Make Your Vote Count

We are roughly 200 days away from our next Disney trip, and I’m coming to you today because I need advice! I can’t make up my mind about what we should do on our next trip. Who else should I turn to but our trusted Mouse & Monorail readers for their input and opinions. So here goes…

We are taking our family on another Disney cruise in late May 2017 for our son Roo’s 6th birthday. It will be my husband, our 2 sons (ages 10 and 6) and myself. I know that there is simply no way I can cruise from Port Canaveral and NOT visit Walt Disney World. The question then turns to, “what do I want out of our next Disney trip?” We are wanting to be there for a couple of nights before our cruise, and we don’t want to break the bank. Here are a few options I’m tossing around:

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Option 1: Stay in a value or moderate resort, perhaps Pop Century or Caribbean Beach. We would purchase a 1 day water parks and more tickets and visit Magic Kingdom and Typhoon Lagoon. We haven’t visited the WDW water parks yet, so this would be fun and new for us. The boys love water parks, and I think with their ages there would be plenty to do to keep us all happy.

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Option 2: Once again stay in a value or moderate resort, and purchase 2 day tickets. We would visit Magic Kingdom and either Epcot or Animal Kingdom. I would like to see the new Animal Kingdom light show when it comes out, but a date hasn’t been set for that. The kids would probably enjoy Animal Kingdom (especially Expedition Everest) more than Epcot, but Jeremy and I fell in love with Epcot on our last trip. I’d love to really explore Epcot more, and allow them to see all the fun things around the World Showcase. And hello, Soarin’ and Test Track!

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Option 3: Skip the parks all together and splurge on a savanna room at Animal Kingdom Lodge. This resort is on my bucket list, and I would absolutely be in heaven waking up and seeing the giraffes outside my room. If we picked this option, we would probably explore the resort, eat at restaurants we’ve never tried, play in the pools and visit Disney Springs. We might even get tickets to La Nouba by Cirque de Soleil. It would truly be 2 days of relaxation enjoying the resort amenities to the fullest. I’d also like to do the starlight safari at Animal Kingdom.

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So those are a few of my ideas. What do you think? Which option would YOU pick if it were your trip? Feel free to throw out other ideas in the comments. I’m truly open to all suggestions, and can’t wait to hear which choice you would pick. Have a magical day! ~Amy ºoº

Meredith’s Favorite Disney Games

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Disney Games

So it’s mid-July now and with school starting back in less than a month, I’m trying to squeeze in all the summer fun I can. Finding good games that your family can enjoy together can sometimes seem difficult when there’s SO many choices out there. Today I’ve got a list of my favorite Disney games. Whether you’re looking to find that perfect new board game for family game night or wondering what gaming options are available in the Disney parks, this post is for you!

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In-Park Games 

Most people wouldn’t think too much about playing games while on vacation, especially at theme parks because they’re always rushing to their next favorite ride. In reality, there are quite a few super-fun interactive games within the parks (beyond the game-based rides like Toy Story Midway Mania and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin) that’ll keep you having fun and give you something new to try. Note: Games marked with an * require an additional fee to play. All other games listed here are included with your park admission ticket.

Walt Disney World

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom – This one is a fav of mine and allows you to experience the park in a way you’ve never imagined, all while enjoying little to no wait lines!! Best yet, you can bring the cards home with you and play the card game while note at the parks! To play, stop by the Firehouse on Main Street to get started.

A Pirate’s Adventure – Like the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, this pirate adventure has loads of fun within the Magic Kingdom and allows you to start and stop at your leisure. You can get your own pirate adventure started by finding the kiosk located just past the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and Pirates League.

*Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade – What better way to immerse yourself in frontierland than to take your best shot at the rootin’ tootinest shooting gallery west of the castle.

Advanced Training LabLocated next to Mission:SPACE in Epcot, this interactive game area lets you “further your astronaut training and even create a space-age postcard”!

Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure – Save the countries located in Epcot’s World Showcase from the evil Dr. Doofenschmirtz in this secret spy scavenger hunt. I personally loved this one as it made the countries come alive in a completely new way I had never experienced before. Don’t miss this one whether you have kids or not! You can begin your adventure at the entrance to the World Showcase or at any of the Agent P kiosks throughout the World Showcase.

ImageWorksLocated just after you take a Journey Into Imagination, you’ll find the ImageWorks “What If” labs. From conducting an orchestra to creating your own dragon, this interactive game area is perfect for little ones!

Innoventions – You’ll be surprised at how well you and your family enjoy the interactive fun within this Epcot attraction located in Future world. From getting caught in a storm or designing your own thrill ride, to learning how the colors of the rainbow brighten our world, there’s something fun to learn for everyone! You can even download the Colortopia app (iOS/android) to unlock even more fun! Find out more about Colortopia here.

Kidcot Fun Stops – While not really a game, this fun adventure is like letting your little ones take a Grand Tour (if people still did those) with Disney’s cuddly and well-traveled Duffy Bear. Just look for the Kidcot signs within the showcase pavilions.

Star Wars Launch Bay – While this stop in Disney’s Hollywood Studios isn’t just a game, you can try out the Star Wars portion of Disney Infinity here!

*Fossil Games – What roadside carnival would be complete without midway style games? These fun-for-the-kids games are located in DinoLand USA within Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Wilderness Explorers – This conservation and culture learning game lets you explore Disney’s Animal Kingdom and earn badges just like Russell from Up would! To begin your experience, stop by the Wilderness Explorers stand as you exit the Oasis. The wilderness must be explored! Ca0caw, ca-caw! ROAR! This is one of my favorites for kids as it lets them explore and enjoy the park without worrying about what ride to race to next. Don’t miss it!!

Disneyland

*Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition – Like its WDW counterpart, this shootin’ gallery features tricky targets and lights, sounds, and animations! One of the first stops in frontierland, you can’t miss this authentic-looking log cabin.

Animation Academy – While not technically a game, this instructive course allows you to learn how to draw favorite Disney characters from Mickey himself to newer characters like Agent P.

Sorcerers Workshop – While you’re at the Animation building, be sure to experience the Sorcerer’s Workshop where you can create your animations (not just drawings) as well as discover which Disney character you’re most like by answering questions with an enchanted book from beast’s library!

*Games of the Boardwalk – Styled after classic Disney and Pixar franchises, these boardwalk games are loads of fun for the family.

Redwood Creek Challenge – If hiking, climbing, and challenges are your thing then this one is perfect for you. Located in Disney’s California Adventure, you may even discover your animal spirit in the process!

Disney Cruise Line

Midship Detective Agency – You can enjoy this interactive game (very similar to the Sorcerers of the MK) aboard the Disney Dream and Fantasy cruise ships. I highly recommend for those cruising with kiddos!

Board Games

Pictopia – We got this one for Christmas and it’s super fun for the whole family. And even better, it has a companion app (iOS/android) that you can play along with the board game OR play alone when on the go!

Eye Found It! – This board game is great for families, especially those with preschoolers because it encourages your family to play as a team (you all win or you all lose) and doesn’t require participants to read in order to play. And for all you Star Wars fans, there’s even a SW edition!

Disney Hedbanz! – Guess which Disney character you are before your friends and family do and look totally stylish with the super cool Mickey ears headbands.

 

Check out all the fun Disney versions of classic board games too!

Disney Theme Park Edition III, Villains, and Disney Classics editions of Monopoly

Disney Parks, Minnie Mouse’s Sweet Treats, and Princess editions of Candyland

Inside Out and Theme Parks editions of Life

Disney Pictionary

Disney Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror editions of Clue

Finding Dory, Star Wars, and Doc McStuffins editions of Operation

HiHo! Cherry-O! with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Olaf’s in TROUBLE

Disney Guess Who

Disney Cranium

Frozen Jenga

Disney Wheel of Fortune

Disney Trivial Pursuit

Don’t Break the Ice: Frozen Edition

Disney Theme Park Scrabble

Video Games

Console-based (playstation, xbox, wii etc)

Disney Infinity – Available for most consoles this gaming system combines story-based gameplay with open-world creative building and makes playing with your favorite Disney characters an absolute delight.

Disney Magical World and Disney Magical World 2 (due out Oct 16 2016) Set out on your own theme park adventure with this Nintendo DS game. My kids (8 and 5) have loved this game and can’t wait for the new one to be released!

Just Dance Disney Party 2 – Jam and dance to more of your favorite Disney songs!

Playmation! – This is an interactive game for everyone. Don’t forget to download the companion app (iOS/android)!

App-based

Check out this week’s podcast to hear me chat all about these apps!

Disney Magic Kingdoms (iOS/android)

Kingdom Hearts Unchained (iOS/android)

Disney Dream Treats (iOS/android)

Disney Tsum Tsum (iOS/android) – This is the game where those adorable little stackable plushes originated!

Where’s My Mickey? (iOS/android) (definitely play the where’s my water version too!)

Inside Out Thought Bubbles (iOS/android)

For even more Disney games available as apps, check out these fun titles:

•Disneyland Explorer (iOS)

•Nemo’s Reef (iOS/android)

•Temple Run: Brave (iOS/android)

•Frozen Freefall (iOS/android)

•Disney Crossy Road (iOS/android)

•Infinity 2.0 Toybox (iOS/android)

•Star Wars: Commander Squad Wars (iOS/android)

•Castle of Illusion (iOS/android)

•Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (iOS/android)

•Disney Jigsaw (iOS)

•Marvel Avengers Academy (iOS/android)

•Marvel Puzzle Quest (iOS/android)

•Marvel Contest of Champions (iOS/android)

•DuckTales Remastered (iOS/android)

Well, if my list doesn’t keep you playing for hours, I don’t know what will! What are your favorite Disney games?

How to Plan a Disney Vacation in 2017

Plan a Disney Vacation in 2017

Plan Disney vacation with our easy tips.

In case you haven’t heard the news, on June 21st package rates will be released for 2017 travel to Walt Disney World. Packages include rooms and tickets to the parks. If you think that you want to visit WDW in 2017, but don’t know where to begin, here are some of our helpful resources that can help you get ready to plan the trip of your dreams.

Travel Agents

Walt Disney World can be very overwhelming for newbies. Travel agents can take care of the details for you so you don’t have to worry. If you book through an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you know you are getting an expert, and the best part…you don’t have to pay anything for the service! Disney pays them for you! If you have questions on using a TA, listen to our podcast all about the services travel agents can provide for you. You can find each of our travel pages here: Jolly Holidays by Sarah, Main Street Memories by Meredith, and Tomorrowland Travels with Amy.

Where to Stay

Plan Disney vacation and learn where to stay.

You can check out our posts on which Disney World Resort is right for you. My part 1 post includes value and moderate resorts, and part 2 includes deluxe resorts and villas.  Our family loves Pop Century, a value resort, but other families may favor more deluxe accommodations. Sarah has covered why her family loves Port Orleans French Quarter and Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Dining Plan

After covering where to stay, you’ll need to decide if the dining plan is right for your family. Listen to our podcast where we dished on Dining. Read what I shared in December about how I got out of my Disney dining comfort zone on the plan and loved every second of it.

Other Considerations

Would your family like the Memory Maker PhotoPass? How can you take the best pictures possible to remember this trip forever?

Plan Disney vacation and get your FastPasses early!

Wondering what in the world FastPass+ is? What about how to beat the heat in Orlando? We’ve got you covered on those topics too!

Lastly, check out my Top 5 Know Before You Go Tips. These tips will help you plan a Disney vacation with a lot less stress. Use the search button at the top of this page to check for anything else you might be wondering about or email us your questions at mouseandmonorail (at) gmail (dot) com.

Need to plan your Disney vacation and don't know where to start? Check out our best tips for easy planning and stress free Disney fun!

We would love to answer any questions you have! Will 2017 be the year for you and your family?

Episode 32: The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

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Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Today’s podcast episode is all about The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! If you haven’t read our take on the festival, check out Sarah’s article here, and then give the podcast a listen! Hopefully all of your questions will be answered, but if not, please feel free to comment here, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We love connecting with our fellow readers and listeners.

Why You Should Visit Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival

The International Flower & Garden Festival runs through the end of May.

Disney Dining : How I Got Out of My Comfort Zone

I’m a creature of habit. Always have been, and probably always will be. I tend to make safe choices, and when that comes to Disney, that means choosing restaurants that we’ve enjoyed in the past. When we started planning our December anniversary trip to Disney, I told my husband that we were only going to eat at restaurants that we have never eaten at before. This was going to be a trip of firsts, and trying new dining options was at the top of the list.

I started off by mapping out my park days and a loosely set touring plan. We didn’t have park hoppers, so my choices for dining were either going to be resort restaurants, or park restaurants. After I set my basic plans and knew what days I wanted to be in each park, I started checking menus to see prices and entree choices.

We were on the dining plan, and I knew that I was going to be “that” person that chose the most expensive option just to get my moneys worth out of the dining plan. We had 4 sit down meals to choose, and after checking out the menus of what we thought we would like, we settled on:

Dinner at Be Our Guest. This was our first meal of the trip, and it set the bar high. My husband loves Beauty and the Beast, so dining in the Beast’s castle was a huge hit for him. The decor was amazing, and the entire experience was fantastic. We both ate the grilled strip steak with garlic-herb butter, vegetables and pommes frites. The steak was cooked to perfection and the french fries dipped in the sauce (basically mayo with garlic) were so yummy. We left full and totally satisfied.

Our second restaurant choice was dinner at Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine. This is a buffet restaurant at Hollywood Studios.The food was really good and fresh, but the lobster mac and cheese is what won me over. That and the dessert selections.

Can we just have a moment of silence for whoever invented the chocolate fountain, because wow. So yummy! 

Hollywood and Vine was a good restaurant with lots of food choices on the buffet. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

I kinda broke my own rules with our 3rd choice when I picked The Garden Grill at Epcot because we have eaten there before, but I went with it because we’ve never eaten breakfast there. And I scored pre-park opening breakfast which made it even better. This was such a fun meal. It’s the same characters as dinner (Chip, Dale, Mickey and Pluto), and the interaction is just as great. It’s a family style meal, and there was so much food! We ate until we were stuffed, and there was so much leftover. I highly recommend this dining choice, and if you can get pre-park reservations, you are right there by Soarin’, so you can just scoot over as soon as you get done eating.

Our last reservation choice was dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot. Y’all. This meal was incredible. We ordered the Del Mar mixed grill for 2 and it comes with shrimp, fish, scallops and vegetables, served with beans and fresh salsas. The food was hands down the best food we ate at WDW, and the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten. My husband nearly lost a few fingers when he tried to steal some of my scallops off my plate. My mouth still starts watering when I think about the cheesy sauce they put on the corn. We picked chocolate mouse and an empanada for dessert and they were both delicious. I would LOVE to go there again! 

When picking dining options at Walt Disney World, it is important to keep in mind what you know your family (especially picky eaters) will enjoy, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new. Browse the menus and see what all is out there. I’m so glad we tried some new restaurants, and I can’t wait to pick a few more new ones to try out on our next trip. What are your favorite restaurants at WDW? Any place you are dying to try? Let’s chat in the comments! Have a great day! ~Amy ºoº

Episode 20: Top 10 Parks Souvenirs

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Hey howdy hey everyone, today’s our 20th episode!! And since we’re doing a top ten list for every ten episodes, today we’re talking all about our top 10 favorite parks souvenirs. Be sure to check out our blog at www.mouseandmonorail.com for all sorts of great info including lists, how-to’s, and much, much more!

Disney News for 11.23.15

  • New “Paint the Night” parade packages come to Disneyland soon. 
  • New details unveiled on Animal Kingdom’s “Rivers of Light” featured show. Looks like this will be incredible when it is unveiled spring 2016, and is an awesome step in expanding the offerings at Animal Kingdom!
  • Speaking of Animal Kingdom, a new signature restaurant, Tiffans, will open in 2016. 
  • The Good Dinosaur merchandise is now available in Disney parks. The Good Dinosaur will be released on November 25th! 
  • Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival will expand from 75 days to 90 days in 2016.

Have a great Thanksgiving week and stay tuned to our FB page for any breaking Disney news! ~Amy ºoº

News for 10.12.15

It’s Monday, and that means one thing – time for your Disney news update from around the world!

That’s it for this week. Join us tomorrow for more Disney fun! ~Amy ºoº

Episode 10: Our own Top 10 WDW Attractions

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It’s Friday and we’re back with our 10th (!!) episode of our Mouse and Monorail podcast! We’re super excited to have been podcasting for 10 weeks now and hope that you’re all enjoying what we have to say. For every 10 episodes, we’ll be bringing you a top ten list and today’s is our favorite attractions from Walt Disney World.

 

We’d love to hear what your top 10 WDW attractions are too, so feel free to tweet or comment with your favorite attractions! ~Meredith ºoº

Breakfast is Coming to the Sci-Fi Diner at Hollywood Studios

It has been announced from Disney that a new breakfast option is going through a trial opening in November at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is a fun way for park visitors to get into the park before it actually opens, and enjoy some good food at the same time.

From the Disney website:

Guests Attention, Earthlings… From November 1, 2015 to January 23, 2016, your favorite 1950’s drive-in diner, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, will offer a never-before-seen dining that Earth scientists are now calling “Breakfast.”

Do not be alarmed. This is only a test. During this period, participating humans will be able to travel back in time to experience the “glory days” of their favorite 1950’s drive-in theater diner—in the early hours of your solar day, also known as “Morning.” Visiting humans should be prepared to encounter an “out of this world” menu of “breakfast” items, including (to name just a few):

  • Puff Pastry filled with Scrambled Eggs, Crab, Asparagus and Gruyère Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes
  • Grilled Beef Tenderloin on Baby Spinach, with Bacon and Cheddar Custard on a Roasted Tomato and Cheesy Horseradish potatoes
  • Scrambled Eggs, Crispy Bacon, Sausage Links and Breakfast Potatoes
  • Macadamia Crusted Brioche French Toast with Mascarpone and Fresh Berries

This limited-time experience is in addition to the regular lunch and dinner offerings. Thank you for your cooperation, Earthlings, and bon voyage!

So if you are heading to the parks during this trial period, it might be worth a shot trying to score an early reservation. I checked this morning, and there are lots of reservations times open. If this trial period ends up being successful, it’s almost a guarantee that this will become a permanent breakfast option at Hollywood Studios. The food sounds yummy, but take it from me, getting into the parks before they open is priceless for the photo ops.

Have a great day, and we’ll be back tomorrow with more fun Disney news! ~Amy ºoº

News Recap for 8.31.15

Here is the weekly Disney roundup and the winner of the Rubba Ducks giveaway!

  • FastPass+ reservations are now available for Epcot’s Eat to the Beat during the 20th Annual International Food & Wine Festival.
  • RunDisney announced their newest half marathon at Walt Disney World: Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend – The Dark Side. The races will be April 14-17, 2016, and registration opens on September 22, 2015.
  • PhotoPass previews are now available as part of the My Disney Experience app.
  • And the winner of the Rubba Ducks giveaway is Trish McKenzie! Email us your mailing address to mouseandmonorail@gmail.com and we will get your prize sent to you. Congrats and thanks to everyone for entering!

That’s it for today. Join us back tomorrow for more Disney fun! ~Amy ºoº