#1 – Starbucks in EVERY Park
For those of us who need a venti to keep up with our jacked up kids racing around the park: No more of this coffee counter “proudly selling Starbucks” business, every park now has a full Starbucks store in it, including the new Disney Springs. In my opinion, this might be the most important upgrade to Disney World in recent history. That, and #2, Disney World Cocktails.
#2 Disney World Cocktails in ALMOST every park
The Magic Kingdom remains only semi-magical to me as they are the prudish cocktail free hold out, which is why God created sippy cups. In the other parks, it is now easier to find a much needed drink after a long day of standing in line for Tinkerbell’s autograph or riding Space Mountain for the 5th time. They even have a Dole Whip WITH RUM option in EPCOT. Yes, it is as glorious as you imagine it to be. Another favorite spot is the Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios now with an outdoor cocktail bar, featuring specialty cocktails and tapas. It is conveniently located near Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
#3 – Take a ride in a REAL amphibious car
Downtown Disney is being relaunched as Disney Springs. The full roll out is happening over the summer but they have already added some amazing new restaurants and my new favorite activity, ever. Riding in a real amphibious car. These cars were manufactured between 1961 and 1967, the swell and wealthy owned them, including President Lyndon Johnson. You can take a 25 minute ride for $125 (seats 3) and get a fab picture. I have been obsessed with these cars since I spied them in Slim Aaron’s famous photo. Next time I’m dressing as Babe Paley and taking a martini in with me.
#4 – Kylo Ren is smoking hot and does the BEST meet and greet in Disney
You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy the new Star Wars Launch Bay. Disney is building out their Star Wars presence in Hollywood Studios, Chewie and Kylo Ren are now always at the Launch Bay for autographs and photos (this is not a FastPass, yet, but I believe it will be).
I met Chewie and got a big bear hug, then I went to meet Kylo. I’m so glad I asked someone to videotape it because it was everything I dreamed it might be. For those of you who aren’t up on the latests Star Wars characters, Kylo Ren is Darth Vader’s grandson, child of Han Solo and Princess Leia, he has issues. After we saw The Force Awakens I told my husband I thought he was hot…I had no idea how hot until I met him. Next time I’m slipping him my Magic Band.
#5 Disney After Hours
Disney is testing a new ticket, Disney After Hours. You may have read about it on the front page of the New York Times. Ever dreamed of enjoying Disney without all those other annoying people in your way? It’s a recurring dream for me. Anyhow, for some select dates over the next few months you can buy an additional ticket that allows you access to the park after dark. They limit the number of tickets sold so you don’t have to fight the lines for Space Mountain and Mine Train, they even throw in some free ice cream and water. The ice cream and water are not the draw, enjoying the park without the crowds is true luxury and can be had for $149 per person. Worth every penny in my book. Check HERE to see which dates Disney After Hours is offered.
#6 Disney’s Shopping App will Change your Life
No seriously, it will. Got a screaming toddler begging for that stupid baby Simba wrapped in a blanket? But there’s a lady from Ohio in front of you who can’t decide which ears to buy and you don’t have room to carry the 500th stuffed animal in your bag anyway? Just scan the barcode and the app will send the item to your hotel or house. I can’t wait until the rest of the shopping world adopts this technology. You can also use it to search for product, say someone wants a Duffy outfit but you don’t know where to find it, the app will tell you which park has it and in which shop. Forget to buy the 500th Duffy outfit while at Disney? Buy it on the app on the ride to the airport, it will arrive at home and you are a freaking hero. You are welcome.
#7 “Private” Fireworks Party – with Sweets!
Hate fighting that family from New Jersey for a square of grungy sidewalk where you can watch the fireworks? The best option for a private display is still the Fireworks Cruises, but aside from that, you can buy entrance to a dessert party. You get priority seating, no battling for space AND you get dessert. Anyone who has been in the park late at night waiting for fireworks knows the power of a cupcake to quiet a screaming toddler or crabby husband. Dessert parties are offered at various parks on various days, advanced reservations are recommended, check the website HERE for updated information. Some of these dessert parties are long standing traditions, some are new. You can even book a Fireworks Dessert Cruise for the Wishes Magic Kingdom show. Tickets for the cruise are $99 for adults, $69 for kids. Tickets for the EPCOT parties are $49 adults/$29 kids. There is a plan to add a dessert party to the Star Wars fireworks show once they launch.
#8 Animal Kingdom Will Be Open at Night
Starting on Memorial Day weekend, Animal Kingdom park will be open at night. And not just open, but with all sorts of new night time attractions. Rides on the Kilimanjaro Safari have traditionally ended around 4:00pm. In a very Truman Show move, Disney has added special lighting that mimics a perpetual sunset to extend the hours that guests can enjoy the safari. I have done the safari both in the day time and during the new “sunset”, it’s much more pleasant to ride in the evening when the sun has gone down and it’s a bit cooler. Apparently the animals agree, I saw at least 50% more wildlife on the new safari. And I’m told we needn’t worry about the animals, the sunset is only for a few hours and it doesn’t negatively affect the animals in any way, in fact, they were all out playing and quite happy.
#9 Good Food AT Disney
Disney hasn’t exactly been known for their cuisine, we’re looking at you sketchy turkey legs. Now you can get a great meal without leaving Disney. My favorite addition to the new restaurant line up is Morimoto in Disney Springs. This is near the amphibious cars and my second favorite restaurant, the Boathouse. I like Morimoto for two reasons, sushi and magic. Their food is as good as many restaurants in New York, and I’m a sushi snob. The decor is decidedly upscale and they have a magician that does mind blowing tableside acts. The night we were there he bent a normal fork, while I was holding it my hands. It was so shocking and unexplainable I couldn’t breathe.
#10 Bruch at the Top (More Booze Options-It’s a Theme for Me)
California Grill now has a Brunch at the Top on Sundays. They offer the best views in disney, live music, and a Bloody Mary Bar. Now THAT is magical. There’s an open show kitchen, signature cocktails and faux mimosas for kids. Cost is $80 for adults, $48 ages 3 to 11. Reservations can be made at DisneyWorld.com/dine or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
They have also made some changes to the Disney VIP Tours – they can now book your child for the Jedi Training Academy and more. Click link to read updated information.
I was recently hosted by Disney as part of their Awaken Summer media campaign-they did not ask me to write about cocktails and hot Star Wars villains-but they will be happy I did because I know what you are looking for dear readers.