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About Our Agent Bloggers

All Agents are College of Disney Knowledge graduates, with some also holding additional specialties like:   Accredited Cruise Counselor, Universal Specialist, Sandals & Beaches Specialist, as well as other destination specialties.   Our Agents are experienced travelers.  If your specific agent hasn’t experienced “it”, there is someone in the Agency that has; so you have access to first-hand, experienced advice.  That’s how we can provide you this experiential based travel planning service!  We are an entire Team working together!

Our Agents will ALWAYS, without fail, no exceptions – tell you the truth and do what they say.

Trained. Traveled. Trusted.  It’s Who We Are.

 

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Club Level, and why it’s my Favorite Splurge at Walt Disney World

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Club Level, and why it’s my Favorite Splurge at Walt Disney World

Tiffini Hensley
2.20.20

When planning a vacation to Walt Disney World there are many factors to consider, however, one of the most important is deciding where to stay. There are four categories of on-site accommodations for guests at Walt Disney World; Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Villa style resorts. The Deluxe Resorts are most conveniently located to the theme parks and offer the most amenities to their guests. For those looking to splurge on vacation, I’d suggest looking into Club Level accommodations at one of these resorts. Club Level rooms are typically located close to transportation and resort amenities.

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Additionally, these rooms come with several advantages. Some of these advantages are listed below:

  • Nightly Turn-down Service. Imagine stepping into your room after a long day in the theme parks, maybe with a sleeping kiddo in tow, to find the curtains already drawn, the lights dimmed, the blankets pulled back on the beds and chocolates on your pillows. These details aren’t necessities, but they work wonders to help relax the mood before bedtime. f-26-15-13339000_4OcO9jl4_Club_Level_Splurge_photo_of_turn_down_service
  • Complimentary robes and slippers for use during your stay.
  • Complimentary DVD rentals. The Club Concierge has hundreds of DVD options for you to choose from.
  • Personalized front desk experience and access to Club Level Concierge. Starting from the moment you arrive to the resort, you are whisked away to the Club Concierge, where they will assist with the check-in process, while offering a welcome beverage and explaining the resort grounds and amenities. The concierge staff are also on hand for any last-minute needs (dining reservation changes the same day, etc). They also go a step further to create personalized nightly newsletters that are added to your room each evening during turn-down service.f-26-19-13339000_PHynwUUp_Club_Level_Splurge_photo_of_nightly_newsletter
  • Quite possibly the best perk to staying Club Level is the access to the Club Lounge at your resort. The Lounge at each Deluxe resort offers food and beverages throughout the day and evening; from continental breakfast with a twist, to warm hors d’oeuvres with beer and wine service in the evenings. In general, breakfast is served in the morning, snacks throughout the day, heavy appetizers in the evening and desserts in the late evening. Each resort puts their own twist on the variety and styles offered, which keeps true to the theme of each resort.

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  • Additional amenities include daily newspapers, complimentary fax assistance and complimentary health club access.

Although staying Club Level may not be an experience to be added to every Walt Disney World vacation, splurging for a special anniversary or celebration is a great way to add extra magic to what will surely be an already spectacular vacation.

If you’d like to see additional pictures and videos from my visits to the Disney Parks, 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

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The New Coronado Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

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The New Coronado Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

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Stephanie Peavy
2.17.20

I recently had the pleasure of staying at the newly renovated Disney’s Coronado Springs resort. Let me start off by saying it was a wonderful experience. From the new check-in location at Gran Destino Tower, to the revamped food court, everything was definitely new and improved. Because the hotel is so large, I have shied away from staying here. After a long day of walking in the parks, the last thing I wanted was a mile-long trek to my hotel room. Fortunately, this resort now has several bus stops located throughout the property to make sure you are never too far away from transportation. You can also opt for a preferred room to be close to the food court, which I did on my last visit. Let me tell you, it is worth the extra money for a great location.

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I was a little confused about the layout of Coronado Springs and the new Gran Destino Tower before arriving at the resort. When you drive up, you see the Tower which is where you check in. It is absolutely beautiful inside and out. There is a covered walkway that connects the tower to the food court on the other side of the resort. It is an easy two minute walk. You can also drive around to your building and park right outside. I stayed in Casitas building 1. This is a preferred building and is about a three minute walk to the food court and gift shop.

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The rooms are renovated and very modern. I stayed in a king room and it was very roomy. There is a large flat screen TV, an armchair in the corner, double vanities in the bathroom and a wonderful, spacious shower. The bed was very comfortable and I got a great night’s sleep after a long day in the parks. The resort is very quiet and relaxing. Once we were in our room for the evening, I never heard a peep from outside. The tranquil walkways were pleasant to meander down after the hustle and bustle of the day. There was also a band playing in the evenings around the lake and bar area which was a nice surprise.

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I had several meals at the quick service restaurant, El Mercado de Coronado. The restaurant is Mexican themed with a mixture of cuisines including both American and Mexican choices. I could not go to Disney without eating the Mickey waffles and they were delicious as always. My husband opted for a little more adventurous meal, the potato and chorizo pizza. It was a little spicy for my taste but he absolutely loved it. The lunch menu also did not disappoint. Our first meal there was a huge plate of beef nachos perfect for sharing. We also had fire roasted pizza and a turkey club Panini that were both equally yummy. Overall, I was extremely pleased with Coronado Springs. I would definitely recommend it to my clients, as well as staying there again myself. If you are looking for a resort with a peaceful and secluded feeling, this is a great place to stay.

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Celebrating 25 Years of Universal’s Mardi Gras with New Worldwide Carnival Food and Drinks

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Celebrating 25 Years of Universal’s Mardi Gras with New Worldwide Carnival Food and Drinks

Universal Blog Staff

Picture it. It’s a late afternoon and the streets of the New York area in Universal Studios Florida are buzzing with activity. Jazzy tunes fill your ears as you enter The French Quarter Courtyard and the spicy smell of Cajun food is in the air. It’s Mardi Gras time ya’ll.

Or, at least it will be in a few more days. Mari Gras kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 1.

If you’re like me, you’re more than ready to indulge in all the festivities of Universal’s Mardi Gras — from the nightly parade, live concerts and, my favorite part, the FOOD. With 25 years of partying it up and bringing the flavors of The Big Easy to Universal Orlando Resort, the culinary team has outdone themselves this year with new dishes, drinks, and more.

(Follow your stomach’s desire and jump ahead if you’d like.)

NEW FOOD   |   NEW DRINKS   |   RETURNING FAVORITES   |   EVENT ADD-ONS   |   NEW IN CITYWALK

New Carnival Around the Universe Tent

When I heard there was going to be new food at Mardi Gras this year, I assumed it was going to be the traditional route of a new po’ boy here and a new po’ boy there. WRONG. We’re getting a brand new food tent that will take us on a journey to the different carnivals globally. I recently attended a tasting with the new offerings and all I can say is, I can’t wait for you to try it all.

Note: This particular food tent will rotate out the countries every two weeks, providing new options for you try on each visit. You’ll notice I included which weeks each country will be offered, kicking off with my new favorite, Trinidad & Tobago.

Trinidad & Tobago (Week 1 & 2)

Chickpea Double at Universal's Mardi Gras

I’m a sucker for anything with chickpeas and each dish from this food tent was packed with a great citrus and spice flavor. It was my first stop at the tasting and will be my first stop when the event begins. And bonus! These are all plant-based dishes.

  • Grilled Pineapple Trini-Chow (topped with kimchi seasoning and cilantro)
  • Pholourie (fried spicy split pea dough with turmeric, curry powder and tamarind chutney)
  • Chickpea Double (served on spicy bara flatbread with cilantro and mango chutney)

Louisiana Creole (Week 3 & 4)

Cauliflower Dirty Rice at Universal's Mardi Gras

If we’re touring the carnivals, then we have to make a pit stop in Louisiana, right? But these aren’t your average Cajun dishes. The Cauliflower Dirty Rice was my second favorite dish (and it’s vegan!).

  • Softshell Crab Slider (softshell crab with organic veggie slaw and a bayou aioli)
  • Cauliflower Dirty Rice (riced cauliflower with plant-based protein crumbles, black eyed peas and Cajun spices)

Brazil (Week 5 & 6)

Pao de Quiejo at Universal's Mardi Gras

Two words: CHEESE BREAD. Or more appropriately, Pão de Queijo These little pockets of savory goodness are the perfect snack to grab before the parade or concert.

  • Pao de Quiejo (warm cheese bread served with guava dipping sauce)
  • Sweet Plantains (covered in cinnamon and sugar served with banana poppy seed dipping sauce)

Germany (Week 7 & 8)

Sauerbraten at Universal's Mardi Gras

The last stop is Germany! My top pick would be the Sauerbraten. You can’t beat a slow braised beef smothered in sauce — just my opinion.

  • Sauerbraten (slow braised beef with buttered spaetzel, pickled red cabbage and topped with a red wine sauce)
  • Grilled Bratwurst (served on a potato pancake with whole grain mustard, sour cream and chives)
  • Warm Pretzel

TIP: All the Mardi Gras food and drinks are offered in sampling sizes. Pick up the Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard, so you can enjoy multiple offerings on any of the event nights. Click here for more details.

New Mardi Gras Drinks

Universal's Mardi Gras Souvenir Cup

You’ll need a drink to wash down all that good Cajun chow. This year, there are a bunch of new drinks to pair with your food, along with new souvenir cup designs. A certain number of these specialty drinks will only be available with the purchase of a food item at the location they are served. I’ve done the heavy lifting and outlined them for you below.

Available in the full 20oz specialty drinks:

  • High Seas Twister (kinda like a rum punch)
  • Blue Voodoo (tasty blue margarita)
  • Carnival Lane (refreshing gin drink with fruit juices)
  • Baby Cakes (vodka drink that tastes like king cake!)
  • Bourbon Street Punch (exclusive to the Bayou Boil)
  • Coconut Water in a Coconut (non-alcoholic and available only during week 1 & 2 of Carnival Around the Universe)

Coconut Water in a Coconut at Universal's Mardi Gras 10.57.37 AM

Available for food & beverage 9oz pairings ONLY:

  • Hoodoo Cold Brew (pecan vodka cold brew – great with beignets)
  • Cajun Bloody Mary (pair with Jambalaya)
  • Pecan Street (vodka caramel drink available only during week 3 & 4 of Carnival Around the Universe and pairs with the Softshell Crab Slider)
  • Girl from Ipanema (gin coconut drink, my personal favorite, available only during week 5 & 6 of Carnival Around the Universe and pairs with the Pao de Quiejo)

One of the new items I got excited for were the Float Floats. And no, I’m not talking parade floats, although these beverages are inspired by some of the literal floats! Fueling my float obsession, these outrageous treats are inspired by the new parade floats this year, which are themed to the Treasures of the Deep.

Not only are they a tasty way to cool off during a warm evening of bead catching, but they are also perfect for your insta. You can find these over at Schwab’s Pharmacy in the Hollywood section of Universal Studios Florida.

Shipwreck (pineapple soft serve ice cream, chocolate soft serve, pineapple soda, cotton candy and waffle cone flag)

Shipwreck at Universal's Mardi Gras

Sunken City of Atlantis (vanilla soft serve, wild berry soda, mango boba and gummy shark)

Sunken City of Atlantis Float at Universal's Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras (pineapple and lime soft serve ice cream, grape soda, blueberry boba and waffle cone flag)

Mardi Gras Float at Universal's Mardi Gras

To round out the above drinks, the Mimosa Bar is returning over at Cafe La Bamba with eight different mimosas, and the King Cake Slushie and Bayou Bog Water are back for the kiddos.

TIP: Schwab’s Pharmacy is located right on the parade route on the Avenue of the Stars in Hollywood. Grab a float as you wait for the parade to start or snap a pic with the themed float it matches! Don’t forget to share your foodie pics with us using #UniversalMardiGras.

Mardi Gras Classics

Beignets at Universal's Mardi Gras

You can’t have Mardi Gras without the Cajun classics. Returning to The French Quarter Courtyard are your flavorful favorites like:

  • Beignets
  • King Cake
  • Jambalaya
  • Shrimp Gumbo
  • Red Beans & Rice with Shrimp
  • Cajun Twisted Tater
  • Gator Bites
  • Crab Etouffee
  • Shrimp & Andouille Po’ Boy
  • Sausage Po’ Boy
  • Catfish Po’ Boy
  • Chicken & Andouille Po’ Boy

My only question is how can I get that jambalaya year round? It was the first dish I ever tried at Mardi Gras back in 2011 and has remained my all-time favorite. My mouth is quite literally watering as I type.

TIP: New to this year are recommended food and drink pairings for the different tents. You can find them on the tent menu boards when you visit and can be used as part of the Tasting Lanyard. I love the combo of beignets and Hoodoo Cold Brew.

Upgrade Your Mardi Gras

Bayou Boil at Universal's Mardi Gras

Speaking of walking down my Mardi Gras memory lane, one of the best times I’ve had at the event took place this past year at the Bayou Boil — one of the add-ons you can splurge on to upgrade your experience.

“Oh, wow. That’s a lot of crawfish,” was my first thought as a huge pan piled high with crawfish, shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya, potatoes, and corn on the cob was set in front of me. The crazy good part? If you manage to clear that pan (good luck), they’ll bring out more! And let’s not forget about the endless beignets and king cake waiting nearby for dessert. My then-pregnant self was in heaven and now I’m looking forward to taking my daughter.

My favorite thing about the experience was the exclusivity of it. It’s hosted over in Battery Park down by the lagoon with a private dining area and bar. It has a limited capacity to allow for a more intimate setting, and you sit family style with other guests allowing you to meet fellow Universal fans! After you’re done eating, you can go do some rides or enjoy the other Mardi Gras festivities before heading over to a private area in front of Cafe La Bamba. In my opinion, this is one of the BEST places to view the parade, as you not only get to see and catch beads when it starts but also when the parade ends.

Click here for details on pricing and dates/times for the Bayou Boil.

Two additional ways to upgrade your Mardi Gras festivities are the Feast & Floats Dessert Party and the Mardi Gras Tasting Lanyard. The dessert party gets you VIP viewing of the Mardi Gras parade and Universal’s Cinematic Celebration, and the tasting lanyard allows you the option to enjoy multiple food and drink options throughout Mardi Gras. Click here for more details on these experiences.

TIP: This tip is for our UOAPs! You get exclusive perks to these add-ons, including discounts, and a Passholder Tasting Lanyard that includes 15 items. Click here for details.

The Party Continues in Universal CityWalk

Mardi Gras Milkshake at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen

The party doesn’t stop after the park closes. CityWalk is getting in on the festivities with fun, new Mardi Gras themed food and drinks. The Toothsome milkshake is quite literally the KING of all milkshakes. I mean, wow.

  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
    • The French Quarter Milkshake (everything king cake in a glass)
  • Voodoo Doughnut
    • Mardi Gras Doughnut (filled with cinnamon sugar bavarian cream)
  • The Cowfish
    • Masquerade Martini (grape vodka with blue curacao and citrus flavors)
  • Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom
    • Party Gras Drink (vodka and coconut rum with pineapple flavors)
    • Voodoo Doctor Drink (classic margarita with a hint of black raspberry)
  • Pat O’Brien’s
    • Taste of Nola (red beans and rice, crawfish and andouille etouffee and blackened chicken with creole sauce)
  • Hot Dog Hall of Fame
    • Mardi Gras Muffuletta Platter (footlong hot dog with traditional muffuletta dressing)
  • Bread Box
    • Roast Beef Po’boy (shaved roast beef and gravy with toppings)
  • Cinnabon
    • King Cake Bon (classic Cinnabon dressed up in its Mardi Gras best)
  • CityWalk Food & Beverage Carts
    • The Jester Drink (apple whiskey with melon flavors)

TIP: These offerings are available daily Feb. 1 – April 2 in CityWalk. You have plenty of time to grab these outside of the event.

So, be honest, is that your stomach I hear rumbling? Oh, no. It’s mine. Mardi Gras can’t get here soon enough, but thankfully it’s right around the corner starting nightly Feb. 1 – April 2 in Universal Studios Florida. What are you getting first? I’m still debating between my fav jambalaya or the Trinidad & Tobago.

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

 

Originally Published:https://blog.universalorlando.com/eat-and-drink/mardi-gras-food-guide-2020/

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Enchanted Rose Lounge Review

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Enchanted Rose Lounge Review

Megan Kline
2.15.20

I don’t know about you but I am a huge fan of Beauty and The Beast. Belle is my favorite princess, and the movie holds a special place in my heart. I was so thrilled when I heard the news that Disney was opening a lounge dedicated to my favorite princess! I recently visited the Enchanted Rose Lounge with a few colleagues during a quick visit to Walt Disney World. This was one of our stops on our monorail crawl. The monorail crawl is when you visit a lounge or bar at each monorail resort on Disney property. Here is my review based on my personal experience.

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The theming is geared towards the live action Beauty and The Beast film verses the animated version. If you were hoping to feel like you were in the 90’s classic film you may be disappointed. The decor is right out of the live action film starring Emma Watson. I really enjoyed the room we sat in; it featured a beautiful fireplace with simple touches of the movie. The lounge did have a few other rooms but they did not have as much décor as the room where we were seated.

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Our waiter recommended the Island Rose cocktail because it is their most popular drink. Unfortunately, it was not very good and it was a little overpriced. I did not think the drink went with the venue; it had a more tropical taste. The Enchanted Rose Lounge does offer a special menu for tableside cocktails where your waiter brings over a cart and creates a specialty cocktail of your choice. Pricing starts at $20 per cocktail and I would definitely like to try one of these the next time around. Because of time constraints, we were unable to try any of the food offerings in the lounge but they do have a menu featuring small bites.

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If you love Beauty and The Beast as much as I do, I would certainly add this to your must-do list for your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort. The lounge is located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Hours of operation are 1:00 pm to 12:00 am.

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Disney Parks Blog Artists Celebrate Valentine’s Day This Week With New Digital Wallpapers

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Disney Parks Blog Artists Celebrate Valentine’s Day This Week With New Digital Wallpapers

ktfwkgvhb34t5by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

One of my favorite parts of working with the Disney Parks Blog is seeing the fun design work our team of artists and contributors are constantly coming up with. With Valentine’s Day – and Villaintine’s Day – happening this week, we’ve tasked our artists to come up with fun new digital wallpapers to share with all of you.

Today’s design was created by artist Jason Ratner, who you may have spotted at this year’s Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Here, Jason pairs Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse with traditional Valentine’s Day colors.

Add this wallpaper to your desktop or mobile device now, and please be sure to check out the terms of use about using the wallpaper before you download it.

Stay tuned to the blog this week to see what our other designers have come up with!

 

Originally Published: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/02/disney-parks-blog-artists-celebrate-valentines-day-this-week-with-new-digital-wallpapers/

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Dining with Your Disney Friends

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Dining with Your Disney Friends

Maggie Ballantyne
2.13.20

Taking a trip to Walt Disney World and attending character dining experiences, for me, go hand-in-hand. Character dining experiences are always the highlight of my trips. I remember my very first character dining experience at The Garden Grill in Epcot. I was 9 years old, the dining room was rotating, and Chip, Dale, Pluto, and Mickey all stopped by our table to say “hi”. That same trip, while eating at the Swan, Timon surprised us all during dinner. It was these planned and unplanned interactions that are the memories that have stayed with me through the years.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a character meet-and-greet junkie. I will wait in any line to meet characters. I love to interact with them, take fun pictures, and truly make those few minutes an experience. But to be able to sit and relax, eat delicious food, enjoy the air conditioning and take a break from the Florida heat, plus meet characters, what could be better? I have done character dining experiences with family, friends, and by myself. All of my experiences have been positive, unique, and at restaurants I will definitely return to. Here are some of my favorite character dining experiences I enjoyed that I would recommend to all of my clients:

 

Magic Kingdom:

  1. The Crystal Palace (Breakfast)

I am not sure why it took me so long to visit The Crystal Palace, but I just experienced it for the first time in 2019 and I will definitely be going back. The dining room was adorable, bright, fun, and set up for a party with our friends from the Hundred Acre Woods. When you first walk in the topiaries reminded me of Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival. The view of Cinderella’s Castle from the dining room was perfect. Our waiter told us it would take about 90 minutes for Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and Pooh to make their way around the dining room, but we lucked out and met all four of them in 60 minutes and even got a second visit from Tigger and Piglet. The food was all-you-care-to-eat. It was delicious and perfect for all ages. An omelet station and breakfast pizza were being enjoyed by everyone, as well as, the cheesy breakfast potatoes, Mickey waffles, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and breakfast pastries. The kid’s station was equally impressive with Pooh’s Puffed French Toast. This was my favorite!

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  1. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Breakfast)

Of all the character dining experiences, this was the most elaborate I have attended, to date. It features delectable food, a surprise gift for each guest, a royal storyteller, and exceptional character meet and greets. Guests prepay for this meal and enjoy meeting Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, and Jasmine. To read about the full experience, please check out my blog, A Royal Breakfast, here.

  1. Be Our Guest (Dinner)

I have had the opportunity to eat at Be Our Guest for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, dinner is the only meal that includes a character dining experience. My salmon entrée was savory, the grey stuff was in fact delicious, but the highlight of this meal that I enjoyed with my brother, was meeting the Beast! This was the real reason I booked the dinner reservation and I was not disappointed! I love the way he enters the dining room to an applause and makes his way to his photo spot. The photo spot line is only available after you finish eating and is controlled by Cast Members making for an even more pleasant experience.

 

Epcot:

             The Garden Grill (Lunch)

My first trip to the Garden Grill was when I was 9, but I most recently visited again in January 2018 for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Lunch. This dining experience is all-you-care-to-eat and is definitely a feast! The dining room rotates giving you views of the Living with the Land ride that can only be seen from the restaurant. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet Pluto, Chip, Dale, and Mickey who is dressed as a farmer. It doesn’t get much cuter! Seating is very limited in this restaurant, which I thought was great because the characters had time to come around to our table three times. Pluto especially kept surprising us, hanging out, and really went above and beyond to make this meal special. Lunch is served family style and it starts with salad and rolls. The next course was a huge platter of turkey breast, slow-braised pot roast, and pork roast accompanied by a selection of sides that included: French fries, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, veggies, and stuffing! If that’s not enough, dessert is also included! I found this meal to be a little pricy, but definitely worth it.

 

Animal Kingdom:

       Tusker House (Breakfast)

Every time I leave a character dining experience, I say something along the lines of “Okay, this is my new favorite!” But actually, breakfast at Tusker House has consistently been one of my favorite character dining meals and I have returned many times. For starters, if you book the reservation before normal park hours, you will get early entry into Animal Kingdom. So, before breakfast even started, I had the chance to walk around and thru the Tree of Life with no other guests. It was peaceful, relaxing, and the perfect way to start the morning. There are so many options for food at Tusker House and it definitely offers a bigger variety compared to other dining experiences.

 

The characters I had a chance to meet were Safari Goofy (a personal favorite), Donald, Mickey, and Daisy. The characters also lead a parade with all the kids, and some adults, throughout the restaurant. I think in terms of theming and decoration; Tusker House is one of my favorites. Make sure to look up at the ceiling in the room with the food stations, the view is gorgeous!

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Resorts:

  1. Cape May Café in Disney’s Beach Club Resort (Breakfast)

I really love the atmosphere of Beach Club Resort and Cape May Café was no different. It was fun, the food was good, and the characters were great. I went to breakfast with friends after a Run Disney event and it hit the spot! We met Goofy, Minnie, Daisy, and Donald. I particularly remember how great the characters were with the family at the table next to ours. There were kids of varying ages and some were so excited to meet the characters while others were nervous. The characters at these dining experiences know just what to do and how to interact with kids on all different levels. We really enjoyed watching these family memories in the making!

 

  1. 1900 Park Fare in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (Breakfast)

I know I have been raving about the character interactions at character dining experiences, but this one really takes the prize for the amount of time characters spend at each table. I attended this breakfast by myself and the highlight for me was when Mary Poppins sat down and talked to me while I enjoyed my meal. Now Mary is one of my all-time favorite characters, so I was elated and I did a terrible job at covering it up. But just the fact that she went out of her way to make sure I wasn’t by myself for most of the breakfast was really sweet. The table next to me was a large party of 8-10. The Mad Hatter and Alice probably spent ten to fifteen minutes doing card tricks and playing games with the kids. And then they did it again at the next table! And the next! And the next! Tigger also made his way bouncing around and giving hugs to everyone at breakfast.

 

The food here was delicious. I have never seen a breakfast burrito station at a Disney breakfast until I attended 1900 Park Fare. After my breakfast, on the way out of the restaurant, there was a special meet-and-greet with Winnie the Pooh that had a beautiful mural as the backdrop.

 

This meal was great and I definitely recommend it; however, if you are on a tight schedule, I would not suggest this experience. Because of how interactive the characters are and how most food stations are made-to-order, it definitely took more time than any other character dining experience. Keep in mind, I was only one person. I think it would definitely take even longer for larger parties.

 

  1. ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (Breakfast)

Let’s start with talking about how amazing the sweet bread and juice are at this breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the food was good and it was all-you-care-for, but the bread and juice are reason enough to book this reservation. The characters my sister and I met were Lilo, Stitch, Mickey in his favorite Hawaiian shirt, and Pluto. This is another breakfast where the characters get all the kids to join in a parade and dance along to Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride. We really enjoyed this breakfast; especially our interaction with Stitch!

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  1. Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno on Disney’s Boardwalk

I had never been to this breakfast before my January trip in 2019 and I will definitely be going back, and not just because of how much I love Flynn Rider (even though he was great!). The food paired perfectly with the theming of Tangled and The Little Mermaid with its beautiful plating and presentation. The characters were incredibly interactive and fun. Like breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, each character was announced before entering the dining room. After Flynn was announced he escorted Rapunzel in as she danced to one of her favorite songs. And after Prince Eric was announced, he brought in Ariel and the two of them led kids in a parade. If your son or daughter really wants to dress up for this dining experience (or you do!) a small shop is set up just outside the restaurant with costumes, toys, and accessories.

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When booking a trip to Disney, dining reservations should be made 180 days in advance. I am happy to help you choose which restaurants, experiences, and food selections will be best for you, your friends, or your family! While I love returning to my favorite restaurants, I also always try and book a new reservation when I travel so I can learn more to help you!

If you would like more recommendations on character dining experiences in the parks or at resorts, contact me at maggie@wishesfamilytravel.com or follow my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wishesfamilytravelmaggie

 

 

 

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Bouncing Bahamian Banana Boat

Posted by on 12:16 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Leslie DiNunzio
2.11.20

If you’ve ever researched a Disney Cruise, you probably know by now that Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is a destination that’s a favorite and one many people look forward to experiencing. Tip – there are even some sailings that stop at Castaway Cay TWICE for double the fun.

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When on the island, there is plenty of time to relax, participate in activities, and enjoy some fun excursions. On my last trip to Castaway Cay, my family tried the banana boat excursion, and let me tell you, it’s pretty thrilling! If you’ve never seen a banana boat, it’s essentially a large yellow raft with two “humps” down the side and handles along each hump. Guests straddle the “hump” at each handle. You definitely want to use both hands to hold on!

For this excursion you meet near Marge’s Barges and local guides take you out into the sea and around the island while you’re literally straddling a banana boat while holding on tight. The water spraying is pretty constant and you’re provided goggles to wear. This is definitely an excursion I would recommend for tweens and up as you need some strength in order to hold on. The guides start off with a relatively tame boat ride. They add in a few turns which make the raft bump up and down in the water. They then ramp up the adrenaline by speeding up a bit, taking some fun turns and steering the boat in order to make the ride more thrilling. There are two guides, one of whom drives while the other is watching guests to make sure no one falls off. No worries, everyone in our group held on well with no issues!

I would estimate you’re in the water for 20-30 minutes. While the boat is moving it’s pretty difficult to enjoy the scenery. However, while stopped the view of the crystal clear water, cruise ship and island is magnificent!

I’d love to talk to you about many thrilling experiences on a Disney Cruise! Leslie@wishesfamilytravel.com

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Foodie Guide to Cinderella-Themed Treats at Disney Parks

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Foodie Guide to Cinderella-Themed Treats at Disney Parks

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by , Food & Beverage Communications Coordinator

If you’ve been dreaming about new sweet treats coming to Disney Parks, then this Foodie Guide is going to be a wish come true! In Celebration of the 70th anniversary of Disney’s animated classic, Cinderella, our pastry chefs have created an array of yummy new desserts at Walt Disney World Resort. And at Disneyland Resort, the afternoon tea at Steakhouse 55 will be receiving a magical Cinderella-themed overlay with special themed desserts, snacks, and more! Read on for all of the delicious details.

WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

At Walt Disney World Resort, you’ll be able to find a wide selection of treats to satisfy your sweet tooth across property. Unless otherwise noted, all of the items listed below will be available through February 28, 2020.

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo Cake from Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom Park

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo Cake (Available at Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom Park) – Lemon-scented Bavarian mousse filled with blueberry compote on top of a citrus almond cake

Cinderella Soft-Serve from Pineapple Lanai at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Cinderella Soft-Serve (Available at Pineapple Lanai at Disney’s Polynesian Village resort) – Vanilla soft-serve topped with a white chocolate clock, white chocolate crispy pearls, and glitter

Cinderella Cupcake from Capt. Cooks and Kona Coffee Bar at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Cinderella Cupcake (Available at Capt. Cook’s and Kona Coffee Bar at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort) – Vanilla cupcake with blueberry compote filling, vanilla buttercream, and a white chocolate slipper

Cinderella Cupcake (Available at Contempo Café at Disney’s Contemporary Resort) – Yellow cake filled with pumpkin custard and topped with vanilla buttercream

Cinderella’s Cake Pop Coach from Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Cinderella’s Cake Pop Coach (Available at Gasparilla Island Grill at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort) – Triple chocolate cake pop with white chocolate wheels

Cinderella Slipper Cupcake from Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts

Cinderella’s Slipper Cupcake (Available at Riverside Mill and Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory at Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts) – Vanilla cupcake with strawberry fluff, buttercream, a white chocolate slipper, gold crispy pearls, and disco dust

Off to the Ball Dessert from Centertown Market at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Off to the Ball Dessert (Available at Centertown Market at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort) – Cheesecake with chocolate-hazelnut ganache center and white chocolate decorations

Greedy Gus Gus Cupcake from Disney’s All-Star Resorts

Greedy Gus Gus Cupcake (Available at the Food Courts of Disney’s All-Star Resorts) – Chocolate cupcake with peanut butter fluff filling, peanut butter buttercream, fondant ears, and a chocolate “cheese” wedge

Glass Slipper Cupcake from Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Glass Slipper Cupcake (Available Feb. 9-Mar. 7 at Everything POP Shopping & Dining at Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort) – Yellow cupcake with lemon filling, tea-infused buttercream, sugar crystals, and a white chocolate slipper

Cinderella’s Coach Chocolate Box from The Ganachery at Disney Springs

Cinderella’s Coach Chocolate Box (Available Year-Round at The Ganachery at Disney Springs) – Cinderella’s Coach box filled with two ganache squares of your choice

Cinderella’s Carriage Mini Dome Cake from Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs

Cinderella’s Carriage Mini Dome Cake (Available at Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs) – Strawberry mousse with strawberry champagne center and vanilla chiffon cake

For more information on each of these locations, visit the Walt Disney World Resort website or check out the My Disney Experience mobile app!

So This is Love: A Cinderella Anniversary Tea at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel

DISNEYLAND RESORT

So This Is Love: A Cinderella Anniversary Tea at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel

For a limited time beginning February 7, celebrate Cinderella’s 70th anniversary at a very special tea party sure to enchant taste buds of all ages! The menu features a delectable selection of salads, scones, tea sandwiches, desserts, and a dash of Disney magic—plus an assortment of loose-leaf teas and herbal infusions. Aperitifs, wines by the glass, ports, and cordials are also available for an additional charge.

Choose from 3 distinct tea parties—Classic, Premium, or Kids—for an afternoon filled with delightful bites and fantastical sips fit for Disney’s popular princess! This afternoon tea occurs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12-3pm starting February 7, 2020. For more information and to make reservations, visit the Disneyland Resort website!

 

Originally Published: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/02/foodie-guide-to-cinderella-themed-treats-at-disney-parks/

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Kelly Rodriguez
2.8.20

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The party runs from 7pm to midnight,  but you can enter the party as early as 4pm to grab dinner and ride some rides before the party begins.

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This was supposed to be our only day at magic kingdom this trip, so we wanted to make the most of our day. We grabbed a quick service meal, and I’m so glad we did. We were able to walk on so many rides! In three hours we rode The Barnstormer, Dumbo, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (twice!), The Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain.

Some highlights of the party that are not to be missed are the parade, special and unique character meet-and-greets, the special free treats, and if you have Memory Maker they also have special magic shots that you can only get at the party!

The parade happens two times a night during the parties – the first parade is at 8:30 p. the second starts at 11 pm. The first parade is much more crowded. The parade begins in Frontierland and makes its way to Main Street, USA. We are more last minute people, so we got spots down by the fire truck station and had front row and amazing views. If you want to grab a spot on Main Street or at the start, you’ll need to line up well in advance.

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This area is much less crowded and if you’re ready to leave after the parade it makes for a fast exit. We were able to walk right onto the monorail with no wait to get back to the Grand Floridian. If you won’t be too tired, wait until the 11 pm parade. You can get a great spot and you can benefit from a quiet Magic Kingdom while everyone else is at the early parade.

At various locations around the park, photographers will be offering Special Memory Maker magic shots. One that we really liked is a Mickey Mouse Cookie Magic Shot, which we found in Fantasyland in front of Journey of the Little Mermaid.

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Another highlight of our night would be the Elsa and Anna stage show. Watching Elsa light up the castle and seeing it through my children’s eyes was almost better than Christmas itself!

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Last but not least, they’re again hosting a dance party at Storybook Circus geared to younger guests. we didn’t make it over there, but The Disney Junior Jingle Jam sounded so cute!

You’ll find the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party specific merchandise in the Emporium, both behind the registers and in the room closest to the castle as you walk down Main Street. I was able to snag an adorable Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Alex & Ani bracelet.

Contact me for more information KellyR@wishesfamilytravel.com or 248-613-4317

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Gourmet Dining at Sandals Montego Bay

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Gourmet Dining at Sandals Montego Bay

Rebecca Jones
2.7.20

All-inclusive resorts are wonderful, because everything is provided for you. Food, Drinks, Entertainment, Activities – a great way to spend your vacation is with everything included. But what if the food is sub-par and you’re stuck eating it for a week? Luckily for my husband and me, that was definitely not the case at Sandals Montego Bay. We had wonderful dining experiences throughout our recent stay, and I want to share some of the dinner highlights with you.

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Cucina Romana is located on the second floor of the main building. This restaurant offers a great view of the water during the daytime, with the sea breezes greeting you. Cucina is open for breakfast with no reservations needed, but reservations are required for dinner here. You can make this and any other dining reservations you desire, once you arrive onsite. One of the highlights for me was the open kitchen, where you could see the food being prepared. Breakfast was good, just kind of your normal eggs, pancakes, etc. Dinner was excellent. I enjoyed the minestrone soup and lasagna, while my husband had the salad and spaghetti with clams. We both felt like the portion sizes were a little small, so don’t be afraid to order two entrees if you’re a hearty eater.

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The Oleander Room is located on the ocean side of the main building, on the first floor. There is indoor and outdoor seating available – we chose indoor because the sun was already down by the time we arrived. There is a large table that seats about 10-12 guests in this location, should you be traveling with a large group, or meet a lot of new friends you want to dine with! Earlier during our stay, we spoke with someone at another restaurant, and he recommended the Oleander Room for their lamb chops. I have to say, he was right! They were delicious, perfectly prepared, and the rosemary sauce was fantastic. This meal was very close to my favorite of our stay.

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Soy is a sushi restaurant located near the Beachfront Village, on the street side of the building. Featuring indoor and outdoor seating, this location offers a multitude of choices for even the pickiest of eaters. I normally am not a fan of sushi, but I was able to find several things that I truly enjoyed, and even found myself wishing we could go back for more, later in our stay. You will find Sake cocktails on the menu, and I really enjoyed the Sake Cruise, with vanilla vodka and pineapple and cranberry juices. For an appetizer, I ordered the edamame and the wonton soup, while my husband raved about the tuna sashimi. He said it was one of the best he’d ever had. The sushi rolls are ordered 4 at a time, and like everything at Sandals, you can have as much as you want, so order as many varieties as you want, as many times as you want. We had the California Roll, Crispy Philly, and Salmon Lover. Everything is prepared as you order it, so it’s as fresh as can be. We sat outside, but if you choose a seat at the bar inside, you can watch as your dinner is created. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

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The highlight of our stay had to be dinner at Butch’s Steakhouse. This restaurant definitely lives up to its reputation, and I can see why you need a reservation to dine here. I’d try to eat here every night if I could! Located next to Soy, near the Beachfront Village, Butch’s immediately draws you in with its oversized, personal snapshots of Gordon “Butch” Stewart, the founder and owner of Sandals Resorts. I can’t just recommend one thing here – try it all! My husband and I shared several of the appetizers, including Golden Fried Crab & Bay Scallop Balls, Crab & Corn Chowder, Cast Iron Garlic Shrimp, and Crispy Goat Cheese Salad. The crab and scallop balls were delicious, and we really enjoyed the garlic shrimp. For our main course, we both chose the Surf & Turf, because who turns down lobster and filet mignon when it’s included? We couldn’t decide on a dessert, they all sounded really tempting, so we ordered one of each. White Chocolate Pie, Willy Wonka Brulee (complete with caramel popcorn on top!), Warm Apple Slice, and the Lemon-Poppyseed Shortbread all lived up to their descriptions. I thought I would love the Warm Apple Slice since it came with ice cream, but I have to say, the White Chocolate Pie stole my heart that night.

Food is an important part of any vacation, and at Sandals Montego Bay, you will not be disappointed in your choices. For more information about this or any other Sandals resort, please reach out to your favorite Wishes agent. If you don’t have one, I’d love to work for you. I can be reached at (325) 733-8399 or Rebecca@wishesfamilytravel.com. I hope to hear from you soon!

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