Downtown Disney Splitsville Review

Splitsville in Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney has recently opened their doors to the public. Splitsville is not only a luxury bowling alley, but a restaurant as well! Bowl, eat, or do both at the same time! Here is all you need to know about Splitsville in Downtown Disney!

The Atmosphere

The construction of Splitsville was longer than anticipated, but I certainly love everything about this place! The second floor was not open to the public due to construction when Splitsville opened, but less than 2 weeks later the second floor is alive and well and welcoming guests with not only it’s very own bar, but it’s very own bowling lanes! The decor has a high end 50’s diner feel to it. No matter where you choose to dine or bowl, both upstairs and downstairs are aesthetically pleasing. 

Fun fact: The murals in ALL the Splitsville’s across the nation are painted by the same artist BY HAND!

The Food

Splitsville has a wide variety of different foods  sure to please even the pickiest palate. They have items ranging from salads, to steak and mushrooms, even sushi, and many more options. My friends and I decided to try out Splitsville for the first time and surprisingly the food was amazing! In my opinion the food was way overpriced, but for the ambience of the whole restaurant and the unlimited refills are what make it all worthwhile. Annual Passholders also get 10% off on food, which is definitely a nice passholder perk. 

This sushi roll was called the Ninja Crunch roll, and it was priced at $17. If your looking for a little spice to your sushi, this roll is for you!

This entree is the Steak and Mushrooms and it’s priced at $30. My friend thought the mushrooms and sauce was excellent but felt the meat wasn’t the right cut of beef for this type of meal.

This is the Southern Goddess priced at $21. This salad was definitely able to feed more than one person because it’s that big! For the price of this salad, you sure do get a lot. This vote was unanimous that this was the best item we ordered!

The Bowling

Feeling like bowling on an ordinary day in Downtown Disney? Splitsville’s got you covered! Not only does Splitsville have 21 lanes available for bowling, but each lane is accompanied by their very own server for your enjoyment!

Splitsville definitely has such a fun and unique vibe. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the Downtown Disney area! Have you visited Splitsville? Is it on your “to do” list for your next Disneyland vacation? Let’s chat in the comments!

Special thanks to Disneyland contributor, Ashlee, for such a fun post! 

Disney California Adventure Lunar New Year Celebration

Disneyland's Chinese New Year

If you’re looking to celebrate Disneyland’s Chinese New Year, then read on! For a limited time at Disney California Adventure, celebrate the Year of the Dog at the Lunar Year Celebration!

Disney California Adventure Chinese New Year

Since Pluto is my favorite character, this was one event I did not want to miss! Although this event has been at DCA in past years, this was the first year I attended.  The Lunar New Year celebration has so much to offer for everyone!

Food

This celebration offers a great variety of food! I wish I could have tried everything! There are three marketplaces you can visit, Korea, Vietnam, and China! I was only able to taste some of the offerings at the China marketplace. I tried the Three Cup Chicken, Pork Soup Dumplings with Black Vinegar and Ginger, and Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea with Lychee Popping Pearls which is a non-alcoholic drink. For a full list of the menus click here!

Character Greetings

The character greetings are probably my second favorite part of this whole celebration! Not just because Pluto is one of the main characters you can meet, but because you also have the opportunity to meet Mulan and Mushu! The line for the character greeting does get lengthy and the characters do rotate. In addition to Mulan, Mushu, and Pluto you can also meet Mickey and Minnie! The characters do roam around the celebration area so keep an eye out for them!

Activities/Shows

Make sure you grab a show guide when you walk into DCA. There’s so many shows and activities you won’t want to miss! Annual Passholders have a special corner amidst the celebration! You can get a special button (while supplies last), take advantage of the exclusive photo op, and leave a wish on the New Year Wishing Wall! Everyone can enjoy the other activities such as calligraphy and other crafts! There’s also so many shows to see like Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession and Hurry Home, a show that happens nightly with the first performance of World of Color.

Merchandise

No event is complete without themed merchandise! Pluto Shirt celebrating Chinese New YearThere is a cart located next to the marketplaces that is selling various items. A limited release Year of the Dog t-shirt featuring Pluto just arrived! Other items include a thin hoodie, key chains, ears, plush toys and more!

I hope you have the opportunity to visit this event while it’s still here! For a full detailed overview of the Lunar New Year Celebration click here!

Thanks to our Disneyland contributor, Amanda W., for this exciting post!

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!

Episode 97: Food and Wine 2017

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Food & Wine 2017

We’re back and ready to dish all about our our favorite foodie festival! Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is a a favorite of ours and we’re excited to be experiencing its offerings this coming November. Furthermore, our friend Noelle was lucky enough to check it out this past September and is here with us to share some of her likes and dislikes. Be sure to listen through this episode which includes some great tips on all things Food and Wine, especially with regards to what’s specifically available in 2017. So whether you’re wondering about portion size, participating countries, pricing, or which drinks are the best, this episode has it all! For more info on Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival contact your travel agent, or refer to Disney’s website. Lastly, don’t miss out on all of our own Food and Wine blog posts!

As always, please share with us if you’ve got something to add to our discussion! What are your favorite items Food & Wine? Share with us! Post to our facebook page or tag us on instagram!


If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please let us know. For more Disney tips, tricks, tutorials, packing lists, dos and don’ts… Okay, you get the picture. We’ve got a blog! www.mouseandmonorail.com You can also find us on the following socials: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, & YouTube.

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!

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!

Episode 84: 2018 Disney Dining Plan

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2018 Disney Dining Plan

Thinking of vacationing at Walt Disney World in 2018? Wondering if the Disney dining plan is right for you? Well fear not! We’re back to discuss what’s new, what’s not, and whether the Disney dining plan might be for you. Do you prefer the Disney Dining plan? What’s your favorite feature if so? Please share with us! And don’t forget to check out Sarah’s blog post about the 2018 Disney Dining changes that’ll give you ALL the details in one convenient post. You can find it here.


If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please let us know. And as always, for more Disney tips, tricks, tutorials, packing lists, dos and don’ts… Okay, you get the picture. We’ve got a blog! www.mouseandmonorail.com You can also find us on the following socials: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, & YouTube.

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!

Free Dining at Walt Disney World: Is It Right For You?

After many rumors spread like wildfire the past few weeks, it became official April 24, 2017…free dining for late summer and fall travel to Walt Disney World was released. Guests are eligible for free dining plans with select non-discounted 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way package. Packages must include a room at a select Disney Resort hotel and at least 2 day  tickets with Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus.

Free Disney Dining Dates

  • August 21 – September 30, 2017
  • November 14 – November 20, 2017
  • November 25 – November 27, 2017
  • December 8 – December 23, 2017

The dining plan offer depends on which resort level you are staying at: Value and Moderate Resorts have complimentary Quick Service Dining Plans. Deluxe Resorts or Deluxe Villa Resorts will receive the regular Disney Dining Plan for free. You can make upgrades to whichever plan you qualify for, and pay the difference.

The following resorts are excluded from the free dining offer: Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter and Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside is excluded during the following dates: November 14-20, November 25-27 and December 8-21, 2017.

What’s the Catch?

Why wouldn’t someone want free dining? As someone who has traveled to Disney twice with free dining offers, I personally know the value this offers to a family traveling on a budget. We have eaten like kings at Disney with the free dining. I know that I would have been pinching pennies if we were paying out of pocket.

Crowds and Blocked Dates

Many people have come to expect free dining offers in the fall at Disney and with that comes larger crowds. Larger crowds mean more time waiting in lines and it’s harder to obtain reservations at your first choice restaurants. Disney has also blocked out the entire month of October this year, which had historically been open for free dining.

It seems as though Disney has caught on to the high number of school systems that have fall breaks now, and they have no reason to discount that season anymore. Many people have spent hours and hours on hold with Disney only to find out that due to limited availability at each resort, they couldn’t have the discount applied.

Is it worth it?

It’s a tough call on whether or not the value of the free dining is worth it anymore. For many it is. For others, it would mean changing travel dates or choosing a different resort with availability. If you hadn’t budgeted for adding park hoppers it could make the cost of the trip more expensive.

For reference on the value of free dining, here is a breakdown of the prices for the 2017 dining packages at Disney.

2017 Disney Dining Plan Pricing

We had an anniversary trip planned for December 2015 to Disney. I had already booked our reservations prior to the release date for free dining. We had added the regular dining plan to our reservation. I figured that if free dining was released for our dates, then that would be wonderful. If not, at least I knew that our meals were already budgeted for. I’m all about not paying out of pocket for meals! Our reservation totaled a little over $1600 for our vacation, including the dining plan. Our dining plan was $480.32 of our total. We were not doing park hopper passes on this trip. Here is my personal experience:

My Personal Experience

When the free dining dates were released I found out that our reservation was outside the booking window. Out of sheer curiosity, I played around with our reservation dates and checked out the prices. That year was the first time that Disney has had the caveat that in order to qualify for free dining, guests must purchase either a Park Hopper pass or a Water Park Fun and more option. They did the same thing for 2016, and for 2017 also left in the Park Hopper requirement.

We were staying at a value resort, and I would have had to upgrade to the regular dining plan (personal preference here) and pay the difference, as well as upgrade our tickets to a Park Hopper pass. Because of this, I was actually going to end up paying more out of pocket, just for the “perk” of free dining. It took our $1600 vacation to just under $1800, so I would have ended up paying almost $200 more for free food.

Is a Room Discount better?

It was an easy decision for me for that trip – no free dining. However, when free dining isn’t an option look for a room discount to come out to save a little money.  All things considered, with the right availability and some flexibility with your arrival dates, you can save money with a free dining vacation.  And don’t forget that utilizing a Disney vacation planner like Jolly Holidays by Sarah, Main Street Memories by Meredith or Tomorrowland Travels with Amy can make the hassle of booking free dining something your TA worries about for you.

When considering the value of free dining at Disney ask yourself if the discount is worth it to your family. In our case for our last trip it wasn’t, but it might be perfect for your family! What are your thoughts on free dining at Disney? Let’s chat in the comments. ~Amy ºoº

Red Rose Taverne Restaurant Review

Red Rose Taverne Restaurant Review

The recent release of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast brought some very welcomed changes to Disneyland! The Village Haus in Fantasyland has received a complete makeover and now is home to the Red Rose Taverne, a Beauty and the Beast inspired dining experience.Try the new Red Rose Taverne at Disneyland! This limited engagement restaurant is sure to please Disneyland and Beauty and the Beast fans alike. Find out why we think you should visit!

Be Our Guest

From the moment you walk inside, you feel like you’ve stepped into the movie. The interior of the dining area is beautifully decorated with images of the classic animated film, but there are also characters from the new film represetned. When you step up to place your order, you feel as though you’re transported to the little village where Belle resides. The attention to detail is truly mind-blowing. I’m sure you are not reading this because you are oh so curious about the décor, so let’s get to the good stuff; the food!Red Rose Taverne Restaurant Review

Crowd Pleasing Entrees

Between the burgers, sandwiches, poutine, salad, flatbreads, and of course desserts, how could one decide what to eat?? Since this was our first visit, my friend and I made sure to divide and conquer. Altogether we tried the Beast’s Burger with Pommes Frites, Pulled Pork Flatbread, Gaston’s Famous Brew, Lemon Rose Cake and the Grey Stuff. The food is reasonably priced and being an Annual Passholder absolutely helps. I was pleasantly surprised with how delicious everything was. The burger was definitely fit for a beast as were the amount of fries you’re given. The flatbread was just enough to “hit the spot,” but still leave room for dessert. My favorite part about it was the sweet spicy BBQ sauce. I was able to wash down that slight kick with Gaston’s Famous Brew, apple-mango punch topped with passion fruit foam which can also be purchased in a souvenir mug.Red Rose Taverne Restaurant Review

Try the Grey Stuff, it’s Delicious!

I made sure to leave room for dessert, even though both desserts looked too beautiful to eat. The lemon rose cake was very light, lemon mousse with strawberry rose filling. I would certainly recommend if you’ve just eaten the Beast’s burger. Red Rose Taverne Restaurant ReviewNow I’ve saved the best for last, the grey stuff! The Disneyland version consists of white chocolate mousse and red velvet cake with a raspberry center. I have also had the grey stuff from Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom which is a Chocolate Shell, Cookie Crème topped with Lumière’s special “Grey Stuff.” At the end of the day, due to my partial bias towards Disneyland, I have to say the Red Rose Taverne knocked this one out of the park.Red Rose Taverne Restaurant Review

Food for Thought

Overall, I would highly recommend going to the Red Rose Taverne! I know I will without a doubt be returning and trying out the rest of their menu. The food and the ambiance are definitely worth your time! Next time you and your family are asking yourselves where to eat, consider the Red Rose Taverne! If you haven’t already, make sure you check out Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, in theaters now!

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

Disneyland Planning: Best Tips from an Annual Passholder

Disneyland Planning 101 should include pin trading activities.

Disneyland Planning 101

What comes to mind when you think of Southern California? Hollywood? Beaches? Hipsters? Trendy foods? Does Disneyland make the top of your list? Growing up a Disney fanatic, Disneyland is at the top of my list. I would consider Disneyland my second home, and, since I have been an Annual Passholder for the bulk of my life, I would say I know the park fairly well. I’m happy to share my opinions about Disneyland Planning in hope that they will help you have the perfect Disneyland day.Disneyland Planning is a lot different than Disney World planning! Come read our tips before your next west coast mouse visit. Disnyeland planning can be easy and fun!

Rides

Having a plan of attack is the best way to start your Disney adventure. No matter what time of day you arrive, getting a FastPass is key! Not sure which ride you should get a FastPass for? Check out the Disneyland app for up to-date wait times and FastPass distribution times! On my perfect day, I head to Space Mountain (currently Hyperspace Mountain) to grab a FastPass and then head over to Indiana Jones. My day is not complete unless I have ridden my favorite ride, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. If a high-speed, roller coaster ride in the dark is not your thing, no problem! Disneyland has rides for all ages.Disneyland Planning 101

Food

No Disney trip is complete without food. This is an understatement for me. As a foodie, I probably know more about where to eat and what to eat than anything else. Popcorn, ice cream, churros, and the beloved Dole Whip are just a few of the many Disney must-haves! I could spend an entire post just on the numerous dining options. What I can say is I enjoy switching up where to eat every trip I go. Disneyland provides a wide variety of cuisines from American to Cajun to Italian to Mexican and everything in between.Disneyland Planning 101 includes knowing where and what to eat.

Pin Trading

I am a huge pin trading fan, and I would highly suggest everyone try it out! I find that pin trading adds a little extra variety to your day. Whenever I don’t feel like going on rides all day, I will bring my pins and trade all over the various locations in the park. You can also admire and even trade with fellow collectors in the park. If you’re not sure where to find them, they’re usually hanging out around one of the many pin stores.Disneyland Planning 101 should include pin trading activities.

Plan Another Visit

There is so much one can do in a single Disneyland trip. No two trips are the same! Between character meet and greets, parades, fireworks, rides, and shows, there are plenty of fun-filled activities to fill your day. A perfect Disneyland day is not complete without a classic castle picture to commemorate your day at the Happiest Place on Earth. Couldn’t fit it all in in your one day? That just means it’s time to plan another trip!Disneyland Planning 101 iconic castle photo.What would your perfect day at Disneyland look like?

 

Thanks to Amanda (@pandaavw) for sharing your Disneyland tips with us!

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Why We Choose a Disney Vacation

I’ve been coming across various articles and blogs lately from people who choose NOT to visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Usually these posts contain trite statements claiming not to judge other families who do choose to visit Disney, but then the whole post is full of judgement anyway. In our personal life, when some people find out we are planning a trip back to Walt Disney World, I hear, “Again?” Yes, again.

My love affair with Walt Disney World, and Disney in general, started as a child. A few trips to Walt Disney World, and a slightly unhealthy obsession with The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, grew my love tenfold. It grew even more when we traveled for the first time to Walt Disney World with our oldest son, Tigger, for his 6th birthday back in 2012. My husband had never been to Walt Disney World. Since that trip, our family has been hooked on “the Mouse.” We’ve had several trips to Walt Disney World (with and without children), and have our next trip planned for May 2017 to coincide with our second Disney cruise.

Why We Choose a Disney Vacation

I love Disney so much that I jumped at the opportunity to help create The Mouse & the Monorail. I even became a Disney travel planner two years ago. Our family has absolutely fallen in love with the Disney experience, and here are a few reasons why.

The Magic

From the moment that we begin planning to the moment we are packing our bags to come home, Disney makes everything magic. I like to say, “If you are celebrating at Disney, then Disney is celebrating with you!” Disneyland and Walt Disney World give out celebration buttons for free, and they love to celebrate with you. Whether you are there for a birthday, anniversary, graduation or even something small like your child losing their first tooth, Disney loves to make you feel special. We’ve been given stickers, cupcakes and even extra fast passes from cast members that go above and beyond to make the experience magical.

Speaking of magic, does it get any more magical than watching your child meet Mickey Mouse for the first time? Or watching fireworks after a long day in the parks? For us, the answer is no. Disney allows guests to get away from it all and remain blissfully happy as long as possible.

The Experience

Our family has been fortunate to visit the parks several times and cruise with Disney once. During those trips, my boys have met to countless cast members from all over the world. They have taken an art class with a Disney animator, learned about different cultures and countries in Epcot, and tested the boundaries of science and mathematics while designing a car to race in Test Track. We’ve tried foods that were way out of our comfort zones and loved them! We’ve been on a safari in Animal Kingdom and learned about colonial America in Liberty Square. Disney’s Imagineers leave no stone unturned in making each attraction as accurate as possible.

The parks and resorts are full of educational opportunities, and many of them are even free! For example, anyone can visit Animal Kingdom Lodge and participate in their activities that promote African culture and wildlife. After the activity is over, participants are given a bead to signify what the class was about. Those beads can be added to a bracelet for a fun keepsake.  There are many in-park games that encourage you to explore the parks to the fullest, and don’t cost anything! You can even participate in Kidcot Fun Stop activities at Epcot that allow kids do crafts or activities from each country. Does your child want to be a pirate? Look no further than The Pirates League at Magic Kingdom. Have a princess in your house? She might love to visit Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! The opportunities truly are endless!

The Fun

Simply put, Disney is fun for the whole family. It’s nice being able to disconnect from the real world of work, bills and stress to spend a few days with Mickey and friends. There is nothing more fun than seeing the smile on my kids face as they goof off with Goofy or enjoy one of the many rides and attractions around the parks. Disney celebrates exploring the ends of your imagination and having fun while doing so. Have you ever seen an elephant fly? It doesn’t stop us from having a blast on Dumbo!

Whether we are riding Space Mountain, laughing at Mickey’s PhilharMagic or enjoying fireworks while dressed up like pirates on a Disney cruise, Disney puts a smile on our face and a skip in our step. My boys are having a blast, and we are making amazing memories as a family. They won’t always be little, but I want them to have as much fun as they can while they are!

So Why Do We Do Disney?

We do Disney because it makes us happy. If you don’t get that, maybe you need a little more happy in your life!