Disney World Wilderness Back Trail Adventure

RM-FW-Back-Trail-SegwayYou may have visited here recently when I mentioned that Raymond and I, during our TWO extra days at Walt Disney World (flights cancelled due to winter weather), took the super-awesome Segway tour at Fort Wilderness.  I’m here today to give the deets on that extra-fun-spur-of-the-moment experience.  If you’ve always wanted to try riding a Segway, this is the very best opportunity…and currently the only Segway tour offered at Walt Disney World.

We were not Segway rookies when we decided to see if we could make last minute reservations for this tour.  We’d taken our first Segway tour in Barcelona, Spain while getting ready to embark on the Disney Magic for a Mediterranean cruise in August, 2013.  Riding a Segway is easy.  I’m being totally honest – remember, I have absolutely zero eye-hand coordination and can barely walk and chew gum at the same time.  If I can ride a Segway without incident, anyone can!RM-Fort-Wilderness-Bike-Barn

Luckily for us, we were able to find a couple of spots available for a late morning Wilderness Back Trail Adventure at Fort Wilderness.  Safety first, there are forms to complete upon arrival at the Fort Wilderness Bike Barn where the tour begins.  Forms in order, the tour actually begins with a safety class (including video and awesome gigantic helmets), followed by a very thorough practice session during which all necessary maneuvers on the off-road Segway are mastered.RM-FW-Back-Trail-Tour-ReadyWe learned to go forward and back, turn, and get safely on and off the Segway.  It was our understanding that if anyone in the group could not safely perform all Segway riding exercises, they would not be allowed to advance to the actual tour.  No one seemed to struggle in the least – including one lady, I’m guessing she was in her late 50’s, who was extremely nervous in the beginning.  The instruction and practice took about 30 minutes all together.RM-FW-Segways

Once we’d all performed the necessary Segway driving requirements, we were off!  It was raining lightly, but no one cared.  The tour includes some Disney World history, some photo ops, and, the highlight for me, a guided tour (off Segway) of the Tri-Circle-D Ranch.  I loved everything about this part of the adventure.  RM-FW-Tri-Circle-D-Tour RM-FW-Tri-Circle-D-Photo-of-Walt-Disney RM-FW-Tri-Circle-D-Horse-Black RM-FW-Tri-Circle-D-HorseOkay, really, I completely, thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, but going in the horse barn and seeing photographs of Walt Disney with the horses he clearly loved was a side of him that I hadn’t seen before.  The horses (no petting!) were curious, friendly and beautiful.  This is one place I would love to visit again.

The rain stopped while we were in the barn, so we enjoyed the rest of the tour much more comfortably (without the poncho hood!).  We were literally on the back trails as the name of the tour implies and saw the woods and fields surrounding Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge.RM-FW-Back-Trail-Tour-Beside-Bay-LakeWe spotted deer and listened to wonderful facts and stories from our guide.  We also, at a maximum speed of SIX miles per hour, zipped (slowly) off-road around and between trees and over rough-ish terrain, which was actually very fun.  So fun, in fact, that the lady I mentioned earlier that was nervous to begin with could be heard laughing out loud during these off-road expeditions.  All too soon, it was time to return to the Bike Barn and park our Segways.  RM-FW-Back-Trail-Tour-GuidesI wish I had more pictures for you of the off-road portion of the adventure, but the rules strictly prohibit the use of a camera while operating a Segway.  As a very cool souvenir, we each received a Back Trail Adventure pin.RM-FW-Back-Trail-Segway-Tour-Pin

Would we recommend this experience?  With enthusiasm!  It was even better than we’d hoped and, if we get the chance, we will absolutely do it again.

Have you taken (or thought about taking ) the Wilderness Back Trail Adventure?  What do you think about this unique offering at Walt Disney World?

Pirates of the Caribbean Figures: We Wants the Redhead

It’s no secret that I LOVE Pirates of the Caribbean.  Once more, Nick has me Goofy Hat Green with envy over these Pirate treasures in his Disneyana collection.

Read more about Nick’s collection and his love of Disney vacations:   Disney Musings Blog / Disney Musings on Twitter / Disney Musings on Instagram / Disney Musings on Facebook

Pirates of the Caribbean Figures:  We Wants the Redhead

by: Nick

One of the most popular rides at any Disney park it’s in is Pirates of the Caribbean, and one of the most memorable scenes is the Bride Auction scene.
The Walt Disney Classic Collection commemorated this scene in 2006 with this two piece set, featuring the auctioneer and the redhead herself.

The auctioneer measures 10″ tall by 5″ wide by 3 1/2″ deep. The Auctioneer features a brass earring, pewter sword, chain, and whip handle. The medallion is pewter and red glass. The whip is made of leather.


The Redhead measures 9″ tall by 4″ wide by 4″ deep. Her hair and hat are pewter.

They each have the Tea Cup production mark.

Disney World Dining – Yachtsman Steakhouse

RM-Yachtsman-SteakhouseAfter many visits to Walt Disney World during which we frequented our tried and true dining favorites, on our last three Disney vacations, we were committed to trying new restaurants.  In May of 2014, we tried several new places.  In particular, the Boardwalk’s Flying Fish Café was a wonderful experience and we can’t wait to go back!  In October, Raymond and I discovered the hidden gem that is Citricos at the Grand Floridian.  In February of 2015, after years of hearing rave reviews, we finally had dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club) and what a dinner it was!

If you are looking for a steak in the Epcot area, bypass Le Cellier and walk on over to the Yacht Club!  The cozy atmosphere, the service, and the menu are a winning combination.  Raymond and I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner – from appetizer to dessert – and could not think of a single improvement that could have been made.

We checked in at the hostess station and were greeted by a lovely, charming woman from our home state of Louisiana.  She inquired if we’d dined at Yachtsman before and after hearing it was our first visit, proudly proclaimed that we were about to begin a new vacation tradition!  We were given our pager, but waited only moments before a young man came to show us to our table.  RM-Yachtsman-Steak-Storage RM-Yachtsman-Steakhouse-ButcherBecause it was our first visit, he took the time to give us a tour and explain the process of beef aging and storage and steak preparation.  He was clearly proud of the dining experience Yachtsman offers guests and made simply being seated into an interesting experience.  The glass room of hanging beef was cool!  I joked that the butcher was one of the best animatronics I’d seen at Disney World and that they’d really stepped up their game in recent years – which made our young host laugh and comment that I was the first person to say that.  Go figure.RM-Yachtsman-Dining-Room

RM-Yachtsman-Bread RM-Yachtsman-Butter-and-GarlicOur server continued the excellent hospitality and soon we were enjoying bread and butter and a glass of wine.  The butter is served with a roasted head of garlic along side.  If you love garlic (we do!), this is a fantastic way to start a meal!  Bread AND butter AND garlic = YUM!  Raymond and I always say we’re going to order different things so we can try more dishes, but at Yachtsman, we couldn’t do it.  We ordered the exact same meal.  To start, we both wanted a bowl of lobster bisque.  There are a staggering number of appetizers, cheeses, and an impressive charcuterie selection, but the bisque was irresistible.  Described as “Maine Lobster, Crème Fraîche, Preserved Lemon, Fine Herbes”, it was everything we’d hoped it would be – perfectly delicious!RM-Yachtsman-Menu RM-Yachtsman-Lobster-Bisque

Lamb, duck, scallops, tuna, even butternut squash waffles – the menu offers an amazing selection for a steakhouse, but we’d come for the beef!  Yachtsman is a steak-lovers paradise and offers steaks for every appetite.  Black Angus filet mignon, New York strip, roast prime rib, Kansas City strip steak, rib-eye, and even a whopping 32-ounce porterhouse for two…decisions, decisions!  We both decided on the filet mignon, which was the smallest steak on the menu at 8-ounces and came with a simple side of mashed potatoes and a cabernet wine sauce.RM-Yachtsman-Filet

The true test of a steakhouse, to me, is not just the quality of beef, but the quality of preparation.  When paying $50 or more for an entrée, I want my steak prepared the way I like it best – seared dark and crusty on the outside while being warm and pink in the center.  I asked for medium and my steak arrived perfectly cooked.  Raymond and I were absolutely silent as we enjoyed our food, our attention focused on doing justice to the delicious meal.  In short order, those steaks were history!RM-Yachtsman-Dessert

There was a chocolate peanut dessert on the menu that caught my eye and curiosity, so I ordered one up for us to share.  Coffees all around (mine of the Irish variety), we tried our best to finish that delicious dessert, but were so full.  And happy.  We give Yachtsman a hearty four thumbs up and will absolutely be returning for another visit.RM-Yachtsman-Plate

Have you tried Yachtsman Steakhouse?  Is it on your list of favorites?


Disney World History – Out With the Old

RM-Mickey's-PhilharMagicI am so pleased to welcome back Andrew Carrieri as a guest today!  Andrew is passionate about history and can always be counted on to offer up some awesome tidbits of Disney history for our enjoyment.  I want to hear from you!  What do you think when Disney replaces a ride or attraction with the latest and most popular movie or character?  What attractions are at Walt Disney World now that you’d like to see replaced with a newer theme? (Andrew can be found as a contributing writer at The Mouse For Less and on Twitter @AndrewCfran)

Disney World History – Out With the Old

Throughout the history of Walt Disney World, numerous attractions have been shuttered and replaced by attractions that are more connected to current happenings. For example, in 1994, Disney replaced “Magic Journeys,” a 3D show in Fantasyland, with a stage show called “The Legend of The Lion King.” This show, a retelling of The Lion King, which was at the time Disney’s new hit movie, entertained guests until 2002, when it closed to be converted to “Mickey’s PhilharMagic.”

Below, I will discuss three other instances where Disney changed attractions based on current trends.

1) “Stitch’s Great Escape” replaces “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” (2004): Despite being the centerpiece of the 1995 Tomorrowland overhaul, “Alien Encounter,” a theater-in-the-round show, never caught on because many guests deemed it too scary, especially considering its location in the Magic Kingdom.RM-Stitch's-Great-Escape

“Alien Encounter” closed in late 2003 and was replaced by “Stitch’s Great Escape,” another theater-in-the-round show, which features the alien from Disney’s 2002 film Lilo and Stitch. The attraction’s Stitch animatronic is arguably the best animatronic ever created by Disney, but “Stitch’s Great Escape” has received consistently bad reviews since its debut. People say it stinks, and I would agree with this assessment because Stitch’s chili dog burp doesn’t smell that great. Still, I thought the show was funny and an upgrade over “Alien Encounter,” which I ironically found extremely boring the one time I experienced it; I didn’t get the hype. To each their own.

2) “Captain EO” replaces “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” (2010): What goes around comes around. Following Michael Jackson’s 2009 death, Disney brought “Captain EO,” the 3D show starring Jackson, back to its old stomping grounds at Epcot’s Magic Eye Theater, replacing the long-running “Honey I Shrunk the Audience.” Ironically, “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” had replaced “Captain EO” in 1994 following the latter show’s original eight-year run at the Magic Eye Theater.

“Honey I Shrunk the Audience” had aged, and “Captain EO” was a nice throwback for a tribute, but I think it has remained too long and should be replaced by a new attraction. On a side note, 2016 will mark Captain EO’s thirtieth birthday!Malestrom / Norway Pavilion / World Showcase

3) Frozen Attraction to replace “Maelstrom” (Scheduled for 2016): Frozen has seemingly been the biggest thing since sliced bread over the past two years, so in 2014, Disney closed “Maelstrom,” a boat ride at Epcot’s Norway Pavilion since 1988, to construct an attraction based on Frozen.Princess-Half-Mile-6-Sign

“Maelstrom” had a cult following, but it was far from a headliner or even a classic attraction that Walt Disney himself developed, such as “The Carousel of Progress.” The opposition to the change, therefore, seems to be based more on the idea that Epcot’s World Showcase should feature authentic content about the various countries, not attractions based on fantasy.

I am ambivalent to the change, but I think a Frozen attraction would be a better fit for the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, which I think could use more dark rides to compete with the vast array of these attractions present in its Disneyland counterpart.