Best Tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival

If you are a Disney fan and a lover of all things FOOD, then the Food and Wine Festival in Epcot is a can’t miss experience. One of my favorite things in Disney World is the World Showcase in Epcot. With the Food and Wine Festival taking place in the World Showcase, I knew it was something that I absolutely couldn’t miss.

Best Tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Traveling and eating are some of my most favorite past times, so being able to “eat my way around the world” in one day filled me with such excitement. I knew that I had two trips to Disney World already planned for this year, so I purchased an Annual Pass. In trying to make the most of my Annual Pass, I planned a quick trip to take my brother for his very first time. I figured that a trip to the Food and Wine Festival would be perfect for his first time in Disney World. Keep reading to for my best tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival.Epcot's Food & Wine Festival is an incredible experience! It can also be very overwhelming. Follow these best tips to plan your trip and enjoy all the festival has to offer.

Research, Research, Research

There is a plethora of information on the internet about the Food and Wine Festival. From the menus and reviews of the food and beverages, to maps of the kiosk locations around the World Showcase, planning your Food and Wine experience is easy.Best tips for Food and Wine Festival

Make Lists

The menus posted online made making my “must haves” list very easy. Reading the reviews online also helped me remove items from the list that I wanted to try, but that overall had poor reviews. In one instance, I ignored the reviews and ended up disappointed. (Thanks Belgium!) I plan to return in just a few weeks and will not make that mistake again.

Use the Festival Map

If you’ve never been to the World Showcase, it’s a big circle. When you come up to it, you can begin your tour of the world by going left or right. In planning your Food and Wine experience, it will be very helpful to plan your attack in order of the kiosks. This way, you’ll eliminate wasted time skipping around to different kiosks.

Hang on to Your List

If you plan to have a drink or two at the festival, having a detailed list will really come in handy. I speak from experience. If I didn’t have my list of “must haves” with me after having two drinks, I would have become lost in what I wanted to do. This is important in making the most of your festival trip.

Have a Budget

Most food items are between $3.50 – $8.00. It can be upwards of $10.00 for drinks. My brother and I had the Disney Dining Plan, and we used 1 quick service credit and 4 snack credits. 1 Quick Service credit can be turned into 3 snack credits, but you can do this only at one kiosk. This is a good option when you want multiple items at one kiosk. Snack credits are best used for the most expensive items, but cannot be used on alcohol. My brother and I budgeted $200 for the festival. This does not count the dining credits we used. We visited only 9 kiosks out of the 35 featured. We shared everything we purchased ,and we were full almost to the point of busting when we left. With that said, we spent all of the $200 we had budgeted.

Best Food Kiosks

Favorite: Hawaii

Everything we tried at Hawai’i was amazing. My favorite was the Kalua Pork Slider. The most talked about Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash lived up to the hype. I can also speak very highly of the Grilled Tuna Tataki. The drink we tried from here was the Mai Tai featuring Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, which was very delicious. Even though there is still so much more I want to try, I plan to visit Hawaii again when I return in a few weeks.

Least Favorite: Belgium

Gouda is my favorite cheese, so when I saw that Belgium was featuring a Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes it instantly went on my “must haves” list. Even though I read several poor reviews of this dish online before going, I was hoping that they just weren’t true. To my dismay, they were. The dish was bland and the potatoes weren’t the right consistency for mashed potatoes. I cannot speak for the other dishes at the Belgium kiosk, but this one is a dish you can totally miss.

Designated driver

Finally, my last tip for making the most of your Food and Wine Festival experience is, if you are planning to drink, please have a method of transportation planned ahead. From the monorail and resort buses to the Minnie Van Service and Uber, there is no excuse for drinking and driving while on Disney property. Plan for alternate method(s) of transportation in your budget, and your conscience will thank you later.

I hope that I have helped you prepare to make the most of your Food and Wine Festival experience. I can’t wait to return myself, so I can share my new favorites with you!

Halloween Time at Disney’s California Adventure

Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort this year was truly memorable! For the first time, BOTH parks were included in the festivities! Although Disneyland had some great Halloween decorations and fun, this post will focus on all the new things featured at Disney’s California Adventure!

Halloween Time at Disney’s California Adventure

Halloween isn’t particularly my favorite holiday, but Disney has a way of making this spooky time of year extremely fun! Let’s talk about all the magical things that came to DCA this Halloween season!Halloween Time in Disney's California Adventure

Decorations

From the moment you approach the turnstiles you’re faced with a giant Oogie Boogie atop the DCA entrance overlooking incoming guests! Walking down Buena Vista Street light posts are decorated with purple banners. Carthay Circle’s bell tower is coiled with spooky black bats, and there’s a statue of the Headless Horseman that’s particularly creepy at night!Halloween Time in Disney's California AdventureKeep your eyes peeled because you might spot some of your favorite characters dressed in their Halloween best!Halloween Time in Disney's California Adventure

Guardians of the Galaxy: Monsters after Dark

So you rescued the Guardians of the Galaxy from the grip of The Collector, but there’s one small problem. You left Groot behind! The Collector’s Fortress is also in a state of emergency as all the monsters have been let loose! Help Rocket go back to rescue Groot! This experience is completely different from what the ride is like during the day. I personally liked this theme over the regular attraction! If you have the chance, check it out before it’s gone for the year!Halloween Time in Disney's California Adventure

Cars Land

The most significant changes of the season are at Cars Land! Radiator Springs has completely transformed! Take a picture with your favorite costumed Car! Visit the Cozy Cone Motel for a variety of Halloween inspired treats including my favorite, the Spoke-y Cone Macaron! Make sure to ride Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween and Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree!  As unbelievable as all the decorations are in the daytime you have to go back at night to see everything lit up and looking especially spooky!Halloween Time in Disney's California Adventure

More Information

Disney California Adventure is experiencing Halloween for the first time ever! Want to know what to expect? Read our best tips to know before you go! Halloween at Disney's California Adventure is going to be a spook-tacular time! #halloween #travel #dca #disneyFinally, If you’d like to read about my favorite Halloween time treats check out my last blog! If you’d like to hear about all the Halloween time fun at both Disneyland and DCA listen to Podcast Episode 95! I’ve really enjoyed Halloween time at the Disneyland Resort this year! I can’t wait to see what Christmas will bring! Stay tuned to find out!

Disneyland Pin Trading Tips and Ideas

Did you know Disney parks are not all rides and shows and meeting Mickey? As you’ve gone throughout the parks, ever notice cast members wearing lanyards and sporting a variety of pins on them? Pins have always been a part of the Disney parks, but pin trading didn’t become popular until 1999. Pin trading is one of my favorite things to do when I visit Disneyland, but I love that I can also trade when I visit Walt Disney World! Here’s some things you need to know if you’ve considered pin trading on your Disney trip!Pin trading can be so much fun! We've got tips on what it is, how to do it, and what you need to get started. Make this part of your next Disney vacation fun!

Disneyland Pin Trading Tips and Ideas

First, for those of you who may have never heard of pin trading, or have been curious about it, there are some etiquette guidelines you should know! Guests can trade up to two Disney pins per cast member; this includes pin boards as well! Pins should be in good condition and able to be traded. You can’t trade a pin that is already on the cast member’s lanyard or board! For a full list of pin trading etiquette click here.Disneyland Pin Trading Tips

How to Get Started

Next, you may be wondering where do you begin? Many of Disney’s stores offer pin starter packs, some with lanyards and some without! If you’d like to choose your lanyard, I would suggest a pin starter pack that doesn’t include a lanyard. There are stores solely dedicated to pin trading where you can purchase just about any pin you want! Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, Attractions, Villains, Tsum Tsum, you name it, Disney has it!

The Pins

Also, not all pins have to be traded! In addition to trading, I like collecting pins such as Limited Edition (LE) or mystery pins that I can purchase in the stores. Each month new pins are released that are a part of specific sets. Pins are also released for different events or seasons, such as Mickey’s Halloween Party or the return of Fantasmic! However, if you’re not looking for super fancy pins, the walls are lined with other less expensive options!Disneyland Pin Trading Tips

Ready to Trade

Finally, you have your pins, you have your lanyard, and you’re ready to go! Now the fun can begin! As you go throughout your day in the parks, keep an eye out for cast members with lanyards! Or if you’re doing your souvenir shopping some registers might have a pin board behind the counter, simply ask the cast members to show you the pins so you can trade. In addition to the parks, the hotels and Downtown Disney offer locations to trade as well.Disneyland Pin Trading Tips

Quick Tips

  • Cast Members may have some pins put on backward; these are “mystery trades.”
  • Some cast members may ask you Disney trivia before you trade just for added fun!
  • Certain stores may have pins displayed in boxes which you may not readily see, so when in doubt just ask a cast member if they have any pins for trading!

Disneyland Pin Trading TipsYou can trade with other guests in the parks, though they don’t have to trade with you! But it’s great to see what pins everyone else has in their collections! As your collection grows, you can purchase pin books to store and display all your pins! Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Thanks to Disneyland contributor, Amanda, for this post and accompanying photos!

DIY Glow Ears

diy glow ears

diy glow ears

DIY Glow Ears

Today I’ve got a simple and easy DIY for you! Although this one’s great for the Mickey’s Halloween parties, they’ll also be great for trick-or-treating in your own neighborhood. What makes this DIY glow Ears project so fantastic you ask? This diy is super easy and is great for anyone going to the parks year-round! Save big bucks on glowing Mickey ears and make these simple, re-useable glow ears instead!diy glow ears

Gather Supplies

•Headband
•Glow Stick Bracelets (2)
•Glow Stick Bracelet Connectors (2)
•Glue Gun
•Glow-in-the-dark Glue Sticks
•Tulip Glow-in-the-dark Paint

Assemble

Start by cutting the little bracelet connector piece in two and gluing the piece to the headband with the glow-in-the-dark glue sticks. There’s no exact science to this so don’t stress about the precise location of each one. This is supposed to be fun!diy glow earsStart with the top piece and once it has cooled, place the glow stick into that connector and curl it down to decide where the bottom connector piece should go. Mark the spot with a little dab of glue. Then proceed to glue that piece down. Pro tip: make a ring of glue around the entire headband so that the glue holding the connector piece won’t be pulled off once you place the glowstick. Repeat with both on the other side.diy glow ears

Make It Really Glow

By now, the headband has two ears that can be replaced with new glow sticks nightly. No need to make multiple headbands!! Just toss them nightly and get a fresh glow stick the next evening.diy glow earsWho wants to stop at just glow sticks though?! Starting at the base of the headband, run a line of glow glue around the edges of the headband. Repeat on the opposite side. This is also where you can use the hot end of your glue gun to help shape the already-cooled glue on the headband both around the connector pieces as well as under the headband (where the headband will sit against your head). Smooth it to your liking and you’re done! Or not…

Add Hidden Mickeys

If you’re a true Disney parks fan, you’ll want to add some hidden Mickeys too! Using the fine tip of a tulip glow-in-the-dark fabric paint bottle, squirt one larger and two smaller circles in the shape of Mickey on the top of the headband. For the next Mickey, turn it in the opposite direction and continue the pattern across the entire top portion of the headband.diy glow ears

Show It Off

Now that you’ve got some spiffy new diy glow ears, be sure to get out and show them off!! Mickey’s Halloween party at Disneyland and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween parties would be fantastic for this! Here’s all our spooky fun!Don't buy your Mickey Ears, make them! We've got a simple tutorial that shows you how. These DIY Glow Ears are so easy to make, and they're cute. Make yours before your next Disney vacation!

These fun and simple ears will also look amazing in any park areas that feature black lights (think dark rides and Pandora) since the glow glue reacts really well with black lights! Be sure to share a photo of your diy glow ears on one of our socials if you decide to make some!  ~Meredith °o°

How to Combine Disney Gift Cards

gift card

Disney gift cards are incredible gifts for Disney fans. They can be used to pay for just about anything Disney you can think of! What happens when you get a ton of cards? If you’ve heard about the “Target Red Card” hack that allows you to save 5% off of the price of Disney gift cards, you’ve probably wondered how it works. Is it really advantageous? Does it really save money? We think it does! This hack is a great way to save, but how do you handle all those gift cards lying around? Read on for our best tips for how to combine Disney gift cards!Disney gift cards are great gifts! But what do you do when you have a ton of them? Read our best tips for combining Disney gift cards and help yourself stay organized!

How to Combine Disney Gift Cards

Remove cards from the packaging carefully and be sure to leave the sticky part still attached to the plastic gift card. This will allow you to attach all the cards together and keep them from getting mixed up.gift card

Number the Cards

Number each card with a sharpie. This is crucial because it will help you keep track of which card is which once you enter them into your account online. If you don’t, you could get very confused later about which cards you have and haven’t entered yet. This is especially helpful when entering enough cards for thousands of dollars since many people choose to use gift cards for vacation payments.gift card

Don’t Scratch Them!

Don’t scratch to reveal the security code on the back!! The little area that’s meant to be scratched is actually a little sticker and can be pulled up altogether. Removing the sticker will save you loads of time and will keep you nice and clean. Nobody likes the mess left from lots of scratch-off cards!

Arrange Together

Use the sticky part to arrange the cards on top of each other with the bottom of the top card aligned directly above the bottom card’s number info. This will help you when glancing down to enter the numbers because the bottom of the card above will always be there to guide your eye. You can just barely see the sticky glue left on the card in the “don’t scratch” photo above. It naturally lines up perfectly to stick the cards to each other.

Login

Direct your browser to www.disneygiftcard.com and login with your existing account. No need to make a separate Disney account for this! Simply login using the same credentials you use for you My Disney Experience account.gift card

Enter the Information

Enter each card in separately and in number order. The website requires you to give each card a nickname. Use the number of the card as the card nickname so that you can always keep them organized.

Designate Primary Card

Designate one of your cards as the primary card. KEEP THIS CARD SAFE! This is the card that you’ll use to transfer funds to and make payments with. It’s good to keep in mind that each card will only hold up to $1000 and your account is only allowed 5 cards at any given time. This means that if you’re planning on using them to pay for your Disney vacation, you will likely have to designate more than one card as a primary card, so be sure to label them the same both on the physical card as well as the website nickname for that card.

Transfer Funds to Primary Card

Transfer funds from each card you enter over to your primary card. Don’t delete the empty card until you have entered in the next numbered card so that if you need to stop unexpectedly and finish later, you’ll know exactly where you left off. Example: I enter card #1 and designate it as primary. Then I’ll enter #2 and #3 and transfer their funds to the primary card. Now I can delete card #2 and leave the empty card #3 in the account until I’ve entered in card #4’s info. That way I’ll always know what number to start with if I have to come back to it.

gift card

Don’t Throw Cards Away

Retain all your primary cards you use to pay for things until after your trip! I can’t stress this one enough. Any time Disney has to issue a refund, the funds will always go back to the original payment method. That means if you pay with Disney gift cards, you’ll be refunded on those same Disney gift cards. Recently, guests who had to reschedule or had cruise sailings canceled because of hurricane Irma learned first-hand how refunds work. Though a hurricane is an extreme case for a possible refund example, you just don’t know what can happen and it’s better to keep your primary cards safe.gift card

Make Life Easier

Use a travel agent and have them do all this work for you, for free!!! Along with free vacation planning when you book with a travel agent, you’ll also get extra perks like this! Most travel agents will be happy to combine your cards for you. Save yourself the trouble and support one of your favorite Disney travel planners!

Thats all for today’s gift card tips. Have you got a great gift card tip? Please share with us!  ~Meredith °o°

5 Things to Know About Hurricanes at Walt Disney World

hurricane

5 Things to Know About Hurricanes and Disney Travel

Traveling during the Atlantic hurricane season, typically June 1 to Nov 30, can be tricky. The odds of traveling during a major hurricane at Walt Disney World are extremely low. However, it’s always a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into when planning a vacation during this time. Even more so, if you’re traveling during the season peak month of September! We have you covered though!Pandora: The World of Avatar

Closures Due to Hurricanes are Rare

Orlando’s central location within the state of Florida makes it a much safer place to ride out a larger storm. Did you know the structures throughout Walt Disney World were designed to withstand gale force winds? It’s no wonder that since its opening in 1971, Walt Disney World has only ever closed for hurricane weather a total of 4 times!! The most recent being just under a year ago, with Hurricane Matthew. While a closure can be frustrating, it’s better to know that things are closed and everyone is safe.hurricane

You Can Change Your Travel Dates Without Penalty if a Hurricane Warning is Issued

According to Walt Disney World’s official hurricane policy,

“If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area—or for your place of residence—within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.

If you have products and services provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation—such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or vacation insurance companies—you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers. The policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences.

This policy also applies to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort or Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in the event a hurricane warning is issued for those destinations.”hurricane

Travel Insurance is Key

Whether you’re planning to travel during the hurricane season or not, travel insurance is always a good idea. One of the many things it can cover is the ever-unpredictable weather situations that can and do affect travel. It’s good to remember that each travel insurance plan is different. Your travel agent can explain more about what’s covered. Unfortunately, most insurance plans can’t be added onto a paid in full vacation package.

Be thinking of the potential for hurricanes and whether you should select travel insurance when you first book your trip. Furthermore, most insurance plans will help cover costs associated with travel such as airfare to and from your destination. Remember: Even though Disney may reschedule your vacation without penalty, other third-party vendors that you have bookings with may not allow a reschedule. For more information on Walt Disney World’s travel insurance, click here. For more information on Disney Cruise Line’s insurance policy, click here.hurricane

Disney Has Safety Protocols In Place for Guests On-Site

While it’s no secret that Florida gets its fair share of hurricanes, it may be surprising to some that Walt Disney World is designed to withstand gale force winds. In the event that Orlando sees a direct, or even near-direct, hit from a hurricane, guests staying on property will be protected and even entertained! Many guests who’ve ridden out recent storms like Hurricane Matthew have reported that they’ve participated in games, movie marathons, and even unannounced character meet and greets within their resorts’ lobbies and food courts! Additionally, most resorts will allow guests to ride out the storm in their rooms. However, should the storm become more intense, each resort has an interior space to relocate everyone.Hurricane

Disney Cruises Are Subject to Change

While Disney Cruise Line makes every effort to maintain its fleet’s schedule, safety is always paramount. Unfortunately that means that sometimes Disney has to make tough decisions. If the safety of any of Disney’s ships is in jeopardy, Disney Cruise Line assesses that risk and plans accordingly. This can often be as little as diverting around a storm or mixing up the port days during each sailing. Sometimes though, the risk is too great and Disney will make the call to cancel sailings. As of 5 September 2017,  Disney Cruise Line has now canceled several sailings due to Hurricane Irma. Disney announced that they would be giving all guests a full refund and offering 25% off a future sailing. To find out more about what Disney Cruise Line is doing now for Hurricane Irma, click here.

Memory MakerIf you are considering a trip to Walt Disney World or a Disney Cruise during hurricane season, just remember to stay prepared and flexible. Safety is the most important thing! Stay weather prepared and keep an eye on Disney’s official sites for the latest information. Additionally, for more information on rainy days at Disney, be sure to check out our other blog post here. ~Meredith ºoºhurricane

Mickey’s Halloween Party in Disneyland

With fall just around the corner, there are some things you can always count on. Leaves are changing color, pumpkin spice flavored EVERYTHING is hitting the stores, Halloween costumes are starting to appear, and, of course, Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland! Believe it or not, kids are not the only ones who can enjoy this event! I’ve attended the Halloween Party for the past few years with just my friends, no kids, and had a great time! Let me tell you about the party and why adult-only trips are definitely an option!

Mickey’s Halloween Party in Disneyland

Each year I’ve attended Mickey’s Halloween Party something new is added to make the experience even better! Dressing up, trick-or-treating, themed food, fireworks, parades, character meet and greets, what more do I need to say?? Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland is available for select nights starting September 20 to October 31. Click here for a full list of dates and prices! While there are many great perks about the Halloween Party, these are my best tips to help you maximize you experience.Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland

Costumes & Candy

What better way to feel like a kid again than trick-or-treating!? Not only are you already in a costume but you can have bountiful amounts of candy too! Even if you aren’t a big candy person, each treat trail includes a healthy alternative such as apple slices, carrots, goldfish, yogurt covered fruit, etc. It’s fun to coordinate costumes with friends or do something solo. Whether you buy a costume or Disney bound and make your own, just remember to have fun with it! Make sure you follow the costume guidelines so you don’t waste precious park time having to change!Mickey's Halloween Party in DisneylandPro Tip: Bring your own bag for candy! Disneyland provides you a small bag for free, but you WILL fill it up! I suggest buying a larger bag to hold all your candy!

Character Greetings

Remember as a kid when you’d wait in line to get Mickey’s autograph?? Who am I kidding I still do that! Mickey’s Halloween Party gives you the opportunity to meet so many characters in their Halloween inspired costumes! What’s even better is the chance to meet a variety of villains! Admission to this event gives you access to meet and greet some of the best villains including ones you may not see in the park throughout the day! If you’re dressed as your favorite character, what a great memory to have a picture with them!Mickey's Halloween Party in DisneylandPro Tip: If you arrive at the party when it begins, I would suggest meeting the villains that are in front of the Railroad station first before lines get too long later in the evening!

Fireworks/Parade

What I love most about the fireworks and parade is that they are exclusive to Mickey’s Halloween Party! I think it’s an added bonus to everything else that comes with your admission. This will be the second year that the Frightfully Fun Parade will premiere at the Halloween Party. I was able to see it last year and thought it was one of the best parades I’ve seen at Disneyland! It was so unique to see a parade dedicated to villains!Mickey's Halloween Party in DisneylandPro Tip: If you want to have a good seat for the fireworks and/or parade, you may want to plan that ahead of time so you can save a seat for a good view!

What’s new?

For the first time ever your ticket to Mickey’s Halloween Party grants you admission into Disney’s California Adventure 3 hours before the start of the party! This will also be the first year DCA is decorating for Halloween so if you arrive a little early to the parks, go check out the new decorations!Halloween at Disneyland is a frightfully good time! Read our best tips for attending Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland before you go! We'll tell you what to expect and whether or not it's worth it to attend.

I hope reading this has made you just as excited for Mickey’s Halloween Party as I am!

Thanks to Disneyland contributor, Amanda, for this post and photos!

Fantasmic Dining Package at Disneyland

I recently saw the newly re-imagined Fantasmic! as a part of my River Belle Terrace dining package. As promised in my last post, I want to give my thoughts on my experience. Read on for what to expect from a Fantasmic dining package at Disneyland.

Fantasmic Disney Package at Disneyland

First, it’s important to note that Disneyland is currently offering two Dinner packages. One package exists for River Belle Terrace and Blue Bayou, and one is an On-The-Go package at Hungry Bear Restaurant. Packages vary from $29.99 to $65.00 for adults and $19.99 to $25.00 for children. Each package includes a special menu and admission to a reserved viewing area for Fantasmic! Because I have never eaten at River Belle Terrace, I decided to choose their dining package. Reservations are encouraged and can be made 60 days in advance!Fantasmic at Disneyland Dining Package

Dining Experience

Dining is an experience unto itself. Each guest receives a 3-course dinner which includes a starter, entrée and dessert. Seating is available inside and outside. For an additional $15, guests can upgrade to premium 8:00 p.m. seating and watch the first performance of Fantasmic! from your seat on the outside patio! For guests who may not want to stand or sit on the ground during the show, this option may be good for you! Pro tip: Make upgrades to a dining reservations by calling ahead or by upgrading at the restaurant. Fantasmic at Disneyland Dining Package

The Food

Next, the River Belle Terrace offers a variety of BBQ inspired entrees. Starters include either a soup or salad. Entrees varied from Fried Chicken Sandwich, BBQ Pork Spareribs, Pulled Pork Sandwich, Beef Brisket Sandwich, and more! I went with the Pork Spareribs which comes with their signature baked beans and a choice of side. Sides include Tangy Coleslaw, Seasoned Tater Bites, Potato Salad, or Seasonal Vegetables!Fantasmic at Disneyland Dining PackageFor dessert, I chose the Maleficent Dragon. It was a Crunchy Milk Chocolate Base and a Spiced Dark Chocolate-Blackberry Ganache Center with Caramel Mousse and Orange-Vanilla Sauce! The other dessert option was fresh Strawberry Shortcake. When the guests are finished, cast members hand out tickets for reserved seating for the show. Overall, I am glad I tried this dining experience. It may not be my favorite restaurant in the park, but the food is definitely worth trying!

Fantasmic! 2.0

Furthermore, if you don’t do a dining package you still have the opportunity to watch Fantasmic! FastPass distributions are located at the FastPass machines along the Rivers of America adjacent to Frontier Landing. FastPass tickets reflect show time, return time, and where to return for show seating. Show times are at 9:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The entire show lasts 27 minutes! Fantasmic! is back at Disneyland, and it's better than ever! Find out why we think you should book at Fantasmic! dining package on your next trip.

What’s New

Fantasmic! is my favorite show at the Disneyland Resort, and I was very eager to see it return with some new enhancements! First of all, the most notable change to the show included new costumes for the dancing monkeys and a Lion King overlay! Rapunzel and Flynn Rider now appear in the Princess sequence. Another important change is to the Columbia. Peter Pan is now Captain Jack Sparrow and a Pirates themed sequence! The new enhancements also included more water projections, more pyrotechnics, and a new soundtrack!Fantasmic at Disneyland Dining PackageI was pleasantly surprised with the new changes. Visitors to the Disneyland resort will definitely want to add this show to their must-see list!

Thanks to Disneyland contributor, Amanda, for this great post and accompanying photos!

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

Have you ever been on a vacation with a lot of people? Does it seem like you never get to do what you want? Have you wanted to just slow down and really soak in your surroundings? I recently discovered just how awesome planning to visit Disney World solo can be.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, it can be a great experience. Read on for what I consider the top 3 reasons to visit Disney World solo.If you're planning a trip to Disney, consider a day alone. Why? A visit to Disney by yourself might be a refreshing new way to see an old favorite. Read our best reasons why you should visit Disney World solo, and start planning your trip today!

Your Pace, Your Way

When going on vacation with a large group, the individual can become lost. The hustle and bustle of trying to get everything possible done can become hectic. One can miss the small details that add to the magic of Disney. I recently went on a trip with nine others. I rarely had a chance to stop and smell the roses until I had my solo day. As I wandered around Epcot, I was able to really take in every country in the World Showcase. I was able to take my time through the gardens of each country and have the most delicious lunch in the France pavilion. I was able to do all of this with no one pushing me to move along or hurry up. There was no schedule to keep up with, and no one else’s desires to appease.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Timing is Everything

Doing a solo day can give one the freedom to be spontaneous. Not worrying about a schedule can create incredible freedom. We’re always on the run. Work, school, children, families. We don’t often have the luxury of seeing something we want to do and then to be able to do it. Having a solo day at Disney can give one this luxury. Take your time. Watch that drum show in Japan. Meander through each country’s gift shops. Being brave enough to do anything alone can be rewarding to one’s soul. Also, one doesn’t have to worry about the dreaded, “What do you want to eat?” question. If you see something you’d like to try, go for it! Have lunch in France. Try some sweets in Norway or alcoholic chocolates in Germany. You’ll have no one questioning your decisions.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Finding Happiness in Solitude

Most people allow their happiness to depend on others. Either they have children and put their happiness and wants before their own, or they simply don’t know how to be happy alone. Getting out of one’s comfort zone can be scary, but so very rewarding. Getting out to explore on our own can teach us so much about ourselves. It can be lonely at times, so remember to take pictures so that you can share your experience with your friends and family.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Disney Magic

Being single and childless doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the magic of Disney. Do you want to experience the awesomeness of Disney, but don’t have anyone to go with you? No worries! The cast members and most people at Disney are wonderful and they will help make your trip memorable. Never be afraid to do something alone. Don’t wait on somebody else to make your dreams come true. Go for it! You’ll be surprised what you may learn about yourself!

Thanks to our contributor, Noelle, for this post!

Road Trip Survival Kit: A DIY Tutorial and Free Download

Road Trip Survival Kit

If you’ve read our blog in the past, you’ll know that I love to design, craft, and generally make stuff. It’s so much fun to create items for family vacations. However, traveling with kids can be difficult. Therefore, I knew I needed something entertaining for our long road trip to Walt Disney World. I came up with this fun and edutaining Road Trip Survival Kit that was a big hit!

Road Trip Survival Kit: A DIY Tutorial and Free DownloadRoad Trip Survival Kit

I’m so excited to finally share my DIY Silhouette studio design and file with you all! Before we get started however, I’d like to say that this post is not a sponsored post. We’re not being paid to promote the Silhouette Cameo and Crayola products I used. I just happened to stumble upon these awesome travel art cases and couldn’t resist personalizing them for our big road trip.Also, I LOVE my silhouette cameo. If you have a silhouette cameo, then you know what I mean. If you know what I mean, then let’s get started by listing what you’ll need!Road Trip Survival Kit

Supply List

  • Silhouette Studio software and compatible vinyl-cutting machine
  • Permanent Vinyl in your favorite colors (I used oracal 651 white and silver)
  • Crayola Stow and Go (I used the Dry Erase and Color Wonder Mess Free versions)
  • Free Road Trip Survival Kit download file (for personal use only)
  • Rubbing Alcohol and Cotton Balls -OR- Clorox/Lysol wipes
  • *Optional: printable worksheets and laminating machine

Road Trip Survival Kit

Do It Yourself

First of all, download the free file here. The fonts featured in this design are indicated within the file so that you can download and customize the name with your own. Furthermore, fonts featured can be found at dafont.com and are free for personal use only. Please DO NOT use this file to create your own items for sale. This file is intended for personal use only.Road Trip Survival Kit

Extras

Whether you’ve got a laminating machine or not, you’ll want to include some fun roadtrip extras. After a short pinterest search, I found several fun and free printables to include in my own kids’ roadtrip survival kits. Here’s a few we used and enjoyed. Additionally, if you’re using the dry erase version of Crayola’s Stow and Go, you can laminate the worksheets to use again and again!Road Trip Survival KitThanks for reading! If you’ve enjoyed this freebie, please let us know! Be sure to check out Beth’s Driving Tips here on our blog too! Road Trip Survival KitFor more Disney tips, tricks, tutorials, packing lists, dos and don’ts… Okay, you get the picture. We’ve got a podcast too! The Mouse and Monorail Podcast. You can also find us on the following socials: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, & YouTube. ~Meredith ºoº

Restaurant Review: The Polite Pig

The Polite Pig

 

 

I am one of the biggest BBQ fans there is. I mean, I LOVE it! When I heard about this new BBQ joint called The Polite Pig in Disney Springs, I knew I had to try it.The Polite Pig

Where is The Polite Pig?

The Polite Pig is a quick service restaurant located near the Lime Garage at Disney Springs. If the lime garage isn’t available for you or you arrive at a different location at Disney Springs, you can find the Polite Pig near the Welcome Center in Town Center. It was busy when we walked up, with a moderate line, but we didn’t wait very long.

Ordering

While waiting in line, you’ll be teased with the delicious food to come!  I will say that this restaurant is a meat lover’s dream come true. You can watch them as they chop and weigh the meat for perfect portion sizes.  The Polite PigWe also were greeted in line by a manager who offered us drinks while we waited.This was a fantastic gesture, though we didn’t wait in line long enough to drink our drinks.

Ordering was quick and simple. You place your order and they give you a number to put on your table. Considering how busy they were, there was plenty of seating inside and outside. The Polite PigDrinks

Alcoholic

The Polite Pig offers an array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. From beers on draft to original cocktails, you are sure to find the perfect concoction to wet your whistle. They have beers available on tap that are brewed especially for, and are only available at this Disney Springs location.  If beer isn’t your thing, let me suggest the Tequila and Grapefruit cocktail that is also on tap. I was intrigued when I saw this and decided this was a must try. It is unique and refreshing. I didn’t know how well tequila and grapefruit would pair, but it was absolutely delicious.  The Polite Pig

Non-Alcoholic

Any good southern BBQ must be accompanied by some delicious sweet tea. Considering Walt Disney World is technically located in “the South,” you’d think that most places at Walt Disney World would offer up the southern favorite. Unfortunately that isn’t the case and you can only find this drink in a few locations. (No mango, strawberry, whatever-infusions. You can find those around too. I’m strictly referring to tea brewed with lots of sugar). So for those who can’t go without a little sweet tea while on vacation, the Polite Pig is a great place to try! They’ve also got your standard soda fountain fare also.The Polite PigIf one drink is not enough for you, don’t worry about getting back into line again. The Polite Pig has servers going around to tables taking extra orders. This makes everything about this quick service restaurant even more convenient and customer friendly.

The Polite Pig also offers an extensive Bourbon Bar. With something around 50 different types of Bourbon. A connoisseur is sure to be in Bourbon heaven. Main Course

Pulled Pork

After ordering and finding a table, we were told about the Sauce Bar. This is an awesome idea, catering to people with different BBQ Sauce tastes. Choose from Thomas’s Southern Gold, Spiced Vinegar, Lil John’s Signature Black Pepper, Layla’s Sweet Sauce, and BBQ Ranch. The Polite Pig has a sauce for everyone.The Polite PigThe Southern Pig is a beautifully crafted pulled pork sandwich topped with apple slaw, mustard and mayo. I can attest that this is one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I have ever had. It was tender and very messy. While I wasn’t able to finish the whole sandwich, I really wanted to. The Polite Pig

More Than Just Pulled Pork

Our group can also attest to the delicious Brisket sandwich, the Chicken Salad sandwich, and the Kid’s Chicken Tenders. I will give forewarning though. If your children love Ranch with their Tenders, the only Ranch available here is the BBQ Ranch, which the kiddos weren’t a big fan of.The Polite PigIf you’re not a big fan of pork or chicken, The Polite Pig also offers Salmon in a salad or in a sandwich. I think anyone in a group could find something to suit their lifestyle in this varying menu. The Polite Pig

Market Sides

While the star of this show should be the meat, I must say that the Market Sides won me over big time. Our group had the Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Smoked Corn, and the Sweet Potato Tots.The Polite PigEach and everyone of them had our tastes buds dancing in pleasure, but my favorite were the Sweet Potato Tots. These were so crispy and packed with flavor, I had someone stealing them off of my plate! I don’t fault her though; I wouldn’t have been able to help myself either.The Polite Pig

Next Time

I plan to return to The Polite Pig in September and am looking forward to trying other things on their menu. They offer some delicious sounding salads and appetizers. From the BBQ Cracklins with Spiced Vinegar, to the Hop Shop Pretzels with Beer Cheese Fondue and IPA Mustard, my taste buds are already watering with anticipation.  And just maybe, next time I’ll save room for the intriguing Orange Blossom Honey Cake… Though I may just have to get that one to go!The Polite PigThanks for reading and be sure to check out all our posts from Disney Springs here! And thanks to Noelle for this fantastic review of the Polite Pig at Disney Springs. 

Blue Bayou Disneyland Restaurant Review

One of my all-time favorite restaurants at the Disneyland Resort is the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square! There’s so much to love about this restaurant! Blue Bayou is a Table Service restaurant with Cajun/Creole-inspired food. Both lunch and dinner are offered and reservations, which can be made 60 days in advance, are highly recommended. On occasion, walk ins are accepted, but I would not rely on that.

Blue Bayou Disneyland Restaurant Review

I have tried both the lunch and dinner menus and personally enjoy the dinner menu more! The lunch menu is a little cheaper and does include their well-known Monte Cristo sandwich! For my Blue Bayou Disneyland restaurant review, I’m going to speak specifically to the dinner menu.Wondering where to eat in Disneyland? Give Blue Bayou a try. Read our restaurant review to know what to expect and what to eat. We make great recommendations, but the fun you have is all up to you!

Location

First of all, where is the Blue Bayou? For those of you who may not know, it is located within the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction! The location of the restaurant is a big appeal to those who dine there. When you check in for your reservation, you can request a table by the water. You’ll be provided with an additional wait time to be seated at those tables, usually 15-30 minutes depending on how busy the restaurant is that day. The water side tables allow you to watch riders go by on their boats and have a closer look at the attraction. The restaurant gives its guests the feel of an evening in New Orleans with colorful lanterns strewn overhead and candle lights at each table! After you’ve taken in the beautiful decorations around you, it’s time to decide what to eat!Disneyland Restaurant Review Blue Bayou

Appetizers

Whether you’re in the mood for steak, chicken, seafood or a vegetarian option, Blue Bayou has it all for you! Before you begin eating, you’re provided with a complimentary basket of bread and butter. Each entree comes with a choice of Blue Bayou House Salad with your choice of Ranch or Sherry vinaigrette, or a cup of their signature New Orleans Gumbo. For an additional charge, you can upgrade to their Louisiana-spiced Shrimp. I would highly recommend the Gumbo! You don’t have to eat at the Blue Bayou to try it. Visit the Royal Street Veranda, a Quick Service location, to try the Gumbo in a delicious sourdough bread bowl!

Entrees and Desserts

My usual choice is the Surf & Turf, which my friend ordered, so I decided to go with the Pan-seared Salmon. The Surf & Turf includes a petite Lobster Tail and Broiled Filet Mignon served with Blue Bayou Au Gratin Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables and Béarnaise sauce. The Pan-seared Salmon is served with Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Arugula, crispy Onions, Sautéed Spinach, and Blood Orange Beurre Blanc.Blue Bayou Disneyland Restaurant ReviewAdditionally, other entrees include Bone-In Rib-Eye, Citrus-marinated Chicken Breast, Royal Street Seafood Jambalaya, and Portobello Mushroom and Louisiana Popcorn Rice. There are also options for kids, so don’t think this restaurant is limited to just adults! Hopefully after your meal you’ve saved room for dessert! We decided to try the Crème Brulee which was to die for! Overall, the Blue Bayou has yet to disappoint. The wait staff is amazing and friendly, the experience is as unforgettable as the food!

Dining Packages

Finally, with the reopening of “Fantasmic!” this summer, the Disneyland Resort brought back its dining packages to both the Blue Bayou and River Belle Terrace. As mentioned in a previous post, The Main Street Electrical Parade offered a dining package through the Blue Bayou. The same package is being offered for Fantasmic! The package includes a 3-course meal for a flat price of $65.00 per adult and $25.00 per child (ages 3-9) and admission to a reserved viewing area for one of the two Fantasmic! shows that evening. I plan on trying to dining package at the River Belle Terrace later in the summer. Come back to hear how my Fantasmic! dining package experience was!

Artist Point Restaurant Review

Dining at Artist Point

Because I wanted to make the best of my last Walt Disney World trip by eating at the best restaurants I could find, I studied all of the menus I could find! I got super excited when I found an apparent hidden treasure called Artist Point. This gem of a restaurant is located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort. So, I booked my advanced dining reservation for my solo day and began dreaming about the cheese plate listed on the menu!Artist Point Restaurant Review

Location

I had a dinner reservation schedule for 7:45 p.m., so I got to the Wilderness Lodge a few minutes early so that I could take a look around. This Disney resort is a huge beautiful log cabin in the woods, with a big waterfall in the back courtyard that is sure to take anyone from the city to the forest in a short walk. The website touts the “rustic elegance” of the dining room and I can attest that the space is comfortable and elegant while maintaining the cabin feel. Unfortunately for me, I visited at night and during a rainy day. I was unable to enjoy the waterfront views, but the ambiance was relaxing and perfect for enjoying a fine meal. Dining at Artist Point

Starters

I started my meal off with a delicious amber beer called Magic Hat and their house made 9 Grain Sourdough Bread with Smoked Sea Salt Butter.  Let me just say that this was by far the best bread and butter I have EVER had. Let me repeat this…. EVER HAD. I fought with myself many times trying to not eat it all. I would push the plate to the other side of the table, only find my hand reaching for it a few minutes later. Needless to say, I finished it off by the end of my meal. Dining at Artist Point

Special Extras

During this scrumptious course of the meal, my server brought me a “gift” of Strawberry Kimchi from the chef.  I have not been able to locate this on the menu, so I assume this is not a usual menu item. The Strawberry Kimchi was beautifully plated and looked delicious, but tasted like black licorice (which I am not a fan of).  It was by far the most disappointing thing I ate my whole week. And I’m very happy that I did not have to pay for this one. Though I do hate to disappoint a chef. Thankfully, happiness on a plate arrived shortly thereafter!Dining at Artist Point

The Cheese!

The Artisanal Cheeses plate was everything and more than I had been dreaming of.  The cheese plate is variety of five cheeses served with handcrafted breads and seasonal accompaniments. This dish made me do a crazy, happy dance in my seat.  All of these beautiful cheeses are made in the U.S.A. and are a delight to the taste buds. The accompanying breads, jelly, and fruits pair wonderfully with these cheeses and make a well rounded cheese plate. I expect I will continue to dream of these cheeses. Continuing on with my meal, I ordered an Aged Buffalo Strip Loin.Dining at Artist Point

The Main Course

The Aged Buffalo Strip Loin is served medium rare with Farro Risotto, Root Spinach, Favas, and Radish. Having never experienced eating buffalo before, I didn’t know the melt in your mouth, deliciousness that was to come.  The buffalo was cooked perfectly and elegantly plated. The risotto and veggies were creamy, adding just the right textures. It was truly a flavor explosion with every bite. I can say that I will definitely have buffalo again.  Now for the last course of my amazing Disney World trip, dessert!Dining at Artist Point

Dessert

The Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee was just heaven. Served with cherries, gooseberries, and topped with a crisp honey crunch, this creme brulee was baked to perfection. The custard was smooth and creamy. The honey crust on top gave it the best sweetness and crunch. The cherries and gooseberries gave just the right tartness to a sweet dessert. I don’t believe that I could have ended a trip with a better meal. Dining at Artist PointThe Artist Point is by far one of my favorite restaurants I’ve eaten at anywhere. I HIGHLY recommend this hidden treasure to anyone visiting the parks.  

Thanks to our contributor Noelle for this restaurant review!