December 30, 2008
December 29, 2008
I was having dinner with the family and the conversation turned to summer 2009's trip to WDW - where we should stay, how long we should go for, and most importantly, where we should eat. Like everyone else, we're cutting back on costs this year, so we've decided to limit ourselves to 3 "nice" dinners - meaning 3 visits to WDW's top tier dining experiences.
2 of those dinners are a given - our perennial favorite places to dine in WDW, bar none, hands down:
Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge): While relatively new, it's a diamond among a lot of cubic zirconias in WDW. The cuisine is African-inspired, without being too scary (the oak-grilled filet mignon with mac and cheese is heavenly). The wine list is insane, the ambience is lovely, and best of all, it's a grown-up place to eat - a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the parks. Jiko is a great example of the key to great dining in WDW - don't be afraid to go off the beaten path. Even if you're not staying at the AKL, Jiko is worth the drive (or bus trip) out of your way.
Le Cellier Steakhouse (EPCOT, Canada Pavillion): Reservations for Le Cellier must be made months in advance, and its the hottest ticket in the World Showcase for a reason. The steak is always great, and it has a menu that even the pickiest of eaters can be happy with. Make sure you try the cheddar cheese soup with pretzel bread - it's divine. One word of caution: this is a big, hearty, heavy meal. Almost every time we eat there we end up slunking back to the hotel afterwards to nap off the food coma. It's best to visit at the very end of the day - otherwise you run of the risk of being sluggish when you should be enjoying the magic.
So that leaves us with one open slot. Here are my finalists, but if you have other suggestions, please give us a shout in the comments or email me here.
Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge): Every article I read seems to point me to this place as another often-overlooked gem. I'm not sure everyone in the family will be able to find something on the menu, but I'm willing to believe the hype.
Restaurant Marrakesh (EPCOT, Morocco Pavillion): Strangely, this is the only EPCOT restaurant we've never visited. I'd like to erase that distinction, but the menu also looks darn good.
Yak and Yeti (Animal Kingdom): It's new, I love the name, I like Thai food. That's really all the reasoning I need.
Fellow foodies and WDW fans, please send us your thoughts and don't forget to vote for the next WDW recipe we'll feature here!
We're going to be kicking off a series of posts related to dining in WDW - the good, the bad, and everything in between. So to get your appetites ready, I present the following:
Labels: disney dining
December 26, 2008
Happy Day After Christmas! I'm writing from my childhood home in New Hampshire, a nice coat of white snow outside and a cup of coffee beside me. Ah, bliss. Before I head out to see if I can snag some after-Christmas sales, here's what happened in the Disneyverse while you were decking the halls:
- OMG alert: check out these awesome promotional posters for the next season of LOST.
- Ever wanted to know how to make a Wall-E sandwich? Here's how - just try and stand the cuteness.
- Pixar powerhouses Steve Jobs and John Lasseter have made Newsweek's 50 Most Powerful People list, ranking at 34 and 35, respectively.
December 25, 2008
December 20, 2008
At least it is in NYC anyway, after a snowstorm blanketed the Big Apple all day yesterday with big, fluffy snowflakes. Of course, today we're left with a lot of gray slushy mess, but it was nice while it lasted. I'll be heading back to New Hampshire next week for some holiday spirit (and I'll be making the Sam Adams/Guinness Chocolate Cream Stout Cake as our holiday dessert). Please be patient if next week we're a little light on the posting - I'll likely have had a little too much egg nog.
- The Contempo Cafe has opened at WDW's Contemporary Resort, featuring hi-tech quick service dining. The Disney Blog has the scoop, and it sounds like a lot of futuristic yumminess to me.
- The Boston Film Critics named Wall-E Best Picture 2008, tied with Slumdog Millionaire. Woot!
- Woot Part II: Wall-E also made it into the American Film Institute's Top 10 Films of 2008.
- DVC Members and Annual Passholders will be able to preview Disney Hollywood Studios much-anticipated American Idol Experience from February 5-8, 2009. I heard it's pitchy in places.
- This isn't Disney news, but a whole bunch of penguin chicks were recently born at SeaWorld. They're adorable - be sure to check out the pics.
December 19, 2008
That's mean, but I'm sure we'll hear far worse if the rumors about Stevie Wonder joining the 8th season of Dancing with the Stars turn out to be true. For a show that's already featured a deaf woman, an octogenarian, and a one-legged beast, obviously a blind person would be the next logical step. The show shall henceforth be known as Dancing with the Disabled, at which point it will likely move to FOX.
Labels: Dancing with the Stars
December 18, 2008
I don't know about you guys, but I always make that face when I ride Star Tours.
Labels: walt disney world
December 17, 2008
December 15, 2008
The winner of our latest WDW Recipe Challenge poll was the Sam Adams Chocolate Cream Stout Cake from the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival (2005), which was served in the UK pavillion. I never tasted the original, but I can tell you that my version came out pretty darn delicious. There was one snag, however - my grocery store didn't carry the Sam Adams Cream Stout the recipe calls for. I decided to take the authenticness of the cake one step further and substitute the Boston-based Sam Adams beer for some straight-up Irish Guinness Stout. And the cake still came out awesome (and Irish!).
4 TB butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup Samuel Adams Cream Stout
4 TB cocoa powder
Optional (but why wouldn't you?)
Let's get crackin!
1. Butter an 8-inch cake pan with 2 tablespoons of the butter and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream the remaining butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg and the egg yolk.
This looks disgusting, I know. It gets better - I promise.
3. Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder into a separate bowl.
4. Stir the Samuel Adams Cream Stout (or Guinness) into the cocoa.
Some Guinness for the recipe, some for me ....
5. Alternately fold the flour and beer mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.
Note: This batter is awesome. Try not to eat it all before you get around to cooking it.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
7. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning the cake onto a wire rack.
8. Leave the cake to completely cool before slicing.
December 14, 2008
The holidays are almost here, and I'm finally getting my life under control. Christmas cards? Check. Christmas shopping? Almost check. Cleaning the apartment to prepare for guests? No comment. So instead of doing that, here's the news of the week:
- The HFPA announced their nominations for this year's Golden Globes, and Wall-E was passed over for a Best Picture nomination in favor of ... Mamma Mia (cue crickets). The good news: Bolt and Wall-E will both be competing for Best Animated Feature against Kung Fu Panda, which doesn't stand a chance.
- Become a star in your own Disney Parks video! Then have your people call my people.
- Disney / Pixar has a Facebook fan page - be sure to sign up.
- Cars 2 has a release date - June 24, 2011. Which means you can start getting excited about it ... now!
December 13, 2008
I recently posted my thoughts on why Wall-E should be nominated in the Best Picture categories this awards season. And sigh, when the Golden Globe nominees were announced on Thursday, I had to scroll all the way down the list to find Wall-E's nomination .... in the Best Animated Feature category.
I mean, this is an organization that once awarded Best Motion Picture - Comedy to BABE. Talking pigs? Okay. Chattering robots? Not so much. But if there was any awards ceremony where Wall-E should have been a shoo-in, it's the Golden Globes.
For starters, there are 10 Best Picture slots, since the HFPA divides them into Drama and Comedy/Musical categories. That means more chances for Wall-E to get recognized, especially since the nominees for Best Comedy/Musical are usually a stretch (last year, the critically panned and completely unfunny Charlie Wilson's War got a nod). And the HFPA has been friendly to Pixar films in the past - Finding Nemo and Toy Story 2 were both recognized in the Best Picture category.
Here's an insider tip: the HFPA is easily bribed. Basically, if a studio presents them with plenty of nice swag and lots of face time with their talent, then the HFPA showers that studio's film with nominations. I'm not sure if Disney even bothered trying to push Wall-E as a Best Picture contender (in favor of spending their awards budget courting the Academy), but either way, Wall-E doesn't have any A-list talent to schmooze with the HFPA at screening after-parties. Ah, the plight of the animated film in a corrupt live-action awards world.
Let's take a look at what these guys actually nominated for Best Motion Picture - Comedy (presumably this is where Wall-E would have qualified):
Burn After Reading: I have yet to meet anyone who likes this movie.
Happy-Go-Lucky: I haven't seen this one yet, nor do I know anyone who has. This is a Miramax movie - a studio known for it's awards schmoozing.
In Bruges: I saw this way back in February. It's pretty amazing, and damn funny. I'm okay with this being here.
Mamma Mia!: Ah, the requisite musical. Reviews were tepid at best for this, so clearly the studio had Meryl Streep working the room.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona: The HFPA has always loooved Woody Allen, so this was probably a given from the start.
Color me underwhelmed. The Golden Globes are usually a pretty good indicator of a film's Oscar chances, but none of these nominated films have a chance of making the Academy's cut. And it helps to keep in mind that last year's winner in this category, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, was almost completely shut out at the Oscars. I think as the top critics and other guilds start unveiling their awards and Top 10 lists, we'll get a better idea of where Wall-E stands. I'm staying positive (though annoyed) here, and keeping my fingers/toes crossed that the Academy has a better sense of what makes a quality film than the HFPA does.
December 10, 2008
It's not as crazy as it sounds. A few months ago, Wall-E seemed destined to be left behind in a year full of heavy-hitting Oscar contenders, including The Changeling, Milk, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, and about 19 others. But with all those awards-heavy dramas falling somewhat short, Wall-E's award buzz is steadingly gaining momentum, as evidenced by LA Critics Awards, which named it Best Picture of the Year.
But there is hope. With the announcement of the National Board of Review, NY Film Critics, and Broadcast Film Critics awards, no clear frontrunner has emerged. Once bright stars like Doubt, The Reader, and Frost/Nixon are garnering tepid reviews, while Wall-E remains the best reviewed movie of the year. And Wall-E was a popular movie that did well at the box office. If you'll recall (or maybe not), last year's ceremony was a indie-laden lovefest that no one watched because most of America hadn't seen any of the nominated films. Putting Wall-E in the Best Picture race would change that, and give us something to actually root for.
December 7, 2008
The Disney Vacation Club is intended to make guests feel as though their Disney time-share is their home-away-from-home. Fine. This makes sense to me. What does not make sense are the following scenarios, compiled from past stays at Saratoga Springs and Disney's Vero Beach Resort:
Upon walking near the entrance to lobby:
Cast member: Welcome home!
Approaching the check-in desk:
Cast member: Welcome home, how may we help you?
Unlocking the room:
Doormat: Welcome Home.
Calling Guest Services:
Concierge: Welcome home?
Walking through the lobby to go to dinner:
Cast Member: Hi guys! Welcome home!
Entering the restaurant:
Hostess: Welcome home! How many in your party?
Waiter: Welcome home! What can I get you?
... and this goes on and on and on. I'm all for cheerful hospitality, but being welcomed has its limits.
Labels: disney vacation club
December 5, 2008
Happy Friday, in what has been a TGIF-worthy week for me. And with 20 days until Christmas (eek), I have begun my annual aaa-omg-where-did-the-year-go-i-havent-bought-presents-for-anyone-yet panic attack. I tried doing some shopping after work today, but was too exhausted to fight the tourists. So instead of obsessing over some holiday list-making or writing out my Christmas cards, I instead present to you the news of the week:
- In case you're having a meltdown because Dancing with the Stars has ended, ABC has announced that the eighth season two-hour premiere is scheduled for March 9 at 8 PM. Let the DWTS cast predictions begin!
- Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomed Presley, the baby antelope. Presley is the 28th gerenuk calf to be born at the Animal Kingdom, weighs 6 pounds, and is pretty much the cutest thing ever.
- The Disney Channel has ordered a second season of The Suite Life on Deck and - surprise! - a third season of Hannah Montana.
- Hotels 2.0: The WDW Resort hotels and DVC properties will soon allow guests to check in online.
- The poster for Disneynature's "Earth" has been released. I am already obsessed with this movie.
And as a reminder to all, don't forget to vote for the next WDW recipe you want to see featured on this site!
December 3, 2008
I apologize for the lack of blogging these past few days - Thanksgiving re-entry has been tough, and without Dancing with the Stars to write about ... well, it took me some time to dust myself off and get back into the swing of things.
"The world uses 30 per cent more electric power than it did in 1997 and around 50 per cent of that new power has been fuelled by coal. There are some 100 million more cars on the world's roads - almost all still fuelled by oil." (Source: BP)
So where is this in the Universe of Energy? Nowhere, really. Don't get me wrong, I like Ellen's Energy Adventure - Bill Nye, Stupid Judy, and 40 minutes out of the hot sun - what's not to love? But wouldn't it be great to see an updated attraction, maybe with an interactive post-ride experience where visitors could learn more about conservation efforts and easy ways to go green?