Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Magical Moments - Keeping Your Cool!

**Notice Alert** This posting contains common sense, but not common practice.

OK, now that I have provided adequate warning that some things here may seem            needless to post, just keep in mind that most guests don’t practice the points, so here we go.

Disney Imagineers can do the seemingly impossible, including recreating mountains, making bears talk and ghosts socialize; but they seem to be at a loss for finding a way to keep the sweltering heat from being a factor through July and August.  So, it is up to the guests to take necessary precautions to keep cool while in the parks. 

Fortunately, Disney actually has setup the parks in a way that should help.  The majority of attractions in the Magic Kingdom are enclosed and air-conditioned.  The distance between the attractions is relatively short, and even the queue areas are usually shaded at least.  In addition, Main Street stores often provide a moment of relief from the hot sun.  There are also refreshment carts or areas located in strategic locations. 

EPCOT may be the most difficult area in which to keep cool.  Though Future World (the front half of the park) is comprised mainly of enclosed, interior attractions that are air conditioned, the World Showcase offers much less opportunity for shade and air-cooled comfort. 

Likewise, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom offer the same problems.  So, what do you do?

1.      Take advantage of the park layout.  Are you walking from one side of Future World to the other?  Walk through buildings such as Mouse Gears to keep cool instead of walking in the outside heat. 

2.      Plan your day so you are outside during the cooler parts of the day.   Since the World Showcase usually opens around 11am, wait until late afternoon to explore the area.  This will keep you out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.  Between the hours of 11:30 am – 3 pm, plan to visit the indoor, air-cooled attractions.

3.      Take advantage of cooling stations.  There are some cooling stations located in certain parks.  The most notable is located next to Test Track in EPCOT.  The water misting fans will feel great when you need it most.

4.      Water misting fans are also for sale throughout the parks.  However, I recommend purchasing one from WalMart.  These are just as good and cost much less.  Likewise, a regular battery powered fan is a good and inexpensive buy too.

5.      Bring water.  Drink early, sip often.  Disney will allow you to bring items into the park.  We usually fill a backpack with water and have taken small, cooler style jugs of water into the parks.  This will help tremendously.

6.      Four words – “Frogg Togg Chilly Pad”.  We first discovered these through little league baseball.  These towels are made from a material that retains water while remaining dry to the touch.  When you wet the towel, it begins to evaporate and gets cool.  If it stops cooling, just wet it again and it will once again provide cooling comfort.  This also comes in bandana form (The Chilly Dana).  Both are well worth the money!  http://www.froggtoggs.com/#cooling/

7.      Dress appropriately.  I like to wear a sun hat or a cap, but the sun hat provides a little additional shade to keep me cool.  If it gets too hot, you can wet the sun hat and it will provide a greater cooling. 

8.      Wear wicking shirts (Dry-Fit) may be better than normal T-shirts or polo style shirts of cotton material.   They are light-weight, move heat and moisture away from skin and allow air to flow through the fabric.  Also, lighter colors are better because they don’t attract or absorb heat.

9.      I have actually worn shorts with loose fitting, long sleeve shirts.  This can actually provide comfort through shading your arms.  The looser fitting material is also usually thinner than most normal cotton, polo style shirts.  Believe it or not, long sleeves can be cooler.

10.  Eat spicy food.   Yep, you read right.   Spicy food increases sweat which keeps you cool.

11.  Eat a frozen treat.  Frozen Lemonade from the Yak & Yetti counter service restaurant, or an Itzakadoozie Popsicle from any ice cream cart can not only hit the spot, but can cool you down nicely. 

12.  Rest occasionally throughout the day.  Don’t feel the need to rush around all the time.  Take a moment to sit in a shaded area; there are plenty of those in the parks.   

The most important thing to remember is to be prepared for the heat.  Disney parks don’t have to be unbearable in June, July and August, if you are ready to fight it wisely. 

How do you fight the heat in Disney?  Add comments or tips in the section below.  Have you tried any of these, let us hear how they worked for you!  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dining: Nine Dragons

 This past weekend I attended the last days of this years Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot and had a great time.  The park was pretty busy as it was the last weekend and the weather was beautiful.  We were able to see Mickey Dolez perform as part of the Flower Power Concert Series, he was filling in for Davy Jones who passed away earlier this year.  He was great and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
 For lunch we decided to eat at the Nine Dragons restaurant located in the China Pavillion as we hadn't eaten there in a while.  The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.   Nine Dragons offers cusine from the four regions of China:  Cantonese, Szechuan, Mandarin and Kiangche.
We ordered the Honey Seasame Chicken (16.98) and the Canton Pepper Beef (15.98), both were delicious.  The menu is varied and offers more selections than a typical Chinese restaurant.  As is typical for a theme park the prices are more expensive, about 20 percent more than chain restaurants, but the quality of the food is much better.  
Service was exceptional, the server was very attentive and knowledgable.  We ate at 2pm a great time because it's not very busy, we were seated as soon as we walked in.  The restaurant was redisgned inside a few years ago and it's very beautiful, the decor is Chinesse but done with in more modern design.  The Nine Dragons is a great dining option.  The full menu can be found on line.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Resorts - Wilderness Lodge

It must be enormous fun to be an Imagineer. Being challenged to tell stories through the most minute detail, finding ways to transport people to another time and place instantaneously, and inventing ways to capture not only the history but the feel of a location and scale it down to a smaller representation must be nothing short of exciting.  But, until the day comes that we have the opportunity to work as Imagineers, we must simply resort to enjoying the excitement that comes with experiencing the final product of their labor. 

And, what better way to “resort” to enjoying the results of the Imagineer’s efforts than to spend time in a Disney “Resort”?  One resort that offers an abundance of detail necessary to be an innovative representation of nature’s wonders is Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
As with all our resort themed posts, we realize there are a multitude of blogs or sites available with in-depth information about resort costs, layout, etc.; as always, DLuminations would like to forego the in-depth review you may find on other sites and offer a brief overview of things of interest surrounding the resort that may help you make the decision as to whether or not you would like to stay there.

Atmosphere:  This Deluxe Resort features genuine artifacts and authentic decorations that celebrate both the ancient Native American cultures and early American settlers and explorers alike. 

The main building is constructed from 85 loads of Lodgepole Pine which serves to set the rustic tone of the Pacific Northwest in a simpler time.  Stepping inside the lobby instantly transports you to a different place.  A mixture of logs, stone and leather are accented with two 55-foot totem poles and accents of Native American artifacts to create such an immersive atmosphere, you almost feel as if you should be wearing buck skin pants, moccasins and a coon-skin or cowboy hat.  I can almost imagine the king of the wild frontier himself - Davy Crocket - lounging around the lobby, spinning yarns for anyone who will listen.  A perfect place to find Mr. Crocket might be next to an 82-foot tall fireplace which serves as the centerpiece of the beautifully decorated lobby.   
The fireplace – a recreation of the strata of the Grand Canyon featuring over 100 colors in various hues – also offers a wonderful location for resting with the family after a full day in the parks; or before a meal in one of the restaurants as you spin your own yarns about recent adventures in the parks.  The 8-story atrium not only serves to house the large accents of the totem poles and the fireplace, but helps to capture and convey the grandness of the National Parks it helps to celebrate.
Moving to the back of the lobby, you will find a small bridge that crosses the headwater of Silver Creek.  The water bubbles from the lobby and flows over Silver Creek Falls and into the Silver Creek Springs Pool. 
Paying tribute to the wonders of nature that can be found in our National Parks, the resort features many wonderful sights.  Drawing inspiration from Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, Fire Rock Geyser erupts with a 120-foot plume of water.

Resort Location:  Wilderness Lodge is conveniently located near the Magic Kingdom and adjacent to both Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, and The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. 

Restaurants:  Whispering Canyon CafĂ© may possibly be one of the most enjoyable and memorable meals for you and your kids.  Remember to ask for “Ketchup!”.  Artist Point offers a more elegant setting for families or couples.  The grilled Buffalo and the Salmon are notable menu items.  Roaring Fork offers a great option for those guests in a hurry - Disney fast food at its finest.
Pools:  There are two pools to choose from.  Hidden Springs Pool and Silver Creek Springs both offer a great atmosphere and a fun water slide is also available to enjoy.  In fact, Silver Creek Springs was ranked as #4 on our list of Top 10 Disney Resort Pools.    Wilderness Lodge also offers a beach of white sand by Bay Lake, a great place to relax and soak up some sun.

Other Activities & Attractions:  Waterslides, watercraft, and bike rentals are actually fairly common activities offered by a number of Disney resorts, and Wilderness Lodge is no exception.  However, Wilderness Lodge offers a number of unique activities for children including Chip ‘n Dale’s Campfire Sing Along, and a 24-hour playground, a supervised activity center named the Cub’s Den which allows children to play while the adults spend a few precious moments alone.  For adults, a Segway Tour is available on the grounds.  Fishing is also available for those anglers who just can’t get enough of the sport, or for those who want to relax by tossing a line and pole into the Florida waters. 
Have you stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort?  What were your opinions?  Was there something you liked about the resort or wanted to add to help people better enjoy their stay?  If so, just add your comments below, we would love to hear from you.      

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dining: Tutto Italia: Italy Pavilion at Epcot

 Yesterday I had the pleasure of eating at the new restaraunt in the Italy Pavilion at Epcot, Tutto Italia, which took the place of Alfredo's.  Tutto Italia joins the ranks with the best Epcot restaraunts, delivering great food and great service.  If you are in the mood for great Italian food this is the place to go.
 The decor has been changed as well as the seating arrangements.  Seating is much more comfortable than Alfredo's, with more space between tables.  We ate around 2:30 in the afternoon which is a great time, it wasn't crowded at all.  The server's were friendly and very knowledgable of the menu.  Pricing is moderate to expensive.  The menu features typical Italian fare (spaghetti, lasagna, fettucine) but also pork chops, salmon filet, salads and other exceptional offerings.
 We started with the Calamari Fritti ($15) which was delicious.  Much better than any you would get at a chain restaraunt.  The portion was large, with enough to be shared by two or three people.
 For our entree's we selected the Fettuccini Vecchia Roma ($22) and Pollo Insalata (salad w/chicken $18).  Both were amazing and again the portions were large.  Pricing is about 20% more than a typical chain restaraunt, but remember it is a vacation destination and the service and quality of the food is much better.  The full menu is available on line.
 Adjacent to the new restaraunt is the Wine Cellar featuring fine Italian wines by the glass as well as Italian and American beers on draft.  The decor is inspired by an Italian wine cellar and has seating for 96.  The bar also features small plate offerings with classic flavors from Italy.  Until now the only bar at Epcot was the Rose and Crown in the England Pavillion.  Anyone who's been there knows how crowded it gets, the Wine Cellar makes a great alternative.
With Via Naploi and now Tutto Italia the Italy Pavillion has two great sit down restaraunts.  If you are in the mood for great Italian cuisine we suggest you try either of these two restaraunts.  We suggest you make priority seating arrangements prior to your visit so that you are assured a table.  If you are staying on Disney Property inquire about the Disney Dining Plan.