Category Archives: Take a Tour (Full Length Articles)

Island Mercantile, One of the Four Themed Discovery Island Shops

Discovery Island at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has four different shops for you to spend some time (and money) in while you visit the park. However, as with everything Disney, there’s more to the story of these shops. Over the next few weeks we’re going to take a closer look at each of the four stores and the theme that is tied to each one. We begin today with Island Mercantile.

Island Mercantile Exterior

Island Mercantile is located to the left of the entrance to Discovery Island. As you approach the store you’ll notice carvings of different, brightly colored animals. When you walk inside, you’ll see that this carries over into the interior as well. But look closely. Can you spot a theme that connects the different pieces of decoration?

The Island Mercantile is centered around animals that migrate as well as animals that work.  These types of animals are all over the store, from the decorations on the wall to the lighting.

Animals Working to Hold the Lights

Wall Shelving With Migrating Salmon

More Animals that Work

The Beavers Help with the Checkout Area

Come back next Thursday as we take a closer look at Disney Outfitters.

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Disney Hollywood Studios Sci-Fi Dine In

If you’re looking for a restaurant with an original and unique theme, then look no further than the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Sci-Fi Dine In Sign

Sci-Fi Dine In Interior

Located at the end of Commissary Lane, this restaurant plays tribute to the classic drive-in movie theater, and lets you eat a sit down meal at the same time. Even during the daytime, you can dine under the stars inside as you enjoy the series of B Movie clips that play during your meal. Some of these classics include: The Amazing Colossal Man, The Cat Who Hated People, Attack of the 50ft. Woman, and more Sci-Fi classics.

B Movie Trailers Play on the Big Screen

Diners have the option of sitting in one of the “car booths” which are exactly as they sound, a set of booths inside a car. Try for the backseat, that’s where the “hitchhikers” ride, and your carhop will urge the driver to pick up your tab. In the very back of the restaurant are a series of outdoor like tables with little stools. If you want to sit in a car, you can request it when you check in.

Sci-Fi Dine In Seating

The food isn’t always spectacular, but the milkshakes make it worth the trip. Both lunch and dinner are served and lunch offers a few more sandwich selections than dinner.

Sci-Fi Dine In Menu Located Outside

Lunch Menu Includes:

Shrimp PastaBow tie pasta, sauteed shrimp tossed with artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, baby spinach and feta cheese $19.99

Beef and Blue SaladSliced butcher-tender steak with a wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing, tomatoes and bacon $15.99

Italian Grilled Chicken Sandwich With bruschetta topping served on a Kaiser Roll with cucumber-melon salad or fries $13.99

The ReubenCorned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, thousand island dressing on marble rye bread, served with a pickle spear and choice of cucumber-melon salad or french fries $11.99

Smoked St. Louis-style RibsBasted with barbecue sauce, served with cole slaw and a choice of cucumber-melon salad or french fries $21.99

Seared Marinated TofuWith mango glaze, fresh vegetables and white rice $18.99

Angus Chuck Burgerflame broiled beef patty topped with cheddar or swiss cheese, sauteed onions, mushrooms, and crispy bacon served with a choice of vegetable black bean relish or french fries $12.99

Smoked Turkey Sandwichsmoked turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato with an avocado mayonnaise on multigrain bread served with vegetable black bean relish $12.99

Dinner Offerings Include all of the above except the Smoked Turkey Sandwich and Angus Chuck Burger. The dinner menu does include:

Butcher Steakwith a red wine glaze, seasonal vegetables, and potato $22.99

Appetizers are the same for both lunch and dinner:

Seven Bean Beef Chiliwith shredded cheddar, pico de gallo, and tortilla strips $6.99

Spinach and Artichoke Dip for TwoA blend of Monterey Jack, swiss, and asiago with spinach, artichokes, and corn tortilla chips $7.99

Double Dip For TwoSpinach and Artichoke Dip and our Seven-Bean Chili with Corn Tortilla Chips for dipping $10.99

Crispy Onion RingsA generous portion of battered onion rings $6.99

Mixed GreensWith diced tomatoes and onion tossed with ranch dressing $6.99

BLT SoupA creamy tomato basil soup, topped with an herb crouton, shredded lettuce and bacon $6.99

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Epcot’s Club Cool Offers a Refreshing Taste Break

You have to pay to enjoy a lot of things in Disney World, but there’s one place you can go to cool off and quench your thirst…for FREE! Epcot’s Club Cool (formerly known as Ice Station Cool) offers up a taste of various Coca-Cola products from around the world. These include:

Club Cool Tasting Station

Krest Ginger Ale from Mozambique – I enjoy ginger ale regularly and always find myself filling up my cup with Krest on each visit.

Fanta Kolita from Costa Rica – One of my favorites. I have a sweet tooth and this satisfies it. It’s fruity, it’s sweet, try it at least once.

Beverly from Italy – Everybody’s favorite…. taste to trick their friends with. My father-in-law is the only person I know so far that actually enjoyed it. But apparently he enjoys club soda and compared it to that.

VegitaBeta from Japan – It’s been awhile since I sampled this one because I tend to stick to my favorites and it was not available on our last visit. This one is a noncarbonated, orange flavored, vitamin drink.

Kinley Lemon from Israel – A lemonade soda, Kinley is another one that I find refreshing. I compare it to Sprite.

Lift Apple from Mexico – Definitely satisfies this sweet tooth! Lift Apple is possibly my favorite. It is exactly what its name implies – an apple flavored soda.

Smart Watermelon from China – Not as sweet as it looks like it could be, but it is still a refreshing soda flavored with watermelon.

Mezzo Mix from Germany – This soda with a hint of orange is my husband’s all-time favorite, so much so he ordered a vintage bottle off of ebay (and now it sits in our kitchen pantry because it’s so old nobody would dare open it). According to the description, Mezzo Mix is intended to be mixed with beer which is a strange idea of a combination to me, but to each his own.

And speaking of to each his own, the next time you’re in Epcot, stop by Club Cool and decide which flavor is your favorite! While you’re there you can pick up some Coca-Cola themed merchandise or grab a new brightly colored plastic reusable cup and have it filled with frozen coke to enjoy as you continue touring the park.

Frozen Cokes

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Become an Artist at Animation Academy

Have you ever wanted to be a part of the animation magic that happens inside Disney? If so, I recommend taking part in the Animation Academy at Disney Hollywood Studios.

Animation Academy Instructor

In the academy guests have an animator instructor who guides guests step by step through the drawing of various characters. Guests sit at rows of tables with special Hollywood Studios drawing paper and special drawing pencils, without erasers. Why no erasers?! The animator wants you to focus on your drawing and not spend time trying to correct every little mistake.

Guest Drawing Space

The instructor encourages guests to follow along, creating light lines that can be darkened once they are finalized which helps fix mistakes without an eraser. Each step the instructor takes can be seen on the giant screen above the drawing table.

Guiding Guests with Guide Lines

Classes are around 30 minutes and it can seem like the time goes very quickly. However, you are encouraged to be proud of your work because nobody is going to have a perfect drawing, just one that is perfect to you.  After you go home you can clean up your drawing and the guide lines to finish off your piece.

My Finished Mickey

Classes are held every 30 minutes inside the Magic of Disney Animation building and different characters are drawn depending on the instructor of the class. This is an attraction that I recommend doing as many times as you please because you always come out with something different.

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The Great Movie Ride Dinner – Dessert

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and this is the last part of The Great Movie Ride Dinner feature. If you missed part one you can find it here, while part two can be found here.

Once everyone was finished with dinner in the western scene, we were free to move on through the rest of the attraction until we reached the Wizard of Oz set. The attraction was just as it is when you are riding through on the attraction vehicle; it was dark except for the set lights and the sets were playing through the action as they do during the ride. Therefore, when we were walking through the Alien scene, it was a bit creepy! Everyone took time to take photos with Sigourney Weaver as well as the alien itself. It was well paced and nobody was rushed through before they were ready.



Continuing through the attraction we made our way through Raiders of the Lost Ark where the action plays out with your driver and your kidnapper during the ride. The scene was playing out as it normally would and continued to do so. Again, we able to take our time in here, taking photos, and taking in the sights from different vantage points than we’re used to in the ride vehicle.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

I have to admit it was very creepy standing in the section with the mummies and such from the horror genre. It was dark, they were lighting up and moving, and if you stood there long enough staring at them, you were ready to get a move on into the next set! In Tarzan, the Ape Man Mr. Von Bahn Bonn put his directing skills to work and directed Tarzan to swing across, yell, and then do it again! Oh that Mr. Von Bahn Bonn.

Jane from Tarzan, the Ape Man

Then came a classic that everybody seems to know and love, Casablanca. “Here’s looking at you, kid”.

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

Finally, we walked past Sorcerer Mickey in his starring role in Fantasia before moving into the Wizard of Oz set for dessert. At the entrance to the room was a table with coffee selections for you to help yourself.

Coffee with Dessert

The room itself was set up with small tables and chairs to seat around four to five people. Tables in this room were not assigned as they were for dinner which made it a bit hard to find a spot to set your drink and plate of desserts, but everyone seemed very friendly and shared their tables with others.

Seating for Dessert

Dessert was set up buffet style on a table very beautifully decorated to match the room. Small cupcakes, tiramisu, candies, and more were served. I have a very sweet tooth, but I have to say that much of the dessert was overly sweet.

Dessert Buffet

Glenda the Good Witch made an appearance and moved throughout the crowd greeting guests and taking photos which was a nice touch. It was definitely a unique experience to see her in this attraction like this.

Glenda the Good Witch

As everyone was finishing dessert, the munchkins came out and performed as they do during the ride, which means, the Wicked Witch also came out to play! But Glenda played her part well, and the Wicked Witch went on her way.

The Wicked Witch

As the munchkins and Glenda led everyone in singing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”, Mr. Von Bahn Bonn led guests past Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and Toto, too, on their way to the Emerald City.

Wizard of Oz

Finally, to end the evening, we were treated to a grand finale movie montage. Yes, we were able to stand and watch the movie montage seen at the end of the attraction. It’s one of my favorite parts of the attraction as it shows so many great movie moments, people, and films, and the variety of music that plays is all so familiar to us movie lovers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our tour through these great moments at the movies, and here are just a few of my favorites.

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Watch What Happens at Conservation Station

Its hard sometimes when visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom to find time to take the train out to Conservation Station and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. For some reason most folks feel they only need one day (and not even the whole day) to enjoy the park, but there’s so much off the beaten path here that visitors need to take in, and this area falls into this category. Hop aboard the train in Africa and enjoy the ride out to Conservation Station and you never know what you might see that day!

Arriving at the Station

One of the attractions within this area is the area for guests to watch the veterinarian team in action. Different procedures are scheduled each day and if your timing is right, you’ll get to see something interesting happening behind the glass. On this particular day the two cotton top tamarins that you encounter on the path from the train to Conservation Station were scheduled for their routine exam complete with x-rays and bloodwork. One of the veterinarian team members began by explaining to guests what would be happening and describing the tamarin itself.

Giving a Description of the Exam

Once the tamarin had been sedated he was brought into the back room to be x-rayed. There is a large flat screen television for guests to be able to see what happens back in the x-ray room as well as get a closer look at what is happening in examination room. After the x-ray the tamarin was brought into the exam room behind the glass where a further examination occurred as well as the drawing of blood for bloodwork. There are a couple of CMs walking among the watching crowd, ready to answer any questions you may have, so be sure to chat with them and find out even more.

Setting Up For the Exam

One of the Veterinarian Team Members at Work

Cotton Top Tamarin During Routine Exam

Take the time to visit Rafiki Planet Watch and Conservation Station on your next trip to the Animal Kingdom; you never know what animal you might see!

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The Great Movie Ride Dinner – Second Course

The First Course can be found here.

For the next part of the evening, guests were led into the Western Set of the Great Movie Ride. Place cards were distributed earlier in the evening so everyone knew which table was theirs.

Table Assignment Place Card

Table Setting

Menus for the main course were placed at each table setting.

Great Movie Ride Dinner Menu

Everyone was free to move around the room, take photos, and enjoy their meal at their own pace. Entertainment in this room was courtesy of the bluegrass band playing in front of the Miners’ and Cattlemens’ Bank. They played all Disney tunes such as Zip-a-Dee-D0-Dah and the Mickey Mouse March but with a bluegrass flair. They did take a short break during the meal, which was filled by the piano player from the previous set.


Inside the Western Set

Detail On the Set

To begin the meal, fresh, warm cornbread was served with the always cute Mickey butter.

Cornbread and Mickey Butter

The appetizer for the night was a Creamy Free Range Yard Bird Chowder with Grilled Flatbread. I’m not one for chowder but this was very tasty, creamy, and flavorful and the flatbread was excellent (especially when you dipped it in the chowder).

Creamy Yard Bird Chowder and Flatbread

The next dish served was a salad course of Wild Greens Tossed with Cilantro Cactus Vinaigrette plated tableside and topped with Carrot Tumbleweeds. For most people, you either love or hate cilantro, and unfortunately I fall into the latter category. I had a few bites to taste (the salad was tasty, but too much of it and the cilantro taste starting getting stronger) and then used this time to move around the room and take more photos.

Wild Greens with Cactus and Cilantro Vinaigrette

The Western Scene Set Up for Dinner

Clint Eastwood Overseeing the Evening

The main dish for the evening was Mesquite-Grilled Beef Filet with Herb Butter, Truffle Mac and Cheese, and Molasses Pinto Beans. The filet was a little overcooked for our taste but once you reached the center, it was pink and tender. I would have to assume that the filet was cooked medium to medium well for an event like this since there are so many people to make happy. The herb butter made for a tasty dip for the filet while the truffle mac and cheese was the best item on the plate. I would love to have that recipe to try at home. The molasses pinto beans weren’t like the baked beans I’m used to, as they still had that bean texture, but they were flavorful.

Mesquite-Grilled Beef Filet, Truffle Mac and Cheese, Molasses Pinto Beans

During our main course there was another streetmosphere type character moving around the tables, but unfortunately I never caught her name. She was quite a character though. She didn’t get to spend much time at our table but the little bit of time she was there, she was a riot. When someone complimented her on the Yardbird Chowder and asked her what was in it, her response was that a yard bird was whatever bird landed in her yard that day. Let’s hope not.

More Entertainment

This portion of the evening was very well paced as we again didn’t even give time a consideration while we were in there. It was great that we were free to move around the room and take photos during the meal. The bartender from the gangster set had moved into the room with us and continued serving drinks all through dinner. Once everyone had finished we were encouraged by Mr. Von Bahn Bonn to start moving on towards the dessert course, found in the Wizard of Oz set. Next week we will wrap up this event with dessert and more photos from inside the ride.

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