Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’ll be visiting Epcot to test FastPass+, stopping by Downtown Disney for some delicious dining, and finishing up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I can’t believe I fit so much fun into one weekend! You know I do it all for you, so let’s get moving! 🙂
We arrived at Epcot in time for rope drop, which we’re doing less and less now that FastPass+ is working so well. Since we were really just there to test the system and shop, we didn’t run to Test Track or Soarin’. Instead we sauntered up to Spaceship Earth and confidently scanned our MagicBands… and were turned away! For the first time since using the system I was told my FastPass+ wasn’t there and I needed to stop by a kiosk or join the standby line. Up to this point we’ve always been allowed into the FastPass+ line on the honor system. Since it was so early we were able to ride with a walk on wait, but want to hear about how our trip to the FastPass+ kiosk went? Be sure to click to read more!
I wish there was more to this story (really I do) but when we stopped by to “fix” our FastPass+ the CM just told us that we had done everything correctly and there was a known issue. He then directed us to try scanning our bands three or four times when attempting to use them. I’m more than a little shocked this is the answer after all this time. FastPass+ is amazing when it works, but there’s still a ways to go. We decided to shop instead! 🙂 There wasn’t much new to report, but love is in the air! Valentine’s Day merchandise is starting to pop up all over the parks!
Over at Living with the Land the line was too short to even use our FastPass+! With a zero minute wait we just breezed right into a front row seat. I figured out that I love this ride so much because it reminds me of old Epcot before everything started to change. Sometimes it feels like Kitchen Kabaret will still be there when I exit! Are there things in the parks that transport you back to a different time? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
We decided to take an early morning stroll around the World Showcase. I love seeing all the lands before everything gets so full. The only down side is that we’d left before I was able to see this new log rolling tank put to use! The second I saw lumberjacks appear in Canada I was hoping for log rolling, so you can bet we’ll be back to check this out!
You might be reading wondering about all the space in between lands, where are those photos? Well, they’re on Twitter! I had a blast this weekend live tweeting photos from all over Epcot. The best part is that I can take your requests in real time and show you around the parks! If that sounds like fun to you, please follow us over @TouringPlans. Of course, if you weren’t following I couldn’t let you miss the pretty flowers in France and some macaroons. 😉
We were really taking our time wandering around the World Showcase. You might look at the below photo and assume we were there before opening, but it was actually around 11:30am. I didn’t think this weekend wasn’t too terrible for crowds, but I heard chatter on Twitter about it being a mess at the Magic Kingdom. We must have timed it right because we had the place to ourselves!
Here’s another shot walking into Japan and looking towards America. It was a little chilly this weekend, but nothing that my thin, Florida blood couldn’t stand with just a sweatshirt. I’m not sure what kept the crowds away, but it was a beautiful day to visit. 🙂
I couldn’t decide which of these two views I liked best to say goodbye to Epcot this week, so I included both of them! I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but the Epcot mugs have have been pulled off the shelves at Starbucks. I hadn’t gotten the memo and was so bummed I couldn’t get one! They’re supposed to be back in March so I’ll keep you guys updated.
Over at Downtown Disney the progress is still creeping along with Disney Springs. As you can see from the photo below the work continues to progress getting the parking structure attached to new walkways. I wish I could say things are much better, but I still think it’s harder to get to Downtown Disney now than before they started all this mess. Hopefully it’s all worth the pain when they’re done.
It had only been a couple of weeks since we’d visited this area, but tons has changed. Store fronts are obviously being setup for shops to move in. It looks like any day these could open and really change the landscape. I’m so used to the empty rows of buildings. It will be nice to see some shops spring up in what once was Pleasure Island.
From a distance The Boathouse looks like it’s ready to open! Of course, when you get closer you see there aren’t any walls. Still, it’s exciting just to see a glimpse of what it will be. As I understand it, the boat pictured below right will be an open air bar. Maybe this time next year I’ll be reporting from the deck! 🙂
New since the last time I visited was the Chapel Hats store. The hats in here were beautiful and the shop was quite crowded! I must have looked like a nut running around taking photos of hats on shelves! 😉 They had so many. There were easily ten times as many as I’ve pictured below, but I didn’t want to get a bunch of people in the shot. They carry styles for ladies and gentlemen so be sure to check them out.
The real reason we were at Downtown Disney was to have lunch at Portobello Country Italian Trattoria. For some reason my hubby had decided he really wanted to try this spot. We hadn’t been in ages and I figured good, bad, or ugly I could tell you guys all about it. I went in with no expectations and an open mind.
When we walked in it immediately felt like any other Italian restaurant and we were seated at a table covered with butchers paper. I wasn’t too impressed until the bread service came out. The bread was warm, soft, and paired perfectly with oil and a whole head of roasted garlic. They had my attention and we decided to start with Nonna’s Meatballs. These were the highlight of the meal for me! They were spiced perfectly and served on a bed of polenta, it was seriously delicious stuff!
For lunch we ordered the four cheese pizza and chicken parmesan sandwich. We both agreed that the pizza was a total miss and the chicken was worth getting again. While the pizza wasn’t “bad” it just wasn’t anything special. Overall, I think the best part of this restaurant is the relaxed atmosphere. It seems like a place you can always get a reservation with little to no notice. It’s nice to still be on Disney property, but away from all the hustle and bustle.
Of course, since I was reporting for you I had to get dessert! This massive hunk of cake is the chocolate paradiso and while it was delicious it’s obviously big enough to feed a family of six! Size aside, this was seriously good cake! It was spongy and sweet with a tiny but of crunch. Even sweeter was the fact that we received a 20% passholder discount! We always ask and it’s almost become a little inside joke for us. I almost fell out of my chair when our server said she’d take care of our discount right away! Final verdict: I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit Portobello, but if I’m in the area I’d totally stop by again.
So what to do when there is no Duffy update? How about Tsum Tsums? I’ve managed to only collect a few of these so far but they’re very cute and affordable with the 3 for $15 deal and a passholder discount. The collection in the bottom left are the new 101 Dalmations series that just arrived last week. Which one is your favorite?
After much waiting I finally got to the bottom of the Pandora situation! Disney charms are only being sold at Downtown Disney in World of Disney and on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. The exclusive charms are selling out quickly when they get them in stock. Below is the full collection with pictures and prices. I uploaded these in a larger format so you should be able to see them clearly if you click on them. If you’d like higher resolution images of these feel free to email me.
And despite my best efforts to resist, I started my own Disney bracelet after finding them in stock this weekend! I hope you guys won’t think that I’m bragging, I just wanted to share. (I mean, you’d show me your bracelet, right??) My hubby picked out the Minnie Mouse cupcake for me and I had to get the hat to honor the one coming down at the Studios! Which charm is your favorite? Are you excited to start a Disney Pandora bracelet? Do you have any questions I can help with? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
Over at the Studios, streetmosphere was going strong! Maybe it’s in my head but it seems like I’ve seen more since they’ve closed so many attractions. Frankly, it’s a fair trade! These actors are so funny and talented. I could spend all day watching them perform. Especially since the weather has been so nice lately!
While my fellow blogger, Julia Mascardo, was actually cool enough to go inside the new Starbucks we were sadly out on the curb. Apparently they were handing out vouchers to go inside but we’d missed it. Doesn’t Starbucks know I’ve been stalking this location for weeks? By the time you’re reading this it will be open to the general public and everyone (including me) will be allowed to buy overpriced coffee!
The hat is still coming down at a shocking pace. I never would have believed that it would happen so fast. While I had heard estimates that the project would stretch into April, I can’t imagine that being the case. From all over the park you can almost see what it will look like without the hat in the way. It’s sad to see it in pieces so I can’t wait for them to finish!
The only ride we attempted during our visit was The Great Movie Ride. The reason that I include the below photo is to be a bit of a photography nerd for just a moment. I picked up a nearly 40 year old lens on eBay for dirt cheap that I used for the below photo. So would you have known if I didn’t tell you? I’m curious! 😉 I’d love if you’d let me know in the comments below!
That’s everything for this week. Now let’s see what you can expect if you’re visiting next week.
Crowd Calendar: Crowds will pick up just a bit this weekend but that will be nothing compared to the Valentine’s Day crowd. Enjoy it while it lasts!
Weather: It looks like highs will still be just touching the 70s with lows hovering in the 50s. Unfortunately, it looks like we may see some rain this week so be prepared!
Remember: Don’t forget to plan for your valentine if you’ll be visiting in the next couple weeks. Check this out for some ideas.
Here’s my top tip for this week: Les Halles Boulangerie & Pâtisserie (the counter service restaurant in France) opens much earlier than the rest of the World Showcase. If you’re looking for an amazing breakfast then I highly recommend this spot. Especially if you’ve been on Test Track and Soarin’ before, it might be worth skipping the thrill rides for a quiet walk and yummy breakfast.
Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!