And The Desserts Lived Happily Ever After…

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On the Thursday 2/22/18 episode of The Improviser’s Guide Podcast, we compared the Happily Ever After dessert party at WDW’s Magic Kingdom with the Hollywood (#AlwaysMGM) Studios’ Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. This blog covers the Happily Ever After party. Click here to read Brother Dillo’s recap of the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular.

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The Happily Ever After dessert party is held in the Tomorrowland Terrace at the Magic Kingdom. There are two areas to enjoy the desserts. In the lower area of the terrace, you’re able to sit at a table and remain there during the fireworks. Instead of standing like most of the crowd, you can sit back, drink your sparkling cider and not worrying about anyone possibly pushing you out of the way. If you sit in the upper area of the Tomorrowland Terrace (which is a lower ticket price), you get to enjoy the same desserts but you are escorted to the Plaza Garden Viewing area. We chose the Plaza Garden Viewing area and it was an amazing view.

Let’s talk desserts, because they were delish. I mentioned on the podcast that there was an amazing ice cream creation that my hubby took advantage of. Unfortunately with the time that has passed, we can’t remember the exact name of this sundae (which included the Cast Member’s name) but it was the ultimate sundae! There was a cookie, ice cream, a brownie, more ice cream, whipped cream and every topping. Take a moment and try to overcome the jealousy.

Other desserts included chocolate covered strawberries, cookies, brownies, along with sparking cider, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. It’s dessert heaven!

I definitely feel that Magic Kingdom can step up the experience a bit, but it’s still a great time and I would highly recommend it! It was the perfect way to end our week-long Disney Extravaganza.

Click here to hear more about both dessert parties on Theme Park Thursdays of The Improviser’s Guide Podcast. 

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Moonlight Magic

If you listened to today’s podcast, you heard our friends David and Steven talk about attending the Moonlight Magic Event at Magic Kingdom. You also heard the plug for this very blog! Thank you again David and Steven and we hope you have you back on our Theme Park Thursday Podcast real soon!

And now for our guest blogger, Steven:

Hi, I’m Steven and I’m not a Disney addict.

I thought it was important to get that little tidbit out upfront. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney, I’ve had magical moments and I married my husband who is a huge Disney addict, so I get it. That being said, I can live with a once a year Disney fix, whereas my husband and other Disney addicts I know need to go multiple times a year to satisfy their need. I had a Disney theme to my wedding, designing Fastpass save the dates and table themes, putting hidden Mickeys in our invitation, and entering the reception with wedding Mickey ears. I love Disney mostly because the people I love, love it.

Sister Dillo chiming in for a second – I attended that amazing Disney themed wedding and it was magical! Now back to our regularly scheduled blog…

My main qualms with Disney tend to be lines, crowds and heat. Price is a whole different monster that I won’t awaken here. So when my best friend’s wife, Kimmy, mentioned the opportunity to enter the park for the private Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Moonlight Magic event, I was immediately intrigued. An event at Disney, in the Magic Kingdom, with limited entry (no lines/crowds) and at night in January (no heat) sounded like my dream really did come true. I had no idea just how right I was.

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When Kimmy extended the invite, my first move (obviously) was to inform my Disney-addict husband, David. David immediately scoured the internet for some info on this almost “too good to be true” event. Needless to say, if you’re not a DVC member, Disney doesn’t exactly make the information easy to find. Once we were filled in on the details, we were sold. A free, up to 6 hour event, in Disney…what’s not to love?

Around 8pm on a very rainy January 28th, we met Kimmy and 2 of her friends at the main gate of the Magic Kingdom. After she checked in, we were all given wristbands and welcomed into the park. The first sign that this was going to be something special was the mass exodus of “normal” guests streaming past us as we walked under the Railroad tracks. The park officially closed at 8pm, the fireworks were over and the park was clearing out fast. Our first stop was Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which still had a line of non-event guests waiting for their turn. In response, we were routed down the FastPass entrance, until the crowds fully dispersed. We were on and off the Mine Train in a matter of 10, maybe 15 minutes. What we didn’t realize at that moment was that this would be the longest line we waited on that night.

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By about 10pm, the park was desolate. I mean, look at the picture above of Cinderella’s Castle. When could you ever get a photo like that without hundreds of people in front of you? Never, that’s when! We made a game plan of hitting all the big ticket items as many times as possible and skipping the rides we would normally be able to walk onto. In the end, we did almost every attraction that was available and did the big ones (Mine train, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain) at least twice.

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Check out this picture of the line queue for Peter Pan! One of the (inexplicably) longest lines in the park on a normal day and now completely deserted. No one in front of or behind us. It was an experience I’d never had in Disney before. It was magical.

In addition to the basic details being hard to find online, we also had no idea what would be included except for “complimentary light refreshments and unique entertainment.” After a few rides, we wanted a snack; namely, popcorn. We noticed a swarm of people entering a restaurant (I’m told it was Columbia Harbor House…who IMG_20180128_231604knew?) and we decided to ask a cast member where the popcorn was. After admitting she didn’t know, and checking with another cast member, she told us there was no popcorn! Then, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked what people were doing in the restaurant here. It seemed odd to me that you would come to an event like this just to spend money on food. Her answer to my question rocked our world: All the food, all over the park, is free. Free.99, Free-50-free, Free.30. Completely free food, drink, and desserts all over the park?! Now I was in heaven. I love food to begin with, but slap a “free” sticker on it, especially in a place like Disney which is known for their high prices for food, and you have a very happy Steven. We found out restaurants all over the park were offering abbreviated menus including chicken nuggets, hot dogs, burgers, soda, cookies, MICKEY ICE CREAM and more! It was just another special touch to an already magical evening. I am however sad to report…there was no popcorn. 😦

Walking around the Magic Kingdom when it’s empty and all lit up at night was a magical experience. The final magical perk of the night was an exclusive fireworks show for the DVC members and their guests. We had no plans to watch the show, as that’s valuable ride time, but we ended up being in Fantasyland when the show started. This location gave us a unique perspective of the show, with fireworks going off all around us. I took a look around during the show and noticed that almost everyone had just stopped in place and were watching and enjoying the show. No one pushing you or putting a camera/phone in your field of vision, just a bunch of Disney addicts enjoying a special moment in the Magic Kingdom.

Although short and exclusive, Moonlight Magic was the most magical moment I had ever experienced in Disney. Bravo to Disney for really pulling out all the stops and showing their true appreciation to those who are DVC members. Also, our never-ending love and thanks to Kimmy and her family for allowing us this experience. I hope we can all do it again next time!

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Side (Main) Street Immersion

The Dillos did something at the start of 2018 that they had not done this entire decade. They experienced a WDW vacation together. Stay tuned for ALL the updates forthcoming.

 

One of the goals of my Diz trips, whether a quick two day excursion or a week long with an almost two year old who you give your focus to, is to take a little time to stop an take in my surroundings. EPCOT at night (the fountains!), standing on Hollywood Boulevard (the sounds of the traffic signal!), sitting back on the Peoplemover are all past examples where I try to take that opportunity.

On the final day of our trip, we marathoned morning to night at the Magic Kingdom. Said two year old surprised us all and took her longest nap of the week (was the ambient noise of the park a little too familiar for this NYC kid?). The final leg of the nap we found ourselves on the east side street of Main Street USA, and this is where I got to take a little bit of that time in an unexpected location.

When I was eleven, I spent a day doing one of the kid friendly behind the scenes tours of WDW. I received sketches from an artist, saw the utilidors for the first time, and received a history lesson in the second story windows throughout the “opening credits” of the Magic Kingdom.

Even on most recent trips where we sat curbside eating foot longs from Casey’s Corner, I didn’t spend the time I should have re-familiarizing myself with the imagineers, the legends, the pioneers behind the happiest place on earth.

If you get the opportunity, check out the (small but) fantastic book, ‘Windows on Main Street’ by Chuck Snyder, for a thorough guide to the names behind these very deserving acknowledgements.

And if you’re wondering if this location is an optimal nap location for your toddler… depends on the number and energy level of children discovering the scavenger hunt based Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom spot.

Brother Dillo

 

moNOrail: The Fate of the Highway in the Sky In 2018

The Dillos did something at the start of 2018 that they had not done this entire decade. They experienced a WDW vacation together. Stay tuned for ALL the updates forthcoming.

Boy, the Walt Disney World Monorail has one bad trip on its three and a half mile journey to EPCOT where its an absolute must to stand clear of the (open) door… and it’s bedlam!

The second weekend of January 2018 began with rumors that the Walt Disney World Monorail would be going away permanently. Of course, the instant reaction from this family steeped in nostalgia, tradition and the like to shake our fists at perhaps the greatest change of them all.

The end of the highway in the sky cannot be nigh… or can it?

After several deep breaths and existential meditation, the idea that the aforementioned TTC-EPCOT track could go away… is possible. We’re from Long Island, so changing at the TTC for EPCOT always felt like changing at Jamaica for the train to Penn Station on the LIRR. What I’m saying is that this change never felt convenient. And yet, when I stayed at the Polynesian Village for the first time in decade in February 2017, the walk to the TTC to catch the Monorail to WDW’s second theme park felt more convenient than I recalled. THAT being said, you could argue that frequent buses available from the Great Ceremonial House may have felt just as accommodating if available.

Now…

THERE IS NO WAY THAT THE MONORAIL CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE MAGIC KINGDOM RESORT LOOP.

Boats, or short walks, or ferries aside, the Monorail defines the Poly, the Grand Floridian, and especially the Contemporary Resort. It always seemed to me that the jump in price for those three resorts was mainly because of the accessibility via the train. I know a big fan of Disneyland who visited WDW for the first time over the holiday. He basked in the wonder that was how the monorail ride provided the ultimate reveal of the Magic Kingdom. Listening to him tell the story of his journey up World Drive, through the toll plaza, parking at the TTC, and finally onto the monorail… that was the very definition of Disney magic.

I understand that the extra magic hours and quick turnover have not been kind to the monorail over the years. This is no longer the 9am-6pm days. Perhaps the new gondola system coming is Diz dipping the toe in the monorail removal waters.

It shouldn’t be. Let’s just not have more occasions where the express monorail fails and pushes all the early morning traffic to the ferry, okay. My conspiracy theory brain goes into motion when that happens.

Brother Dillo

https://youtu.be/YCiDEfmJpRs

Riff Raff…Street Rat…Cause I Didn’t Buy That

Have you been to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?

Snow falling on Main Street. Christmas music playing. A special Christmas Wishes. Why wouldn’t you attend such a party? Perhaps because you don’t want to spend the money…at least this year. Just be warned that if you don’t, you may end up feeling a little bit like riff raff.

There I was with my family, enjoying Dole Whip and waiting for Wishes. Oh wait…they don’t do Wishes for the regular folk on party night. This made me sad since this was the only night of my trip I could have seen one of my favorite things. Since it was getting close to 7PM, we had to start making our way towards the exit. We didn’t have the special bracelets in order to stay (since we didn’t purchase tix to the party) and couldn’t upgrade even if we wanted to since they were sold out.

We started our walk out of the park in one lane of Main Street, with those entering the park in the other, just as the snow started falling and the music started playing.

Oooo maybe we can take a photo pass picture since the castle is all lit up! Nope. We can’t. Photo Pass Castmembers are not taking pictures at that time since they are assisting clearing the riff raff out of the park.

I’m always sad anytime I leave Magic Kingdom, but only because I hate leaving Disney in general. This time I was sad because I felt like I wasn’t welcome…sorta.

Let me say-I’m half joking about all of this and not actually complaining. I get the upgrade/perks of the Christmas Party. I get making it a special experience for those that paid extra. I get making sure no one is enjoying a free ride. Whether or not DIsney actually needs that extra money is another story. But – in no way were the Castmembers mean or did anything they weren’t supposed to. I was just sad and bitter having to leave.

And now for some humor: Here is an awkward Dillo Family Photo from way back when at the Very Merry Christmas Party:

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Sista Dillo

TGIF – But what if I was in Disney?

It’s a beautiful day in New York, although very cold. This time of year in Disney World, the weather is perfect (with the occasional afternoon shower). On a perfect looking Friday like this in Disney, what would I be doing? It would probably go a little something like this…IMG_1406

  • Breakfast on the Boardwalk. Coffee and a chocolate croissant at a table on the Boardwalk. A view of the Yacht and Beach Club with the Friendship boats going by.
  • Walk over to Epcot. A little Spaceship Earth and any other rides I could easily walk onto. Some sushi in Epcot for lunch and back to the hotel for a nap. Always make time for a nap in a Disney bed!
  • Head over to Magic Kingdom. Enjoy some People Mover, maybe a Triple Mountain Whammie. Dinner at Casey’s, Dole Whip for Dessert which would be enjoyed from our good viewing spot for Wishes. Wishes would close out the day.

Yeah that would be pretty good. There are many variations to everything I would want to do in one day. But when the weather is good – gotta breathe in the crisp Disney air and enjoy the sights.

Have a magical weekend!

Sista Dillo

Meeting Mickey Mouse

When I first saw Talking Mickey in some YouTube home videos, I’ll admit I was skeptical.

Dillos don’t love change.

Having met non-verbal Mickey so long ago, it was hard to imagine that verbal Mickey would be seen as normal. Then again for kids today, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (a daily occurrence in my house), Mickey himself is living in a whole new world from when I watched him.

I’ve discussed in previous posts how sad I am that meeting characters is such a production now. There are 500 minute waits for Elsa and Anna, yet I used to dance with Chip ‘n Dale!

I digress.

If you want to meet talking Mickey Mouse, visit Town Square Theater in the Magic Kingdom. I was there in November and went during a parade so my wait time was about 10 minutes (which was good since again, I don’t love a long wait for a character). Once in the room with Mickey, I was already thinking “ok this is cooler than I thought.”  Mickey walks up to your family to greet them, says Hello, takes the hands of the kids and interacts with them. For those few minutes, a visit with Mickey is one on one, away from theme park madness and creating a memory.

Mickey Mouse…talking in Magic Kingdom…without anyone pushing their way in front of you – Nicely done Disney. I don’t love change, but this one is pretty good.

I’ll be taking Baby Dillo back when he’s older and I can’t wait to see what he has to say about what Mickey had to ‘say.’

And now a look back to one of my visits with Minnie…

Sista Dillo