By: Allison Flynn
May 25, 2017
What if you could pay for your breakfast at Chef Mickey’s or your dinner at Whispering Canyon before you ever arrived at the Walt Disney World Resort?
With the Disney Dining Plan, you can!
The Disney Dining Plan is a great way to pre-pay for meals and snacks you’ll eat during your magical Walt Disney World Resort vacation. Available to those who will also be staying at an onsite resort hotel, the Disney Dining Plan includes one quick service meal, one table service meal and two snacks for each person in your party who are ages 3 and older. And, it also includes a refillable mug to use at your resort – so fill it up with orange juice in the morning and hot chocolate before bed!
The Disney Dining Plan may or may not save your family money, but it will definitely ease some of the headaches associated with mealtimes, especially if you have big eaters. One of the best parts of the plan for my family is that we each could order what we truly wanted without having to be concerned that the price was too high. If my husband wanted a steak, he ordered a steak. If we hadn’t already paid for it in advance, he’d probably have stuck with something much less pricy.
Your Disney Dining Plan can also be used for character meals. Most character meals are equivalent to one table service credit per person. Out of pocket, you are looking at minimum around $150. I’d much rather pay for that in advance than face the credit card bill once I come home.
An example of how the plan works is this: You are planning to stay for 7 nights and 8 days at the Walt Disney World Resort and are a family of 4. So, you would each receive 7 quick service credits, 7 table service credits and 14 snacks. Each time you redeem a credit, it will deduct from your account. (I liken it to meal plans in college.)
I always warn guests to be sure to tell the cashier what type of credit you are redeeming and then check your receipt. Because it is all tied to your MagicBand, it can be tracked – but since you may also tie your credit card to your band, you might want to pay for additional food items. If you don’t make your cast member aware of this, you can run short on credits before your vacation ends.
Credits can be used in any order – so if you want to eat at a character meal for both lunch and dinner in a day, you can! Not feeling hungry for your quick service meal? No problem. Trade it in for three snacks instead.
Cast members at dining locations can help you to make sure you’re food items are on the dining plan. Certain meals at various locations are not included. At Yak & Yeti, we were told which items on the menu would work with the plan. Typically, appetizers are not included.
After using the plan, I doubt my family will ever go without it again. It’s just too hard to resist adding the additional food cost into our vacation total and paying for it in advance. It made our overall experience much less stressful to know that we could simply enjoy the meal without the added worry of paying for it at the end.
If you would like more information on dining locations my family enjoys during our Walt Disney World Resort vacations, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also keep up with vacation information through my Wishes Family Travel Facebook page as well!
By: Kelly Rodriguez
May 23, 2017
Why stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort? The view and the convenience of being so close to Magic Kingdom is everything! You can either take the monorail or walk to Magic Kingdom in just a few short minutes. The Contemporary is on the monorail loop along with two other resorts, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. The Ticket and Transportation Center is also on the loop and this is where you can catch the monorail going to Epcot. If you are leaving from the Contemporary, Magic Kingdom will be your last stop. However, on your way back from Magic Kingdom the Contemporary will be your first stop!
Being on the monorail loop makes it very convenient to visit Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. That means you have the convenience of many character dining options! At Disney’s Contemporary Resort you have Chef Mickey’s and it offers breakfast, brunch, and dinner buffets. Here you meet five Disney characters which typically include Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. Chef Mickey’s has so many food options that even your pickiest eaters will love it. On our last visit, we arrived just as breakfast was switching over to brunch so we got to try both options. Our reservation was at 11:20 am.
Room at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower
Pool at Bay Lake Tower
At Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is ‘Ohana. This restaurant offers a character dining experience at breakfast. This meal is served family style with an island flair. We got to meet Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto. They had a parade around the restaurant with the kids shaking Maracas. If you get a chance, dinner is incredible too and is also served family style. It includes all you care to eat grilled meats such as shrimp and pork, wings, salad, pot stickers, lo mien noodles and banana bread pudding with rum sauce! Yum! They have coconut races for the kids too! So fun!
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort offers two character experiences at 1900 Park Fare. The buffet breakfast includes dining with characters such as Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Mary Poppins. Dinner is also a buffet but with a whole new set of characters. Cinderella’s Happily Ever After dinner is a family affair. You’ll meet Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and step sisters, Drizella and Anastasia. They are hilarious! It’s like getting dinner and a show!
And finally, as we round our trip back to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you will notice the theming of this resort. It is very cool and modern. For your convenience and shopping pleasure, it has a huge toy store and gift shop which are awesome.
If you don’t like fighting the fireworks crowds in Magic Kingdom, then you’re going to love this. The Contemporary has spots all around the resort where you can watch the fireworks. You don’t even have to have a theme park view room! We loved our stay at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and can’t wait to go back!
If you would like to book a Disney vacation please contact me at KellyR@wishesfamilytravel.com
By: Jen Spihlman
May 18, 2018
Are you a Harry Potter superfan? Do you know which house you are in? How about the form your Patronus takes? Do you love Quidditch? Do you want to taste Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice and Gilly water? Do you understand the meaning behind the phrase “Always?” If you answered yes to these questions, then you must head to Universal Orlando and explore The Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter!
When you first step into Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, you will get goosebumps! You will feel like you just stepped into the books or movies. Universal Orlando Resort, under the close guidance of JK Rowling, has truly brought the stories to life. I’ll begin with Hogsmeade…
As soon as you cross into Hogsmeade, you will see the Hogwarts Express off to your right. Most of the day you’ll be able to get your picture taken in front of it with the conductor! You can then head to the post office and mail a letter back home with a Harry Potter stamp and the Hogsmeade postmark! So cool!
You’ll definitely want to check out Honeydukes and all of its wonderful sweet treats, and you’ll find a Butterbeer stop right outside! When you need a quick meal, head to the Three Broomsticks and experience it just like Harry, Ron and Hermione! Don’t forget to walk into the bathroom and see if you can hear Moaning Myrtle!
If your stomach can handle it, you have to take a turn or two on the Dragon Challenge. You can ride the Chinese Fireball or the Hungarian Horntail! Each dragon is a completely different ride!!
To give yourself a little break, head over to the Flight of the Hippogriff, a family-friendly roller coaster. You’ll even go past Hagrid’s hut!
The castle, which houses Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, is the crown jewel of this Harry Potter World. While waiting in line, you get to walk through the castle and experience a little bit of life in Hogwarts. You’ll see the pensieve, the sorting hat, the fat lady and more while you wait to board the ride. This ride is fast and jerky as you fly through the air! You get to see Quidditch, spiders, dementors, and so much more!!
Once you are out of the castle, head to the Hogsmeade Station and board the Hogwarts Express to take you to London and Diagon Alley. The Hogwarts Express is so REAL! You will feel like you are really riding it with all of the Hogwarts students. Make sure to watch the window as well as the door to your train car to see everything. And make sure that you ride the Hogwarts Express in both directions. Not only is Kings Crossing fully themed, but the ride is different each way!
In Diagon Alley you can explore so many places – Ollivanders (did you know you can buy an interactive wand and perform “magic?”) Borgin and Burkes, Madam Malkin’s, and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes (so real!) You can grab a meal at the Leaky Cauldron and then finish that up with Butterbeer ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s. So delicious!
Gringotts Wizarding Bank, with a HUGE dragon on top that periodically breathes fire, is the home of Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Your entire wait in line is spent exploring the bank. It is incredibly detailed and the goblins are so lifelike. The ride itself is pretty amazing and you meet Bellatrix and Voldemort!
Once you pass through the brick wall and return to London, you can check out the Knight Bus and see if you can find 12 Grimmauld Place!
There are so many wonderful places to explore in both Harry Potter Worlds! Fans of the stories will be more than satisfied!!!
By: Anna Trosper
May 16, 2017
“Mystery” may not be the first adjective that comes to mind when you think of Orlando, but I have managed to discover some great hidden treasures in that city! Discovery Cove in Orlando is the rarely spoken about travel destination that I believe everyone should experience at least once in their lives.
Right from the start, I knew that my family would have a great experience there. You walk into the lobby and are greeted by their mascot- an armadillo! The little guy would run amok around the area and cheerfully interact with guests.
For the foodies, food and drinks (adult beverages included) are all-inclusive during your stay. We began our stay at Discovery Cove by hitting the beach, which is never crowded- only a certain number of people are admitted daily.
My favorite area of the park had to have been Grand Reef. Though the water is chilly, you are able to snorkel alongside beautiful sea life! Sunscreen, wetsuits, and snorkel gear are all provided by the park.
Another huge draw to the park is their Dolphin encounter, which you can purchase a ticket for along with your park ticket. While I didn’t experience the dolphin encounter, it always receives rave reviews and guests absolutely adore the chance to interact with dolphins.
If relaxation is what you’re after, the Serenity Bay pool certainly has what you’re looking for. A beautiful, lagoon-styled freshwater pool, it’s fit for just lounging by the water or floating about in bliss.
If you prefer land- or in this case, sky-dwelling animals, Discovery Cove even offers its very own Aviary. My kiddos absolutely adored their aviary. You’re given bird feed, and they just fly right down and land on your arms!
With the price of the Discovery Cove tickets, you also receive 14 consecutive days of access to Sea World and Aquatica, Sea World’s water park. It’s a great deal!
I totally recommend booking a trip to this hidden gem, especially for you animal lovers. Your money will definitely not be wasted. If you would like more information or think this sounds like the vacation for your family I would love to talk with you. Contact me by email or my Facebook page.
By: Meg Kline
May 11, 2017
Are you looking for a way to meet your favorite Disney Princesses while skipping the long lines? Akershus is a hidden gem located in Norway in Epcot’s World Showcase. This dining experience is straight out of a fairytale and is fit for a princess.
My family and I had dinner reservations and we made sure to arrive earlier than normal so as not to miss out on our reservation. I had a pink tulle Disney Princess dress tucked away in my stroller for my 15-month old daughter. I quickly changed her into the dress and matching headband before we were called for our reservation.
When you enter the banquet hall you immediately feel like royalty! As my eyes quickly scanned the hall I noticed Belle waiting for us in her yellow ball gown. I was filled with joy that my daughter finally got to meet my favorite Disney Princess. A cast member called us over and we posed for a perfect picture with Belle. I was able to scan my magic band and the picture was automatically sent to our Memory Maker package. We were seated for dinner in a less crowded area of the hall tucked away in the back corner which was nice with two young children.
The great thing about dining at Akershus is the option of an appetizer buffet along with your plated meal. The buffet features Scandinavian seafood, imported cheeses, sliced meats, salads, and fresh fruit. It was great to sample everything and even my children enjoyed the new flavors and textures.
Now onto the main course! My husband ordered the Tradisjonell Kjøttkake which is Norwegian Meatballs, he absolutely loved them! The meatballs are served with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Lingonberry Sauce. I, on the other hand, love seafood, so I ordered the Skalldyrsgryte, which is a creamy casserole style dish with mussels, shrimp, and scallops. I was in heaven and enjoyed every bite. My son ordered the cheese pizza and enjoyed his meal. My daughter, who was 15-months old at the time, was able to order he own entrée and she loved the mac and cheese. Dessert was served family style with 3 options that pleased all 4 of us. We were served 3 large portions of each dessert. A chocolate mousse, a rice pudding, and an apple cake. This was a great way to end our already enjoyable meal.
Our character interaction at Akershus was so magical and definitely an experience I will never forget. The characters are subject to change and you never know who you will end up meeting. We had the pleasure of meeting Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, and Ariel. Each princess gracefully made their way over to our table and allowed us to have wonderful conversation with them. We posed for pictures and even signed autograph books. My son and husband both had hearts in their eyes after each one walked away.
I was left with another emotion and even shed tears! Ariel made her way over to our table and chatted with my son and posed for a beautiful picture. She then knelt down to my daughter and was face to face with her on her level. My daughter completely fell in love with Ariel before our very eyes. Ariel was so sweet and kind to her, she touched her arm and spoke so soft and sweet. Ariel was at our table longer than any other princess and we really had quality time with her. She even came back around to us two more times! On the last time she kissed my daughter on the cheek and I was brought to tears. The magic is real and I will never ever forget that moment.
Akershus is now on our must do list for dining and I always recommend my clients to give it a chance when booking dining reservations for them.
If you have any questions about Akershus Royal Banquet Hall or any other Disney related topics Visit Megan’s Facebook Page for more information!
By: Tiffini Hensley
May 9, 2017
Although there are many fantastic restaurants located in Universal Orlando’s CityWalk, arguably the best dining experience that can be had is at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen. Situated between Hard Rock Café and Islands of Adventure, the restaurant is a sight to behold before you even walk through the doors! The restaurant has a fun steampunk style atmosphere, and the backstory about Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome and her chocolate emporium fits in perfectly to the surroundings. You can even read more about her story on the menus while you’re waiting to order!
Toothsome is separated into three sections: full-service restaurant, bar, and confectionary. On a recent business trip to Universal Orlando, I had the pleasure to eat at the Savory Feast Kitchen for dinner. Toothsome doesn’t accept advance dining reservations, so the wait times can get rather long throughout the day. If you’re willing to be flexible, there are times of the day that offer lower wait times. For our dinner, we went later in the evening, around 9:30pm, so our wait was approximately 15 minutes. We were seated upstairs on the second floor of the restaurant at a table offering beautiful views of CityWalk.
I knew before I even opened the menu that whatever I had for dinner was going to be overshadowed by one of their huge delicious looking milkshakes. What I didn’t know was how hard it would be to decide on which meal to choose because they all sounded marvelous, and the menu had options to suit anyone’s tastes. I chose the Croque Monsieur, and I must say it was among the best I’ve ever tasted. The perfect way to compliment a fabulous meal at Toothsome is with one of Jacques’ Specialty Milkshakes, which are a masterpiece in and of themselves. If ice cream is not what you are in the mood for, there are plenty of other delicacies, such as chocolate flourless cake and crème brulee.
After we were sufficiently full, and just thinking that the fun of Toothsome was ending, we were lucky enough to meet both Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome and Jacques! They have been known to wander around greeting guests and stopping for a photo, however they don’t guarantee it.
Overall, we enjoyed our unique dining experience, and I look forward to heading back to Toothsome next time I’m at Universal Orlando. If you are ever in town and find that you don’t have time for a full meal, make sure you stop by to check out the confectionary for a little something sweet, just so you can take in the sights and smells of Toothsome Chocolate Emporium!
If you’d like to see additional pictures and videos from my visit to Universal Orlando, please check out my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/thensley.wft. If you’d like more information, or to start planning your next vacation, please contact Tiffini@wishesfamilytravel.com.
May 4, 2017
By: Anna Trosper
Whether you are searching for your next vacation adventure or you already know where you want to go, a Wishes Family Travel agent can help you make sure your vacation will be a thrilling adventure. Traveling is fun but it also has its challenges. Your travel agent is more than a friendly voice, she or he is there to guide you throughout your entire trip.
Finding the right travel agent makes traveling that much more enjoyable for you, as the client. Using an agent takes the stress of research and planning off of your shoulders. Travel agents are trained to find the perfect destination and resort to meet your wants and needs. We are there to find that just right all –inclusive resort or even that great family friendly destination. Whatever your needs are, a travel agent can create a memorable vacation tailored to your wishes. The more you use your travel agent the more she learns about you and your likes and dislikes. The better your Travel agent knows you the better she or he can create that perfect vacation. This also comes in handy throughout the year when travel deals and promotions are released. Your Wishes Family Travel agent knows your interests and can alert you as soon as that great deal becomes available. Wouldn’t it be great to have a wing-man in the travel industry?
We are also known as “life savers” from time to time! We all dream of that perfect vacation but let’s face it, sometimes things just happen that are out of our hands. Weather delays at airports, missed flights, sickness, and storms – you can spend hours on the phone trying to madly rearrange your travel plans. But if you book with a travel agent, make one call to them and they go to work, working for you! They will inform the resort of your status and rearrange your itinerary as needed and do everything in their power to make an unpleasant experience as bearable as possible.
Wishes Travel Agents are in the know! With their training and travel experience, they know what rooms have the best views, they know if there are construction notices, and they even know about upcoming events that you may want to attend. A Wishes Family Travel agent is Trained Traveled and Trusted – we have the experience, knowledge and connections to find just the right vacation spot that fits your personal tastes and desires. If by chance your Wishes agent does not know the answer, one of our well trained agents do! We all bring multiple experiences to the table. You see, at Wishes Family Travel you are not getting one agent you have a whole team behind you. We work together, sharing information and tips. We are a team! We stay in touch, we travel together, and we train together. I say a team but to me it is more like family!
Why not use a Travel Agent? Wishes Family Travel agents are concierge level agents. Our services are free to our clients that book their vacations with us. You are not out a dime and you will get all of this added value to your vacation. You can use them as much as you want or as little as you want. If you want them to do all the planning? It’s done! If you like to do some of the planning, no problem! And if you’re the type that likes to be in charge of all the planning? Well, you still can! But wouldn’t it be nice to have the back up if you needed it?
Travel agents can also help you save time. In today’s world everyone is so busy and, let’s face it, sitting down at a computer and doing research on a destination can be extremely time consuming; especially if you are unfamiliar with that destination. Planning a Disney trip may sound simple but with Advanced Dining Reservations, Magic Bands, My Disney Experience and Fastpass+, who has time to keep track of all that? But who can keep record of all those dates, times and when things have to be done? Your travel agent!
So, if you are planning a vacation, or just want to talk about it, I would love to help you. You can contact me at email@example.com or please visit my Facebook page and be sure to like and to click to get notifications to keep up on all the latest news and travel tips. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
May 2, 2017
Long gone may be the days of drive-in movie theaters, but you can still experience the fad from the 50s at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Entering the dining area of the restaurant truly feels like you’ve been transported back in time. Car-shaped booths facing a movie screen are surrounded by a twilight setting with mountains in the distance.
My family was lucky enough to score a car pretty near to the screen, which was showing scenes from classic sci-fi movies of the time. I was a little nervous that those scenes might scare my three year old, but luckily he was enthralled by the cool booth to pay very little attention to the show.
The regular car-shaped booths seat two to a bench seat, so if your family likes to chat during a meal, you’ll find it a little hard to do here. I enjoyed it because I sat with my older son, and it was nice to just spend a little time with him.
Each table area has a small lighted area so you can see your food. Overall, the restaurant is dim since it is supposed to evoke the feeling of watching a movie at night. If not being able to see very well around you bothers you, then you can do what I did – I turned on the flashlight on my cell phone to read the menu!
Sci-Fi Dine-In features a variety of American foods – from burgers and fries to pasta and steak. Prices for entrees range from $14 to $32, so it is a meal you’ll want to budget for if you aren’t using a Disney Dining Plan. We were on the plan (and in case you’re wondering, it’s one table service credit per person), so my husband and I both opted for the Flame-Broiled New York Strip Steak. It was topped with a garlic-herb butter and cheesy-horseradish potatoes. It was delicious, and I ate as much of it as I could while trying to save room for dessert.
And dessert … oh my. The desserts at Sci-Fi may have been my favorite of this vacation. My oldest son and I decided to get two things since we were sitting side by side and could share. While he went for the Warm Glazed Doughnut, I opted for the Housemade Sci-Fi Candy Bar.
The doughnut wasn’t just a plain old doughnut. Oh, no. It was topped with warm cinnamon apples and vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce. It was seriously the best doughnut I’ve ever tasted.
But for me, the candy bar was hands-down my favorite. It kind of reminded me of a Kit-Kat bar – with layers of sponge cake and this crispy “pearls” and then covered in chocolate. But it was super, super sweet – so just a few bites would do.
We all really enjoyed the blast from the past for our lunch during our day at Hollywood Studios, and the food fueled us up for the adventures of the rest of the day. We may have entered feeling like creatures from the black lagoon, but I left feeling like the 50 foot woman.
If you’d like to learn more about dining options at Hollywood Studios, or discuss your vacation plans, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my Facebook page here.