Wednesday, May 30, 2012

1992 Tram from Epcot's International Gateway to Swan & Dolphin Pre-Board...



Stole this from Mike Newell.  The tram used to be an institution and a great benefit for staying on Crescent Lake.  It was an especially cool way to see progress at the Boardwalk.  I'm not a big fan of the Friendship Boats, so I really miss these things.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Episode 53 -- Italy Pavillion and 4 Headliners, 1 Day

This week Team Mighty takes a walk through the Italy Pavillion in Epcot.  Russ also shares his recent attempt at a unique challenge that he took on in April.  Finally, the team also answers a listener e-mail about ticket brokers.  There's also a bonus restaurant review of the San Angel Inn.

Download Episode 53

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trip Report: Part One: Victoria and Albert's

Ok, so we did make it to WDW, and only like 11 hours late.  It meant getting a rental car, sleeping for only three hours, then driving to Hartford for our 6:25 a.m. flight.  Hartford was actually a very nice airport, but that's another post.

Now we're back, and I'm ready to make the trip report for my first trip to the World in 15 years.  Let's start with a little food porn.  Dr. Springfield and I were looking for a high-end dining experience for our 5-year anniversary this spring.  We considered local restaurants, as well as in Las Vegas (we were there for a conference earlier this spring), but settled on V&A.

Very little can be justly said about our Victoria and Albert's dining experience.  While not cheap, you get what you pay for.  V&A met and exceeded every expectation we had for a 5-diamond meal.  The restaurant itself is hidden behind large oak doors, which were swiftly opened for us as we approached (how they knew we were there for them and not the nearby Citrico's will remain a mystery).  We were seated in a small, yet rich, dining room and handed our custom menus.

The waiters and other servers are incredibly knowledgeable, and very attentive.  The pace of the meal was very relaxed (the seven courses took just about three hours).  But enough talk, here are some pictures.

(We didn't photograph the first course because we forgot.  This will happen at least once more during the meal.)

Chiogga Beet Carpaccio.  Now Dr. Springfield only wants marinated vegetables.
My "salad."

Roasted Quail with Asian Pears and Serrano Ham Jus.

Niman Ranch Lamb with Baby Tomatoes, Artichokes and Olive Pesto
Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Souffle

The best coffee I've ever had, and the best way to prepare it.
The rose for Dr. Springfield at the end.


For absolutely no reason......

From TheChive.com

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ritz Carlton Philadelphia Review

Ritz Carlton Philadelphia Exterior View
Mrs. Lombrowski and I had a chance to spend a night in the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia this past weekend and I wanted to take the opportunity to share some thoughts on it.  This hotel is located adjacent to the City Hall.  I found the lobby to excellent and quite grand.  On entering, we were greeted with two glasses and champagne.  The lobby was very loud, though.  There was a DJ spinning some horrible Pauly D style music.  This is not the best fit with the scene and I found it to be more-than-a-little off putting.

Ritz Carlton Philadelphia Lobby and Bar Area
For those of you who remember our AAA Diamond Rating discussion, between the curb and the front desk I was hit with five "Mr. Lombrowski's."

The room had an adequate amount of space and was excellently furnished.  For the money, about $450/night, it was small.  The chair in the room was super comfortable.  The bathroom was very impressive and featured a bathtub with a separate shower area.The view from our 12th floor room was excellent though.  We went to bed that night looking at William Penn. 



Ritz Carlton Philadelphia King Size Bed

Ritz Carlton Philadelphia Comfy Reading Chair

View from our room
In all, I found it to be a great hotel.  The location was fantastic.  I would mark it down for service, which wasn't as good as other ones I've stayed at, and price.  In summation, a very good hotel experience at a very high price.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some Not-So-Helpful Details About AVATAR Land



A few days ago the NY Times had an article about the battle for theme park supremacy between Disney and Universal/Comcast. 

Given the continued success of the theme parks buseinss for both companies relative to the languishing movie/production business, (to point, the article references WDW's gains relative to the huge losses of John Carter) it makes sense to talk about "what's next" for the big players in the industry. 

James Cameron, in what could have been no more than an off-the-cuff remark, mentioned that AVATAR Land would include a ride that "simulates flight."

OK...this could mean just about anything. Soarin, Peter Pan, Star Tours and Mission Space all simulate flight with varying degrees of success.  None of which, if replicated in AVATARLand as a "headliner"attraction, would really impress me very much.  I am really hoping for some cutting edge technology.  A flight simulator could do that, but Cameron's comments are of absolutely no help. 

Of course, Disney had no comment on the James Cameron's comment so nothing has been clarified.  I am willing to give AVATARLand a chance, despite not being a big fan of the movie franchise, but just a little nugget on what we could expect would be nice.To me, the longer we get no details, the more I believe that Disney doesn't want us to get our hopes up for the $500M expansion. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Episode 52 -- Would You Rather Platinum Edition

This week the boys play a game of WDW Would You Rather with a platinum twist.  Topics include VIP tours, Wishes Cruises, the Platinum Dining Plan, and 1st Class Air.  The boys also fill in the blanks on some newish news.

Download Episode 52

Monday, May 21, 2012

Price Increases to WDW Park Tickets

WDW Magic is reporting that there could be increases coming to the one day ticket in the very near future.  We are coming up on one year since the last increase, and our loyal listener Bob from Burbank, CA is getting the feeling that demand continues to outpace supply when it comes to WDW. 

$89 would be a 4.7% increase from the current $85.  I am sure either I or one of my MMOM compadres will put together a history of Disney ticket price increases once this is finalized, but for the record the increase would be above and beyond the recent rate of inflation

At this pace the one day ticket price will reach the $100 in 2015.  Do you expect it to happen sooner?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lines App Recieves a Nice Upgrade w/ Menus



As our listeners know, the MMOM crew are big fans of touringplans.com and their Lines App on Android and iPhone.  In recent weeks, a really nice update has been made to the application.  Besides the already useful wait data and touring plans access, a feature has been added that allows users to search through WDW menus (by restaurant) and search for a specific food item by name. 

I searched a few restaurants I recently visited from my April trip to the World and they were up to date and accurate.  I also searched for Dole Whip and was happy to see results returned for Aloha Isle and Captain Cook's at the Poly. 

No more desperate searches for turkey leg carts for this guy!

If they can add a restroom rater/locate feature, I would say we have a winner.

Note: Lines is a free app, but you need a touringplans.com subscription to enjoy its full functionality. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mickey will have to wait

I should be sleeping right now.  I should have a rental car in a parking lot, and my head on a moderately-comfortable pillow in the All-Star Sports resort.  Instead, I am in my living room at the Springfield Mansion.  Let me tell you why.

My living room.  Not the first picture I wanted to post from my Disney adventure.

I arrived at Theodore Francis Green Memorial Airport at 3:50 p.m. today for my 7:20 flight.  I had learned earlier that day that my flight might be delayed, so I figured I could arrive early and try to haggle with the airline.  Long story short, over the next 6 hours our delay was 3 hours (that's bad), then 45 minutes (that's good), then 3.5 hours (that's bad), then 4 (...), then at about 10:00 p.m. it was cancelled (can I go now?).

Early in the ordeal I managed to snag $100 Southwest vouchers for Dr. Springfield and me (SWA is actually pretty liberal with these).  Once they announced the cancellation I ran for the desk to seek justice.

I calmly asked for the earliest flight (6:30 p.m.), and then asked for the earliest flight to MCO from anywhere in New England.  This netted me a pair of tickets from Hartford, CT at 6:25 a.m.  PRO TIP: Don't ask for a hotel room.  Airlines rarely give those out these days and anyway, at least half the time a hotel room isn't really giving you anything you really want.  I asked for a rental car that could take me to Hartford (and which, incidentally, could also take me home for the night).  It took only a wee bit of haggling to get the lady to agree to pay for it.  She called National, secured a reservation, got the rate, then wrote me out a genuine check to cover it.  Those flight-announcing people just have checkbooks at their disposal!  That's a Pro Tip, too.

While I was up at the desk, I left Dr. Springfield at our seat to watch the bags.  I also tasked her with calling All-Star (where our one day reservation had just gone unfulfilled), just to see what they could offer.  Being on the other end of the terminal I could not hear what she was saying, but I could definitely SEE how she was saying it.  She told me that she got nothing.  Truth be told, I had doubts as to whether Dr. Springfield was capable of making the best pitch at that moment.  As such, I called myself upon our arrival home.  After apologizing for whatever Dr. Springfield may have said, I proceeded with my pitch.  A very sweet cast member took down my story, and told me to call back when the reservations office opened at 7.  She assured me that they would probably have something for me.

So now Dr. Springfield is asleep in our comfy, comfy bed (until 3AM, at least), and I'm too pumped up on adrenaline and winning to do anything but tell my story.  Should you read this before 6:25 this morning, send us some luck.  I won't feel fully comfortable until I'm in the air.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sounds Dangerous No Longer on Park Maps

It's time for saying goodbye.  TouringPlans.com and WDWMagic.com are now reporting that Sounds Dangerous has been removed from park maps and replaced with ABC Soundstage.

Disney seems to wait a few years too late when it comes to this stuff.  This thing was dead four years ago and it's merciful that it is being put out to pasture.  Like the Wonders of Life Pavillion, the decay of the thing blighted any positive memories that you may have had about the attraction.  Here's a question, if you're having a draft for a death pool, who is the new first pick overall?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Episode 51 -- WDW Star Wars Expansion and Park Previews

The boys discuss the E-mail of the Week from Admiral Ackbar who is rightly interested in the likelihood of Star Wars Land coming to Walt Disney World.  Dutch and Russ also finish their preview of the Studios and Epcot for the Springfields.  Finally, Russ has some thoughts on the effects of the closure of Test Track on park patterns.

Download Episode 51

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wonders of Life Pavilion: 2012

The Wonders of Life pavilion in Epcot closed  in 2007 and is now used for vendors and additional space during the Food and Wine Festival and the Flower and Garden Festival.  For a really good trip down memory lane check out Yesterland.com.  For those who remember the Wonders of Life and miss it, enjoy the below photos of what the pavilion looks like during the Flower and Garden Festival this past April.  I tried to get shots of some of the areas now covered by sheets that were once hallways into attractions.   






Friday, May 11, 2012

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and Test Track Update

Today Forbes posted this article about Disney's so-called merging of video games with its theme park experience.  A couple weeks back we briefly discussed the new Magic Kingdom experience, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.  Sorcerers takes players around the park, from hidden kiosk to hidden kiosk, and interact with the game by way of "magic" cards.  To paraphrase the article, think Magic: The Gathering, but with more walking.

Embedded in the article further down is a video about the updates being made to Epcot's Test Track.  Definitely worth a look, as well.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Time-Lapse: Will You 'Find Nemo' At Disney's Art of Animation Resort?

Disney Hotel Improvements & Surveys

Interesting article from the Orlando Sentinel Disney Blog.  In addition to the awesome time-lapse video of construction at Art of Animation, the author digs into Disney focusing on improving the guts of their hotel rooms, including things like mini-fridges and mattresses. Apparently Disney surveyed 10K+ hotel guests to figure out what people want in a hotel room.  Particularly interesting that Disney sped up their introduction of WiFi into their hotel rooms based on the survey results.

*Note:  Had to embed the time-lapse video in another post found above.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Grand Floridian Cafe Review and Pictures

Cobb Salad

Grand Sandwich


Russ' Quick Review:

The Mrs. and I both really enjoyed our lunch at Grand Floridan Cafe (GFC).  Both the Grand Sandwich and the Cobb Salad were both really good.  The Grand Sandwich is a unique to the GFC, so make sure you give it a try. 

This is really a great spot to break for lunch during a day at the Magic Kingdom.  The food is good, service is friendly, and the atmosphere is bright, relaxing and quiet.  I would not recommend using the dining plan here for lunch, it is a bit of a waste of a credit and you probably have to eat more than you really want to for lunch.  Instead, use if for an out-of-pocket meal.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fantasy Land Construction Update with Photos

Below are some recent photos of the construction progress in Fantasy Land.  While portions of Storybook Circus opened in early 2012, there are still several major components that will be completed over the next several years

-The rest of Storybook Circus will open with the second Dumbo midway ride and the air conditioned (!) waiting area with the new interactive Disney queue.  This is set to open in July of 2012.

Construction as of mid-April

-Under the Sea: Voyage of the Little Mermaid will open around Labor Day of 2012.  Guests will board clam mobile vehicles for an "under the sea" journey similar to that up The Seas w/ Nemo in Epcot.  The star of the show will be the state of the art animatronics the attraction will feature. 

Voyage Ride Courtesy of Disney

-Beast's Castle, the centerpiece of the new Fantasy Land will open in very late 2012 along with the Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston's Tavern. Guests will be treated to a detailed look at the Imagineer's interpretation of the castle from the Beauty and the Beast movie, and the use of the famous "forced perspective" feel to make the castle seem even larger.

Beast Castle as of mid-April from Storybook Circus

-Finally, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster will be a state of the art "thrill" ride likely suitable for the entire family.  It is slated to open in late 2013 or even 2014.  The intensity is thought to be in the realm of Big Thunder Mountain. 

Seven Mine Train Construction from mid-April

Episode 50 -- Epic, Fun, Ho Hum, Awful, Awfully Awful


This week Russ and Dutch let Mr. and Dr. Springfield know what's what in the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom.*

Download Episode 50

*Rating system shamelessly stolen from Jason Mann of the totally epic Wrestlespective podcast.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Preview of the Disney Fantasy

On Friday the Today Show previewed the Disney Fantasy, the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) fleet.  It's a good read for anyone thinking about trying a Disney cruise, but especially for adults without children.

One of the biggest problems for DCL has been trying to address to their inception in 1998 was how to attract more adults-only cruise-goers.  Cruises already have a reputation for being a strong family-friendly type of vacation, and of course Disney is known for their family adventures.  Put the two together, and there doesn't seem to be much room for people without children. 

That's why DCL has included numerous amenities tailored for adults: upscale restaurants, "quiet pools," night clubs, an irish pub, and a swim-up bar (one of my favorite things).

Of course, there is all the family fun that Disney typically has to offer, compounded with all the family fun traditionally found on a cruise ship. 

For anyone who loves Disney resorts and would like to try a cruise, this is a great option.  Likewise, any more experienced cruisers would welcome the Disney take on the experience. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tutto Gusto Menu Now Online

Picture from WDWMagic.com
Tutto Gusto is now open and just what the doctor (Springfield?) ordered.  The menu is now up at WDWMagic.com.  Italy was sorely lacking in the counter service area.  Before, the only option was a tiny, but fun, wine bar on the right side of the square.  That little spot didn't have any food options that I can remember.  Truthfully, all I remember is awesome limoncello.

I am most exicted that this will give us a new option when we attempt to eat and drink around the World Showcase.  The antipasto platter above looks fantastic and is, even better, entirely unique to this pavilion.  The asparagi bianchi looks like a refreshing panini option on a hot Florida day.  I'm putting this in the "win" pile.

Finally, I hereby deputive Mr. and Dr. Springfield to sample the wares at Tutto Gusto on their upcoming trip.  Pretty sure that I won't have to twist his arm.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New FastPass Trials Starting


RFID Scanner from WDW Magic  
Just a brief post to catch up on the new "Next Generation" FastPass system.

At the end of February, we posted an article that highlights some of the upcoming changes to Disney's FastPass.  It looks like things are beginning to move forward with these changes. 

Some Magic Kingdom guests will have the opportunity to book their ride itinerary for the day in advance of their arrival at the park.   Maybe our buddy Kip will lucky enough to try out the new system during his upcoming trip.

Pictured above is the new RFID FastPass reader that has been installed at various attractions throughout MK.  In the near future, the days of FastPass tickets will likely be gone, and information on your return times will be stored on your park ticket, Key To The World card. 

Take a listen to what the MMOM crew thinks of the changes in Episode 40. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Episode 49 -- Cinco de Mayo and Alcohol in the Magic Kingdom


The Boys discuss the ins and outs of the Mexico Pavilion in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  The RCS rolls into the Elite Eight with Cali Grill, the Crystal Palace, Sanaa and Boma.  Also the boys discuss alcohol in the Magic Kingdom.

Download Episode 49