Disney World! Always New Things to Try

Walt Disney World – Trying new things and revisiting old favorites is what makes every visit different from the one before.  I’m committed to adding something new to every trip…our most recent Disney vacation was no exception.

Disney World! Always New Things to Try

Most of the items on this list rate their very own review in the future (please stand by).  Today I’m going for a quick rundown of what was new (to us) and what our initial impressions were.  Please feel free to weigh in on what you’re looking forward to trying for the first time on your next Walt Disney World visit.

  1. Mad Tea Party.  Yes, that’s right, Raymond and I have never, not once, taken a spin on this most iconic of Magic Kingdom attractions.  Now we can say we’ve done it. Aaaaaaand that’s pretty much all I have to say about that…for now.on-the-tea-cups
  2. Disney Springs’ new offerings.  We didn’t have a great deal of time to spare, but we did manage to grab lunch at Morimoto Street Food (new walk-up counter service at Morimoto Asia) and check out a few of the new stores in the new retail shopping section.  Lunch was great, the stores were okay.  In spite of all the fancy, new high-end offerings, I found myself pulled back to my old favorites like the Marketplace Co-Op and Disney’s Days of Christmas.  That’s where I spent my money.  schweitzer-falls-fanI was inordinately happy with my Schweitzer Falls t-shirt buy…can you blame me?tiffins-exterior
  3. Animal Kingdom’s Nomad Lounge and Tiffins – Guys!  We give these new places a resounding, unanimous vote of approval!  I promise more details later, but if you’re on the fence about trying one or both…get off the fence on the side of definitely going.via-napoli-pizza-slice
  4. Epcot’s Via Napoli – Raymond and I enjoyed a special dining experience here during the 2014 Food & Wine festival, but had never made a regular ADR for a meal here until this visit.  I’d been skeptical of reviews that said the pizza was fantastic (Disney pizza is typically anything but fantastic) and the food excellent overall, but I’m a believer now and cannot wait to go back!  We were very happy!sci-fi-dine-in-menu
  5. Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater – All I can say in my own defense was that I thought it would be unique and fun.  Yeahhhhh….not so much.  Didn’t hate it, but now that we’ve given it a try, there’s no need to go back.  For the price, service level, and menu, there are too many superior choices…we’ll put this in the “once and done” category.  I’ll go ahead and add that for us, the service was subpar and the seating less than ideal for a party of more than four.frozen-ever-after-figures
  6. Frozen Ever After – Raymond and I managed to score a FastPass for this and ride it on the first day of our vacation.  I hate that we couldn’t get FastPasses for the rest of our party!  This attraction is outstanding.  Let’s not debate its suitability for the Norway Pavilion in Epcot and just focus on the experience alone…wonderful!soarin-new
  7. Soarin’ – This was THE one thing I was most looking forward to.  I’ve always been a fan and could not wait to check out the new version.  I was both delighted and disappointed in equal measure.  Have you ridden it yet?  What did you think?

Okay, now it’s your turn.  Have you tried any/all of these yet?  Where do we agree and disagree?

Mitsukoshi in Epcot – Sake Tasting

Mitsukoshi-EntranceOur love for World Showcase is indescribable – The whole being so much greater than the sum of its parts.  One of the very best of those individual parts is and always has been the Japan pavilion’s Mitsukoshi Department Store.  More than a shop – it’s a destination on its own – worth making time for or planning in advance.  Spend some time in this fantastic building and tell me if you don’t agree – what cool merchandise!  Amazing sights, sounds, tastes!  Fabulous service – excellent Cast Members!  And sake tasting.  Did I mention the sake tasting?Japan-Epcot

Sake is an adult beverage.  Referred to as rice wine, sake is actually brewed more like beer, but has a unique flavor unlike anything else.  We like sake with sushi and other Asian dishes, but until recently knew only basic sake info and had no idea it came in so many different kinds.  We learned all about Sake in Mitsukoshi at the Sake Bar.Mitsukoshi-Sake-Bar-Cast-Member

Way in the back of the store is the coolest room devoted to Japanese food, snacks, candy, and beverages – including Sake.  I highly recommend a stop into this very impressive corner…in fact, here are five reasons you should give it a try…

Mitsukoshi in Epcot – Sake Tasting

Enjoy Delicious Sake – There are choices aplenty.  Raymond chose something dry.  I chose my sake strictly on the fact that it contained gold flakes.  It just seemed so exotic and decadent!  I couldn’t pass it up.

Learn Something New – We picked up quite a bit of information just listening to the couple next to us ask questions.  The patient and knowledgeable Japanese Cast Member knew her sake!  Basically, she explained this, but with gracious loveliness and flair.Mitsukoshi-Sake-Menu3

It’s Economical – Unlike most pubs or lounges, this walk-up counter does not accept gratuities.  The price you see is what you pay and for less than $10 per serving, the entire experience is worth the price.Mitsukoshi-Sake-Menu

It’s Fun and Relaxing – This is actually not the place to take a load off since you stand at the counter, but stopping for a few minutes to be adventurous felt very relaxing.  We meandered through Mitsukoshi making our way to the sake bar and back out to World Showcase again.  We spent about 30 minutes there and loved every minute.  What a welcome break from the crazy World Showcase crowds!Mitsukoshi-Sake-Selection

Shop!  Mitsukoshi has a staggering array of goods.  From the pick-a-pearl counter to the knives and swords, the clothing, jewelry, home goods, bonsai trees, tea sets, chop sticks…and so much more.  Want to know more?  Read all about it here.

Have you visited the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Epcot?  What’s your favorite section? Did you know about the sake bar?  Is it something you’d try?

Memento Mori: Ghostly Shopping in Magic Kingdom

Happy Halloween!  It’s the perfect day for this particular installment of Saturdays With Nick.  Spooky shopping!!!  If you’ve not had the pleasure, next time you visit Walt Disney World, save a few minutes and some souvenir money for Memento Mori.  Personally, I think this is one of the very best attraction-related shopping experiences to be found in a Disney park!  I’ll let Nick fill you in on the details…

Memento Mori: Ghostly Shopping in Magic Kingdom

By Nick

A new shop, (or is it an old residence?) mysteriously appeared a few months ago in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, at the exit of the Haunted Mansion.

Memento Mori was the home of Madame Leota, until her disappearance, and, I suppose, partial reappearance within the Haunted Mansion. Her portrait can be found inside.

According to Webster’s Online Dictionary, Memento Mori means “a reminder of mortality.” Google  provides a definition that is even more appropriate; “an object serving as a warning or reminder of death,” and the Memento Mori shop is happy to provide such reminders of the iconic ride it is located beside.

There are a lot of items in here that appeals to fans of the HM, and you can go a little nuts. Indeed, if  we had more space in the house, I’d have walked out with much more than just the one item I did leave with. I could easily see having a room dedicated to some of this fanatasmagorical merchandise.

Think of a merchandise category, and there is a really good chance you’ll find it here. Clothes? Obviously. Shoes? Check. Make-up? Wait, what? Yes. Haunted Mansion Make-up kits from the Beautifully Disney line!

Want to redo the kitchen in Early American spooky? Yes, you can do that also. Dish Towel sets are $19.95, coaster sets are $24.95.

We were very interested in the dinner plates, but had breakage concerns. The round plates are $26.95.

There is a lot to see here, and you may stay so long you actually build up an appetite. If you are hungry for Haunted Mansion food, popcorn and cotton candy are readily available.

Want chocolate? They have chocolate in the form of bats, for $4.95.

There are many t-shirts and even collared shirts to choose from.

The Gracey Family Reunion shirt is $24.95.

This shirt of the Ghost Host himself, which is $ 36.95, changes, transforming into a skeleton…

…like the portraits below.

A version of this can be had on a postcard as well.

Looking for the perfect Haunted accessory to go with your clothes?

How about a protective case for your smart phone?

There are action figures for boys, and even something for your little girl. Perhaps she’ll like a Haunted Bride doll for $21.95?

Holidays aren’t forgotten, as there a couple of different ornament sets to be had.

There are higher end collectibles and home decor items, such as the Haunted Mansion wall hanging for $100.

This replica of the Haunted Mansion sign can hang in your home for $95.

Plenty of less expensive souvenirs can be found as well, such as key chains, notepad and magnet sets, and antenna toppers, which are 2 for $8.

You can even take home an 8×10 ghostly image of yourself or a loved one for $19.95 plus tax.

Step behind the curtain for your own piece of “Spirit Photography.”

I had read online that there is a limit to how many items a guest could purchase at one time, and indeed there was this sign hanging under one of the displays:

When I asked a Cast Member why guests would be limited to 6 items, unless otherwise specified, I was told it was because people would buy items in bulk, and sell them on eBay!

We did buy one item, the throw pictured below, for $59.95.

As you can see, Disney has found yet another ingenious way to separate me and my money.
“Hurry back, hurry back,” indeed!

For more great reviews, trip reports and all manner of Disney delights, follow Nick, his wife Barbie, and friends:  Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, On Instagram, On Pinterest.

Disney Springs’ Chapel Hats

RM-Raglan-Road-Irish-DancersConstruction walls may still be up all around, but excitement is in the air as Downtown Disney’s transformation into Disney Springs is well underway.  New stores are springing up while old favorites continue to thrive.  We recently spent a very enjoyable evening in Downtown Disney/Disney Springs and there’s a new shop I’ve just got to tell you about!

After a leisurely dinner at one of our most favorite dining locations in the World, Raglan Road, we decided to take our time walking back to the bus stop.  Okay, that’s a lie.  We RM-Chapel-Hats-Storehad to walk slowly on account of being inordinately stuffed from the appetizer, salad, entrées, and desserts we’d just consumed.  My only excuse for overindulgence is that watching those famous Irish Dancers burn off all those calories makes me hungry.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Anyway, we were strolling along and noticed a new shop had opened that we both wanted to explore!

I know, right?  What are the chances that Raymond and I both wanted to shop in the very same store when it’s not full of Disney merchandise?  It just so happens that we are both wild about hats!  The new Chapel Hat store was irresistible.  We waddled on inside and stayed for quite a visit.

Simple and well-stocked, Chapel hats is easy to shop – it’s like a gigantic closet of hats!RM-Chapel-Hats-Shelves3Shelves and shelves stacked high with just about any and every style imaginable.  Men’s hats on the left and women’s on the right with the checkout counter in the middle, Chapel Hats is a lid-lover’s dream come true.RM-Chapel-Hats-Shelves2 RM-Chapel-Hats-ShelvesCharmed by the variety of hats ranging in style from whimsical to utilitarian, we made use of the shop’s many mirrors…and had a ball!  RM-Chapel-Hats-Tophat RM-Chapel-Hats-Silhouette RM-Chapel-Hats-Fedora RM-Chapel-Hats-Fancy

What started out as a fun diversion soon became a serious quest for the perfect hat for each of us.  We enjoyed picking out different styles for each other to try.RM-Chapel-Hats-Cabbie RM-Chapel-Hats-Ladies'-HatsWe took turns modeling different types and colors, narrowing our selection down to the two or three we liked the best then helping each other decide on the ONE.  No matter what kind of chapeau you prefer, Chapel Hats has a topper for you!  After about 30 minutes of fun, we purchased our selections.  Shopping bag in hand, we made our way to the buses and on to the Magic Kingdom for Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade.  A perfect souvenir for a truly magical day, our new hats will be a happy reminder of a great Disney vacation for years to come.

Are you much of a hat wearer?  Be sure to check out Chapel Hats on your next visit to Downtown Disney/Disney Springs!  Chapel Hats on the web.