgettable thing I've ever eaten in my life.  The only thing that stood out about this salad is the fact that it had whole spring onions on it. What? 

   The entrees of the Captain's Gala menu are very diverse flavor wise.  There was no question that I was going to order the Thai Red Pumpkin and Coconut Curry.  This is a unique dish as far as the rotational dining is concerned. (the main buffet Cabanas is much more likely to carry this flavor profile...) The curry had a very subtle coconut and curry flavor, playing to the audience it is presented to.  The stewing sauce is on the saltier side to make up for the missing curry flavor, but honestly it wasn't all that bad.  I like the use of pumpkin in this dish which is unexpected.  I eat a LOT of curry in my day to day life and don't think I've ever seen it used before.  
   The dish is served with (too much) rice and (not enough) bok choy.  The rice is an obvious side. However I was surprised and very happy to see the bok choy, which was steamed perfectly and a good fresh counterpart to the rich curry. 

   The Green Pea and Fava Bean Risotto was doomed from the start.  There is NO WAY a kitchen staff can pump out several hundred risotto dishes at once.  We ordered it knowing this, and of course it was dreadful.  The rice was not only undercooked, but I'm pretty sure they were using long grain rice which is bizarre and super off putting.  The only flavor to note is salt and salt.  Meh.  

   I don't like sweet food at all, but my loving husband does, so I indulge him by ordering as well. (knowing that I will take one bite and focus on my coffee.)  Featured above are the banana creme brulee, banana fosters sundae, and apricot trio.  I order the apricot dessert, because I do prefer fruit flavors over chocolate.  The creme brulee falls into the same category as the risotto...we KNOW Disney doesn't do it well, but we always order it anyway.  To be frank, the rotational dining restaurant dessert options are awful over all.  The only reason we order them is because they exist. 

   I know it seemed like a generally bad review, but this is honestly one of the better specialty menus on the Disney Cruise Line.  Next time we experience the Captain's Gala menu we will probably pare down our order and focus on the things we know we love.  Have you ever had the Captain's Gala menu?  What are your thoughts?  Let us know over on Twitter...

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Last Epcot Photos: 2012-2008

   Here we are at the end of our Epcot photo journey.  We have looked at the last photos from every "Epcot album" from the last four years, and now we will finish by going farther back in time.  The photos just get worse...

   The was a time in our lives when the sweet almond pretzel from Kringla Bakeri was the most important thing in the world.  Adam especially loved this treat.  But just like every cult food at WDW this ones popularity has waned...

   This photo from January 2012 is a really weird way to end our time at Epcot.  Its a bad photo first of all...but why even bother taking it? 

   Our trip in October 2011 was a super weird one.  Just three quick days, and we spent most of our time separated as Adam was at WDW for a work conference.  I decided to spend our last day touring four parks in one morning, even taking the time to visit sweet Marie in the France pavilion.  Great way to end a trip, thats for sure. 

   From September 2011...just weeks after starting this blog...we decided it was a good idea to order two school breads after spending the whole day eating.  Yikes! Not a great idea obviously. 

   This last pictures isn't from an "Epcot album" of photos, but is the last picture we took at Epcot at some point in 2008.  This photo was taken on an actual digital camera at Rose and Crown.  My hair is making me sad now. 

   I'm having so much fun exploring the inner depths of our photos so I'll probably jump into the Animal Kingdom albums pretty soon.  I hope you guys enjoyed exploring Epcot with me. Have a wonderful day. 

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Canada's Northwest Mercantile

   A couple of years ago we looked at some cool details on one side of "the Canada store."  Today we look at the other side of that space...which has a much different feel to it. 

   Northwest Mercantile is on the upper level of the Canada pavilion around World Showcase at Epcot.  Unless you're going out of your way, you will pass right by and never notice this store.  The exterior is that of a rustic log cabin, complete with aged lanterns and tools. (why are the tools just hanging on the side of the building?) 

   The theme is carried throughout the interior as well.  The tools and lanterns are also joined by various wares that you might find in an old general store.  The aged wood and exposed beams give this store a very cozy feel.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Last Photos At Epcot: 2014-2013

   Continuing our last photo series we're headed back to Epcot. This is where we dig through our photo archives and find the VERY LAST pictures snapped at Epcot from each vacation. Working in reverse chronological order, last week we revisited the last two years...now lets look at 2014 and 2013.

   You all know the feeling. You're leaving one of your favorite parks for the last time on a trip, and try to stretch it out by going on your favorite attraction ONE LAST TIME even though you should probably be headed to the airport?  Well, that is me every time we are leaving.  I had to take a picture of the Spaceship Earth end scene, because of my ridiculous hair. 

   I don't know why I'm ever surprised by the amount of Spaceship Earth selfies...but I am.  I remember this day in May of 2014 very well.  We had actually just been at the Universal Orlando Resort that morning, and were stuck in rain and traffic desperately trying to get to Epcot.  Totally worth the hassle.  Plus, Hipstamatic had just come out with this filter combination that very morning...

   This one isn't all that surprising, but very different from the rest because it's at night.  After our very first cruise in January of 2014 we had a couple days at Disney World.  We spent an evening at Epcot with my sister, where we tried to do all of our favorite things, and were surprised by our priorities. Obviously Illuminations was among them. 

   Is there really a description needed?  Sad to leave the parks + booze + ice cream = necessary France selfie. 

   Just a bad, random photo from the inside of the Mexico pavilion.  From May of 2013, I'm pretty sure I must have been planning a blog post or something. I have no idea or excuse for this. 

   Some pretty telling stuff here my friends.  I think the last photo from each album says a lot about the photographers mentality, and its definitely fun looking back! Next week we will wrap up our last Epcot photos...

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Vegetarian Dinner At Narcoossee's

   Narcoossee's is a signature dining restaurant at The Grand Floridian.  We had a chance to dine here for the first time back in May. Our experience unfortunately goes along with our general dislike of restaurants at this resort.  Lets take a look at our meal...

   I can usually find something endearing about the interior of Disney World restaurants, but Narcoossee's is just dreadful.  I doubt the decor has been updated since the resort was first built, and it shows. Honestly its hard to even recall specific details because it was that underwhelming.  In an era of exquisite theming and detail, this restaurant should be due for a fabulous update. 
   The one thing that Narcoossee's has going for it is location.  It is located in a stand alone building, a short walk from the main lobby of the hotel, and suspended over the Seven Seas Lagoon.  We booked our reservation to coincide with both the Electrical Water Pageant and Wishes!  Pleaser keep in mind that this reservation IS NOT EASY TO GET. If you want it, make sure that you're paying attention to your booking window.  

    Like most signature restaurants at Disney World Narcoossee's does print a separate vegetarian menu with multiple options.  I can't stress enough how wonderful this is. It makes us as feel welcome as vegetarians and not like we're being a burden to the chef.  So please keep this up.