#NowMoreThanEver: Visit the Epcot International Festival of the Arts

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts has become one of my favorites in recent years. It’s a great mix of food, entertainment, art, seminars and great merchandise.

Visual Arts – Performing Arts – Culinary Arts: All coming together for a colorful festival in that special way that only Disney can accomplish!

Wenbo Sheng, Food Artist, the Painted Panda Food Studio/China – Sugar Art is Created in seconds! It’s amazing (and delicious!)

Although a relatively new festival at Epcot (only in it’s third year), it feels like an old friend offering some favorites (Figment and new Figment merchandise) while highlighting new fun, artistic and colorful happenings. 

RUN! I mean really run because the festival will only be happening for 39 days (beginning January 18) and running through February 25, 2019. Live music, new artwork and culinary tastings will make everyone that visits glad they came!

The Entertainment

The festival offers a wide array of entertainment. Disney artists who create a dash of magic on canvas, living statues inspired by Epcot, Broadway performers who bring songs from award-winning Disney on Broadway productions to life, and more!

Sidewalk Chalk Art

You will even find art on sidewalks and other surprising places!

New this year, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series will be happening seven days a week during the festival. Each week, different pairs of Disney on Broadway stars will take the America Gardens Theater stage to sing favorite songs from award-winning Disney on Broadway productions.

The lineup will rotate regularly, featuring music from shows such as “The Lion King,” “Frozen” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Performers this year include:

  • Kerry Butler (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Kevin Massey (“Tarzan”)
  • Meredith Inglesby (“The Little Mermaid”) and Steve Blanchard (“Beauty and the Beast”)
  • Arielle Jacobs and Adam Jacobs (“Aladdin”)
  • Heidi Blickenstaff (“Freaky Friday”) and Gavin Lee (“Mary Poppins”)
  • Ashley Brown (“Mary Poppins”) and Josh Strickland (“Tarzan”)
  • Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White (“The Lion King”)

The concert series is included with park admission; showtimes are 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. nightly.

The Food. The Beverages. 

Beer and Chocolate Pairings

Sweet and savory works of culinary art are available – you can watch a Disney chef create a culinary work of art right before your eyes. 

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts features 13 Food Studios, plus additional creative food and beverage offerings around Epcot with an expanded selection of delicious new tastes to savor:

Cold Fashioned Coffee Cocktail

  • The Artist’s Table will feature beef wellington with mushroom bordelaise, fennel cream and roasted baby vegetables
  • Smoked salmon and cream gâteau with egg yolk cream, paddlefish caviar and micro-herbs is sure to be a new favorite at The Painter’s Palate
  • Pop Eats! will serve up almond frangipane cake with raspberry and chocolate
  • Red wine-braised short rib with parsnip purée, broccolini, baby tomatoes and aged balsamic will be available at Cuisine Classique

Pop Eats!

Festival Fun

The 2019 festival provides fun every day for every guest with mesmerizing performance art, complimentary seminars, hands-on activities and much more.

Interactive workshops and seminars are among the festival’s most popular experiences. You can learn artistic techniques from professionals skilled in floral design, ink and paint, photography, and more. 

Need a little bit of a break – you can sit in on informative chats for free!! Accomplished Disney artists, experts and Cast Members impart their professional expertise during a series of complimentary seminars each day.

Complimentary Seminars take place in the Odyssey Festival Showplace (included with Epcot admission) seven days a week at 11:30 a.m. No advanced booking is required (first come, first served).

You can even paint with a Disney artist! Details on all the workshops and seminars can be found HERE.

  • Everyone’s invited to grab a paintbrush and help create a wall mural along World Showcase Plaza.
  • Guests of all ages will have the opportunity to literally step inside works of art and take fun photos, such as the “Washington Crossing the Delaware” Artful Photo Opportunity.
  • The Paint with a Disney Artist program invites guests to learn under the tutelage of a professional (offered select Fridays and Sundays, including continental breakfast, for an additional fee).
  • A variety of workshops led by professionals will teach different artistic techniques, such as floral design, ink and paint, mixed-media art and more (offered Friday-Monday for an additional fee). As a memento of what they learned, guests will take their creations home with them.
  • Complimentary 30-minute seminars will give guests helpful instruction for producing their own artwork at home.
  • More than 50 visiting artists participating in the festival will be available to meet with guests and share insights on their work.
  • Disney artists’ work will be exhibited across Epcot.
  • Gravity-defying feats of strength, acrobatics and many performing artists are scheduled throughout the festival.
  • International musical and variety acts will share their talents with guests, including the return of Bodh’aktan to the Canada stage and Delta Q, a new group performing in Germany.
  • Guests can join in the fun of Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt by purchasing a map at select merchandise locations.

Merchandise

Special festival themed merchandise abounds! Special festival merchandise will be available at Mouse Gear and other Epcot locations featuring the festival’s logo adorning shirts, mugs, totes and other charming items.

You will definitely find a perfect piece of the festival to take home with you. 

At this year’s festival, more than 50 artists will come together to showcase their talent. Artist signings are scheduled for select dates throughout the festival. 

Art collectors and Disney enthusiasts will find artwork for sale throughout the entire park, from the Art of Disney store to Festival Markets.

Living Art! I wonder how they stay so still for so long!

I was invited by Disney Parks to attend a media event for the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. I was provided free park admission. All opinions are my own.




Disneyland Tickets at 2018 Prices!

Unless you’ve spent the first week of 2019 hiding under a rock, you have most likely heard the big news that Disneyland ticket prices went up unexpectedly, effective immediately.

However, I have some great news – Get Away Today is still able to sell their Disneyland Resort tickets at the old pricing through Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. MT!

Since you will want to lock-in the lower ticket prices, this week is the time to buy your Disneyland tickets! 

Also, I’d like to point out that this ticket price increase does NOT affect the low prices of Get Away Todays’ spring offer I told you about recently. The spring offer is valid for travel now through May 23, 2019 with blackout dates of April 14 – 22. With this offer, you will save up to $111 per ticket!

If you are planning on visiting the Disneyland Resort during any of the most popular travel seasons; the summer to experience the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (June, 2019), Halloween Time or Holidays at the Disneyland Resort, NOW is the time to book.

Here is how much you can save over the gate price on Park Hopper tickets by booking with Get Away Today by next Tuesday, January 15, 2019:

Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Tickets

2-Day: $22 savings per person

3-Day: $30 savings per person

4-Day: $30 savings per person

5-Day: $40 savings per person

Visit Get Away Today to take advantage of these prices by Tuesday, January, 15!

GET AWAY TODAY LAYAWAY

Can’t pay for everything in full? Take advantage of their interest free Layaway Plan.

For just $125 down, you can plan your 2019 vacation for 2018 prices. With so much to see and do in 2019 at the Disneyland Resort, you won’t want to miss out on any of the fun!

To book your 2019 spring Disneyland vacation today, visit getawaytoday.com or call 855-GET-AWAY to speak to one of their travel experts directly.

Plus, don’t forget to mention promo code OpenSuitcase for an additional $10 off your hotel and tickets vacation package. Let them know that An Open Suitcase sent you!




The Pros and Cons of Buying a DVC Resale

If you are looking for a way to experience the magic of Disney on an annual basis without breaking the bank, DVC timeshare resales just might be for you. Disney Vacation Club is known for their luxurious, yet family-friendly resorts that reside close to all the best Disney parks and attractions. And while you have the option to buy DVC points straight through the developer, you’ll discover that a DVC resale will save you thousands of dollars on the purchase price.

I have found that SellMyTimeshareNow.com has some of the best prices online for DVC timeshare resales. Through their website, you can buy Disney Vacation Club resale for upwards of 70% off the going retail rate. Not to mention, many DVC resorts are completely sold out from the developer, making the resale market the only place to find these coveted points-based timeshare ownership properties.

THE PROS

Disney Accommodations for Life – If you are a big-time Disney fan that is constantly counting down your next trip, owning a DVC timeshare resale will give you the chance to lock down your favored accommodations for life. You will no longer have to worry about booking a small, cheap hotel room, or budgeting for your trip only to find local accommodations have risen in price. Owning a DVC timeshare gives you the stability and peace of mind to always have your accommodations set in place for you and your family.

Disney Vacation Club Benefits – As a Disney Vacation Club member, you get to enjoy a number of magical perks and extra benefits. This includes free parking and complimentary shuttle services to and from the Disney parks, FastPass+, Disney dining plan, access to Top of the World Lounge Firework shows, and the ability to pool hop at other nearby DVC resorts.

Well-Equipped Accommodations – Rather than stuffing your whole family into a small, two-bed studio hotel room, you can enjoy spacious accommodations with many homey features for added comfort and convenience. Many DVC resorts offer multi-bedroom units with full or partial kitchens, multiple full bathrooms, living rooms, dining tables, and private balconies. You’ll feel like you’re vacationing at a high-end apartment while being able to take advantage of fun Disney resort amenities.

Kids Activities – If you need a break from the parks, rest assured that there is plenty of entertainment on-site to keep the kids busy. Swimming pools, game rooms, kids clubs, movies under the stars, character dining, and sports courts are just a handful of the amenities featured at Disney Vacation Club resorts. And of course, while the kids are playing, the adults can indulge in some poolside relaxation, spa treatments, or happy hour at an on-site lounge.

THE CONS

Need Time to Travel – While owning a DVC timeshare allows you to flexibly vacation by booking your desired vacation utilizing your allotment of points, you still need to be sure you can make time for vacationing. If you’re not settled into your career, have prior engagements to travel and visit family during the year, finding time for a “fun” trip might be difficult. And you definitely don’t want to let your DVC points go unused because you would have already paid for them.

Best Experience for Disney Enthusiasts – This one might seem obvious but if you don’t love Disney, a DVC timeshare may not be worth it for you. While there are still lots of fun area activities, the Disney theme is a big part of the experience. There are plenty of other timeshare resales you could consider that might cost you even less and provide you with a resort experience better suited for your interests.

Harder to Participate in Spontaneous Travel – If you’re the type of person that loves finding a good last minute deal or just picking up and taking off for a week at a time, owning a DVC resale probably doesn’t suit your lifestyle. Timeshare ownership is ideal for those who like to plan ahead and far in advance. You have to book your DVC vacation well before your actual vacation to ensure you get your desired resort and travel week. Therefore, this type of vacation ownership is not meant for a spontaneous traveler.

Not All Benefits Transfer with Resale – While there are perks that come with the purchase of a resale unit, many of the DVC member favorites do not transfer when you buy resale. This includes use of the collections from the Member Getaways Program and DVC’s Membership Extras package, which gives members discounts on restaurants, shopping, park tickets, tours, and access to member-only events. If these benefits outweigh the opportunity to save thousands on purchase for you, then you should find a Disney Vacation Club timeshare for sale through a resort developer to reap these additional perks.

THE PROCESS

When you decide you want to purchase a DVC resale, visit SellMyTimeshareNow.com to find a great selection of by-owner advertised units.

Utilize the search bar at the top of the page to find DVC timeshares for sale, or search for the specific home resort you want to purchase your points at.

Upon seeing the inventory selection available, you can further narrow down your results by using the search filters to filter by price, unit size, number of points, amenities, and more.

Once you find the Disney Vacation Club resale by owner that suits the wants and needs of your family, you can complete the form on the advertisement. You can choose to agree to pay the advertising price or make an offer. Many owners are willing to work with interested buyers to find a price that works for both of you.

Once the price is agreed upon, you will be directed to a licensed closing company to handle all the legal paperwork and transfer the ownership into your name. After that, all you have to do is enjoy a lifetime of DVC vacation fun.




Top 5 Quick Service Dining Spots in WDW

There are so many quick service locations in Walt Disney World, trying to break it down to just the top 5 is hard. I think when we look at the best quick service locations, we have to look at where we get the most for our money (or our Dining Plan credits).

Dining is one of the aspects of a visit to Walt Disney World that can add a big expense to your trip so saving a bit here and there is always a plus. Many of the quick service locations offer full meals that are a fraction of the cost of a table service restaurant. They also give you more than enough food.

The quick service locations on this list offer great food and great selections and are my family’s favorites.

They are also the spots where you will find the best value for your money or dining plan credit because of the portion sizes. These locations also offer great service when it comes to allergy dining.

My top 5 quick service choices are:

Electric Umbrella in Epcot

Epcot does not have a large selection of quick service restaurants where you can grab a quick burger and fries in Future World. The electric umbrella offers free drink re-fills which is a big win on a hot Florida day. This quick service spot also offers a varied menu and large portions. Large indoor and outdoor seating areas available.

ABC Commissary in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Ribs, grilled chicken salad, and fish and shrimp. You get so much food, you can definitely share which is a money saver for sure! 

You will find consistently good food (hamburgers, salads and chicken strips) here. The food is always fresh and delicious and it’s a good place to cool down and relax while eating lunch.

Cosmic Rays Starlight Cafe in Magic Kingdom

This is a popular spot that seems to always be crowded so be prepared. The prices are reasonable (for Disney) and the food portions are large which make this an ideal spot for sharing. The unlimited toppings bar also make it easy to “add a bit to your meal.” 

A little bit of entertainment in a quick service location adds some fun to your meal!

Cosmic Rays also offer great meals, like roasted chicken which are a great alternative to having to dine at a table service location for dinner.

Restaurantosaurus in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This is definitely the best counter service restaurant in Animal Kingdom. The restaurant offers a large indoor seating area and good food selection.

A good value for your money especially if you are on the Quick Service Dining Plan. Most meals come with a drink and a dessert for one credit. If you want to make the meal more filling they have a good selection on the help yourself topping station and all the fountain drinks are re-fillable.

Cookes of Dublin at Disney Springs

Outstanding and reasonably priced. If you are looking for a different meal at a good price, this is the spot to go. They have several gluten free options as well which make this a favorite spot for my allergy sufferer daughter. Without a doubt the best spot for fish and chips!

These are my family’s favorite quick service spots, the ones we visit most often for good food, portion size and price. What are your favorite quick service spots?

 




Dip Your Toes into These Walt Disney World Pools

If your family likes spending time in the water, they’ll be simply amazed by the pools at Walt Disney World. Not only are there fun and refreshing pools located at each of the Walt Disney World resorts, there are also two water parks on the property that feature additional swimming options and other aquatic activities.

resort pools walt disney world

Keep reading, to learn more about some of the Walt Disney World pools totally worth checking out. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Big Blue Pool – Art of Animation Resort

The Big Blue Pool at the Art of Animation Resort is one of the most talked about resort pools. A huge reason for this is that it’s the largest pool at a Disney hotel.

It features a “Finding Nemo” theme, complete with decorations sure to be a hit with the kids. There are even speakers in this pool, to listen to music while you swim underwater. Big Blue Pool is also home to a couple of kid-friendly play areas. But, it lacks the larger slides that some of the other Walt Disney World pools have to offer.

Lava Pool – Polynesian Village Resort

The former Nanea Volcano Pool, at Polynesian Village Resort, has been remodeled into Lava Pool. This water play area and tropical paradise features several waterfalls to enjoy, as well as a great view of Seven Seas Lagoon.

As far as many kids are concerned, the pool’s most striking feature is a 147-foot water slide built into a replica of a ruined volcano. But, the adults in your group will likely be more interested in the secluded Infinity Edge hot tub nearby.

Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool – Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon, one of Walt Disney World’s two incredible water parks, is most famous for its Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool . . . the largest wave pool in North America.

At various times throughout the day, its gentle waves become 6-foot swells that sweep excited swimmers back toward the shore. This intense pool is best suited to bigger kids and stronger swimmers. Be warned, once you experience the thrill, chances are you won’t want to get out of the water.

Stormalong Bay – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts

If your group is excited about spending time in the water, but you don’t want to spend a day exploring one of Disney’s water parks, you won’t be disappointed by Stormalong Bay.

While it doesn’t have as much space or as many thrilling attractions as the water parks, this 3-acre pool complex includes a large swimming pool, lazy river and plenty of bridges and walkways to explore. It’s also home to a 230-foot water slide themed after a shipwreck.

One of the most striking features of Stormalong Bay is at the bottom of the pool is lined with sand, giving your kids the illusion of taking a swim at the beach.

These are just four refreshing Walt Disney World pools, worthy of dipping your toes into. So many families skip the pools on their Disney vacation. Don’t be one of them! The question remains . . . which one do you want to visit first?