D23-What I should have been doing this month, by Gil Pohl.

For the first time ever, Disney brought everything Disney under one roof, even if that roof was a very large one.  Disney hosted the D23 Expo (D for Disney and ‘23 for the year the Disney Company started) at the 800,000 square foot Anaheim Convention Center September 10-13.  The Expo covered Disney animation, movies, TV, and most of all the Disney parks. 

Because I could not be there this year and my overwhelming interest in everything to do with Disney parks, I spent as much time as I could following the happenings on the internet.  Thursday and Friday were busy days for D23; but Saturday was the day I looked forward to most.  Saturday was the day that D23 had scheduled a lot of time to discuss plans for Walt Disney World.

Rumors have been flying around the internet for months about the two big projects that might be coming to WDW and to the trill of us park lovers both where officially announced on that Saturday.

The first is the reworking of the Star Wars attraction at Disney Hollywood Studios.  Star Tours has always been one of the great rides at Disney, but the ride is getting dated.  I can remember that a few years ago when I was watching the pod racing scene from the first of the three new Star War movies I told my wife; “They should remake the Star Tours ride with this as the theme.”  While after years of waiting, the dream is coming true and during my 2011 trip to the World I will be experiencing it in 3D.

The other big news is that the first major expansion to the Magic Kingdom in over 20 years will be starting later this year. 

Map of new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

Map of new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

The most popular land in all of the Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland, will be growing much larger in size and adding several new attractions.

The big new “E ticket” ride, Journey under the sea with Ariel, The Little Mermaid that is already under

Little Mermaid attraction in the new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

Little Mermaid attraction in the new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

construction at Disney’s California Adventure will be coming east.  Also to

Dumbo's Tent at the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

Dumbo's Tent at the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom

be constructed is a new twin-Dumbo ride that will be part of a new interactive, three-ring circus tent.  There will also be a meet and greet area for Tinker Bell and her friends.  Plans call for a Disney Princess castle, cottage, or chateau where you can share a dance with Cinderella; celebrate Sleeping Beauty’s birthday with the Good Fairies; or join Belle in an enchanting story performance in the Beast’s castle library.

Another big addition to the Magic Kingdom will be a new restaurant to be themed around Beauty and the Beast to be named “Be Our Guest”.  Here you will be able to dine at a counter service restaurant during the day and enjoy table service at night in one of three enchanted dining rooms inside the Beast’s castle.  Additional table service dining is much need in the Magic Kingdom.

I know that I soon will be working with Ears of Experience to plan a trip to next year’s D23 Expo and looking forward to them planning trips for me to see the new attractions coming to Walt Disney World.


Welcome Gil to the Ears of Experience Team!

Gil and his wife Vicki are big Disney Park fans.  It started with trips to Walt Disney World while they where in college and has continued throughout their lives.

Gil served in the USAF for 21 years and would take the wife and two kids (Mary and Mike) on Disney Vacations between each assignment.  They where stationed outside of LA for four years and everyone that came to visit them had to have a trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

When he retired on the East Coast from the USAF and the children got older, they wanted to bring friends along to share their now every other year family trip to Walt Disney World.  In order to accomplish this, a membership in the Disney Vacation Club (Boardwalk Villas) was purchased by the family.

Now that he has two grandchildren (Violet and Tyler); additional DVC points have been added and they make annual trips to WDW.  Two of his friends also have joined the DVC and this year they will be having an early December Magical Gathering of 27 family members and friends.

Vicki and Gil still do some traveling to the other Disney Parks and with their June 2009 trip to Hong Kong they have been to all five Disney Resorts.  The two of them also celebrated a wedding anniversary on a cruise on the Disney Magic.  The plans for the next few years call for a trip to WDW for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, a second cruise and a trip to Shanghai is already in the planning stages.

Top 5 Character Breakfasts

So many people love to go to Character breakfasts while visiting Walt Disney World® Resort. Me being one. As a matter of fact, 70% of our clients do a character breakfast. That being said, I thought I would go over my top 5 list. Now these are my opinions and not all may agree. I did go over it with one of our research family moms, Buffy Adams, and she said almost the same as me! I have added some notes at the bottom for honorable mentions. I hope this helps you in planning your next trip. If one of your favorites is not available, maybe one of these will be a new favorite if you try it. Let us know your thoughts and your top 5!

 #5 Donald’s Safari Breakfast at the Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park. This typically has Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Goofy. Our clients love the food here and the Safari environment

 #4 Cape May in Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a great option. The food is good, the characters are dressed in beach attire, and it is simply a happy environment. It typically has Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and sometimes Chip and Dale. I personally love the yogurt parfaits you can make and the omelet station.

#3 Chef Mickey in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Although it is not my favorite and I would put Cape May over it for overall experience, it is in a great location, it typically has the Fab 5 in their classic costumes, and the kids seem to really like it. I personally think it is very big and loud but our clients’ kids all like it as well.

#2 Cinderella’s Castle – Cinderella’s Royal Table. This is in the Castle and the location is what you are paying or. This is an expensive option but for the little girls, it is unforgettable. It is at #2 for location and experience of little girls walking in, meeting Cinderella, walking up to the dining room, and meeting the Princesses. There are some great views of the Magic Kingdom from here as well. Although the food has gotten better, you are not going for the food alone. This is not ranked #2 because of taste. Regardless, the princesses in your life will forever remember the experience and that alone is worth the trip.

#1 Crystal Palace. Hands down in my opinion and in many others, this is the number 1 character breakfast. It has the Hundred Acre Woods characters (Pooh, Piglet, Eyore, and Tigger), the food is great, and the ambiance is superb. This restaurant is located looking out at Cinderella’s Castle and with it’s Glass Dome and windows wrapping around more than half of this building, it offers a very light and airy feel. Did I say the food was good? Because it is! I know I have blogged about this restaurant before so I won’t go into too much detail but the veggie frittata, the waffles, the fresh fruit with the most light and tasty whipping cream, and so much more make this a mouth watering experience. This is a great option before the park opens. You literally have Main Street USA all to yourself with a fantastic view of the castle on your way to an amzing breakfast. Another option we suggest to our clients is do the last breakfast seating at 10:25 and it is a brunch. You can enjoy the rides when the park opens and then sit down while the crowds start to roll in and enjoy a brunch. Either way, whatever time, this is an awesome character breakfast!

**Honorable mention. If you have princesses in your traveling party, the Akershus in Norway is a great option for breakfast. Typically Belle is the hostess and some of her princess friends are there. Cinderella may or may not be there so if that is a deal breaker, the Castle is the only guarantee for her.  Akershus is not as expensive as Cinderella’s Royal Table, it only takes one table service on the meal plan where the Castle takes two, and it seems to offer more time with the princesses than at Cinderalla’s Royal Table. The breakfast here is definitely better than their lunch or dinner.

**Honorable mention-O’hana’s Character Breakfast hosted by Lilo and Stitch. Typically Mickey and Goofy show up as well. This one at the Polynesian Resort is a little tamer, not as much noise and the pineapple bread is awesome!

Whatever you choose, enjoy, take it all in, and have fun. All character breakfasts seem to take about an hour. Chef Mickey may take a bit longer due to the size of the restauraunt. It may take the characters longer to get to all the tables.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.



Crystal Palace: Our First Morning Tradition

Crystal PalaceOur family loves the Crystal Palace restaurant in the Magic Kingdom® Park. We have been going there for 10 years now, on the first morning of every trip. Located in the Magic Kingdom® Park with an amazing view of the castle, it is truly the perfect place to start your vacation.

Whether you like bacon and eggs or Mickey waffles or fresh fruit, there is something for everyone on their buffet. My favorites are the Veggie Fritatta and the potato casserole. The fruit is always fresh and the overall variety is very nice. My five year old says she likes the ‘kid’s buffet’ (it is her height) where she can pick her own food. She loves the watermelon and cantelope!

The restaurant itself is in a building with a glass dome, which lets in a lot of light and makes for a perfect picture with the Hundred Acre Wood Characters. Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge advocate of the character meals, especially this one. If I have to eat and my kids want to see the characters, why not multi-task and do it all in one air conditioned place in stead of in a line outside? At the Crystal Palace you will see Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore. As my kids have grown, they have moved in and out of phases, especially my 10 yard old, but none of us ever tire or are too old for these guys. They even do a parade through the restaurant periodically with all the characters and kids.

This is not just a stopping off point for the girls and I. My husband loves this tradition as much as we do. He loves the variety of food and the service. And the best part; once you are finished, you are already in the heart of the park and ready to go have a day full of magic.  It all starts with what I feel is the best restaurant to launch that magic into high gear.

Discover the magic of Walt Disney World® Resorts and parks on a Walt Disney World® family vacation, and share the joy of Mickey Mouse and company with your kids. Let Ears of Experience plan the perfect Disney trip for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at 1-877-80MOUSE. We look forward to sending you on the magical vacation of a lifetime.