March 23, 2017
Many people are trying to eat in a healthier way. My husband, Kevin, and I are no exception. We have changed our eating habits over the past five months opting to not eat processed food, white flour and sugar. When our recent Walt Disney World vacation arrived we were wondering how we would continue to eat the way we wanted to.
The first night of our trip was spent at the All Star Movie Resort. When we arrived we walked in to the dining area to see what was available for dinner. We noticed the usual burgers, chicken fingers and pizza, but then discovered a cooler containing a great selection of fruit, salads, cheese, yogurt and hard boiled eggs. Kevin and I were both pleased to see we had multiple options that worked for us.
Magic Kingdom was the first park we visited where some of our very favorite treats can be found! Dole Whips and Mickey Bars are two treats we always enjoy while at Magic Kingdom, but were going to skip on this trip. As much as we wanted a Nutella Waffle, we thought it would be best to look around for a healthier lunch. Have you ever seen the giant turkey legs in Frontierland? We had seen them over the years, but never sampled one so we gave it a try. The turkey leg was delicious and enough to share. As we walked through Liberty Square we found the perfect food stand! The Cast Members were grilling corn and there was a large variety of fresh fruit. The grilled corn was delicious, a good compliment to the turkey leg.
The International Food and Wine Festival had begun at Epcot just prior to our arrival. The Food and Wine Festival is one of our favorite events at Walt Disney World where every country has sample-sized food and drinks to try. For Kevin and me, this was the best place to eat many of our meals because we could choose the food that worked best for us. Our favorites were the filet in Canada, the beef skewers from Morocco and sweet & spicy shrimp that we found at the Australia stand.
While we were at Epcot we had dinner at Teppan Edo in the Japan Pavilion, a wonderful sit down hibachi style restaurant. Our chef was very accommodating and gave us extra veggies instead of rice to go with our steak and shrimp. The food was incredible and the experience was very fun.
One of Kevin’s favorite meals of our whole trip was a salad at Wolfgang Puck Express which is located at Disney Springs. Again, the staff was very accommodating and offered fruit in place of the dessert which accompanies a quick service meal on the Disney Dining Plan. Kevin found the salad to be delicious and big enough to share.
Buffets are another ideal place to dine when you are looking for healthier options. Our breakfast buffet at Cape May had so many delicious items to choose from that we were stuffed when we left. There were several types of eggs, which were all very tasty. The meats like bacon, sausage and smoked salmon, along with the fresh fruit rounded out our breakfast nicely. We discovered that the chef will make gluten free Mickey waffles for those who cannot have gluten.
On our last night we had dinner at the Cinderella’s Happily Ever After buffet at 1900 Park Fare in Grand Floridian. We both ate way too much while we waited to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Step Family. I gave the famous Cold Strawberry Soup a try and loved it, it was incredible. Kevin and I both thought the Mongolian Beef was very good, as was the prime rib. There were many salads and a very nice variety of veggies. It was hard to walk past the desserts, they looked wonderful.
Overall we found the selection of healthy food options to be extensive at Walt Disney World, especially if you ask questions of the Cast Members before ordering. Everyone was happy to substitute vegetables for potatoes and fruit for dessert. If you are looking for healthier options I would love to talk to you about our experience and help you plan a healthy trip to Walt Disney World. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter, or contact me at email@example.com
March 21, 2017
If you have been to Walt Disney World you already know what an excellent job the cast members do at spreading the Disney Magic! But did you know that anyone can spread some magic? YOU could make someone’s day that more magical! It’s very easy and most of these tricks won’t even cost you a penny! Let’s take a look at some of the great ways you can spread that Disney magic on your next trip!
- Have a Magical Day!– These are four simple words to say. And come on, when a cast member says it to you doesn’t it make you feel happy inside? So why not say it to someone? Disney is the one place you can get away with it! And you might be returned with a happy smile.
- Celebration Pin– If you see someone wearing a celebration pin, it’s easy to wish them a Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary.
- Acknowledge the Little Princess– As you walk around the parks there are little princesses, pirates and every character in between, dressed up and living their dream. When I walk by one I always acknowledge them. It can be a simple “You’re so beautiful” to a “Hello, Princess Elsa”. This makes the little ones day!
- Give a Helping Hand– I can’t stand to see a parent struggling with their stroller or holding a little one and trying to carry food back to the table. Help them out. Look for the little moments where a helping hand is needed.
- Directions –Ok, this may be for the Disney regulars. How many times have you been to the park where you see a family and you can tell it’s their first time and they are lost!!!!! This is an easy thing to do to spread some magic. Be the hero and ask them if you can help. Ask where they want to go and point them in the right direction.
- Water!– It gets hot in Florida. Did I say HOT?!!! Water should be your best friend when at Disney. If you see someone that looks worn out and overheated, get them a cold drink of water. Quick service locations provide ice water for FREE! Go get them a drink and you will change their day.
- Offer to Take a Photo– This only takes a minute and you will be helping them to capture a magical moment!
- Offer Someone Your Seat –This is something I was taught by my mother. I don’t know how many times I have seen an older person or a pregnant lady left to stand on the bus, on the Monorail, or even a boat ride. Get up and give them your seat, it’s a simple gesture that could change their day.
- Keep Down in Front –Ok, you have staked out the perfect spot and have a front row seat for the parade. You probably have sat there and waited a long time to get that coveted spot. If you really want to spread some magic, please consider the folks behind you, especially the kids. Offer the little ones to stand or sit in front of you. Or have a seat yourself! You’ve been doing a lot of walking and taking a seat on the curb could give you some much needed rest; plus it will give the others behind you a better view of the parade.
- Be Nice– Simple words like “please” and “thank you” go a long way. Be nice to the cast members and to other Disney guests. I know it can get hot, you’re tired and your feet hurt; you’re not alone. So please, say Thank you and give a smile. It will make everyone feel better!
Little Extras for a Few Pennies – All of the above tricks will not cost you a cent, but if you have a few extra dollars here are a few more ways to spread the magic. I always head to my local dollar store before we go on a Disney trip. I load up on snacks, glow sticks, little toys and a few extra rain ponchos. If I find yourself in line with a grumpy child I offer them a small snack or toy. (Make sure to check with mom or dad first!) When I’m at a night time parade there is always a child who wants an expensive light up toy. If it’s okay with mom or dad, I reach into my bag of magic and take out a glow stick for them. Melt down avoided! Lastly, it rains a lot in Florida. Many of us know this but many do not. If I see a family caught in the pouring rain with no ponchos, I offer to share my extras.
See how easy it is to spread magic around when you’re at Disney? You’re there to get away and to have a magical vacation and so are others. Don’t be afraid to spread the magic; you won’t be sorry!
If you are planning a trip to Disney I would be happy to not only book your vacation but help plan it as well. I would love to help you find new and fun ways to spread some Disney magic on your trip.
Please visit my Facebook page for get travel tips and for all the latest promotions. If you would like to talk about your next vacation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a time to talk! You can visit our main Wishes Family Travel web page for other great travel information and join our Facebook group Disney Conversations with Wishes and talk Disney with us.
Have a magical day and I hope to talk to you soon!
March 16, 2017
My last trip to Walt Disney World was amazing, as always. I experienced the rides, shows and foods I love but just one thing was different about this vacation. I traveled with someone who decided to rent a car. Up until now, I have always relied on Disney transportation, but I am commonly asked by my clients if I think it would be worth it to rent a car. Well now I have the experience from both sides and I’m here to lay it all out for you.
First, let’s talk about Disney transportation and what is included in your stay as a resort guest. Disney’s Magical Express is available to pick you up for the airport and transport you to your resort. This service is complimentary to all guests staying on Disney property. They also pick up your luggage for you and baggage claim and transfer it to your room for you. Disney’s extensive transportation system also includes buses to get you from your resort to each park or to Disney Springs. Also, select resorts have water taxis and/or access to the monorail to transport you to certain parks. In summary, you can get anywhere you need to go using Disney transportation, although you may have to take more than one mode of transportation to get there.
Now that we have covered Disney transportation, let’s compare it with renting a car.
- When you rent a car, you will need to pick up your own luggage at baggage claim. With Disney’s Magical Express, this is done for you, but you may have to wait a few hours to receive it once you arrive at your resort.
- It is best to find a rental car company that has service in the terminal. Otherwise, you will need to take a shuttle to the rental car office, which adds more time to your arrival process.
- Of course, you need to pay for a rental car, while the Magical Express service is complimentary. Make sure the person doing the driving is the one to reserve the car or else you will have to pay for an additional driver.
- When you rent a car, you will need to find your way around! With modern technology this is not difficult, but it is one more thing to think about. With Disney transportation, the drivers will get you where you need to go!
- Once you are at your resort it is very convenient to walk outside, get in your car and drive wherever you need to go. With Disney transportation, you may have to wait for the bus to come. This could take as long as 20 minutes, but usually no more than 10.
- Sometimes you will have to park very far from the park entrance and either walk or take a tram. The buses typically drop you off very close to the front gate.
- When you stay until the park closes, it can be a mad rush of people trying to get on the buses at the same time. When you have a car, you don’t have the stress of waiting for a bus or being stuck on a crowded bus with very sleepy children!
After experiencing both, I loved the convenience of having a car and not needing to wait for a bus but I also love being able to sit back, relax, and let someone else navigate the way for me. I have laid out the pros and cons of each and I hope it has been helpful. It is ultimately up to you and your personal preference. You could always rent a car and still utilize the Disney transportation when you want to! To plan a trip or to discuss more practical issues like this one, email me at email@example.com
**Extra tip: If you drive, take pictures of the signs where you park. You may think you will remember what row/section you are in but after a long day in the park, you probably won’t!
March 14, 2017
Via Napoli is located in the Italy Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase at Walt Disney World. I like to say it is Disney’s best kept secret. Usually when I prepare to do dining reservations for clients I receive a typical list. Chef Mickey’s, Be Our Guest, Hollywood and Vine, Garden Grill and Ohana are all of the most common “popular” hot spots. It is very rare that anyone is beating down the door at 6 am 180 days out asking me to grab a Via Napoli reservation. However, I am here to tell you that you are missing out.
Via Napoli is one of the newest World Showcase restaurants that opened in 2010. According to many, not just myself, it serves the best pizza pies at Walt Disney World!
When you enter the restaurant you will notice that Disney has gone all out. The inside is beautiful. Adorned with wonderful details, lighting fixtures and impressive craftsmanship, you will feel as if you are in Italy itself. My favorite feature of the restaurant is the open-air cooking area, especially the three-ovens shaped like faces with wide open mouths. My family and I took some time to observe and watch the cooks prepare meals and create their pizza master pieces. We were in awe watching the process. The servers are all very friendly and as I filmed my live video they spoke to us about the meals. They answered questions, pointed out different dishes and even quizzed me.
At the time of the meal it was my family of 6 out of 7. As we viewed the menu we noticed several options – appetizers, soups, main dishes and a variety of pizzas. The fun part is picking out how you would like the crust, what toppings and of course the size. My husband and I were worried the largest size would be too much for us to finish. The ages of our children who were present ranged from 2 to 11. We did not want to take a bunch of food back the resort or waste any for that matter.
The pizza was a thin crust with half meat lovers and the other side was a four cheese. The pizza was incredible. Soft cheese, perfectly cooked, with an excellent flavorful crust, this pizza was amazing. Quicker than anyone could say Via Napoli, it was gone!
I believe that Via Napoli is one of the best World Showcase restaurants, and a great value. It is a fun restaurant and lives up to high expectations. I highly recommend giving it a chance!
If you are interested in knowing more about the dining and lodging in WDW please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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March 9, 2017
Map of World Cacao Production
The Chocolate Room
When you visit Nassau, Bahamas, with Disney Cruise Line, you are given several choices of excursions to take advantage of. My family decided to visit the Graycliff Chocolate Factory on a recent sailing, and learn about how chocolate goes from a cacao bean to the decadence we enjoy today.
Once we got off the ship, our escort met us and led our group of 20 or so to an air-conditioned passenger van for our 10-minute ride to the chocolate factory. We were greeted by our tour guide, and she handed out gowns and hair caps for each person in our group, which we were required to wear for the duration of our time in the factory.
After she explained how chocolate comes from the cacao bean, we went upstairs to the area of the factory where they process and pour the chocolates into their molds. She told us how what we know as “white chocolate” isn’t really chocolate at all, since it contains no cacao at all. It’s basically sugar and oil, but I can tell you my kids couldn’t get enough of the samples that were passed around for us to taste.
Next was milk chocolate, which is about 50% cacao. This was by far the favorite of the group. Lastly, we sampled dark chocolate. This version was about 90% cacao, so very rich and almost bitter. I wanted a long drink of milk after tasting that one!
We then went into a small room where plastic trays were set out next to plates with various goodies – strawberry-flavored bead, coconut flakes, granola, chocolate chips – on them. After donning plastic gloves, we were given cups of dark chocolate to pour into the trays, and used the goodies to flavor it to make our very own candy bars.
While those were going through the cooling and forming process, we were encouraged to use our leftover chocolate and goodies to freeform different shapes, words, anything we wanted. This was by far the most fun portion of the experience. My family was laughing so hard at each other, about how bad we were at forming truffles, and how our hands were covered in chocolate by the end!
Our guide then told us about the different regions where cacao comes from, and we received boxes to take home our candy bars and any other creations that would fit. We then took off our gowns and caps, and walked across the street for a complimentary scoop of sorbet.
This was a fun activity for our day in Nassau. It was less than two hours long, so it left us plenty of time to shop and explore the city on our own. Kids of all ages are welcome, so this is a great option for those families with younger children.
If you are interested in a sailing with Disney Cruise Line, please contact Rebecca Jones at Rebecca@wishesfamilytravel.com or (325) 733-8399.
March 7, 2017
Before my youngest son was born, the only times I’d traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort was with my nieces when they were 9 and 7, and my oldest son after he’d turned 5. My husband and I always said we would be one of those families who took small children to Disney – they wouldn’t remember it, you had to pack all this stuff …..
And then our youngest son was born.
We pretty much threw every “we won’t” out the window when we decided we wanted to visit when he was 8 months old. It turned out, it was an incredibly easy trip. He napped in his stroller, ignored what he didn’t want to watch and was pretty chill the whole way through.
But, as a toddler, he’s not as apt to nap on the go as easily. And, he wants to do everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – his older brother does. So when we planned another trip to Walt Disney World when he was just shy of 3, I was nervous.
It turned out that it was almost the perfect age for him to visit.
Walt Disney World knows how to provide entertainment and attractions for all ages and abilities. My concerns about what a 3 year old could or couldn’t do were quickly put to rest, but there were still some preemptive conversations we had to try and calm our little ones fears.
Three year olds have very active imaginations, and because our little man had already expressed a fear of the dark, we knew to prepare him for “dark” rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean. We kept it light and explained the the pirates were just playing and that nothing would hurt him. (As it turned out, that ride inspired him so much that he and his brother both were pirates for Halloween!)
Explaining the story to some of the rides was also helpful. When it came time to ride Journey of the Little Mermaid in Fantasyland, I carefully explained that Ursula the Sea Witch was a “bad guy” and that Prince Eric would take care of Ariel. It worked – we rode it multiple times back to back. The colorfulness of the “Under the Sea” segment was also enthralling for him, so I think that was part of his urgency to “ride it again, Mommy.”
Mealtimes are often a battle for us to get little man to sit still, but at Disney even that was magical. We ate two character meals, and the anticipation of seeing his man Mickey made our guy sit still and eat. At Coral Reef, one of the fancier meals we ate, he was captivated watching the fish and managed to nibble while on the lookout for Nemo and Dory.
From rides and parades, character meetings and more – the toddler years are one of the perfect times to take your child to the Walt Disney World Resort. (And even better – before age 3 your child is a guest of Mickey, which means they stay and play for FREE!)
If you’d like more tips and suggestions about traveling with younger children to Walt Disney World, I’d be more than happy to share. You can reach me via email at email@example.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/aflynn.wft.
March 2, 2017
We booked the Wonderland Tea Party for our daughter, Annie. It is hosted by 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian Resort. Annie dressed as the Mad Hatter and I was so excited to watch her have fun.
Online it says it is for kids only (ages 4-12), but I thought that meant I would be in the room watching from the side. When we arrived, I found out that parents were not allowed. I was a mess at first wondering how she would do on her own. My daughter has special needs and is homeschooled. We are never apart and I was not prepared to leave her. However, my worries were quickly eased. Cast Members welcomed her right away and she was so excited that she barely waved goodbye! There were 7 kids in Annie’s group, with a maximum allowance of 25. I knew she was safe with Disney, (you must show ID to pick up your child), and she would have a blast.
My husband and I had to find something to do with our free hour since we weren’t expecting it. Thankfully there is plenty to do at the Grand Floridian. Even if we had known we were going to have a free hour, the Cast Members at Wonderland Tea Party still require you to stay on site, (more safety!). We decided to catch lunch the Grand Floridian Café.
In the end, I was a still a bit of mess, not with worry, but because I was missing out on watching my girl have fun. Thankfully they have Photopass Photographers at the Tea Party to save my day. This event alone made me thankful I had the Memory Maker because they captured so many wonderful pictures of Annie having a blast- many are some of my favorite pictures of all time!
When you drop off your child, the Cast Members begin their first activity while waiting for all the guests to arrive. Disney gives them a ceramic teacup to decorate and take home. The Children are then lead into the dining room where they are met with a long tea party table, like in the movie Alice in Wonderland. Soon the guests of honor arrive, Alice and the Mad Hatter. The children get to take individual photos with the characters, interact with them, and have a tea party with them. They get to eat finger sandwiches, drink tea, and decorate cupcakes. Disney also gives your child a ceramic tea pot to take home which Alice and Mad Hatter will sign during the party. The children are lead through party games by the characters and may even make a friend while there! I am not sure what all they played, but it does appear that they got to play the whisper game “telephone.”
For an hour of entertainment, one on one character interaction, and souvenirs, I feel the cost, ($52.19) is completely worth it! Annie had so much fun that we plan on booking this experience every time we go to Disney!
If you would like more information, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or 832-366-5690. Check out my Facebook page by clicking HERE.
February 28, 2017
I am a huge dog lover and it’s very hard for me to leave my beloved best friend behind. A lot of people think they can’t stay in one of Walt Disney World’s resorts if they’re traveling with their furry pal. Well guess what? There is a great option in Orlando on Disney property, Best Friends Pet Care.
Rascal is a rescue dog that began as a foster and took over my heart. He was a little socially awkward, so I was nervous about leaving him with a friend or boarding him. I researched boarders in Orlando and Best Friends Pet Care kept coming up, so I called them. They were so sweet on the phone. I explained my situation and they said “No problem, we deal with all sorts of dogs. Everyone here loves dogs and we are all highly trained to deal with all situations.” This alone was a huge relief to hear. Then I learned that my family could visit Rascal anytime we wanted, they were open an hour before the earliest park and closed an hour after the latest park. Wow! Very accommodating for those crazy Disney schedules.
We got Rascal a 2 room suite, which included 2 beds and a TV. He got personal attention every day plus cuddle time at bedtime. His package included a group activity, but I was concerned that he may not do well with this so they just gave him extra walks and play time with one of the keepers. Every time we stopped by to see him one of the keepers would tell us about his day and how he behaved. It was very nice to get these updates.
On one of our first visits, we found one of the keepers loving on him. She said she could tell he was nervous and she kept sneaking in to give him extra love. I’m very particular about care for my dogs, so this almost made me cry to see someone else worry about him like I do. The facility also has special treats that you can buy to give your pet. Rascal loved the dog ice cream.
Best Friends Pet Care also has a walking trail you can take your dog on with a lead and then they have a large leash-free play area with kiddie pools and a splash pad. Rascal loved being able to run and play ball while we there. This place was so wonderful, my dog actually came home a better dog. It helped to socialize him and introduce him to new things. On the day we picked him up, they had his picture up on the big TV in the lobby and gave us a postcard with notes about his vacation.
I would highly recommend this place to anyone who loves their dogs and hates to leave them behind. I know I will definitely be using them in the future.
February 23, 2017
Every day is a great day when you start it at Disney, but think how much better it is when you start it with Minnie and her friends while eating an amazing assortment of breakfast food.
Cape May Café character breakfast is located in Disney’s Beach Club Resort at Walt Disney World. Cape May Café serves an all-you-can-eat buffet at breakfast in a lively beach themed restaurant.
Like the rest of Beach Club resort, the ambiance and atmosphere at Cape May is very nice. Pastel colored umbrellas, beach chairs, croquette and sand sculptured framed pictures decorate the restaurant. The restaurant is tucked away and is far less busy than locations like Chef Mickey’s. Characters spend more time with the guests. During my visit characters came by a few times and I never felt rushed. They were willing to take several pictures, videos and displayed great interaction. Characters featured are Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck. They are in fun costumes and of course reflect the theming of the meal. As in any character meal, the main attraction is the characters and the anticipation of them individually visiting your table. I must say that Cape May is probably one of the most organized in making this part of the experience very enjoyable.
As interaction with characters continues, let’s not forget about the amazing and extensive breakfast menu. The buffet is divided into a cold bar, hot bar, yogurt bar and dessert bar. I would guess by just my rough counting and estimation there were about 40 items. Some of my favorites were the Mickey waffles, crepes that were made to order, breakfast potatoes and bacon. Everything tasted fresh and there was a continued supply. I observed cast members consistently checking and monitoring the buffet items and making sure there was always food items being replaced. I really enjoyed the added touch of the crepes bar. My crepe was a banana and strawberry crepe drizzled with syrup. Not a bad way to start my morning.
Overall Cape May is a great option for breakfast. Whether you are with children or enjoying the meal as adults only. The food is delicious, the characters are fun and when you are done you are close enough to walk on over to Epcot and continue a day of fun at the parks!!
If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about vacationing in WDW and the dining experiences that are available, I would love to discuss options with you.
Feel free the email me at email@example.com
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February 21, 2017
What is the best age to take my kids to Disney? This is a question that I hear often. After all, a dream vacation is an investment of sorts. We want to make sure our family can treasure this special time when we can get away and just have fun!
Some families wait until the children are old enough to remember their time at Disney. Maybe it is important to you for your kids to remember the first time they saw the Castle or got a hug from Mickey!
Although I can relate to this mindset (my kids were 4 and 7 their first trip), I also have a new perspective on this. Parents of young children are often overwhelmed with adjusting to new schedules and thinking about developmental stages. A Disney vacation is time away to remember the joys of parenthood. That huge smile of delight on your child’s face as they ride Dumbo for the first time is a memory for you to hold onto. Although your child may not remember this moment, you will.
Of course there is also a point where some feel their kids are getting too old. At Disney I truly believe that something magical can revert even the most stubborn teen back a few years. There are many different places to go and things to do that would excite your teenager. You may also want to consider a Disney Cruise at this point in life. Disney Cruise Line offers “Wave Phones” that keep you in connection at all times on the ship. There is even a special “Teen Club”. It really opens up time to be together as a family, yet have fun alone time as well.
In conclusion, I feel that every age is the best age to visit Disney. Walt had a vision of family togetherness – I think he did a pretty good job of achieving it!
“We believed in our idea – a family park where parents and children could have fun – together.”—Walt Disney
For more great Disney information, contact me at Lisa@WishesFamilyTravel.com and follow me on my Facebook Page.