Thursday, December 20, 2012

Art of Animation Review

     Last Wednesday, Todd and I took a spontaneous two day mini-trip. We logged on to the Disney website and somehow snagged a reservation in the Little Mermaid wing of Art of Animation. Having stayed at every other value resort on Disney property, we were excited to see how this one compared. Right away, I will say that this resort stands above Pop Century and all of the All Stars by quite a bit. 
     For those who don't know, Art of Animation is a new value resort that was built right next to Pop Century, and is actually connected by a bridge. The resort is separated into four themed wings: Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King (all three are family suites), and the Little Mermaid (standard rooms.)

     The front of the main building is very bright and contemporary, and immediately sets the tone of the resort. 
Raining, but still so exciting!

There are "sketches" denoting the four wings of the resort to the left of the main sign.
 The lobby contains a row desks, each of which has a computer and Cast Member behind it to provide each guest with a personalized check in experience. Throughout the whole check in area, there are both black and white and color sketches. 

So many amazing colors.

It's amazing to walk around and just see the artwork.

It's crazy how well all of different animation styles blend together.
      Next, it was off to check out our room. The whole Little Mermaid area was covered in impeccable details.
The plants all appeared to be floating, as they would underwater. Ursula overlooks the Flippin' Fins pool and pieces from Ariel's grotto are scattered about.

A sketch of King Triton on another giant "sketchpad."

      Inside the room, the elaborating theme continued:

Of course, we should have anticipated Ariel would be swimming near our shower.

The shower is Ariel's grotto. I was literally amazed.
      After dropping off our things, we went back to the main building to eat some dinner at Landscape of Flavors. The food in this food court was one huge factor that made Todd and I say that Art of Animation was on a different level then any of the other value resorts. There was an endless amount of meal choices, very few of which were simply burgers or chicken fingers. Bonus: They accept Tables in Wonderland. And, of course, the atmosphere of animation is carried through beautifully.

Light fixture in the Finding Nemo dining area.
Another piece of animation art.
Light fixture in the Cars dining area.

My delicious Caprese sandwich.

Very intensely flavored coleslaw.

Todd's huge pulled pork sandwich. He also had in-house made chips, but he ate them too fast for a picture! 
      When we returned back after taking a run to Epcot (new Test Track!), we realized we forgot our refillable mugs in the room. Todd ran to the get them, and I took advantage of the time to run around and take some more pictures.

Chandelier of sketches in the main lobby.

Christmas tree in the lobby.

Sketches are even embedded in the Christmas tree!

The Big Blue Pool.

Luigi's in the Cars area.

Postcards "for sale" in the Cozy Cone.

Sketches on the Finding Nemo building. 

      It's safe to say that, based on this trip, Art of Animation has become one of our favorite Disney Resorts, and we plan to stay there many times in the future.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Be Our Guest Restaurant Review

I loved that the opening scene of "Beauty and the Beast" was re-created here.

     As mentioned in the previous post, Todd and I were able to dine at the Be Our Guest restaurant on our trip for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Now I am so excited to be able to write up my glowing review. Seriously, I didn't find a single negative thing. But first, here's a picture from before our meal.

View of Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid from the bridge to Be Our Guest.

     Now down to business! We were seated in the main ballroom right by the wall of windows where we could watch the snow falling outside. Between the candlelit tables and the crystal chandeliers above our tables, the ambiance is not something to be ignored. The music, which was varied selections from the film and Broadway soundtrack, was present and definitely added to feel of the meal, but too overpowering.

See what I mean about ambiance? Definitely perfect for a romantic evening.

Beautiful, just beautiful. 

     Of course, the best part of any meal is the food. We started off with the appetizer salad trio, which included a salad of green beans and tomatoes, one consisting of watermelon and radishes, and the last containing beets and mandarin oranges. While none of these were your typical lettuce and tomato salads, I was pleasantly surprised that they were all so delicious. My personal favorite was the green bean and tomato, while Todd's was the beet and mandarin orange. We also received a bread basket with french rolls and butter, which was perfect as we were starving.
     For my main entree, I chose the shrimp and scallops with sauteed vegetables. The dish was served in a sort of puff pastry bread bowl with a smooth, very creamy lobster sauce. Every bit was cooked to perfection, and it was a perfect portion size. Todd chose the grilled strip steak with garlic butter sauce and Pomme Frites (french fries). I sampled a bit of it and the flavor was wonderful. The Pomme Frites were perfectly crispy as well!
     The best part, in my opinion, was the dessert. The dessert cart is wheeled out and presented to your table, which I loved because it enables you to actually see the choices instead of just reading off of a menu. I chose a strawberry cream cheese cupcake, which was incredible. The icing was a rich cream cheese flavor, and in the center of the strawberry cake was a dollop of a strawberry mousse, which added to already perfectly moist cupcake. Todd chose the triple chocolate cupcake, which was a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing and chocolate square on top that read "Be Our Guest". It was equally delicious as the strawberry. We were most excited, however, to try the Grey Stuff. For those who don't know, the Grey Stuff is a special item not on the menu, that is only available by request if you are celebrating an event. Luckily, we were celebrating Todd's birthday on this trip. It was a cookies and cream tasting mousse served with silver edibles pearls, all on a plate that says "Try the Grey Stuff" in chocolate. What a wonderful way to end our delectable meal.

     After dinner, we were permitted to explore the other rooms of the restaurant and take a few photos:

The rose petals in the West Wing fall every so often.

When lightning flashes, this slashed photo changes from Prince Adam to the Beast.

This is on the floor as you enter the rose gallery.

A gorgeous music box spins in the center and plays the theme of the film.
Portraits line all the walls.
The rose detail is really carried out well throughout the whole room.
As we were leaving this room, I saw Chip and his brothers and sisters ready to be tucked in! ;-)
One last shot of the ballroom.
Picture of the entrance we missed when heading in, we were too excited!

As you can see, there are so many things that make Be Our Guest an absolute must, must, must do.

I just couldn't end the update without this last picture.

Standing outside New Fantasyland, view of the castle walls, Prince Charming's Regal Carousel and Cinderella's Castle.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Review

This time last week Todd and I were at New Fantasyland, excitedly awaiting our reservation for that evening at the Be Our Guest Restaurant.
Right inside the entrance at Be Our Guest restaurant.

     But more on that later. The next evening, we went to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom. And I must say, in all honesty, it was one of the most fun trips we've ever had. Just before the party starts, there is a castle lighting ceremony where Cinderella's Fairy Godmother waves her magic wand to cover castle in the icicle lights. While the castle's holiday decor is beautiful on it's own, the extra touch really makes it a celebration.
The castle in all it's festive glory.

     Next it was time for some cocoa and cookies! There were six locations all around the park giving out as much cookies, cocoa, apple slices and apple juice as you could carry. The cookies were a choice of snickerdoodles or chocolate, I opted for the former to offset the sugary cocoa. While the lines were long, it was never a long wait because every place was well staffed and stocked. Todd opted for four chocolate chip cookies, which were devoured in a matter of seconds. Tip: eat an early lunch and then an early dinner right before the event. Your stomach will handle the intense amount of sugar better. We learned this the hard way.


       For the rest of the night, we actually opted to skip most of the rides in the park and simply enjoy the atmosphere. "A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas" was an awesome musical show, featuring Buzz Lightyear battling the Evil Emperor Zurg to his own version of "Jingle Bells" and Mike Wazowski telling jokes while singing along to "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer". The hostess, Haley Comet, could have toned down her super high pitched sing-song voice a bit, but she carried the show well nonetheless.

The stage in Tomorrowland set up for A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas.
      The best event of the night was undoubtedly the Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season Fireworks Spectacular. Now, I love fireworks in general (who doesn't?), and I try to catch Wishes at least once every time we visit. This show, however, blew every other firework display I ever seen out of the water. The Fourth of July should be very, very envious. The fireworks were orchestrated along with classic Christmas tunes, such as "I'll be home for Christmas" and "Trepak (Cossack Dance)" from the Nutcracker Suite, they even shot fireworks diagonally to form a Christmas tree shape during "O' Christmas Tree". At the beginning of the spectacular, Tinkerbell flies over the audience, and in the finale the fireworks are so bright the sky appears to switch back to daylight. This alone was worth the price of admission.

We didn't get pictures of the fireworks, but we did get this shot down Main Street right before.
     In addition the main events, there so many little details throughout the night that made it so special. For instance, dancing in Cosmic Rays turned "Club Tinsel" with Santa Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale was a blast! You haven't danced to the Cupid Shuffle until you've done it at Disney.

The DJ and crowd at Club Tinsel.
     One of my favorite things throughout the evening was sitting outside with our Christmas treats and keeping an eye out for rare characters. There are a ton to see!

Lady Tremaine, Drusilla and Anastasia.

Scrooge McDuck.

Alice in her winter gear.
     In conclusion, to anyone debating whether or not MVMCP is worth the extra cost, the answer is absolutely yes. Todd and I had such a great time we bought two more tickets and went back the next night. Tip: They will let you into the park 3 hours before the event starts. I highly recommend doing this if you can't make it to the Magic Kingdom on another day or any earlier the day of. Like I wrote earlier, during the event, you'll want to take in the atmosphere. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is an event that you and yours will remember forever.

Until next time!
- Chelsea

Monday, November 12, 2012

A bit about us.

I mentioned in the first blog that Todd and I were definite Disney enthusiasts, but I thought a passion like ours deserved an entire blog post.

D23 bracelet that Todd got me and my engagement ring.

Once upon a time, one and a half years ago, both Todd and I joined a Disney themed dating site. He sent me a message approximately twenty four hours later, and that's all she wrote! Fast forward to now, and we've already been on seven vacations to Walt Disney World. We even had our first official date at the Raglan Road Irish Pub. Todd is a member of D23, I haven't joined yet, but soon. Naturally, we're both Passholders, and we go to see every movie the day it comes out. I contemplated a Disney tattoo for a time, but decided against it. Todd can recite any fact about any of the parks, the company or Walt at the drop of a hat. I hope I reach that level one day, but I'm getting there.
Our first trip to Epcot.

I could gush on and on, but I think I'll stop there for today. In other news, two days until we preview New Fantasyland and three days until we go to Very Merry! I will hopefully post a sort of tutorial of what we pack for our trip, and definitely will have lots of posts when we return.

See ya real soon.