Walt Disney World 2016 – 6 Things I’ll Miss

Change happens all the time.  While some changes are welcome (bring on Pandora in Animal Kingdom and Star Wars in the Studios!), others take some time to get used to. There have been (or will soon be) a few changes that will leave noticeable holes in our future vacations…

Walt Disney World 2016 – 6 Things I’ll Miss

The Roasted Pork Shank at Gaston’s Tavern – My beloved pork shank is gone!  Somewhere near the end of October it disappeared from the menu at Gaston’s and beef stew took its place. Based on everything I’ve read, the pork shank’s absence is permanent.  I love the area around Gaston’s Tavern, but gone is my reason for entering the restaurant itself.  I’m sure I’m better off without the fat and calories, but that sure was one delicious hunk of meaty goodness.RM-Gaston's-Pork-Shank-and-Lefou's-Brew

Breakfast at Sunshine Seasons (discontinued beginning in January 2016) – It was a thing…you know, a vacation tradition!  Soarin’ early in the morning with a stop for breakfast at Sunshine Seasons afterwards.  Raymond and I always split a breakfast sandwich and potatoes with a chocolate croissant for dessert.  We’ve never eaten at Sunshine Seasons for any meal except breakfast – maybe it’s time to give lunch a try.Sunshine Seasons Breakfast

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (Ending after the 2015 holiday season) – It’s hard to see anything go that had a successful 20-year run.  The lights were part of many families’ Christmas traditions and will most definitely leave a gap.  There’s no doubt that new and exciting things are in store for us in the Studios’ future.  Maybe the lights will return in a different venue?  I hope so.

Soarin’, The Original – While we can still see the original Soarin’ through January 3rd, I’m counting it among the losses for this year.  I’m going to say goodbye and I’m going to be enormously sad.  This ride has been one of my favorites since it opened and I’ve got those silly emotional attachments to it fueled by happy memories of many, many family vacations that involved Epcot rope-dropping and bee-lining for the Land.Soarin's Patrick

World Showcase Entertainment – In September of 2014, Epcot lost several acts at once (Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin, World Showcase Players, and the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps).  I’m pointing this out, not because they were individually near and dear to my heart, but because I would expect discontinued acts to be replaced with new ones of equal quality.  Such was not the case!  In fact, as of November 24th, 2015 the Canada Pavilion’s Lumberjack show, just a year old, ended for good.  This show was never well-received by the general public and personally I did not care for the act’s county-fair-ish-ness.  This is Walt Disney World!  Much of World Showcase’s charm has always been based on the availability of a variety of quality live performances.  I’m hoping for a return to the days of fun acts and great music!

Duffy!  He no longer appears for a meet-and-greet in Epcot.  Yes, I have referred to him as the “Domestic Dispute Named Duffy”, but as an inside joke in our family, he was priceless!  He might be controversial (like a Kardashian, he’s famous for being famous) but he was one of the cutest and funniest characters we’d ever interacted with.  The kids won’t miss him a bit, but Raymond and I will remember him fondly.RM-Duffy

What about you?  What will you miss the most at Walt Disney World next year?  The Sorcerer’s Hat?  Star Wars Weekends?  Something completely different?  Shout it out now – you’ll feel better.


“Sewing For Cinderelly” Disney Ornament

It’s finally Saturday!  Can you believe it’s almost Christmas?  I don’t know about your house, but there’s a lot of last minute holiday prep going on at ours!  Our weather has been unseasonably warm lately & made it seem as if Christmas was way in the future – finally a cold snap just in time!  If you’ve visitied here before you may have noticed I have a thing for Disney Christmas decorations.  Ornaments are my favorite Disney souvenirs and my 9-foot tree displays more than 20 years-worth of collecting them (and making a few of my own).  I love seeing Nick post about his Disney ornaments at Disney Musings Blog and Facebook page – His collection is completely different than mine!  Today’s little treasure is just precious and if I ever come across one of these for sale, I would love to add it to my own tree.

“Sewing For Cinderelly” Disney Ornament

By: Nick

I bought this “Limited Quantity” ornament titled “Sewing For Cinderelly” in July, 2013 during the Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Premiere Weekend.

Gus and Jaq are maybe my favorite part of Cinderella.


I see more than a bit of myself in Gus Gus!

They have helped create a masterpiece for Cinderella.

Do you have special Disney ornaments on your Christmas tree?  We’d love to see pictures over on our Facebook page!

For more Disney awesomeness, be sure to follow Nick, his wife Barbie, and friends at the Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest. You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about…well, you can probably guess.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up in February during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!



Walt Disney World Dining – Resort Loop Table Service (Part 1)

RM-Bay-Lake-Tower-Contemporary-ViewIt’s time to talk about food (Big Surprise, right?).  Pros and Cons of Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Resort Table Service dining, to be exact.  As always, I’m providing information mostly based on my own experiences and opinion – I like to be completely honest.  This means I’ll do my best to give you balanced reviews.  Since there are three resorts on the Monorail, I thought we’d, you know, make this simple and take one at a time.  Thus, part one is Disney’s Contemporary table service dining options – it gets the #1 spot because it’s my favorite resort.  Let’s talk food!

Walt Disney World – Resort Loop Table Service Restaurants (Part 1)

Hop on the monorail from the Magic Kingdom and you are just a stop or three away from some of the very best dining those genius Disney chefs can dish out!  The best part of this deal is that you can easily avoid in-park dining if you want to.  Not that the Magic Kingdom’s food is all bad, but it is somewhat limited if you want to get away from the crowds a bit and maybe have an adult beverage (currently only available in-park at Be Our Guest for dinner).  On the resort loop, you will find quite a variety of experiences to choose from and while I’ve not eaten at every restaurant in every monorail resort, I’ve eaten at enough of them to make some well-informed recommendations.  I’ll also include the number of table service credits each eatery requires for those of you who use a dining plan.RM-Monorail

Contemporary Resort Table ServiceIMG_2651

Chef Mickey’s (buffet, 1 TS credit) – Character dining at its best.  I’ve covered the joys of meeting the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto) in a couple of previous posts because we have had many excellent times at Chef Mickey’s for both breakfast and dinner.  Pros: No waiting in line in the Florida heat to meet these beloved characters – you get one-on-one time for plenty of prime photo ops.  The buffet, while not extremely imaginative, is full of decent, basic food with plenty of choices that are sure to please even the pickiest eaters.  Cons: It’s loud, super crowded (usually), and you can often find a bunch of families with ill-behaved children.  It’s worth it, though, especially since boys and girls alike will enjoy the character lineup here.RM-The-Wave

The Wave (1 TS credit) – Raymond and I stopped in for a late lunch and ate in the bar.  What a delightfully unexpected surprise!  We shared several things which were all absolutely delicious and we each enjoyed a fantastic glass of red wine.  The menu offers fresh, sustainable, locally grown ingredients.  Pros: Good eats for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.  Expect a decent selection that is designed to please almost everyone.  The dinner menu includes beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and a couple of vegetarian options as well.  Cons: Décor is Dark and a little dreary – feels like you’re in a basement.RM-California-Grill-Menu

California Grill (2 TS credits) – LOVE this place.  I thought our dinner here on our 25th Anniversary Celebration trip (October, 2014) was absolutely fantastic with some extra-special touches just for us.  Raymond wished we’d gone someplace quieter.  To me, pretty much everything about this place is great – the atmosphere, the view, the food, the wine list.  RM-California-Grill-InteriorYes, it’s expensive and while we’ve taken our kids to eat here, I would categorize the California Grill as a best-appreciated-by-adults dining experience.  Pros: Excellent menu and service, great view of Magic Kingdom, guests are welcome to watch Wishes from the restaurant (If you had dinner there early, you can come back later the same evening.).  Cons:  If there are lots of children present, the noise and action can kind of kill the romantic atmosphere – make a late reservation to minimize the impact.

Check back soon for Parts 2 & 3 – Table service options at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Have you eaten at Disney’s Contemporary Resort?  What restaurant(s) would you recommend?









Flea Market Treasure: Disney Christmas Stocking

Hooray for the weekend!  So much Christmas-y stuff to do, so little time left!!!  As we all know by now, Nick’s Disney collection includes something(s) for every season!  I particularly love this slightly odd but adorably seasonal find.  A little research on the interwebs leads me to believe this was originally a sew-it-yourself project, once upon a time.  Merry Christmas!  (Just out of curiosity, I searched online and found this piece for sale on etsy – $42!!! – Nick scored a big-time bargain!)

Flea Market Treasure: Disney Christmas Stocking

By Nick

We bought this vintage Disney Christmas stocking at our local flea market, Columbus, for $7.

It measures about 9 1/2 x 15 inches and is in really great shape considering it is likely from the 1960s.

I’m pretty confident saying it’s from the mid 60’s based on the fact that one side features Merlin from The Sword in the Stone, which was released on Christmas day in 1963. The next animated feature wasn’t released until The Jungle Book in 1967!

There is a lot happening on this stocking! In fact, there is something I didn’t notice until taking photos. Is this Peter Pan below? It’s pretty vague.

Donald is painting candy canes.

I’m not exactly sure what Dwarf this is, but I’m thinking Happy as he has a big smile on his face as he paints a train.

Clearly this is Dopey, though I am not sure of who put him in charge of the lights.

Is this Huey, Dewey, or Louie? On Duck Tales, Dewey wears blue, so we’ll go with that.

This is Thumper?

This is certainly Bambi being decorated by Mickey and Alice.

They look like they are all well on their way to finishing decorating for Christmas. How about you?

For more Disney awesomeness, be sure to follow Nick, his wife Barbie, and friends at the Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest. You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about…well, you can probably guess.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up in February during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!