Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.07.17 PMDisney’s Hollywood Studios is in the early stages of a major refurbishment, which will result in additional lands in a larger park. Many of the attractions are closed, or have been slated to shut down, and we are still not sure what will remain of the current DHS. Rumor and speculation point to Star Wars Land taking over most of the left side of the park, replacing much, if not all, of the Echo Lake area.

During my last visit to Walt Disney World, The Mature MouseTM had the opportunity to grab a bite at the Backlot Express. This quick-service restaurant may not be around much longer at DHS, so The Mature MouseTM wanted to write a review of his unique experience at this quick and casual restaurant.IMG_7175

The menu at the Backlot Express is the usual American cuisine found in most Disney quick-service resturants: hamburger and cheeseburger, turkey club, hot dog, etc. I had the 8-piece chicken breast nuggets, with French fries. The chicken was moist, and the fries were crisp. The star attraction of the meal was an incredible Olaf cupcake. It was a huge, moist carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting, topped with a white chocolate Olaf.

IMG_7172The restaurant is themed as a functioning studio workshop. There is an organized chaos in the storage of props and equipment, with background music featuring theme songs from old TV shows. The restaurant is very clean, but the Imagineers have included faux dirt, dust, and wear on exposed piping. This restaurant experience is well themed for the current, and previous, iteration of Disney’s Hollywood Studio. Whether it will last the next restructuring of this park is yet to be seen.IMG_7177IMG_7178

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Please use the link to visit The Mature Mouse™ store for logo merchandise. Many of the items would make great additions to your vacation gear and attire.IMG_2098

And, make sure you consult Jennie Nowers about your next Disney vacation. Tell her that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift from Jennie with your next booking.

Welcome to Disney Springs!

Downtown Disney is now officially Disney Springs. Here is an overview from Two Girls and a Mouse Tale. They discuss the changes already in place, and the construction still under way.

Elly and Caroline's Magical Disney Moments

It’s official, Disney held a renaming christening party today for Disney Springs, the shopping and dining district formerly known as Downtown Disney!

9/29/15: Lunchtime crowd gathers at DTD for the name changing ceremony. 9/29/15: Lunchtime crowd gathers at DTD for the name changing ceremony.

New signage has gone up at WDW for Disney Springs. They no longer say Downtown Disney. New signage went up at WDW last week for Disney Springs. They no longer say ‘Downtown Disney’.

Major construction continues at a fast pace from one end of Disney Springs to the other, and on all the roadways in-between!

Some concept art of what Disney Springs will look like in Spring 2016:

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs. Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs.  Opened today.

Mickey at the grand opening of M 9/29/15: Mickey at the grand opening of Morimoto Asia today.

Disney Springs Town Center (opening in 2016). Disney Springs Town Center (opening in 2016).

Marketplace, West Side Marketplace, West Side

The Landing (formerly Pleasure Island). The Landing (formerly Pleasure Island).

Disney Springs logo Official Disney Springs logo

Video of the backstory of Disney Springs:  Disney Springs 2016  

What DTD will look like in Spring 2016. What DTD will look like as Disney Springs in Spring 2016 (lake view).

We’re less than a…

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Planning My Solo Trip to Disney World

IMG_7405Now that I have returned from my solo trip to Walt Disney World, we should review the planning for this trip. This will allow us to discuss in my future posts whether these plans worked and if any rescheduling was needed during my time in the parks. The planning steps i mention here will work for any type of Disney World vacation.

As with any trip to Disney World, planning for The Mature Mouse™ always begins with a call Jennie Nowers. I had a fixed budget and a short span of time for traveling, so Jennie helped me figure out my choices of resort, park tickets, dining plan, and plane flights.

IMG_1838Pop Century is the resort I chose for this trip. This is a value resort with rates ranging from $95 to $186 per night, varying according to the season in which you stay. The resort is themed after the pop culture of the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. These last two decades are reflected in the same unit within the resort. As a middle-aged vacationer, The Mature Mouse™ can certainly relate to the theme of this resort. Pop Century is just one of the few resorts to feature dedicated buses that travel directly to and from the various parks, without any additional stops at other resorts. Here is a link to a previous post about Disney’s Pop Century Resort.

The next step in my planning process involves researching expected crowd levels in the 4 theme parks during my stay. I rely on TouringPlans.com Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 11.54.10 AMfor this information. The site is simple to use, and it offers subscribers the ability to create personal touring plans for each day of their trip. You pick a park and attractions you wish to experience, then add the start and end times for your time in the park, along with lunch and rest breaks, and the site creates an optimized plan to avoid long lines. As you can see from this example, the plan even includes a map of the park. They have an excellent track record.

Supported by suggestions from Touring Plans, I made the choice to include the Park Hopper onto my ticket purchase. By adding the Park Hopper option I would have the possibility to visit any or all of the four major Walt Disney World theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom) during each day of my trip. Here is more information on the value of the Park Hopper option. The various prices listed on this site may have changed since it was last update; please see Disney’s website on ticket pricing.

My final decision in planning was to determine whether to include a dining plan. I enjoy having an all-inclusive trip so as not to worry about added expenses. Of dining plans offered at Disney World, the Quick Service plan appeared to make the most sense. This would allow me two Quick Service meals and one snack. There are numerous QS restaurants throughout the parks, offering me numerous choices. Breakfast on the QS plan includes 1 entrée or a combo meal and a beverage. A QS lunch includes 1 entrée, 1 desert, and 1 non-alcoholic beverage. This dining plan would allow me to focus on touring the parks, not spending time sitting at a Table Service restaurant. Please do not misunderstand, Walt Disney World offers incredible fine-dining experiences. Please see my various posts about adult dining at WDW.

Chapter 7: Disney Magic and Romance at the California Grill

Top 10 Places to Dine Without Kids at Walt Disney World

My final step in planning was to book my FastPass+ choices 60 days prior to my trip, which was made based on the plans I created through the Touring Plans website. Making these reservations early insured I would have FP+ selections during my vacation, knowing that I would have the flexibility to alter these choices before and during my trip.

There was a period of time when a visit to Walt Disney World could be done on a whim, with little or no planning. However, times have changed. Planning is important and allows for flexibility. The process of planning your trip serves another purpose, educating you about the ins and outs of the resort. Think of it this way: Would you plan to travel to a city you have never been to before? The entire Walt Disney World Resort covers 40 Square miles, which is the equivalent in size of San Francisco. Would you research and plan your first trip to San Francisco?

IMG_1869Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire. This baseball hat is just one of the featured items available through the store. If you are a mature fan of Disney, consider getting an item. I am a Mature Mouse™, are you?

A Disney World Vacation is the best

With so much to do and see at Walt Disney World, The Mature Mouse™ cannot understand why people choose to go anywhere else. This sentiment does not only apply to families; a Disney World vacation is a great choice for the more mature empty-nester. One does not need to have children in tow to enjoy all that Disney World has to offer.

Yes, Walt Disney World has attractions, rides, appropriate for all ages. However, as I have pointed out in numerous post, the resort also offers much more. There are fine-dining restaurants, and first-class hotels. There are first-class golf courses, and miniature golf courses. There are educational experiences, and cultural influences. There is a lot for vacationers, guests, to be thankful for at Walt Disney World.

Disney Questions has created a list of the top 10 things to be thankful for at Disney World. This list is not all inclusive, but it offers the non-Disney fan clear reasons why they should consider a vacation at the resort. I especially agree with number 7 on the list: The Cast Members. I make an effort to acknowledge those cast members who go above and beyond their role by handing them a thank you card during my visit.

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A travel agent who specializes in booking Disney Vacations is a valuable free resource when planning your next trip. I started planning my next Disney World Vacation by calling Jennie Nowers. When the Cool Summer Savings were released, Jennie was up early applying these savings to my trip, which saved me 15% on the price of my resort stay. I did not need to do a thing. Tell her that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift from Jennie with your next booking.

Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for logo merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire. Below are just a few of the items featured with my logo. If you are a mature fan of Disney, consider getting an item to let others know. I am a Mature Mouse™, are you?

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When the Disney Dining Plan Is Not For You

The Mature Mouse™ has recently posted several articles about Free Dining at Walt Disney World. Given the overwhelming response to the recent release of this offer, and the technology glitches that plagued travel agents and guests attempting to book vacations, the Dining Plan is obviously an important topic for Disney vacationers. However, just because the Dining Plan is offered as free, is it worth the value? And, more importantly, when is the Disney Dining plan not appropriate for your vacation.  Disney Dining has posted an article that speaks to this question to assist you in determining if a dining plan is right for you. 

A travel agent who specializes in booking Disney Vacations is a valuable free resource when planning your next trip. I started planning my next Disney World Vacation by calling Jennie Nowers. When the Cool Summer Savings were released, Jennie was up early applying these savings to my trip, which saved me 15% on the price of my resort stay. I did not need to do a thing. Tell her that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift from Jennie with your next booking.

Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for logo merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire.

  

Is It Time to Retire Free Dining

freedineDo you agree with dadfordisney? Should Disney World discontinue the offer of Free Dining? Have you booked a trip simply because of this offer? The Mature Mouse™ would like to know what you think. I booked my next trip for June, hoping for summer savings, but not budgeting for this offer. Has an offer, like Free Dining, tempted you to book a trip?

I started planning my next Disney World Vacation by calling Jennie Nowers. When the Cool Summer Savings were released, Jennie was up early applying these savings to my trip, which saved me 15% on the price of my resort stay. I did not need to do a thing. Tell her that The Mature Mouse™ sent you and receive a special gift from Jennie with your next booking.

Please visit The Mature Mouse™ store for logo merchandise. Many of the items would make outstanding additions to your vacation gear and attire.

dadfordisney

For the last several years, Disney has offered a free dining promotion during what are “slower traffic months” for Walt Disney World.  Free Dining started in the early 2000’s when people were travelling a lot.  Free Dining was designed as way to get people to the parks.  My family took Disney up on the Free Dining offer in 2009 and we’ve made eight more trips since that first trip.  As years have gone on and more and more people have come to expect free dining in the fall, Disney has made the dates more restrictive, resort availability more restrictive, and increased the number of days or type of ticket that you need to qualify for free dining.

I have spent many years as avid Disney follower, one year as independent Disney blogger, nine months as an independent travel agent specializing in Disney vacations, and will be soon coming out with…

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