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Fodor’s Travel Names Aulani a Top Hotel

posted on September 19th, 2014 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa


“An enchanting resort complete with Disney character experiences and a touch of local culture in everything …”

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That’s what reviewers at Fodor’s Travel, one of the largest and most respected publishers of travel and tourism information, are saying about Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, which is being recognized as a 2014 Fodor’s 100 Hotel Award winner, and one of the top 12 “Beach Getaway” hotels worldwide. Aulani was the only resort in all of Hawai‘i to be included in this distinguished category.

Fodor’s evaluated more than 5,000 properties around the globe, so cracking the top 100 – and being called out as one of the world’s greatest beach resorts – is a wonderful achievement.

What do you love most about your “Beach Getaway” to Aulani?


To read more about Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, visit the posts below:

Plan Your Fall Getaway with New Disneyland Resort Hotel Offer

posted on September 17th, 2014 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


Disneyland Hotel

Fall is one of my favorite times of year at the Disneyland Resort. The warm, sunny Southern California summer has given way to the slightly cooler but still just as sunny Southern California fall. And with Halloween Time, through October 31, and Holidays at the Disneyland Resort, from November 13 through January 6, added to the mix it’s the perfect time of year to plan a weekday getaway!

Beginning today, you can save 20 percent on premium rooms at a Disneyland Resort hotel for stays on select Sunday through Thursday nights, from October 26-December 18. To take advantage of this offer, book travel through November 19.

So plan your fall getaway now! Click here to book.

Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room at the same hotel for select Sunday through Thursday nights between 10/26/14 – 12/18/14. Book from 9/17/14 through 11/19/14, with travel completed by 12/19/14. Blockout dates of 10/31/14, 11/1/14, 11/7/14, 11/8/14, 11/13/14 through 11/16/14 and 11/21/14 through 12/13/14 apply. 20% savings available on Premium, Deluxe and Woods/Garden/Courtyard rooms; select Concierge rooms; and Paradise, Artisan and Regal suites. Ask about savings in other room types. Not valid on previously booked rooms. Advance reservations required. Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Excludes applicable fees and taxes. Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and five (5) people maximum per room. Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Separate Theme Park admission required to enjoy the Parks.

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Club Disney at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Offers Fun for Little Ones

posted on September 12th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Have you visited Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort lately? The resort just opened a brand-new children’s activity center called Club Disney, which is a great place for little ones to play while their parents catch some alone time.

Child-Sized Fun at New Club Disney Child-Sized Fun at New Club Disney

The look of the “club” was inspired by classic Disney Little Golden Books tales like “Pinocchio,” “Lady and the Tramp” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Here, kids ages 3-12 can play dress up, create crafts, play games, engage in storytelling activities, enjoy movie nights and more with our children’s activity coordinators. Here’s a peek inside:

To book, call: 407-WDW-DINE.

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‘Mahaloween Luau’ Coming to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Hotel September 29

posted on September 9th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


It’s one day only, and guaranteed to put you in the spirit of Halloween TimeTrader Sam’s “Mahaloween Luau,” with seatings starting at 3 p.m., September 29.
Trader Sams

Just 100 guests per seating will have the pleasure of this kooky seasonal party that includes beverages and eats, live music and insider info with Imagineers and Disney cast members. Guests attending “Mahaloween Luau” will receive a special edition glass available only at the event. Collectors take note, the second edition of the Zombie souvenir glass will also be available for purchase at the event, before it is available to the public the next day.
Zombie Glass

“Mahalo” is a Hawaiian word meaning thanks, praise or regards, and this “Mahaloween Luau” gives fans of the Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar trademark humor an insider’s hour of fun at the legendary watering hole.

Choose your hour: 3-4 p.m., 4:30-5:30 p.m., 6-7 p.m. or 7:30-8:30 p.m. The fun starts on the patio with appetizers and two drink tickets (beer, wine, Zombie Drink or Polynesian Punch). Move inside for live entertainment and a Disney tiki presentation by Walt Disney Imagineering. You’ll also have a chance to meet some of Disney’s concept artists and other special guests.

When the party ends, you’ll get a Jungle River Cruise Expedition Bag that includes a Trader Sam panama hat, a boxed special-edition “Mahaloween Luau” glass (with a dated stamp), a Trader Sam print on canvas, and a coupon good for 20 percent off at the adjacent Tangaroa Terrace. Guests also can purchase up to two additional second-edition Zombie souvenir glasses.

Cost is $125 per person, including tax and tip. To reserve your spot, call 714-781-DINE – reservations open tomorrow!

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Re-Imagined California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary

posted on September 9th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


Time flies when you’re at the top of your game, and a year after re-opening with a classy new interior and new seasonal menu, California Grill Chef Brian Piasecki and his talented team are busy keeping guests happy seven nights a week.

“California Grill is a total experience – great food, interesting wines, craft cocktails, and an incomparable view,” says Chef Brian. He and general manager Michael Scheifler conduct a beautifully orchestrated evening with efficient, knowledgeable staff.

Pork two ways (wood fire tenderloin w goat chesse polenta_ braised lacquered belly and country applesauce

Any misses on the new menu, we asked Chef Brian? “We change the menu so fast with what’s fresh and available, so far it’s been a success,” he answers with a smile. The most-ordered dish is the Pork Two Ways with grilled pork tenderloin and lacquered pork belly served with warm goat cheese polenta, mushrooms and a touch of sweetness with house-made applesauce. For starters, the house-made charcuterie is another hit. And, of course, the buttery filet mignon with heirloom tomato risotto, baby vine tomatoes, basil and tomato butter is a top pick, too.

Chef Brian loves his new kitchen, with gadgets like a sous vide machine that seals ingredients in plastic for slowly cooking in a water bath for super tender, perfectly cooked dishes. “Most guests don’t want to know about the cooking techniques, they just love the results,” says Chef Brian.

The kitchen team reaches out to local farms, and with Florida crops just coming into high season, look for lots of local fruits and produce on the fall menu – as well as Florida seafood. A simple salad has never tasted better than the one made with local greens and topped with a poached Lake Meadow Naturals egg and Palmetto Honey vinaigrette.
Yuzu-marinated Sashimi (tuna salmon himachi snapper seaweed salad

The list of favorites must include the Cucumber Fizz cocktail, flatbreads (try the heirloom tomato BLT flatbread with lemon mayo) and the sushi (we’re fans of the yuzu-marinate sashimi). “And desserts are flying out of here,” says Chef Brian, thanks to the creativity of Pasty Chef Jeff Barnes – his hot banana fritters are the biggest hit.

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As for that stellar view, the new fireworks deck has given more guests a front-row spot for the nightly Magic Kingdom Park fireworks. While you can sit at your table with the fireworks sound track piped in, most guests love to walk out on the two decks for a bird’s-eye view of the Magic Kingdom Park from the 15th floor. Now that’s a one-of-a-kind ending to a your day.

For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE.

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‘Lakeside Casual’ Attire for Servers at New Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk

posted on September 9th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


As the new Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk gets ready for a December opening, here’s a look at the classic server attire, designed by Walt Disney Imagineer Celina Lung, who’s been a Disney costume designer for nearly 20 years.

French Bakery Hostess

“My inspiration comes from the trattoria’s interior and lakeside setting,” says Celina. “Like the restaurant, the server attire is charming, casual, a little upscale.” The warm décor matches the restaurant color palette, she explains. Celina’s research also took her to a seaside bistro in Southern California to come up with a look that’s “not overdesigned, but simple and elegant.”

French Bakery Hostess French Bakery Hostess

The burgundy shirts and blouses with gold contrast echo the décor, with khaki-colored pants for a more casual look. “We’re in America, not Italy, and I wanted the servers to look casual but polished,” says Celina. One detail, for instance, is the bladed leather belt with an antique brass buckle to lend a more refined finish.

French Bakery Hostess French Bakery Hostess

For colder months, she designed a jacket with a relaxed fit in classic tweed. Servers will also wear long bistro aprons, weaving the elegance of traditional European restaurant with the experience of a neighborhood restaurant.

Her expertise is in many costumes throughout Disney Parks, from the server attire at Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot to various lands and restaurants at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort (her current project) and Disneyland park. And she’s always got something in the works.

Meanwhile, interior work and recipe development continues on Trattoria al Forno, more details to come!

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Try a Slice of Poolside Heaven: Rent a Cabana at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on September 5th, 2014 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


One surefire way to enhance your Walt Disney World Resort stay even more is to rent a poolside cabana — a private, shaded retreat perfect to while away the hours or to gather with friends and family for some added fun.

Available at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (note, the cabanas at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are closed during the resort’s renovations), these private sanctuaries include standard amenities like 32-inch LCD television with cable access, DVD/CD/MP3 player, ceiling fan, mini refrigerator stocked with complimentary sodas and water, fruit basket (may only be available with advance reservation), plush towels, and padded chaise lounge and straight-back chairs. Plus, a cabana attendant helps take care of all your needs. Private dining is available at an additional cost.
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If you’re splish-splashing at one of the water parks, yeah, you’re covered (pun intended) there, too. Beachcomber Shacks at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Polar Patios at Disney’s Blizzard Beach include a locker, refillable mugs, a cooler full of bottled water, lounge furniture and towels. Attendants also offer “tips and tricks” for the water parks.

Cabanas are a great way to spoil yourself and enrich your whole resort experience. Call 407-WDW-PLAY (939-7529) for reservations and info. You can also visit the Cabanas page on our website.

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Original Cast of Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue Reunites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

posted on September 4th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


As Pam shared earlier, we’re celebrating the official 40th birthday of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. And to mark the occasion, we have a special video – the first-ever reunion of the original cast. The Pioneer Hall Players were college students to begin the show’s 40-year run and tonight, they’re back to share their favorite memories.

The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue presents three shows nightly, seven days a week, at 4 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. If you’ve experienced Hoop-Dee-Doo, please let us know about your favorite memories in the comments.

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Happy Birthday! Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue Celebrates 40 Years of Food, Fun at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

posted on September 4th, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


September 5 marks the official 40th birthday of one of the longest-running dinner shows in American history – Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. We say “official” because the show got its start that summer (on June 30) as part of the Disney World Fine Arts College Workshop program, with six young actors playing the roles, says Forrest Bahruth, the original choreographer who still creates fantastic shows for Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment.

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“Hoop-Dee-Doo was upbeat, and guests came for the corny jokes, good food and lots of fun,” said Forrest Bahruth, show director, Disney Parks & Resorts Creative Entertainment and the original choreographer for the dinner show. “Forty years later, the heart is still in it, the energy is still there.”

Of course we think the endless buckets of fried chicken and ribs play a starring role, too. The menu has only had one major change since its debut – the apple pie for dessert was changed to strawberry shortcake way back in 1979. Today, servers (who are part of the high-energy show) dish up about 900 pounds of fried chicken every night, and cooks spend about six hours each day just breading the chicken. Add 400 pounds of pork ribs, slow cooked starting at 11 a.m. daily on a big outdoor smoker.

For sides, there are 120 pounds of corn, 400 pounds of potatoes to be mashed and 30 gallons of baked beans. It takes 15 gallons of strawberries and 12 gallons of whipped cream to make dessert.

Add beer, wine, sangria and soft drinks, and you got a formula for fun – a show that has presented about 37,000 performances before more than 10.5 million guests. And like the food, the show, while fine-tuned, hasn’t changed much, says show director Tom Vazzana.

“Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue exemplifies everything that Disney stands for,” says Vazzana. “It’s interactive fun for families and stellar entertainment – six performers put on a show that’s 90 minutes of pure enjoyment.”

Performers sing, dance and act their way through the timeless classic. “I love to go and hear kids squeal with delight at Six Bits, but also hear strong American ballads,” says Vazzana. “Families tell me it’s the first time they’ve seen a Broadway-style show – it’s obtainable and accessible, quintessential Disney.”

Hoop-Dee-Doo presents three shows nightly, seven days a week, at 4 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE or book online.

Looking Back

In true Disney fashion, Walt Disney Imagineers designed Pioneer Hall in authentic Wild West style with 1,283 hand-fitted pine logs from Montana and 70 tons of stones from North Carolina to recreate a look from the late 1800s. The building opened April 1, 1974.

Themed entertainment is always part of the Disney story. While Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was being written and cast, a group of country-Western musicians called The Star-Spangled Washboard Band opened in Pioneer Hall, according to an historical timeline by Larry Billman, author/writer and Disney entertainment consultant, who was the author and writer of the original show.

Bob Jani, the director of entertainment for both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, saw the potential for a “dinner theater show” and hired Billman. After multiple rewrites (the first version was called “We’re With You, Mother McCree!”), Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was born.

Students from the 11-week college workshop auditioned for the three female and three male character performers in Hoop-Dee-Doo: Six Bits Slocum and Dolly Drew (comic relief), Jim Handy and Flora Long (the singers), and Johnny Ringo and Claire de Lune (the dancers).

Fun Facts

  • Today, one member of the original cast from the college program still works for Disney – Marilyn Kay Magness, who played the part of Dolly Drew. She’s executive creative director, Disney Parks, Creative Entertainment.
  • An early draft of the show was titled The Whoop-Dee-Doo-Revue, which was revised to Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
  • Principal songwriter was Tom Adair, who also wrote words for the score for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and the “Mickey Mouse Club.”
  • In 1979 the song “Apple Pie Hoedown” was replaced with “Strawberry Short Cake Walk” when shortcake replaced apple pie on the menu.
  • The writers added a nod to Disney legacy with “The Legend of Davy Crockett” skit, complete with a coonskin cap and bear puns.
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was part of the opening entertainment at Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, with Larry Billman and Forrest Bahruth directing and staging the new version. The show played there until 1995.

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A Taste of the Islands at Shutters Restaurant at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

posted on September 3rd, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


One of our favorite little Walt Disney World Resort dining gems is Shutters at Old Port Royale at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, where Chef Scott Tosh can elevate any dish with bright island flavors – he knows that “spicy” doesn’t mean “hot,” but instead an infusion of fantastic flavors.

We’re also fans of his crispy chicken wings, glazed in habanero-brown sugar. Pair those with the Shutters Salad (greens, jicama, avocado, tropical salsa, goat cheese and citrus vinaigrette) and a fruity cocktail for starters. But it’s really the sustainable fish where Shutters shines, like this Jerk-Seared Mahi-Mahi, with a demo by Chef Mike Reitzler, who was at the helm in the kitchen at Shutters, now at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The dish may take a little time, but you can do most of the prep early in the day, then sear the fish just as your guests are ready for dinner.

Shutters is open nightly at 5:30 p.m. for dinner. For reservations, call 407-WDW-DINE. Dinner is on the Disney Dining Plan.

Jerk-Seared Mahi-Mahi with Ancho BBQ sauce, Tropical Salsa, Caribbean Rice & Green Beans
Serves 4

Tropical Salsa

  • 1 medium, ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro

Ancho BBQ Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Jerk Seasoning

  • 8 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Mahi

  • 4 (6-ounce) mahi filets
  • 1 tablespoon plus 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 12 teaspoons jerk seasoning, divided

Caribbean Rice

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives

Green Beans

  • 1 pound thin green beans
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For tropical salsa:

  1. Combine mango, pineapple, onion, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, and jalapeno in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together rice vinegar, honey, lime juice, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Pour dressing over mango mixture. Add cilantro, gently stirring to combine.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

For ancho BBQ sauce:

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, cooking until fragrant and softened, about 4 minutes. Add tomato and jalapeno, cooking until tomato breaks down, about 3 minutes more.
  2. Whisk in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, honey, lemon juice, chili powder, paprika, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes, or until onions are soft and sauce is thickened.
  4. Carefully transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

For jerk seasoning:

  1. Combine allspice, dry mustard, paprika, granulated onion, lemon pepper, dried hot red pepper flakes, white or black pepper, cayenne, granulated garlic, cinnamon, salt, and thyme in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Store remaining jerk seasoning in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

For mahi:

  1. Rinse mahi with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Rub each mahi filet with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle first side of each filet with 1 1/2 teaspoons Jerk Seasoning, patting to adhere. Repeat with the second side of each fish.
  3. Transfer mahi to a large plate, lightly cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour.
  4. When ready to serve, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 mahi filets. Sear each side 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked all the way through. Repeat using remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and remaining 2 mahi filets.

For Caribbean rice:

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cooking until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice, stirring to coat in butter.
  2. Stir in turmeric and salt. Add water, stir a few times, then cover pan. Turn heat to low and cook 20 minutes.
  3. Remove rice from heat and keep covered 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork; add chives and fluff again.

For green beans:

  1. While fish is cooking, blanch green beans in boiling salted water until bright green and just tender.
  2. Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Drain green beans and add directly to sauté pan, tossing to coat in butter. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:
Brush barbecue sauce on serving plates, evenly divide rice and green beans among plates. Top each with a mahi filet. Serve with more sauce and tropical salsa spooned over top.

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