Disney Shopping! Windtraders in Pandora

In Animal Kingdom’s newest land, the ubiquitous merchandise common to many stores throughout Walt Disney World is missing.  Pandora’s store, Windtraders, is packed instead with unique, land-specific souvenirs.  And while the toy Banshees were still sold out when Megan and I were there in June, there was plenty left to satisfy our desire to pick up a couple of things to take home.Windtraders in Pandora

Disney Shopping! Windtraders in Pandora

Windtraders was doing a brisk business both times we visited.  Our M.O. for souvenir shopping is usually a recon mission on the first go ’round followed by a later visit for making actual purchases.  That’s exactly what we did in Pandora.  On our first morning there, we took about 10 minutes to check out the merchandise assortment.  There was a lot to choose from even without the super-popular shoulder-Banshees!Windtraders in Pandora

Things you’d expect like shirts, caps, mugs, toys, and jewelry were plentiful and offered in quite a bit of variety.  Personalized Avatars, unusual plants, and A.C.E. (Alpha Centauri Expeditions) uniform items and accessories were also available.  We took our time on the second visit and explored every section of the store before making our selections.  Windtraders in Pandora Windtraders in Pandora Windtraders in PandoraAfter much deliberation over design choices, Megan bought a shirt.  I picked up some tee-shirts for Joseph and Lyndsey and at the last minute, I also grabbed a canister of small, plastic toy Pandora creatures.  I haven’t opened it yet, but as far as an inexpensive reminder of the very unusual aspects of this little corner of Animal Kingdom, I thought it was kinda cool.

We loved the interior of Windtraders found it tons of fun to explore.  It’s immersive, visually interesting, and the merchandise seems to be carefully curated to appeal to a wide variety of shoppers.  I’m not sure how many souvenirs from Pandora I’ll feel the need to own in the future, but Megan, Joseph and Lyndsey seem to love their shirts and we will definitely stop in Windtraders again for another look around.

Have you visited Windtraders?  What did you buy?  If you haven’t yet visited Pandora, is Windtraders on your to-do list?

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.