Planning for a WDW Summer Vacation – Episode 350

DDP350Host: Aaron Rittmaster
Panel: Don Donfris, Dave Juart, John Thomas

On this week’s panel show, we look ahead 180 days and see the ADR window opening for summer vacations at Walt Disney World. The panel discusses their favorite things about Walt Disney World in the summer, including favorite resort hotels and restaurants. We also remind people that high crowd levels in the summer make advance planning just that much more important, and now is the time to get ahead of the planning game for summer.

What do you think of the panel’s summer favorites and suggestions? What are your favorite things about summer at Walt Disney World? Tell us about it! Email us at podcast@disdads.com; tweet us at DisDadsPodcast on Twitter; join in the online discussion of the podcasts on our DISDads Discussion Boards; and check out our DISDads Podcast Facebook page.

Our outro music is a sample of “Whiskey on the Mississippi” by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

The DISDads Holiday Gift Guide Part 2: Gifts for the Home

Welcome to Part 2 of the DISDads Holiday Gift Guide, in which we tackle gifts for around the house. Once again, the links in this article are affiliate links or links to DISDads.com sponsors. Our recommendations are the same, even if you choose to make your purchase from another vendor or without using our links.

1. Capresso 465 CoffeeTeam TS ($209.95) – The version in the photo is the 464 GS ($159.95). The only real difference between the models is that the GS has a glass carafe and the TS has a stainless steel carafe. This one is a personal recommendation – the TS with the stainless steel carafe is worth the $50. I’ve gone through almost every major grind-and-brew coffee maker on the market over the last couple of decades, and this one is the best (by a fairly wide margin). It offers two major technical advantages over its competitors. First (and perhaps most importantly) it uses a burr grinder. Burr grinding means that the fresh coffee beans are ground more consistently and without being damaged by the friction heat generated by spinning-blade grinding. The advantage of the steel carafe is that the carafe does a good job of holding the coffee at temperature, without adding additional heat via a burner underneath the pot. That burner is the enemy of good-tasting coffee – it causes the first coffee through the brew basket to scald and can give the whole pot a burned taste. If you’re not drip-brewing coffee into a steel carafe, you’ve likely gotten used to the slightly burned flavor such that you don’t even realize its there — until the first time you brew a pot of coffee with good, fresh, beans that ISN’T burnt!

2. Disney 4 Mickey Waffle on a stick mini-waffle maker ($29.99). Sure, we’ve all seen other Mickey Waffle-makers, some of which were probably even less expensive. So why recommend this one? Because everything’s better on a stick!

If being able to make Mickey Waffles at home is good, being able to make Mickey Waffles-on-a-stick at home is GREAT! They’re not just cute to look at. The bargain waffle-makers make waffles that are too thin – they’re all crust, and the ears in particular are prone to burning. This waffle-maker makes nice, thick, Belgian-style waffles with deep grooves (the better to hold syrup). And the non-stick plates generate sufficient heat to get a good, crisp, outer crust.(And it comes with 50 ready-to-use waffle sticks, just to get you started). It makes four mini-waffles at a time.

3. Masterbuilt 2-Door Propane Smoker ($194.92) – From the kitchen to the deck out back. This is a great option for someone interested in getting into smoking meat, without the challenges of managing a wood fire. The smoke is generated by wood chips (and there’s no soaking necessary). Propane is generally cheaper than electricity as an alternative fuel to wood. And perhaps more importantly, propane smokers have a much better track record than electric for long term reliability. (Electric smokers tend to run into issues with their burner elements, especially when they’re stored outdoors). Multiple racks, with easy and direct access to all of them, give you much more flexibility than bullet-type smokers. The 30-inch model in the photo and it’s larger 44-inch cousin both offer a second, bottom, door that gives you access to the wood chip tray and water pan. This allows you to make adjustments to the smoke source without unduly affecting the temperature of the meat. For some reason, the middle-sized 40-inch unit lacks the separate door (so any time you need to make an adjustment to the wood chips or the water pan, you have to open the door for the entire smoker, allowing precious heat to escape).

4. Samsung UN55JS7000 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2015 Model) ($997.99) – Let me start by saying that this is definitely a more expensive item than I was planning to put on this lis when I first started compiling it. But the deal on this set is simply too good not to mention. There are some even less expensive 4K TV deals this holiday season, and come of them are decent sets. The hard part is figuring out which ones and for how long. This is the first name-brand TV in this size class and resolution category that I’ve seen for under $1,000. List on this TV is nearly $2,000, so your not likely to find it any cheaper. If space is at a premium, Amazon has the 50-inch version of the pictured TV for $200 less. And if you’ve got room in both the location you want to use it and the budget, the 60-inch version is just $300 more. Oh – and this is a good example of why you need to be careful reading online reviews. There are some highly critical reviews listed with this TV on Amazon – but if you read carefully you’ll see that they’re almost all referring to much earlier TVs, from when 4K technology was in its infancy. They’re really criticisms of the initial implementations of 4K TV technology than they are of the particular TV, and they’re not reviewing a TV with the same technological specs as the ones currently being sold.

5. We’ll wrap up this list by heading back to the kitchen for the VonShef Professional Fully Automatic Ice Cream Maker ($159.99). This is a great price on a true self-contained, automatic ice cream maker. It’s more expensive than the Cuisinarts because it’s got it’s own built-in compressor. That means there’s no need to pre-freeze the container for 12 hours or more, and no need to purchase a second container in order to make more than 1.5 quarts of ice cream in one night. Order some Dole Whip mix and you can feed your WDW addiction at will (and even make your own adult Dole Whip floats, with coconut rum and vanilla vodka).

Notes:
a. None of these products were provided to the writer or DISDads.com for review purposes.
b. The opinions expressed about these gift options are solely our own and we have not been compensated to provide these opinions
.

The DISDads Holiday Shopping Guide – Part 1: Gifts for Kids

As the holiday shopping season begins, here’s our guide to great gifts for kids this year. In the interest of full disclosure, all of the links in this article are affiliate links or links to DISDads.com sponsors. Our recommendations are the same, even if you choose to make your purchase from another vendor or without using our links.

http://mousemastertravel.com/index.php/choose-your-disney-destination-bonus/1. It probably comes as no surprise that the first recommendation from a website that started as a gathering place for fans of a travel destination is to book a vacation. But there’s solid science behind our recommendation that the best gift is the gift of family vacation memories. More than a decade of research by Cornell University psychologist Dr. Thomas Gilovich suggests that, dollar-for-dollar, we derive more happiness from experiences (and particularly shared experiences) than we do from material things. Consider contacting site and podcast sponsor Fantastic Memories Travel / Mouse Master Travel to book your next family vacation as a holiday gift that keeps on giving, as the family participates in the planning process (and check our their “Choose your Disney Destination Bonus Offer for bookings made by the end of the year).

2. Bounce-Off Party! ($99.99) is a great (but more expensive) update to Bounce-Off ($17.25). The game is sort of halfway between beer pong (no beer is involved) and Connect Four. A challenge card is chosen, which sets the pattern required to win that round of the game. Players bounce balls onto the game grid, attempting to match the pattern for the game. The different patterns on the challenge cards ensure that each game is just a bit different, requiring a different ball arrangement to win the game. The Party! version expands the original, opening up play for more players. With both head-to-head and relay options, the six included game grids mean up to six players OR six TEAMS of players can play the Party version. (For Ages 7 and up. 2-4 players for the original game. The Party version can accommodate up to 6 – or more playing in teams).

3. I know that there’s a lot of Lego love out there, but for my money there’s no better building toy than Playmags ($89.99 for the linked 100-piece set). These are actually the slighly-less-expensive version of this sort of toy, but still well-made and playable. Geometric-shaped plastic tiles have magnets along the edges of the tiles. Careful placement of the magnets allows any two tiles to attract to one another along the edge. Resulting three dimensional structures are remarkably sturdy and stable. The originals from Magna-Tile are a bit stronger, so if your kids are hard on toys, they may be worth the price premium to you ($74.50 for the linked 48-piece set). These magnetic building toys are appropriate for ages 3 and up (and I’ve watched teens have fun building with them too).

4. Yes, I prefer iPads. Yes, I know that this is an older model. But the $34.99 “Black Friday Weekend” pricing for a 7″ Amazon Fire WiFi tablet that can take a microSD card for storage expansion is pretty darned hard to beat as a child’s tech gift.

Its specs aren’t top-of-the-line, but an IPS screen puts its image quality at the top of the line for a tablet in this price range. Frankly, it’s biggest hardware weakness is the mono speaker and lack of Dolby Audio. Out of the box, the 7″ Fire tablet only connects to Amazon’s app store. If that’s not enough for you, relatively straightforward instructions for just adding the Google Play store or fully rooting the device are pretty readily available.

5. Thames & Kosmos Electricity and Magnetism ($40.99). Though this kit carries an ages 8-15 recommendation, it’s probably more accurately good for ages 6-11. Those on the younger end can learn from and enjoy the experience of working with an adult on the 62 different experiments that are available. Those at the older end of the spectrum can safely explore the experiments on their own, without being bored by them. The well-organized kit divides the experiments into Electricity, Magetism, and Electromagnetism sections and includes 60 pieces to complete the various experiments. It should be noted that two rather important pieces are NOT included – those would be the two AA batteries that are necessary for any of the electricity-related experiments.

What are some of your favorite children’s gifts that you’re recommending this holiday season? Tell us about them in the comments!

Notes:
a. None of the Amazon affiliate linked products were provided to the writer or DISDads.com for review purposes.
b. The opinions expressed about these gift options are solely our own and we have not been compensated to provide these opinions.
c. Mouse Master Travel is a site sponsor and podcast sponsor, but travel is a great gift regardless of which travel agency you choose or whether you choose to work with a travel agency at all.

DAD Show #136 – Podcasting Inception with Zeek & Rachel from Behind the Magic Podcast

BtM-DDPThis week on the DAD Show, we’re podcasting out appearance on another podcast. DISDads Podcast host Aaron Rittmaster was invited on a “With Us Wednesday” episode of Behind the Magic Podcast, and we left the mics rolling to give you a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at how their podcasts come together. I hope you enjoy our little trading spaces experiment – head over to their site and give the show a listen the way Behind the Magic put it together!

The DAD Show is sponsored by Kingdom Strollers, Orlando’s Premium Stroller and Crib Rental source.

Do you have any questions or comments about our show swap with Behind the Magic Podcast? Have a vacation story you’d like to share with us or another “Destinations And Diversions” topic you’d like to suggest? Tell us about it! Email us at podcast@DisDads.com; tweet us at DisDadsPodcast on Twitter; and join in the online discussion of the podcasts on our DISDads Discussion Boards; and check out our DISDads Podcast Facebook page.

If you enjoyed the podcast, we’d really appreciate it if you took a moment to leave us a review on iTunes

Thank you to Mitch Furman for our intro and outro music.

Disney Movies Preview 2016 – Episode 348

WaltDisneyStudiiosHost: Aaron Rittmaster
Panel: Eric Anderson, Richard Grady, Jason Mitts

For the first time ever, we turned out looking-ahead movie preview into a single super-sized episode, rather than breaking it in half. So hold on tight for a full two-hour plus look at the entire slate of Disney company movies scheduled for release in 2016! The panel discussion is based on the release schedule below.

What do you think of Disney’s 2016 movie slate? What are you most looking forward to? Is there an unexpected flop in the bunch? How about a surprise hit? Tell us about it! Email us at podcast@disdads.com; tweet us at DisDadsPodcast on Twitter; join in the online discussion of the podcasts on our DISDads Discussion Boards; and check out our DISDads Podcast Facebook page.

Our outro music is a sample of “Whiskey on the Mississippi” by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0


January 29, 2016 – The Finest Hours (Walt Disney Pictures)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-XsppzuH-k

March 4, 2016 – Zootopia (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9lmhBYB11U

April 15, 2016 – The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Pictures)

May 6, 2016 – Captain America: Civil War (Marvel Studios)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_-zgF5QZsE
(Not a trailer – apologies for the rather annoying “host,” but the information is interesting).

May 27, 2016 – Alice Through the Looking Glass (Walt Disney Pictures)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiEG3Zr_Jxs

June 17, 2016 – Finding Dory (Pixar Animation Studios)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG0P6bjyUNI

July 1, 2016 – The BFG (Walt Disney Pictures)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQFJphm5IgU

August 12 – 2016 – Pete’s Dragon (Walt Disney Pictures)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhpg3Enl6Tk
(D23 presentation clip)

November 4, 2016 – Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0WbDmd173U
(D23 presentation clip)

November 29, 2016 – Moana – (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pylCYlsjEK0

December 16, 2016 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – (Lucasfilm)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVO4H_RQrrw

Sunday – Disney Merchandise Discounts via Amazon Gold Box

Check out today’s Amazon Gold Box deals! A wide-range of Disney merchandise, including toys, clothes, and games, are available at discounts of up to 60% today only. The link above is an affiliate link – your purchase helps support disdads.com, at no additional cost to you. Just use the link above to go to the Amazon Gold Box deals.

(Shop carefully – the discount only applies to select items shipped and sold by Amazon.com which are eligible for Free Returns).