1. The biggest news out of Walt Disney World right now is probably the elimination of paper Fastpasses. Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom went first. Paper Fastpasses will be turned off at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this Tuesday, January 21. And paper Fastpasses will be turned off at Epcot on Thursday, January 23. If you’re staying on property, you are currently able to make three Fastpass+ reservations for three separate attractions in one theme park per day of your stay, and you can make those reservations up to 60 days in advance, using the My Disney Experience smartphone app or web site. If you are visting the parks but NOT staying at a Disney resort, you CAN use the Fastpass+ system. Just take your admission media to an in-park kiosk. All new admission media have RFID chips embedded in them. (If you’re using an older ticket with a no-expiration option on it, you’ll need to take your ticket to Guest Relations and exchange it for an RFID-enabled ticket). You can make same-day Fastpass+ reservations using the kiosks. At this time, there is no option for guests not staying on Disney property to make advanced Fastpass+ reservations.2. The officially still-unnamed AVATAR-based themed land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is happening. After months of speculation about whether the project was in trouble or on hold or canceled, Walt Disney World officially broke ground on the new land (to be located in the former Camp Minnie Mickey area) on January 8, 2014. If there was any doubt about the planned scale of this project, they probably should be put to bed now with the presence of a 12-foot-tall Na’vi at the groundbreaking.
3. Food and Drink notes from the DISDads Convention: Biergarten – great company, good food, good entertainment. My beer strategy is to order the flight first, then a liter of whichever you enjoyed most. Lunch at the Tune-In Lounge was actually a great value with a Tables in Wonderland Card. Grandpa’s Crab Cake (from the 50’s Prime Time Menu) was excellent, and with the TiW discount it cost me LESS than a quick-service meal would have cost. I would have have gotten more food for my money at the quick-service, but I wasn’t that hungry at lunch, and the quality was much better at Tune-In Lounge. Boma – my second excellent meal there in a row. Not a single dud on that buffet.The Coconut Chicken Curry Soup was especially good. I always love the tequila flight at La Cava del Tequila, but it’s disappointing when they’re too busy to keep up with the dishes. It’s just not the same when the flight is served on a plastic plate in little plastic cups that look like medicine cups. The Trio Combo appetizer was very good – the queso and salsa were both solid, and the guacamole was terrific. And none of them were overly toned-down. The spice levels were just right. (Probably a bit mild if you like your Mexican food on the spicier side, but not overly bland either). ‘Ohana started strong, but faded a bit down the stretch. At the beginning of our meal, everything was nearly perfect. None of the meats were overdone or dry (the chicken, in particular, was better than usual on this front). And the shrimp that we started with her excellent – a bit of char on the shells, but again not overdone. Unfortunately, I think the combined efforts of three tables worth of DISDads and their families were too much for the kitchen when it came to shrimp. My last skewer of shrimp were soggy and undercooked – downright inedible. They did bounce back with the ever-solid banana bread pudding with caramel sauce, however.
4. We have six DISDad community families pre-registered for the June 21, 2015 DISDads Dream Cruise so far. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the Disney Cruise Line with your family AND hang out with your fellow DISDads in a more laid-back and relaxing atmosphere than the go-go-go of the theme parks. Get your family pre-registered today!
5. Topics and sign ups for DISDads Podcast panel shows should get posted to the DISDads Podcast forum over the weekend. Please stop by and sign up for shows you’re interested in that fit your schedule. I’ll be looking to get show assignments done over the next week. I also need to get more trip report recordings scheduled. Please let me know if you have a trip report you’d like to share.