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Lava Lounge now Open in Downtown Disney Orlando

Published July 6, 2013 by
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I was super excited to get to check out the brand-new Lava Lounge at Rainforest Café. Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs!)  fans like me will love this place. The setting couldn’t be more perfect. It’s right on the waterfront, which is something I loved. The entrance is themed like a cave entering the side of the volcano.

Lava Lounge

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Not your average lounge lizard – the Lava Lounge has an animatronic crocodile in the front! He wakes up every few minutes to growl and show you his teeth. The kids were standing around in awe looking at this thing.

That’s not all! Without even trying the food here yet – I can tell you two of my favorite things about this place so far:

1. There was a wait to dine inside at Rainforest Café, but at the Lava Lounge, seating is first-come, first-served.

2. Not only can you order from the full Rainforest Café menu, but there’s also a special menu featuring items created just for the Lava Lounge!

With cool names for the assorted dishes such as “Volcanic Sliders”, “Tectonic Tacos”, and something called “The Jungle Runner” as a signature drink – how can you go wrong? There are lots of choices on the menu, so chances are there’s something everyone in your party will enjoy.


Don’t let the “Lounge” title throw you off; it’s a space for all kinds of groups. The animals inside will be great for conversation, and may give you a chance to teach the kids something new.

Lava Lounge Monkey Lava Lounge Bird

For even more fun, The Rainforest Café Volcano erupts multiple times each evening with a sizzling display of flame spires, fireballs, steam bursts and fog that erupts in sync with a light and sound show. It is really impressive, and you can see, hear and even feel it from inside the Lava Lounge.  It’s the sort of thing you’d only expect to see at a Disney theme park…or maybe Las Vegas. Check out this cool video!

So have you tried the Lava Lounge yet? What did you think?


Hot Date Night – Free Sandwich at Downtown Disney and MagicBandit Photoshoot

Published June 23, 2013 by

My husband and I had a great time on Wednesday. It was a big date night for us…getting his free birthday sandwich from Earl of Sandwich, and snapping pictures of all the new MagicBand accessories for my article over at Chip & Co! Hey, after all these years, romance is in the eye of the beholder!


Please click the logo below to head over to Chip & Co. You’ll get to see some of the great photos of all this MagicBand fun…pricing on the accessories…and lots more magical Disney stuff from ALL of Chip’s other great Disney writers!


World Secret – How to get a free sandwich in Downtown Disney

Published March 19, 2013 by



Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch? ME. I am one of those people who looks for the fine print and thinks there always has to be a catch.

There are some great posts and articles all over the internet about cheap eats at Walt Disney World – but how often do you hear about anything being completely free?

Today I found a World Secret that I thought was pretty special – an offer for a FREE sandwich. The catch – it’s only good during the month of your birthday.


Earl of Sandwich is located in Downtown Disney Marketplace. The very first store was opened here in Orlando by a direct descendant of the actual guy who invented what we now know as sandwiches – back in 1762. Carrying on the family tradition, The Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney is dedicated to bringing you “the world’s greatest hot sandwich.”

You may have heard the sound of rejoicing when Disney food lovers every where got the news that the Earl in Downtown Disney began offering the Holiday Turkey Sandwich year round. Some have said it really is the “world’s greatest” or more specifically as holiday heaven on a bun. To us rookies who haven’t yet tried it, it is basically turkey, stuffing, cranberry, and a little mayo served toasted on a freshly baked roll.

Sounds AWESOME to me, but maybe it doesn’t sound like your favorite?

No problem, Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace offers a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, salads, ice cream, smoothies, lemonade, boxed lunches, and prepared “Grab & Go” items. Breakfast offerings include several cold items as well as hot breakfast sandwiches.

Already a pretty great value, most sandwiches here are right around $6.99. But enough of that – let’s get on with the FREE part!

All you need to do to get your FREE sandwich from Earl is sign up for The eClub. Once you do that, you get a printable voucher a few weeks before your birthday. You have your entire birthday month to print and use it. Just like all of their sandwiches, your birthday sandwich will come wrapped in gold foil – like some sort of wonderful smelling currency.

Here is the fine print, in case you are little skeptical like me, and don’t want to have to squint later:

We (Earl of Sandwich) respect your privacy and will not rent or sell your information. By providing your email address you are opting-in to receive emails from Earl of Sandwich and all other restaurant concepts under the Earl of Sandwich (USA), LLC brand of companies. You may opt out of this list at any time.”

Click HERE to sign up for your free birthday sandwich!

Oh, and if you can’t come to Downtown Disney during your birthday month – Earl has places all over the country where you can get your free birthday sandwich. Hopefully there is one near you.

My friend Heidi is celebrating her birthday today and she just so happened to post about Earl too! You can read her blog here!
Hers has lots of yummy food descriptions and photos. Mmmmm….I am hungry.

So what are your thoughts? Have you gotten a free sandwich from Earl or was this the first time you heard about this particular World Secret?


FREE Activity in Downtown Disney Until December 1, 2012

Published November 6, 2012 by

Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality
Back on  September 1, Disney introduced”Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality.” This is located in Downtown Disney. Adults and kids can participate in this FREE augmented reality offering. The experience is located next to Bongos Cuban Café.  The way it works is you actually step onto a platform and virtually interact with Phineas, Ferb, Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Agent P (in their animated forms) on a screen above. Expect to get any one of 20 different interactions, from dancing “The Platypus Walk” to getting caught in Dr. Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s Freeze-inator. When the interaction is over you can  digitally share a souvenir photo of your adventure with family and friends. This is also FREE!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, of course, special “Phineas & Ferb” merchandise will also be available to purchase.

“Phineas and Ferb & YOU: A Brand New Reality” will run through December 1, and is open from 2-9:30 p.m., daily. Here is a great video from Attractions Magazine to demonstrate how it all works!

Guest Review: Downtown Disney AMC Dine-in Theater

Published May 2, 2012 by

This guest review is written by Laura Smeltzer who has been a friend of mine for about 20 years. Laura is a mother-to-be and if it’s one thing expectant Mommies know (speaking from my own experience)…it’s FOOD! If you watch the slide show long enough, you will see Laura’s picture. Laura paid a recent visit to AMC Downtown Disney 24 which is an AMC Dine-in theater location and I asked her to share her experience. Questions or comments about this blog can be posted here and I will make sure they get to Laura.

Have a magical day!

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AMC Dining Experience
“I have done the dining experience twice at Disney. Both times I went online and reserved my ticket. This was nice because you chose the seat you will be sitting in.
As you enter the theater there is an attendant to help you find your seat. Each row contains 4 seats. The seats are roomy and comfortable. There is a small table that runs the length of the row and a button on the table for each seat. When you are ready to order you push the button and wait for a server.
My first experience my husband and I attended the movie as a date night. As soon as we were seated our server approached and took our drink order. While waiting for our drinks we were able to look over the menu and decide on what we wanted. For appetizer we ordered the fried mozzarella batons. For dinner I ordered the chicken fingers and my husband ordered the Southwest Chicken wrap.
Our appetizer came out as the movie was beginning. The mozzarella was hot and crisp and very tasty. The serving is enough for two to three people. Small amount of marinara sauce came with the sticks. It was the right amount for us but if you are someone who enjoys marinara sauce ask for an extra serving.
Right as we finished our appetizer our meal came out. My husband enjoyed his wrap. He said it tasted fresh and was the perfect amount for dinner. I wish I could say the same about the chicken tenders. The fries that came with the chicken was delicious. The chicken tenders were sub par to say the least. I have bought better chicken tenders from the freezer section of the grocery store. I realize that I am paying more for the experience but $12 for chicken tenders, well, I would have preferred fresh tenders.
We never once had to ask for a refill. We finished our dinner about half way during the movie and decided to order a small popcorn. This was brought very quickly.
While eating a very low light stays on that runs the length of the table. At first I thought this would be disruptive to the movie but I didn’t notice it at all during the movie. Near the end of the movie I noticed our check was laying on the table. My husband paid with a credit card and handed back to the server. There was no distraction at all to the movie with the handling of paying for dinner.

I was so pleased with the overall experience that I recommended to a few friends of mine as a girls night out.
Sadly to say our experience was completely different.
We arrived and found our seats and decided on our drinks. We pushed the buttons and waited…..and waited…and waited. The server came up as the previews were starting and took our drink order and appetizer order…..I again ordered the mozzarella batons.
After a short time we placed our order for dinner. I ordered the Tuscan Pepperoni Flatbread Pizza, my friends ordered the fish and chips basket and the classic Chicken Quesadilla.
My friends Fish and chip basket came out first, even before my mozzarella sticks. About 15 minutes into the movie and about 5 minutes after the fish and chips came out the mozzarella stick arrived. We finished the mozzarella sticks and the chicken quesadilla arrived. By the time that both of my friends finished their dinner the flat bread pizza came out. Overall the food was delicious!!!! Each of us had hot fresh food that was tasty….however, I was disappointed that even though we ordered everything at the same time that it all came out separate.
The rest of the experience was the same as before and very pleasant. The servers were not distracting from the movie and paying for the bill was very simple.
At first my husband said he felt it was quite a pricey experience, however, after we thought about it we agreed that it would be about the same cost as if we had gone to a restaurant first and then a movie.In the future we do plan on attending again and trying different food.”

Jeff Barnes Discusses “Walt Disney~Master of Dreamers” Opening at Orlando Film Festival 2019

Published October 6, 2019 by

Listen to this episode on Anchor HERE

Listen to this episode on Spotify HERE

Jeff Barnes is the best selling author of 2 of my favorite books –  The Wisdom of Walt and Beyond the Wisdom of Walt!  He teaches the only accredited college course on the History of Disneyland and believes the Disney parks teach us some of life’s greatest lessons, as long as you know their history! Learn all about Jeff at

Walt Disney – Master of Dreamers from Director Tony Cortese has been selected to open the 2019 Orlando Film Festival on Thursday October 17th 2019.

Detailed information on the film and how to get tickets can be found HERE.

The film will debut at 8 the Cobb Plaza Cinema Café (Located at 12 at 155 S. Orange Avenue) in downtown Orlando. The screening will be preceded by a red-carpet event at 6:30 p.m.
The festival will offer more than 250 films through Oct. 24. The Disney documentary will screen again at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 24.

Cortese wrote, directed and produced the film. He also narrates the story of Walt Disney’s contributions to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, the creation of Walt Disney World and the work of Imagineers to bring Epcot to life. The film salutes Disney, who died in 1966, as a mentor, visionary and urban planner. Details on the festival, the films and tickets are at Tickets also can be purchased at the festival box office, which will be in the Cobb Plaza lobby during the festival.



FREE Story Time with a Disney Princess Only On May 10th 2018

Published May 3, 2018 by


You don’t have to pay a fortune or stand in the heat to meet a Disney Princess if you are in Orlando on May 10th 2018!  The magic of learning meets the sparkle of live entertainment when a performer from Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream takes to the stage at the downtown Orlando Public Library with an animated reading session. Please note this is recommended for children ages 3-12. Registration requested. Call 407-835-7323 to register.

                      Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream skates into Orlando May 11-13, 2018 for six performances at Amway Center.

The reading will take place Thursday May 10th 2018 at 10:15am at the Orlando Public Library, located at 101 E. Central Blvd. Orlando FL 32801 and is completely FREE. You may want to bring some cash to park in the public parking garage close by, or some quarters for the parking meters. Media may be on hand to speak with you about your experience if you’d like to have your 15 minutes of fame! If you go to the event be sure to tag me on facebook, twitter or Instagram so that I can share your photos!

Valentine’s Day Italian Style at Portobello Disney Springs this February

Published January 10, 2016 by ltdjosh


Whisk a loved one away on a culinary trip to Italy

(LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL; January 6, 2015) – Italian countryside concept, Portobello Restaurant (1650 Buena Vista Dr.) in Disney Springs offers an extravagant prix-fixe dinner for sweethearts and that special someone this Valentine’s Day on Sunday, February 14.

Guests can start the romantic meal with a complimentary round of Jeio Prosecco as Chef Cristobal Lopez serves a 3-course prix-fixe menu where lovers can pick and choose from two different starters and entrees. Menu highlights include a Flat Iron Steak with spinach, garlic, and rosemary potatoes as well as a Chocolate Mousse with mascarpone whipped cream. The entire menu includes:



Choice of

Tomato bisque


Arugula salad, candied walnuts, raspberry vinaigrette



Choice of

Flat iron steak spinach, garlic, rosemary potatoes


Swordfish peperonatta



Chocolate mousse, mascarpone whipped cream


The prix-fixe menu at Portobello Restaurant is $95.00 per couple and reservations can be made by calling 407.934.8888. For additional information please visit

About Portobello Restaurant

Located in the heart of Downtown Disney at 1650 Buena Vista Drive in Lake Buena Vista, Florida,Portobello Country Italian Trattoria presents guests with a classic osteria experience celebrating the simple flavors of Italy. Crusty breads, sun-ripened tomatoes, imported Prosciutto di Parma, freshly caught fish, fruity olive oil, and pungent cheese set the stage for the warm, family-friendly atmosphere of the restaurant. Portobello is open for lunch daily from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and for dinner daily from 4:00 to 11:00 p.m. For more information visit or call 407.934.8888and follow Portobello on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

World Secrets: How to Get a Free Appetizer or Dessert in Disney Springs

Published July 29, 2015 by

Today I found a World Secret that I thought was pretty special – an offer for a FREE appetizer or dessert (or $25 to spend on whatever you would like!) at your choice of Fulton’s Crab House, Portobello, or Wolfgang Puck’s Grand Cafe in Disney Springs. BONUS perk! Walk into any of them without a reservation and totally get a table! Whaaaat? Could this be true – or are we in Fantasyland here?

I am one of those people who looks for the fine print and thinks there always has to be a catch. There are some great posts and articles all over the internet about cheap eats at Walt Disney World – but how often do you hear about anything being completely free? I read the fine print for you just now, and here’s the deal.

Fulton’s Crab House, Portobello, and Wolfgang Puck’s Grand Cafe belong to a group called Levy Restaurants. Levy Restaurants says that nobody loves your more than family, and they want us to be a part of their family. They will treat you as one of their own when you become a Levy Restaurants Orlando Preferred Member. Here are some of the perks:

        • NO RESERVATION REQUIRED! Can you imagine? Walk right into any of these restaurants and get a table without calling ahead!
        • First glimpses at menu updates and special events
        • Tips, trends, and recipes for you right from the chefs
        • Preferred rates on all events at any of the three restaurants
        • After you get your free sandwich at Earl’s…this magical card will get you a special birthday treat at one of the Levy’s
        • A special card you can pick up on your next visit to the restaurant


1) Enroll online by simply filling out the online Registration Form and you’ll receive a confirmation email that will contain your temporary card number. Give your temporary card number to your server on your next visit and you’ll receive a physical loyalty card in its place.

2) You can also enroll during your next visit to Fultons, Portobello, or Wofgang Puck’s Grand Cafe locations in Disney Springs. Just let your server know you’d like to join the program. You’ll receive your loyalty card upon signing up and then you can register it online.

For every dollar you spend at these dining facilities, you receive 1 point. So when you get home from dinner, go ahead and redeem your points, or check your balance of points, by logging in to your personal account and navigating to the redemption page. Be sure to register your card and provide your email address to take advantage of these offers. You can also check your point balance by calling 1-888-272-7068.

So here it is!! At every 250-point increment, you may add $25 reward dollars directly onto your preferred card. You can redeem the reward dollars online and use them for a future dining experience at one of these participating locations!

A couple of my (other) dream point levels to score:

6,000 points – Perfect Night Out
Enjoy a night out on the town for four (4) with a four-course Chef’s Tasting Dinner including wine at the Levy Preferred restaurant of your choice. Transportation to and from your dinner is included. (Reservations must be made at least 2 weeks in advance; excludes Spiaggia) *

35,000 points – Disney Family Getaway
Treat the family to a magical Disney Vacation! Includes airfare for four (4) to Orlando, a 3-night stay at a Disney Hotel, four (4) Disney theme park passes, one (1) lunch at Fulton’s Crab House and one (1) dinner at Portobello. Includes mouse ears!*

Still have questions? Get full details HERE.


Do you have the card yet? What have your experiences been with this? Leave me a note in the comments below!

How to Celebrate Dad at Walt Disney World ~ By Guest Author Patricia Mickus

Published June 15, 2015 by MagicalMickeyTips


Celebrate DadAt Walt Disney World-2Several years ago we celebrated Father’s Day at Walt Disney World. There are so many different ways to celebrate at Disney. Why not make special memories in the place where dreams come true? You can make these occasions more memorable and truly spectacular with a little extra planning.
Stop by Guest Services to pick up a I’m Celebrating button. Ask the Castmember to customize it with a Sharpie pen.


Most Dads love to sit in front of a flat screen tuned to ESPN. Why not take him to The ESPN Club to watch his favorite team. Check out the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Both pro and amateur teams use this state of the art facilities. During MLB Spring training guests fill the seats to watch the Atlanta Braves.

Disney offers three 18-hole championship golf courses, including the Disney Palm Course, redesigned by Arnold Palmer Course Design. The Four Season Resort Orlando located in the exclusive Golden Oaks Community near the Magic Kingdom gives guests the opportunity to hit the links at the newly renovated Tom Fazio designed Tranquilo Golf Club.

Disney also offers a 9-hole course at Oak Trail as well has two miniature golf courses even non-golf families can enjoy together.

Looking for a little less activity but still enjoy the outdoors? Why not book a fishing excursion on Bay Lake for the whole family. Make an early morning reservation when the fish are biting and the sun is not too hot. Disney provides the boat, fishing guide, and all supplies.

Disney has over 100 different restaurants throughout the property. Make a reservation to sample some of his favorite foods. Many Dads love a good steak dinner and its even tastier when they are not the ones grilling it. Check out Le Cellier, Shula’s Steak House and the Yachtsman Steakhouse. STK Steakhouse is set to open in later in 2015. Once opened it will offer the only rooftop dining experience in the Downtown Disney area.

Downtown Disney offers many unique shops tailored to men. Check out the Art of Shaving and make an appointment there for the royal treatment at the Barber Spa. Sosa Family Cigars showcases the art of hand rolling cigars. Even if you don’t smoke, stop by and watch these artisans work. Why not end the evening at Splitsville. This one of a kind bowling venue features 30 lanes, live entertainment, gourmet food and beverage selections. It is not your typical bowling alley.


You don’t have to visit in June to enjoy any of these Father friendly activities. Disney offers them all year long. So pull him off that recliner, out of his man cave and celebrate with Dad on your next Disney vacation.

PBMphotoGuest Blogger, Patricia Mickus is founder and author of MagicalMickeyTips. Patricia is an avid fan of all things Disney. Her first trip to Walt Disney World was 40 years ago during their opening year. Since then, she has taken 35+ trips to Disney destinations. Patricia lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two sons. She enjoys traveling, cooking and skiing. Her favorite Disney attractions are the classics – Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. Patricia works full time as a travel agent, specializing in Disney vacations. You can find her on Facebook.

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