Episode 405: Welcome back to another exciting episode of the Traveling with the Mouse podcast. Today, we have an exhilarating lineup as we delve into our summer trip previews. Our first adventure takes us to the enchanting wilderness of Fort Wilderness, where our co-host, Jason, previews his memorial day weekend trip. We will hear more about that next week. Next, Jon is eagerly counting down the days until his visit to Orlando. With Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort on his itinerary, he will be staying at an Air bnb in the Windsor Hills area. I will also be returning in a few weeks with Jason back to Disney but this time we will be staying in a treehouse villa. Of course, we can’t forget the latest news from the ever-evolving world of Disney. In this episode, we’ll be discussing some exciting updates, including the upcoming VIPassholder days in June. This exclusive event is a fantastic opportunity for Annual Passholders to enjoy extra perks, unique experiences, and unforgettable moments within the parks. Star Cruiser is now sold out and the Pixar Place hotel concept art is interesting. So, fellow travel enthusiasts, join us on this episode of Traveling with the Mouse podcast as we embark on incredible journeys, discuss the latest news, and fuel our wanderlust. Whether you’re camping at Fort Wilderness, exploring the magical parks of Orlando, or eagerly awaiting your next adventure, this episode is sure to ignite your passion for travel and all things Disney.
404: Episode not Found
Welcome back, fellow travelers, to another exciting episode of Traveling with the Mouse podcast! Today, we have an episode packed with intriguing news from the magical world of Disney. In this edition, we explore the recent series of unexpected announcements that have sent shockwaves through the Disney community. Join us as we delve into the closure of the Star Cruiser, the cancellation of the Lake Nona project, and the mixed reviews for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Disney has decided to permanently close the Star Cruiser experience. While the closure itself may not be entirely surprising, what has caught everyone off guard is the decision to pull the plug by the end of September. The Star Cruiser, an ambitious and immersive Star Wars-themed hotel experience, was initially met with great enthusiasm and anticipation. Unfortunately, various factors have led to its demise, leaving fans disappointed. As we bid farewell to this unique venture, we reflect on the impact it has had on the Disney landscape and give our thoughts on what Disney should do with it in the future.
One of the notable decisions made during the Chapek era was the Lake Nona project which was going to move Imagineering to Florida. This week Bob Iger announced this project is now officially cancelled. The timing match up politically with what is going on in Florida but this project was most likely doomed the moment Chapek was fired.
With much anticipation, the last installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” has arrived. The Film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. The early reviews, however, present a mixed bag of opinions. Harrison Ford did receive a standing ovation at the premiere and it is also John Williams final film score. Do we think that these early critics are wrong and the film will deliver to the fans? We all know that critics are often not in line with audiences…we’re looking at you Last Jedi….
5 Updates to Make Your Visit Easier in 2024
Episode 403: As the world recovers from the pandemic, Disney is making some updates to enhance your visit to the most magical place on earth. Here are the top five updates announced by Disney that will make your visit easier starting in January 2024. We discuss these and give our opinion on them. A few of these are pretty vague but we talk about what we hope these updates will mean.
Park Reservations Will Slowly Be Going Away in 2024
One of the biggest changes announced by Disney is the gradual phasing out of park reservations in 2024. Starting with dates based tickets on January 9th.
Annual Passholders and Cast members Will Have “Good to Go” Days
Annual passholders and cast members will have special days to visit the parks without making a reservation. This is a great perk for those who like to make spontaneous visits to the parks or for those who want to avoid the hassle of making reservations. However, no details are given as to how many “good to go” days will be available. It is a step in the right direction at least.
The Dining Plan Is Coming Back
After being suspended during the pandemic, the dining plan is finally making a comeback. This popular feature allows guests to prepay for meals and snacks at select restaurants throughout the parks and resorts. To start with there will only be 2 plans available to book.
Genie Plus Will Be Available for Advance Purchase
Genie Plus is a new feature that allows guests to skip the regular standby lines for select attractions by paying an additional fee. Disney has announced that Genie Plus will be available for advance purchase. No further details have been given about how far in advance and how many lightning lanes could be reserved in advance. Sounds a lot like they are going back to the way Fast Pass plus was but just with a price tag now.
Resort Guests Will Continue to Have Early Entry and evening hours for Deluxe resorts
If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you’ll continue to have the perk of early entry times. This means that you can enter the parks before the general public and enjoy shorter wait times for popular attractions. Deluxe resort guests will continue to have extra evening hours for select days. This isn’t anything new but at least they are extending this perk through 2024.
Double Trip report
Welcome to the 400th episode of Traveling with the Mouse podcast! Today, we have a double trip report for you. Jason and Adam share highlights from their recent trip to Walt Disney World. One of the main focuses of this trip was dining at signature restaurants, and they did not disappoint. Among the standout meals were Takumi-Tei, Le Cellier, California Grill, and Narcoossee’s. They also enjoyed drinks at the beloved La Cava del Tequila and tried out a new experience at Woody’s Roundup Rodeo BBQ. Jason got to experience the Deluxe after hours where he got to ride Tron by himself. We also toured some friends around the parks this week. Thank you for tuning in to this special episode of Traveling with the Mouse podcast. Be sure to follow us on social media and stay tuned for more episodes filled with Disney travel tips and reviews.
What rides are worth saving?
Episode: 394 Welcome to another episode of “Traveling with the Mouse”! This week, we have some exciting Disney news to discuss, including the Tron preview for annual passholders, the start of the Flower and Garden Festival, and the construction of the new DVC tower at the Polynesian.
But first, let’s talk about a topic that’s near and dear to every Disney fan’s heart: rides that are worth saving. We’ve all experienced the heartache of seeing a beloved attraction disappear, only to be replaced by something new that doesn’t quite measure up. One of the most famous examples of this is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, which was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Now, don’t get us wrong – we love Winnie the Pooh. But there’s something about Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride that just can’t be replicated. It was a classic dark ride that took you on a wild journey through Toad Hall and beyond, complete with a trip to hell (yes, really). The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, on the other hand, is a cute and whimsical ride that’s perfect for younger children, but lacks the thrills and chills of its predecessor. So, what other rides do we think are worth saving?
Is the magic coming back?
Episode: 388 This week, we’re excited to bring you some of the biggest announcements that were made in the past week. First and foremost, the opening date for the highly-anticipated Tron light cycle Run roller coaster has finally been revealed – the attraction will officially open on April 4th! In addition to the opening date for Tron, Disney also announced that they will be eliminating the parking fee for hotel guests, which is a welcome change for those staying on-site. Another change that was announced is that Annual Passholders will no longer need to make reservations for afternoon entry to the parks. (with a few exceptions) Finally, Disney has announced that they will be adding free on-ride photos as part of their Genie Plus service. This means that guests will be able to capture memories of their favorite rides and attractions without having to pay extra for the photo. In other news, Disney has recently announced a new Chairman of the Board. Also this is the last week of operation for splash mountain.
Fun with AI
Episode:385 On the show this week we have a little fun with some artificial intelligence. We let the ChatGPT AI write some intros to the show for us and then we used some bots to read them for us. The scripts weren’t bad but it did lack a little of that human touch. So I guess our jobs as podcast hosts are safe for now. Jason then talks about his Every Ride Challenge run with his son. At the time of this recording he hadn’t done it yet. Be on the lookout for a full report next week. In the news we talk about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and the upcoming closing date for Splash Mountain. We talk about Disney CFO Christine McCarthy and how she is the current front runner for taking over when Iger retires for the 100th time. Genie Plus added a much needed feature this week. We wrap up with a little comparison of Toy Story land and Galaxy’s Edge.
And We’re Back
Episode 384: We are back after a week off. This week we have Jason with us and He previews his upcoming challenge run to help raise money for Give Kids the World! We discuss more of the aftermath of the ousting if Chapek. We talk about how Bob Iger’s first week went. I sprinkle in some tidbits from my recent trip to Walt Disney World. We also cover some other news that we found noteworthy over the past couple of weeks. Oh, and we have an official sponsor now!
Epcot: Past, Present, and Future
Episode 377: We discuss our experiences with Epcot throughout the years up to the current day and then we talk about what we think the future will be at our favorite park. We both have a lot of fond memories from the 80’s and early 90’s from the original Epcot center days. We also have a lot from the current Epcot configuration. We do believe that Epcot got the bad luck of having such a big renovation to happen just as the pandemic started. So much has been severely scaled back or outright put on hold during this time that we are getting a fraction of what was planned. We also discuss some news.
Our top 5 Lounges on Disney Property (blog)
On our podcast we talk a lot about these lounges. We thought it would be a good idea to talk more about them in depth and put together a pros and cons list of each. We haven’t visited every single bar or lounge on Disney property yet but there are several that we keep repeating because they have become staples of our Walt Disney World experience! If your favorite is not on our list, let us know! With that out of the way, these are our current top five and I am even going to throw in some honorable mentions at the end. Let’s get started…
In no particular order (because we can’t agree on the ranking) We are starting with…La Cava del Tequila. This lounge is located in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot, So you need a park ticket and a reservation for Epcot to get here. It’s hard to beat the Mexico pavilion when it comes to theming but throw in some good margaritas and some queso on top of that and you have an unbeatable combination!
Pros: Excellent Drink menu, especially if you like tequila. The Theming here is arguably the best on this list. The atmosphere inside the Mexico Pavilion is some of the best in World Showcase. If you are lucky enough to score a table…the chips, quac, and queso are also top notch. Shoutout to Barbas as well who is one of the best servers anywhere in Walt Disney World!
Cons: It Can be very crowded depending on the time of day that you visit. It is tough to get a table here but it is so much better if you do. Most people will do the walk up bar and enjoy their drinks outside by the fountain. Drink are on the expensive side. ($16-$30)
The next one on our list is the Nomad Lounge. Located just outside of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. (A park ticket and reservation at Animal Kingdom is required) We finally got to visit this lounge for the first time this year and it was an instant favorite! The theming here is also outstanding (here’s looking at you Joe Rhode). We also really enjoyed the food options and the drink menu is very diverse. This one has it all…so much so that this lounge won our twitter poll by a landslide.
Pros: The theme of world travel here is incredible and the cozy atmosphere just makes you want to stay here all day. (we practically did on our first visit). The food options are outstanding and the wide variety of drinks means that you can find something for everyone here!
Cons: This place is popular so get your name in early. We had to wait 30 minutes to get a spot not long after it opened. This lounge is at Animal Kingdom so it is out of the way for most of Walt Disney World. Just make sure to work this into your Animal Kingdom day. I did also find that the seating areas can be a little close together depending on where you get seated.
The next one in our top five is Dahlia Lounge. This spacious lounge is located at the top of Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort. (No theme park ticket or reservation required) This is another one that has it all…Good food options and a nice variety of drinks that will please just about anyone. The views from the top of the tower are also quite nice.
Pros: Great Views from on top of Gran Destino Tower. It is very spacious and spread out for a lounge. There’s good food and drink options. We have had top notch service here as well. (It also has a great name 🙂
Cons: Unless you are staying at this resort you will have to go out of your way to get here. Some of the food options are on the pricey side. (I’m looking at you $35 charcuterie) but there are other options.
In no particular order, the next one on our list is Bar Riva. This one is located at Disney’s Riviera Resort. (No park ticket or reservation required) This is our favorite skyliner bar maybe because it is the shortest walk from a skyliner station. (we did the math) It also has fantastic food options and next door is Primo Piatto, one of our favorite quick service locations in all of Walt Disney World! We also have a favorite bar tender here, Chris.
Pros: Excellent food, there’s good options at Bar Riva but Primo Piatto is also right next door and just a mobile order away! The drinks here are outstanding and the service we’ve had has been wonderful. There’s a nice wide open courtyard area around this bar so there’s plenty of room and space for kids to run around. This one may also be the least crowded of any of the bars on this list.
Cons: The bar itself is covered but it is open air. If you aren’t familiar with the resort it may be difficult to find at first. I am also not a huge fan of the theming inside the bar but there’s plenty of other areas that you can sit and take in the beauty of this resort.
Last but not least is Baseline Taphouse. This is located inside of Hollywood Studios on Grand Avenue, just outside of the entrance to Batuu. (Park ticket and reservation for Hollywood Studios is required) The vibe here is chill and the music really sets that mood. If you love beer this is the place to go in Hollywood Studios. Prices here are very reasonable for a Disney Bar. This one has been on our list for a long time and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.
Pros: The chill music creates a laid back atmosphere that is much needed at Hollywood Studios these days. The prices here are very reasonable for food and drinks. ($10 charcuterie) They have a good selection of craft beers on tap.
Cons: It has mostly outdoor seating and can get very crowded at times. There’s not a lot of cocktail options on the menu and the food is good but limited options.
So there you have it. This is our top five list of Bars/Lounges on Walt Disney World Property. Is there anything missing that should be here? Let us know! We are going on our experience and these are definitely the top 5 for us as of right now. In episode 372 linked here we go through 11 bars and lounges and easily narrowed down that list to these five. I will include some honorable mentions that we definitely enjoy often. Trader Sam’s/ Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Banana Cabana at Disney’s Caribbean Beach report, and Brown Derby Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood studios. Those are all good but didn’t quite make it into the top 5.
What are the Best Lounges at Walt Disney World?
Episode 372: Today we answer the age old question, What is the best lounge at Walt Disney World. The only problem is we can’t agree on which one is the best. We listed 11 of what we think are the best top bars/lounges at Walt Disney World and we discuss the pros and cons of each. We then narrowed down that list to our definitive top 5. We all agreed on which ones made the top 5 but we all had our own reasons for picking the order that these should go in. Truthfully, this like all other top 5 lists can change with our mood or over time. See if you agree with our list or if we excluded your favorite altogether. We also cover some of the latest news and oh yeah, Jason is back this week and hosted this episode.
Best and worst Queues at Disney
Episode 371: Today we are coving what we think are the best and worst queues at Walt Disney World. We come up with our top five best queues and we give some honorable mentions. We also go through some of the worst queues at Disney World. If you are stuck with having to wait in the standby line, there are some that are much better than others. We consider things like theming, shade, interactivity, hidden details and more. There is a certain imagineer that was responsible for the top spot on both of our lists. I’m sure that some of you can already guess who that imagineer is. We also cover some news, we both like the new Walt and Roy additions to the enchantment fireworks. There is also more maintenance issues to talk about. Tron is also showing more and more signs of it opening this year. I guess we will know for sure at D23!
Monorail vs. Skyliner (Restaurant edition)
Episode 370: There is an ongoing debate in the Disney Community about which form of Disney transportation is best, Monorail or Skyliner. (sorry Bus) Well, in order to truly get to the bottom of that we must fully explore all of what makes them both great. There are truly some great restaurants that are on the monorail and if you include the boardwalk area there’s many more options on the skyliner. But which of these two forms of transportation has the best overall restaurants? We give our top 5 picks for each and then decide which one overall has the better restaurants. We do also cover some news stories. The Disneyland resort is finally allowing renewals of their Magic Key (annual pass) program. The prices are different though. We also talk a little about this year’s Mickey’s not so scary Halloween party!
Episode 369: We catch up on the Disney news of the week. Disney had a big earnings call this week and the profits are back up to pre-pandemic levels. We talk about how the parks are a big reason for that and what it could mean for future developments. Disney remains silent about magic key renewals as they try to increase guest yields. We discuss how that could impact things in a negative way in the long term. Meanwhile a new update to Genie plus creates a problem with park hopping and securing lightning lanes. Also, what’s up with Chapek’s Beard?
Jon’s June Trip report
Episode:360 Jon discusses his most recent trip to Walt Disney World with a stop at Peppa Pig Park. This trip certainly had it’s ups and down which included highlights such as riding Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind but there were also some lows like having a visit to the local urgent care and having the trip cut short. He praised the cast members at Coronado Springs resort but also the room location was a little questionable. He also discusses how he stacked some lightning lanes to get the most out of it but overall is still frustrated with the Genie Plus experience. We give our first reviews of Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind now that we have all done it. Look for more discussion on this new ride in next few episodes.
Disney March Madness 2022
Episode 350: It’s time for our annual Disney March Madness competition! This year we can’t help but continue our love of Disney food but we also expanded it to include drinks this time! We start with a new category for this year…walk-up locations like festival kitchen’s and food carts. Then we move on to another new category, Bars/Lounges! Then we move over to Quick service and Table service restaurants. As usual we ended up with some surprising results. Let us know what you think of our choices and if you agree or disagree with the winner. Also, we chose locations that we frequently visit so if your favorite wasn’t on our bracket let us know and we will check it out as we are always open to new locations to try!
Jon’s Trip Report
Episode 333: In this episode, Jon walks us through his most recent trip to Walt Disney World. With the 50th anniversary in full swing, he lets us know what the crowds were like and his thoughts on seeing the new nighttime spectaculars in person. He also enjoyed a meal at Steakhouse 71 and gives us all of the details! I personally can’t wait to eat here. Jon also finally made it on Rise of the Resistance. He gives us his review. Meanwhile, Jason is out this week because of a back injury but we plan to all be back next week to discuss the roll-out of Disney Genie. Jon and I wrap up this episode by discussing the attractions that will be pay only. Some are good and some are bad. It will be interesting to see what the lines will be like once this goes live next week.
Hidden Mickey on Rise of the Resistance
Maybe this is common knowledge but it wasn’t to me. We even went on a VIP tour a few months ago and our VIP tour guide didn’t believe that there were any hidden Mickey’s in Galaxy’s Edge. We very quickly showed him pictures of the one from Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run. You know, the one on the side of the TV screen right before you enter the cockpit. He wasn’t aware of that one, a VIP tour guide at Disney. So naturally I was curious, if there is one on Smuggler’s Run then there must be one on Rise of the Resistance too, right? Long story short, I scoured the interwebs to see what I could find on the subject. I located one reddit post where someone had a blurry picture from the ride and pointed out what they believed to be a hidden mickey. It just so happened that I found that picture just minutes before we received an incoming transmission from Rey. Below is the second picture that I was able to get that finally came in clear…See it?
This hidden Mickey is located in the room with the flailing Kylo Ren animatronic. As soon as you exit the gun room where only one turret gun seems to work any more…you enter this room and quickly pass by two control panels. The hidden Mickey is located on the second control panel. You can see it right before Kylo uses the force on your ride vehicle. If you are sitting in the back row it might be a little harder to see it because of the current plexiglass dividers but from the front row it is easy to spot. So now I know of at least two hidden Mickey’s in Galaxy’s edge, one in each attraction. Does anyone know of another in a different part of the land? Let us know in the comments if you spotted another hidden Mickey. We also talk about this during our Trip report episode. You can find it here!
Disney News & a Trip Preview
Episode 316: In this episode we talk some Disney news and then preview an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World this weekend! We start with some Disneyland news…Soon out of state guests will be welcomed back. Also, Disneyland’s newly reimagined Jungle Cruise will be opening in July. The big news of the week out of Disneyland however, is that the Spiderman Adventure attraction will require a boarding group once it opens. This means that guests will have to choose between Spidey and Rise of the resistance at the start of the day. In Disney World news, we continue to see restrictions lifted and talks of capacity expanded. It looks like Minnie Vans could be returning and the monorail had a Badger problem. After the news, Jason and I discuss our upcoming trip this very weekend to Walt Disney World. We are trying out a DVC resort and are staying together in a 2 bedroom villa. Look out for us on social media this weekend!
News and Haunted Mansion Deep Dive
Episode 315: We take a deep dive into the Haunted Mansion! We explore the history and details of this attraction. Plus did you know that Walt had a favorite stretching room portrait? We do start with the news and cover several of the developing stories this week. Covid-19 guidelines continue to loosen on both coasts. The three caballeros are back at the gran fiesta tour! The Grand Floridian is getting new DVC studios added soon. The dark saber made its way to Galaxy’s Edge. Disney Cruise line released the pricing on the Wish’s inaugural sailing…my wish was for lower pricing! The later sailings in 2022 look better as far as price though.