The Right Way to Tour Epcot’s World Showcase

Hang around with enough fellow Disney fans and you’re bound to notice one hotly debated topic:  Which way is the right way to circle World Showcase?  One camp swears by the Mexico Pavilion route as the only acceptable way to go (Looking at YOU, Nick Maglio).  The other camp adamantly believes the only way to kick off a World Showcase visit is to begin in Canada (Hello, Dave Hodges!).  Of course, I have my own opinion (no big surprise, right?) and I’m certain my way is best.  (Want in-depth arguing on this topic?  Listen to The Disney Exchange!)

The Right Way to Tour Epcot’s World Showcase

The answer is simple.  Enter World Showcase wherever you like!  Our plan is always to go towards whatever is first on our agenda if we have one.  If we’re there simply to wander (a favorite family activity), we go to the side that appears to be less crowded at that particular moment.Gran Fiesta Tour / Mexico Pavilion / Epcot's World Showcase

If there for the rides, we enter on the Mexico side and hit the Gran Fiesta Tour on our way to Frozen Ever After in Norway.  When looking for a bite to eat, the direction we take is solely based on whatever we’re craving at the moment.  In search of a cold beverage, we’re headed to the Canada side to make our way to the UK Pavilion for an Innes & Gunn (Scotland’s finest beer, IMHO).  See how this works?

On of the very best and most charming aspects of World Showcase is that it can be completely different from one visit to the next.  Seasonal festivals, holiday decorations and special events, and slower times of the year – all game changers.

For example:  During Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, the World Showcase can be packed!  Between guests and the extra food booths and kiosks, it has a certain party atmosphere unlike other time of the year.  If we’re there for attractions or visiting particular pavilions to shop, we go at park opening.  If we’re there for the food, we prefer to be in and out by late afternoon.

When there are no special events, World Showcase begs to be explored at a leisurely pace.  This is when we love to visit every pavilion and stop here and there to speak to Cast Members or watch a performance unique to a particular country.  Drummers in Japan, acrobats in China, Mariachi band in Mexico, performers in Italy and France – we’ll take in whatever happens to be going on at the moment.  Of course, there are always snacks and drinks to try!

Don’t fall for the arguments!  There is no one correct way to tour World Showcase – no matter where you start, there are amazing sights, sounds, and flavors to explore.

What’s your World Showcase touring strategy? 

 

 

Walt Disney World Snacking – 2017 Edition

There have been quite a few snack posts through the years here at Living a Disney Life.  There’s a good reason for that…Snacking around the World is an important part of a Disney vacation!  There are awesome tasty treats everywhere you go.  Let’s talk about a couple of this year’s new favorites and, of course, reliable old standbys.

Walt Disney World Snacking – 2017 Edition

New to us this year (If you’re on a Disney Dining Plan, these are one snack credit each.)

Salted Caramel Cupcake from Karamell-Kuche in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion.  It’s a beautiful and delicious choice for cupcake fans.  Moist, tender cake and wonderfully flavorful frosting.  If you’re like me and don’t have a sweet tooth, it’s a great snack to share.

Chocolate-filled Beignets from Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in Epcot’s France Pavilion.  These were the perfect mix of traditional beignets (fluffy and coated in powdered sugar) with the added bonus of a not-too-sweet chocolate filling.  Delightful!

Perennial Favorites

Of course most of you are already familiar with the classics:  Mickey Shaped Pretzels, Citrus Swirls (or Dole Whips if you prefer), Churros, Popcorn and Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars.  These are, without a doubt, “the usuals” for us.

There are a few slightly less universally popular, but worthy repeat snacks for our family…

Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes’ Eggroll – If we’re in Animal Kingdom and anywhere near Expedition Everest, I’m detouring into the queue for Yak and Yeti’s quick service counter.  The eggrolls come in single or double servings and are not only a great bargain, but are really fresh and delicious.  As a savory snack fan, these are currently my favorite.

Sweet Spells Carrot Cake Cookie – We will always miss the Writer’s Stop in Disney’s Hollywood Studios which was closed to make way for new construction.  That special shop may be gone, but at least one of its best offerings lives on.  The Carrot Cake Cookie (big enough to share) puts a slice of carrot cake in a convenient sandwich form.  It’s huge!  I’ve never eaten one all by myself.

Refreshment Port Croissant Donut – Take into consideration that this type of treat is not one we normally crave, thus it’s a special vacation sweet!  Flakey, cinnamon/sugar-coated and warm, fresh from the oven(fryer?), if you’re headed into World Showcase towards Canada, grab one of these and see for yourself how yummy they are.

Candied Almonds – They seem to be available in several places now, but my personal favorite place to snag a paper cone of these tasty morsels is at a snack cart in Animal Kingdom.  They’re warm and crunchy, sweet and delicious.  These?  I’m not sharing.

Karamell-Kuche Caramel Corn or really anything else on the menu.  While the Salted Caramel Cupcake (mentioned above) was new to us, the offerings in this place are always tempting!  If you’ve never taken the time to check out this sweet shop in the Germany Pavilion, please take a minute to step inside.  While the Caramel Corn does need to be eaten on day of purchase (trust me, it is absolutely best when fresh), there are so many treats (I’m partial to a simple salted caramel square) can be purchased for later.

Still in Epcot – There’s a Gelato Cart in the Italy Pavilion that serves the Gelato Affogato we’ve loved since the very first bite.  It also has the added bonus of being one of the cutest-looking snacks in the World.

Have you recently discovered a new Walt Disney World snack?  Do you have a favorite not mentioned here?  What is it and where can we find it?  Our next Disney vacation is right around the corner.

 

Who Would Love Disney’s Festival of the Lion King?

One person in our family considers Festival of the Lion King a must-do Animal Kingdom attraction and insists on trying (usually unsuccessfully) to include it on every visit. Poor Megan!  The rest of us are kind of meh about the Lion King show and it’s probably due to getting burned out in the early years when she’d beg to see it twice a day.  (She has powerful persuasion skills and was the sweetest child!)

Who Would Love Disney’s Festival of the Lion King?

Having pretty much shunned the Festival of the Lion King for the past couple-few years (as we say in these parts), I promised Megan when we took our Mother/Daughter Disney trip back in June we could see her favorite show. I was so excited we were going to see Pandora, I think I was unusually agreeable.

So, once we’d ridden Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage (twice), it was time to make good on my promise. We were off to the Harambe Theater, which is conveniently located just past the Dawa Bar (had to stop, Pandora made us thirsty). We didn’t have to wait long outside the theater before we headed in to find a seat (Tip: don’t use a FastPass for this attraction).  It was wonderfully cool and dark as we made our way up the aisle in the closest section to perch on the bleachers.  I’d forgotten about those seats.  Luckily, the women in our family come “standard equipped” with good seat cushions.  Still pretty uncomfortable.  So much for trying to squeeze in a nap.

When the show started, I quickly realized it was much better than I remembered. The Tumble Monkeys had a much smaller role than they’d had in the past and didn’t perform the acrobatics I’d seen them do before, but the singing and dancing was fantastic!  Who Would Love Disney's Festival of the Lion King?This show does an amazing job of including the audience throughout its entire 30 minute duration.  I’d forgotten how great the costumes are and how talented the performers…I owed Megan an apology for a few (slightly) negative comments I’d jokingly made pre-show.

I asked Megan to share her thoughts on why she loves Festival of the Lion King so much and here’s what she had to say…

“I love the stunts like the fire twirler and the monkeys. The dancing is fun to watch and I enjoy the choreography (mainly when the two birds dance).  I love the singing and I think Disney does a really good job of finding people who will sing the songs really well live (like “Be Prepared”) and I’ve always thought the floats with the giant moving and talking animals were a pretty cool touch.”Who Would Love Disney's Festival of the Lion King?

We noticed families with children of all ages enjoying Festival of the Lion King’s clever mix of circus-style performance, musical numbers, characters and audience participation. It’s a winning combination!

Have you seen Festival of the Lion King? How do you feel about it?  Who in your family loves this show?

Random Thoughts on Chickens

Once in a while, I have other things on my mind besides Disney. Hard to believe, isn’t it?  This is one of those times.  So if you’re here for the Disney stuff, it’ll be back in the very next post (promise!), but you might want to go now.  This is quite a long tale.  It’s somewhat sad and only time will tell if there will be a happy ending.

Random Thoughts on Chickens (and how I’m trying to be a friend of fowl)

This story starts back in July when Joseph decided to move home. We welcomed him with open arms, of course.  He’s making awesome grades in college and has big plans for his future that will most certainly involve moving away.  For now he’ll have room and board and we’ll get to enjoy his company.

Before he moved back in, we knew Joe had a pet snake, Smaug, and a pet tortoise, Arno, but we had no idea he’d be bringing home three pet chickens.  Let’s not dwell on how said chickens lived in his apartment prior to moving to our backyard, mmmmkay?  So, the chickens…Brandy (a fine girl), Hei Hei, and Kylo Hen…They were precious – three different breeds – and as friendly as can be.  Notice I said “were”.Just a few days after Joseph and the menagerie settled in, some loose dogs (we live in the country=no leash law) broke into the coop and made off with Hei Hei and Kylo Hen. Brandy was then left all alone and I was heartbroken for Joseph and Brandy both.  Which prompted me to, well, you can probably guess…

I made my first ever visit to a Tractor Supply Store for some chicks, so Brandy would have a flock. At the same time, I bought a seriously strong fortress to surround the chicken coop.  We ended up with six Isa Brown chicks (minimum purchase reqired and all that) who immediately looked upon Brandy as both mother and supreme leader.  And with a new, covered, six-foot tall, chain-link enclosure, the coops (I soon bought a second so everyone would have plenty of shelter) were secure and our feathered friends were safe!

Suddenly, I was a chicken farmer…

Having grown up in the ‘burbs of a major metropolitan area, I knew absolutely nothing about chickens other than they lay eggs and also taste delicious. I had no idea I would soon be making time every day to visit our little flock.  They were cute and funny and even let me pet and hold them.  Before long, they were eating out of my hand and one in particular liked to jump onto my arm and stand there until all the food was gone.  I found watching them oddly soothing.  They were like therapy chickens.  We’d let them out of their pen to free-range (under our watchful eye) and they’d follow me.  When I’d sit down, they’d come over and hang out with me.  Even Megan and Grant would spend time with these little chickens for fun.  Yes, I’m still using past-tense…

Monday afternoon when I came home from work, Joseph met me at the door with a very serious face. He had bad news and did his level best to break it to me gently.  The evil marauding dogs had come back and were big enough and heavy enough to jump on the gate to the pen and bend the latch.  All the chickens were gone except one.  Killed by the dogs, the only remains were lots of feathers and Brandy, always so sweet and gentle, whose body Joseph found in a field quite a distance from our house.

Six weeks. That’s how long it took me to fall in love with a flock of chickens.  I was incredibly sad. In fact, in an alarming and uncharacteristic display of heartbreak, I sobbed like a baby.  Raymond and Joseph tried their best to cheer me up, but I was (for a very little while) inconsolable.  Yes, they were just a bunch of birds, but they’d added a type of joy to my life I never knew existed.

I’d been learning so much* and they were so darn adorable!  We’d been taking our time naming them as they started looking and acting in ways that allowed us to tell them apart.  Besides Brandy, we’d had Melanie, Pearl, and Sweet Pea named so far.  I was super sad for the one remaining (as yet unnamed) chick, who’d lost her entire family in the most traumatic way.

Time to Regroup and Consider…

The gate to the pen has been chained shut, top and bottom, and the electric fence I ordered will be here any day. (Thank you, Amazon Prime.) Yesterday when I got home from work, Joseph had some surprises waiting for me – four tiny, newly hatched Marans chicks and two, three-week-old Light Sussex/Barnevelder crosses. Random Thoughts on Chickens Random Thoughts on Chickens We absolutely could not let our only surviving chicken remain alone.  The tiny babies are safely living in a large tank with a heat lamp until they grow some feathers.  The bigger chicks are spending a few days closed in one coop so they’ll be near, but separate, from the lonely chicken.  This way they can become acquainted before living together as a group.Backyard Chickens

Funny how life can turn you in a direction you never saw coming!  I’m still quite a bit sad about the hens we lost and I still don’t know much about raising chickens.  But I’m going to do everything in my power to protect and provide for this new flock.  Life (and Joseph) put me on this path and while I’m certainly surprised to find myself here, I’m not turning back now.

Still here?  Thanks for sticking with me!  Know anything about chickens?  Any helpful tips and suggestions you have are welcome!  All of our feathered friends are of egg-laying varieties.

*I’d like to give a giant shout-out to the two best resources I’ve found so far.  The Chicken Keeping 101 Facebook group and Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens.  Both the group and the book have helped me understand that it’s not just us – keeping chickens safe and healthy can be challenging!  Wish us luck…we’re gonna need it.