Monday, September 30, 2013

Disney Food Review- Vegetarian option at Animal Kingdom Lodge's The Mara

While I'm preparing for our next trip (I actually just realized we're going to be there during the Food and Wine Festival!  How could I have missed that!?)  I thought it might be fun to do a little trip review of our last trip (of what I remember about it before I became a walking flu virus).  In honor of my realization about the Food and Wine Festival, I thought I'd talk a little bit about vegetarian food options and what I ate while we were there. For this past trip, we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I know a lot of people don't like how far away Animal Kingdom Lodge is from the other parks, (there are reports that the buses are slow to arrive, and take a while to get from point A to point B) but (except for one night when it took an hour and a half to get to Downtown Disney some back way that was full of traffic at rush hour) we never found that to be an issue and really enjoyed everything about our stay there.

It's a pretty amazing hotel, with amazing views, and no matter what room you're in or what you can or can't see from your room windows, the common viewing areas are great and are pretty centralized. Here's a picture of the Lobby from the bridge that's strung across the top floors so you can look out onto the savanna:

And here's a picture of Nathan standing on that bridge looking out over the savanna like Simba (everything the light touches will be his!)

One more!  Here's a picture of my new Giraffe-y friends in one of the common viewing areas:
I think he's saying "cheese"

But this is all just to set the stage for the really important stuff.  It being the Animal Kingdom Lodge, I had high expectations for the variety of food options that would be available at all locations, including the counter service location, The Mara. Animal Kingdom is my favorite park to eat at as a vegetarian because of the wide variety of foods and food cultures represented there, and I hoped the hotel would be as good as the park is.  I had my sights set on the falafel sandwich as soon as we got off the Magical Express.  I wanted it to be delicious, and I wasn't disappointed!
 served on a warm pita with sun-dried tomato hummus, cucumber, tomato, and mixed greens with mint yogurt sauce

There are lots of greens and veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers)  in that soft pita bread, and two good sized falafel. The hummus that's slathered on the bottom helps hold everything on the pita.  This is not your standard falafel; it's much softer in texture, and doesn't exactly "hold together well"   It was a challenge to eat, because of the size and the softness of the falafel, but with a fork and a knife, you can tackle it (I wouldn't take it as a to-go item, or you might end up wearing it).  The yogurt mint sauce wasn't a prominent flavor, so if you don't dig mint (I don't, really) don't let that stop you from ordering this one.

You get a side with this sandwich, and I chose the couscous.
not the most appetizing picture, is it?
I didn't really enjoy the couscous, and didn't finish it.  The texture was great, and there were veggies and raisins mixed in, and it would have been really good, but it tasted like it had been slathered with teriyaki sauce, which was a weird and unexpected flavor for couscous, particularly in conjunction with the raisins.  I'm not sure if that was just a weird batch that day and the bottle slipped out of someone's hands, or if they're trying to make what might be seen as an "unusual" side be a little more universally appealing with a more familiar taste profile, but to me, this went the other way and was less appealing than the fresh-tasting side of couscous I envisioned.  The other side option is just Disney french fries, though, so I probably would still go with the couscous, but it wasn't my favorite.

Overall though, this is a great vegetarian option--particularly if you're tired of veggie burgers and salads as options at other counter service places.  The Mara also has an interesting vegetable flat bread available, that is more than the typical "Margarita pizza" style you find at a lot of the park counter service locations.  I've never tried this option but the menu describes it like this: olive tapenade topped with four cheese blend, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and arugula.

If anyone has had the flat bread, feel free to post and let me know how it was!

Tiggerific Trivia Tuesday Blog Hop

Hi Everyone-

It's Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia Time!  It's co-hosted by 4 awesome blogs, so be sure to check them all out: today I'm linking to Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, but be sure check out Heidi's Head, Disney Babies Blog and My Dreams of Disney.  You can link up on any one of these amazing blogs!

Did you know that the Prince Charming Regal Carousel is the oldest attraction in Disney World? It was originally crafted in 1917 and was called the Liberty Carousel.  It started it's life in the Palace Garden Amusement Park in Detroit, Michigan and was then moved to Mapelwood Olympic Park in New Jersey in 1928.  It stayed in Jersey until Disney bought it in 1967 and had it totally refurbished (hand painting each horse!)  There are 90 horses on the ride and as of 2011 there are still 72 horses that date back to the original 1917 craftsmen!

Here are a few fun pictures of the Tremaines Riding the Carousel with some unsuspecting young guests just after the park opened this day!

This fun fact comes from Little-Known Facts about Well-Known Places: Walt Disney World by Laurie Flannery.

Thanks for joining the hop.  Be sure to check out all the other fun trivia!

Tiggerific+Tuesday+Trivia Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia: Walt Disneys Silver Buffalo Award

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Guess what came today?

As I mentioned in a post yesterday, we're going to be part of some of Disney's "beta" testing of their new elements.  When we initially booked our trip, I didn't think we'd be involved in the testing because there was no information about it or any sort of formal invitation.So imagine my surprise when I logged in to make a payment in August, there is was: a notification asking me to customize my MagicBands.  I was surprised (I had assumed we'd be formally invited) but we were game for an adventure, so I plunged ahead.

Well, we followed the prompts, customized our MagicBands, and then just forgot about it. I was assuming Disney would explain it to me when we got there; but guess what came yesterday?

Disney did send along an official invitation to MyMagic+ explaining how everything worked and asking us to provide feedback at the end of our stay.  It was pretty concise (one page front and back) outlining the steps we needed to complete to have our MagicBands customized in one of many colors and mailed to us (thanks to the blogging world, I already knew all this stuff and had done all of these steps-thanks Disney Bloggers!)

So I figured I'd sit back and wait for our customized MagicBands to come to me, should be a while, right?  Nope.  I got home from work today to find:

And here they are, our MagicBands:
Mine's the cute orange one!

The top part of the bracelet is a little rigid (where the RFID tag is) and I don't think it's something I would put on and wear straight through the trip (a quick Google search confirmed for me what I suspected- bands ARE waterproof and hypoallergenic, so you could wear them all day, every day if you wanted to). It is, however, pretty darn cute, and it's reasonably comfortable to wear because it's not unlike a watch.  There's an easy way to size them (you can pull off part of the band to make it slightly smaller for little wrists), but you may need a help to put it on if you're less-than-coordinated when it comes to doing things one-handed.

The MagicBands did come with a leaflet warning those with Implantable Pacemakers or Cardioverter-Defibrillators that the RFID chip might cause interference with their device.  It also lists the typical recommendations manufacturers of these devices provide, although they strongly recommend speaking to your doctor and your device manufacture to rule out possible interference. There is also a warning for those using other medical devices, including insulin pumps, neurosimulators, hearing aids, etc., advising them to speak to their doctor as well.  If you or someone in your party has any of these devices, be sure you read the leaflet carefully so you know what questions to ask to make sure everyone stays happy and healthy during your trip.

I'm excited to see how these work in the parks. I think I'll feel a little like a super hero just touching my wrist to the hotel door and having it magically open!   Has anyone used them yet?  How does it work for the Disney Dining Plan?  Do you have to take off the band for them to scan, or do they bring something to you?  What about for Quick Service places or for snack credits? Does anyone know?

Wordless Wednesday- Well, Almost

Hi Everyone.  It's Wednesday, which means it's time for the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop over at Focused on the Magic.  Today's theme is brought to you by the letter O.

O is a tough one, (although I'm sure Roy O. Disney wouldn't think so if I asked him!) Here are a few that I came up with:

Orange Lantern in the Courtyard in Japan.

Oswald doesn't even get a shout-out in this Epic Mickey promo over in One Man's Dream
(Maybe those O's cancel each other out?)

Walt's Office, where all this began, preserved over at Hollywood Studios

Opaki backsides

Thanks for joining in on this fun hop.  Check out Deb's blog for more fun Disney O words:

Focused on the Magic

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hello, Hello. I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello!

Well hello again, blogger world!  I have been away for such a long time (seriously, it's been almost a year)!

When last I left we were preparing for a trip to Disney World in January 2013.  I have no excuse for what became of me between October and January, it's one of the facts of life that these things happen, I guess.

But, the good news is, we went to Disney World in January, took lots of pictures, and had lots of adventures.  The bad news, well, the bad news is that, even though we stuck it out for as long as we possibly could each day, after the end of the second day I had a full blown fever-and-chills case of the flu (lame, I know).  Because of this, we cut our Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom days very short, but the upside is that we had two great days in Magic Kingdom and Epcot and spent some quality time at our room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Jambo House (we almost never spend time in the hotel room on an average trip, we're always too busy going and going and going...).  And really, if you're going to be stuck feeling rotten in your hotel room, the room to pick is one that overlooks a savanna full of giraffes, zebras, and two cranky cranes that seemed to only like each other.

  This flu lingered on and on (Nathan got it too); well into the second part of our trip in Jacksonville.  And I even had it for almost three weeks after we came home!  The uber-flu had some hand in my absence from posting in the early weeks post-trip, it's true, but the really reason for my absence (besides the usual excuses like a new job at work, blah blah blah lame excuses, etc.) is this:

Yes ladies and gents, I'm engaged!  We actually got engaged in Disney World--on the Tower of Terror, in fact. Now, I know what you're thinking-  He gave her THAT ring on the Tower of Terror?!  What if something had happened to it?!  Actually, this is the ring I got after we got back from Disney.  The engagement ring he gave me on the ride looked like this:

Yep, that's a Mickey Mouse head ring he bought at a gift shop.  How cute is that?!

 However, it was, hands-down, the day that I felt the worst, so the fun was, well....less fun then it could have been. I actually couldn't sit through dinner that night at Boma. I had one bowl of soup and had to go up to the room and go to bed. Thankfully we were in our hotel, so  I could go right to bed while Nathan decided to stay and eat alone--doesn't that sound like a romantic engagement dinner?

Also, Nathan proposed on the very last day of the Disney leg of our trip (I think he was hoping I'd feel better before we left Orlando), so the full blown celebration effect we could have had was lost on us.  At least, it was lost on me (I mean, I was excited, but you know how it is when you're flat-out sick?)

But, to celebrate properly and bask in the joy of being engaged in Disney World, we're going back!!!! Yes, you heard me right, we're actually three weeks or so away from another WDW trip!  Can you believe it?!  This time we'll be in the beta test of a bunch of Disney's new projects (MyMagic+ perhaps?  FastPass+?), we'll be attending MNSSHP for the first time, seeing Fantasmic for the first time, and eating at a bunch of new places.  I'll be sharing more about our last trip, and talking more about all the cool things we're getting ready for on this trip soon, I promise!

In the meantime, stay tuned for more fun blog hops, and maybe even some more book reviews from Disney's publishing arm (while I haven't been writing, I have been reading!).

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia Blog Hop

Welcome to Disney World Delights triumphant return to the blogging world  (well, okay, maybe it's more like my under-the-radar return to the blogging world) with this week's edition of the Tiggerific Tuesday blog hop.

I'm linking up through Heidi from Heidi's Head, so check out her page all her friends who are co-hosting this hop. Jennifer from Disney Babies Blog, Mike from My Dreams of Disney, and Jodi from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse.  Here's a little tidbit I just learned while watching a planning DVD for our upcoming trip in October.

Did you know Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy?

 Donald Fauntleroy Duck

Apparently it's a reference to his sailor's hat, in connection to Little Lord Fauntleroy suits, or so they say.

This was revealed in Donald Gets Drafted--a 1942, nine minute long, film produced by Walt Disney Productions.  In this short cartoon, Donald is drafted to fight in World War II.  It was the first of a five-part series in which Donald was in the Army.  This film obviously came after the 1941 attach on Pearl Harbor, which was a contributing factor to the US entering WWII.

Check out all the other fun trivia and join the hop!

Tiggerific+Tuesday+Trivia Tiggerific Tuesday #DisneyTrivia: Is Mickey Mouse Left  or Right Handed?