Can The Fans Save Off Kilter?

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Change is necessary. But it’s not always good.
Disney recently announced it will replace some of Epcot’s entertainment in the World Showcase to make way for new shows and performances.
Off Kilter, the Celtic rock band that has entertained many guests in Epcot since it opened in 1982, is part of those performers being cut.
Off Kilter fans are mad, and have organized a campaign to “Save Off Kilter.”
And although I agree that some performers need replacing in Epcot, I don’t agree with replacing Off Kilter.
The band’s last performance is September 27th.
So for the last 2 weekends, we’ve made our way to Epcot to listen to some of Off Kilter’s last performances. And while they know these are their last shows, they give it their all – just like they always have.
The kilt- wearing bagpipe playing band always draws a crowd, and appeals to all ages. Located in the Canada Pavillion, it’s a great place to sit and enjoy a beverage while listening to a performance.
You can always count on hearing favorites like “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” and “Amazing Grace.”
One Off Kilter fan from Michigan told me she just doesn’t understand why Disney would replace Off Kilter with log rollers. She admitted she’d probably watch that once, adding that she watches Off Kilter perform on every trip to Disney.
So I hope that Disney hears the Off Kilter fans loud and clear and finds a way to keep this Epcot classic performing for many years.

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It’s Likely The Calm Before The Storm

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If you spent time in Epcot this weekend you probably noticed how empty it was. You could call that Disney in September but it’s also likely the calm before the storm. Next weekend begins Epcot International Food and Wine Festival – the most anticipated event of the year for food, wine and craft beer enthusiasts.
It’s a party for your taste buds and an opportunity to taste the culinary delights from various countries, craft beer and a plethora of wines.
Small appetizer sized portions of various foods can be purchased, usually priced between $3.50 – $5.00.
Due to its popularity, this festival gets longer every year. It will run for 53 days this year from September 19 through November 10.
Saturday evening small groups of festival cast members could be seen throughout the World Showcase getting their last-minute instructions.
And while you nibble your way around the world, you can see performances in the Eat To The Beat Concert Series which features performances such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Smash Mouth and Boyz ll Men just to mention a few.
Mixology seminars and cooking demonstrations along with many other mini events will occur during the festival.
Although the festival itself draws large crowds, if you plan to attend expect weekdays to be only slightly less crowded.

Seeing Disney From A New Perspective

EpcotI don’t have a lot of free time on my hands these days but when I do get a little time, I begin to imagine what it will be like living 24 miles from Walt Disney World.
On our most recent trip to Florida to find a home, I saw a Disney Magical Express bus and realized, I won’t be riding that bus anymore! In case you don’t know, Magical Express is the Disney-provided transportation from the Orlando International Airport to your Disney resort. It didn’t really bother me that I won’t be on that bus anymore since our new home is so close. I’ve always had this like/dislike relationship with Magical Express anyway. I liked it when I arrived and it was whisking us off to start our vacation, but I really disliked the bus when it was picking us up to return to the airport and go home.
There are a few things I’ll miss about planning my Disney vacations.
I’ll miss choosing a resort to stay at and I’ll miss the midday breaks we would take at the resort to go back and swim. I’ll also miss the anticipation and countdowns we always did to our Disney vacations.
But instead, we’ll have countdowns to the visits from our children and grandchildren, friends and family! We’ll also get to experience every season in Disney! I won’t have to go years without seeing the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. And I don’t have to wonder every year if I’ll get to the International Food and Wine Festival. I can spend my birthday in Disney every year.
I also won’t have to worry about how I’m going to get something home that I want to purchase. I won’t have to miss our dog, Tinkerbell. And if we spend a long day at the parks, I can take her to Best Friends Pet Care Center for the day! It’s located right near the Port Orleans resorts and is open an hour before the parks open and it closes an hour after the parks close, so I can drop her off on our way to the parks and pick her up after we finish!
I could flip a coin to decide which park to go to that day. Or I could park hop and go to all of them in the same day. We could go to the parks just for dinner and fireworks! We can track points we accumulate at Buzz Light Year and Toy Story Mania and have monthly competitions!
And if I take another Disney Cruise, we’re just a short half hour drive to Port Canaveral!
So as the list of “benefits” keeps growing in my mind, I think about, and am grateful for the one thing I will not have to do ever again.
Shovel snow!

Disney Cruising

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Taking a Disney Cruise is the natural progression for those who have made a trip or two (or 17) to Walt Disney World.

In the fall I  had the opportunity to take a Disney Land and Sea vacation  and spent a couple of days in the Disney parks while staying at Disney’s Yacht Club resort and then on to Port Canaveral where I boarded  the Disney Dream for a 3 night Bahamas cruise.

Many people think Disney Cruises are just for families with children, but I traveled with adults and there was plenty for us to do including some adult only areas of the ship!

A self-serve soda station offers free soda on the pool deck.

They also have an ice cream station near the pool – a great way to cool off after swimming.

I  purchased an adult beverage in a souvenir cup for $9.99 and that cup could be refilled with the drink of the day for $4.85. I had to ask the Cast Member to repeat the refill price because I couldn’t believe there could be a drink under $5 on a cruise ship!

As we all know, Disney knows how to entertain! And the Broadway-style shows – Golden Mickey’s, The Villains, and Believe – were all excellent and I recommend you don’t miss them.

The easy access to characters on the Disney Dream was another real treat! There were character meet and greets set up on the ship and when we got off the ship at Castaway Cay, there were no lines to get pictures with Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale and Donald Duck!

A signature attraction on the Dream is the Aqua Duck, the clear-tubed water coaster with Disney’s signature drops and turns. The line for this attraction can get long but if you ride it when you board the ship or closer to dinner time, you can have it almost to yourself! Disney has rotational dining in its restaurants on the Dream. You’ll be assigned a restaurant each night and your serving staff will follow you to those restaurants. Remy and Palo are the adult only restaurants you can choose to go to but reservations are a must.

Room service was complimentary so I woke up every day to my fresh pot of coffee.  I would pour a cup and sit on the balcony and watch the sun rise and the ocean go by.  I also enjoyed the view from there watching the ship docking at the port. I don’t think there’s anything  more relaxing.

The Disney-themed kids clubs on the ship such as “Andy’s Room,” made me almost want to be a kid again. And I loved the hand-washing station where children just insert their hands and the washing (via spraying with soap and water) is done for you!

Another feature that Disney Cruises have is their fireworks show that tops off Pirate Night on the ship – another not-to-be-missed night-time spectacular. Didn’t bring any pirate-wear? No worries! Everyone gets a pirate bandana for each person in your cabin!

My only regret on this cruise was that I hadn’t cruised on a Disney Cruise sooner, and that I’d wished the cruise was longer. But taking the 3-day cruise was a great way to try a Disney Cruise and to determine  that I definitely want to take another (longer) one!

Getting My Disney Legs On (And Feet Too!)

I think it’s easier on the legs if you’re taking a Disney vacation in the fall rather than the Spring!
Why?
Because I’ve spent the winter wrapped up in a warm blanket watching TV and making excuses not to go out into the cold for that 10 minute drive to the gym. And now it’s crunch time (not to be confused with crunches time because that’s a whole different blog post!)
So as most of you who have been to Disney know, there’s a lot of walking done in a Disney vacation.
How much?
Well, our daughters took pedometers during one trip and we averaged out the miles we walked that week and it ranged between 11-14 miles a day!
I’ve heard runners say they’re still not prepared for all the walking even with all the running they do!
But I do try to get some extra walking in ahead of time so I don’t have sore leg muscles in addition to my sore feet!
The feet are a whole different problem with a stress fracture twice before, forcing me to have to wear really supportive and very expensive shoes.
I don’t like sneakers when it’s hot so that means I need to find a good pair of sandals before I go. I naturally gravitate to something flip flop-ish but dear old foot doctor thinks I need heel support!
Crocs are out of the question because they “are like having your feet in marshmallows.” (More foot doctor advice!)
I’ve previously worn Clark’s, they worked well. But now I’m looking at Keen Sandals.
Arch support, keeping my feet cool and comfortable are most important. And they at least need a strap around my heel.
So if you have any recommendations please share them!

Disney Fantasy Sailing Toward New York City

In a first for Disney Cruise Line, it’s newest ship – Fantasy – will be christened in New York City this week. The Fantasy is the sister ship to the Disney Dream which was launched last year.
The Fantasy left the German shipyard Feb. 17th and is expected to arrive at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal today.
All Disney Cruise Line’s other ships have been christened in Port Canaveral, but with the addition of Disney Cruises sailing from New York City beginning this year, the cruise line is promoting it’s new itineraries from this port.
The 4,000-passenger ship will make it’s maiden voyage March 31 from Port Canaveral and will then sail alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.
The Fantasy has the famed AquaDuck water coaster, like the Dream but will have a water play area called Aqua Lab, and will have the first onboard Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
I will be touring the Disney Fantasy Wednesday afternoon and will have live updates via Twitter. You can follow me @MyDisDiva.

 

Sharon Spohn is a Vacation Planning Expert with Liberty Travel in Exton. She can be reached at spohns@libertytravel.com or 610-524-2930