Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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The Accomac Firelight Night Dinner in York, PA–Experience Adventure 28 of 100

When my daughters and I decided to attempt 100 adventures during our 6 month sabbatical from our home in Texas, one of the rules we put into place specified that each experience must be NEW and different.  Obviously, since we are newbies to the east coast, every restaurant we visit is technically “original”, but I refuse to fill this exciting adventure list with a million mundane restaurants.

–Except, we found this extraordinary one.

For our 28th adventure, we experienced a fantastic Firelight Night dinner at the Accomac in York, Pennsylvania.

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With a long, winding history, dating back to the early 1700’s, the Accomac Inn overlooks the beautiful rushing waters of the Susquehanna River.  (It was raining and foggy on the evening we visited, but still gorgeous!)

Read about the history of the Accomac Inn here.

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The massive and commanding stone building sits to one side of the narrow road, nestled into the bottom of a timber-filled hill, facing a large parking lot along the water’s edge.

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Offering visitors the opportunity to dine only by candle light, the Accomac hosts “Firelight Nights” on select evenings from November to early March.  Charming and über romantic, the tiny flicker of soft candle light and a roaring fireplace fill the dining room with a peaceful glow and calming warmth.  No light bulbs.  No lamps.  No electricity generating light.  **I tried to take as many pictures as I could before the sun went down and I lost the light streaming in from the windows.

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Meticulously pressed, white table cloths drape the intimate tables and comfortable leather chairs allow guests a chance to relax and unwind in the Queen Ann dining room.

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Serving all kinds of delicious and artisan food since 1971, owner Doug Campbell and general manager Zach Seitz hired Jordan Crews in 2010, and promoted him to executive chef in early 2016.  Crews, born and raised in Lancaster, visits the Lancaster Central Market weekly, choosing fresh and local ingredients for his award-winning seasonal menu.

(The Lancaster Central Market was our 8th experience and is the country’s oldest farmers market!  Read all about it here!)

Our dimly lit journey began with a pleasant palette cleansing shooter of creamy pea soup and an assortment of breads.  I typically prefer to pass on peas, but this soup was exquisite and an excellent start to our meal.

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We ordered several items from each section of the menu as an opportunity to try interesting combinations and sample from each others’ plates.

The mushroom risotto, created with fresh, local mushrooms and served as a warm side dish, features Caputo ricotta en salata, (created locally by the amazing Caputo Brother’s Creamery–our 32nd experience! Review coming soon!)

Topped with watercress and truffle foam, the risotto melts in the mouth–We ordered two bowls!

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The potato gnocchi at Accomac reigns as possibly the most divine food I have ever eaten in my entire life.  Full of complex, delicious flavors, the gnocchi appeared surrounded by a very light and savory cream sauce, fresh greens, and earthy mushrooms.  I wanted more (and MORE!) and I hope to return just to eat this dish again.

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The full-bodied, umami beef stock showcased in the Accomac’s French onion soup made this menu “starter” my husband’s favorite dish of the evening.  Topped with caramelized, rich Swiss and provolone cheeses, the chef added a dollop of fresh scallions, a delightfully surprising, yet tasty garnish.

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Pierogi, a traditional central European-style dumpling, arrived with a topping of savory sautéed onions on a cushion of creamy sour cream sauce.  I almost loved it as much as the amazing gnocchi and my vegetarian daughter claimed this special, off-menu offering as her favorite.

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My meat-eating daughter ordered the Accomac beef tenderloin burger with bacon, melted cheese, horseradish mayonnaise, and topped with a house made Brioche roll.  A slab of fried potato wedges and fresh, crisp vegetables served as accompaniments.  Though my daughter enjoyed the burger, it seems out-of-place on the elegant menu.

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As a main entrée, I appreciate the freedom to order a vegetable-based meal–braised cabbage rolls, filled with a hearty rice and mushroom mixture and smothered with tangy, chunky tomatoes.  A variety of roasted root vegetables surrounded the dish and offered more flavor than the bland cabbage rolls.  I found myself wishing I ordered another serving of the delicious gnocchi!

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My husband chose the chicken roulade with garlic polenta, glazed carrots, charred savoy cabbage and a red wine infused pear.  Though he devoured the chicken and creamy polenta, he found the overpowering sweetness of the pear off-putting and not enhancing of the dish.

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The under seasoned and tasteless side of roasted Brussel sprouts brought the only real disappointment during our exquisite meal at the Accomac.  I don’t expect perfection, so the Brussel blunder can be overlooked.  (Though, as a sprout lover, I did have high hopes.)  They were very fresh and bright!

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At the end of the meal, we found ourselves too pleasantly full to properly enjoy any of the sweet offerings from the menu.  We chose to share one small, but heavenly treat–the sticky toffee pudding.  Topped with a luscious dolce de leche ice cream and drenched with a syrupy toffee sauce, this dessert completed a wonderful and satisfying candle-lit meal at the Accomac.

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Overall, our meal was wonderfully prepared and the staff at the Accomac welcomed and served my family in a professional and friendly manner, even though we brought our children to an obviously adult-centered, date-night event.  Eating a satisfying meal by firelight proved to be a joyful, unique and relaxing experience.

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The Accomac works with local Pennsylvania farmers and provides a list of menu food sources online, which I appreciate and rarely find.  See the list here. 

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Kudos to the Accomac Inn.  Thank you for serving fresh and local, farm-to-table food, which moves our society closer to sustainability and an overall healthier way of life.  My family will return for another wonderful meal before we move back to Texas.  (Please serve the gnocchi!)

The Accomac also serves Caputo Brothers Creamery cheese–which just happened to be our 32nd experience adventure!  Read all about it here!

The Accomac is located at 6330 South River Drive in York, Pennsylvania.

Lunch is served Monday-Saturday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Dinner is served Monday-Saturday from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm. and on Sundays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Sunday brunch is offered from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

***Reservations are recommended.

For more information, call 717-252-1521 or visit www.accomacinn.com

 

Looking for some original and new experiences in the great state of Pennsylvania?

Visit the National Watch and Clock Museum–read all about it here!

Click here and check out the Stroopie Co., a world changing social enterprise found at the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.

Take a drive to Ten Thousand Villages in Mechanicsburg to buy all kinds of authentic, artisan-made, fair trade crafts and treasures from another global-impacting social enterprise.  Read what you need to know here.

 

Traveling to Illinois?  Put the Firefly Grill on your must-eat, farm-to-table restaurant list!  Click here.

 

 

 

 

 

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2018 Disney Dining Plan–Everything You Need To Know

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To Dining Plan Or Not To Dining Plan…that is the question.

It is the most common inquiry I receive and honestly, one of the more challenging to answer.

And, just recently, Walt Disney World changed up their dining plan just a tiny bit for 2018.  So, even if you are familiar with Disney dining, read this and take a refresher course–Disney is always changing!

What is the Disney Dining Plan?  Basically, it is a prepaid meal plan that provides families with the option to prepay for meals BEFORE they arrive at Walt Disney World.  It is accepted at over 100 locations and more than 50 table service restaurants with in the Disney parks and resorts.  The dining “credits” are scanned from your magic band at participating restaurants.

Whether the dining plan will save you money completely depends on your family, the ages of your children, where you plan to eat and what you eat. Everyone eats differently, especially on vacation and every family is different.

So many factors.  So many options.  So many questions.  So many different answers.

I will try to simplify. (Ha!  That rhymes!)

If you are just beginning the planning process, click here to see a list of questions to answer BEFORE you plan a Walt Disney World vacation.

Click here to learn how to plan a Disney vacation like a pro.

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The 2018 Disney Meal Plan

The Basics:

  • Guests must purchase a Magic Your Way Package through Disney in order to be eligible to purchase any meal plan.
  • Guests must stay at a Walt Disney Resort.  The dining plan is not available for the Swan and Dolphin Hotels, Shades of Green and the hotels of the Disney Springs Resort area.
  • Typically, a minimum 3 night resort stay is required.
  • Annual pass holders and DVC members can purchase the Disney dining plan.
  • Each person on your resort reservation must be on the dining plan.
  • Each person on your resort reservation must be on the same level of dining plan, too.
  • Plans are set based on the number of nights on your resort reservation.  i.e. If you book 5 nights, you get 5 days worth of the dining plan.  You can not get less days and you can not pay for more.  I will explain in greater detail below.
  • The dining plan expires at midnight on the check out day.
  • Disney defines children as ages 3-9.  (Children 10 and up are adults.)
  • Children ages 3-9 on the Disney dining plan are expected to order from the children’s menu when one is available.
  • The dining plan is not available for children under the age of 3.  Children under 3 can eat off of an adult’s plate or a meal can be purchased separately.
  • Any guest age 10 or older is a Disney adult.  (I don’t make the rules.)
  • Tax is included.
  • Tips and gratuities are NOT included.
  • 18% gratuity is automatically added to parties of 6 or more guests.
  • The refillable mugs can be filled an unlimited amount of times (during your stay) at Disney resort quick service restaurants only.  Not the theme parks.  Drinks include sodas, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, etc.
  • If you order something that the dining plan does not cover, you will be charged separately for that item.
  • Desserts and appetizers at breakfast are not included.
  • Alcohol is now included, if you are over 21.  (See details below)
  • Meals are considered quick service (QS) or table service (TS) or signature dining (SD).
  • Pricing for the dining plan can increase at anytime and prices did increase for 2018.
  • The dining plan is always changing.

Have you read my post about changes at Disney?  Click here my friend.

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Restaurant Credit Descriptions:

Snacks are a plethora of all kinds of things and are marked with a purple and white 4 point segmented square on all Disney menus offering snacks.  If you don’t see the symbol, there are no snacks on that menu.  1 snack credit can be used for a frozen ice cream novelty, 1 scoop of popcorn, 1 piece of whole fruit, 20 oz. soda or water, Dole Whip!, soups, chips, puffed rice treats and so much more.

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This is the snack credit symbol

Quick service restaurants are just like they sound, quick.  Ordering is made at a counter or register and the food is casual, quick and easy.  Guests choose their own tables.

 

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Quick service breakfast

 

Table service restaurants are more formal than quick service.  Guests are escorted to their tables and menus are provided for ordering (if not a buffet).  A server will wait on the table.  Most buffets and most character meals are considered table service.

For a list of every character meal at Walt Disney World, click here!

For a list of every princess character meal at Walt Disney World, click here!

 

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Chef Mickey’s buffet is 1 table service credit.

 

Signature dining restaurants are more formal and elegant than table service restaurants.  There is a “resort casual” dress code for signature dining.  Signature dining uses 2 table service dining credits.  Cinderella’s Royal Table is considered signature dining and uses 2 table service credits.

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Cinderella’s Royal Table is considered signature dining and uses 2 table service credits.

Dinner shows are just like they sound, dinner and a show.  Think Disney’s Spirit of Aloha or Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.  Dinner shows require 2 table service dining credits.

 

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The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort requires 2 table service credits from the dining plans.

 

The Three Options:

Disney offers 3 different dining plans:  Quick service, Dining, and Deluxe Dining.

***Pricing and beverage offerings changed for 2018!  See details below!***

The Quick Service Plan:

  • $52.49 per night per adult (ages 10+)
  • $21.75 per night per child (ages 3-9)
  • Includes 2 quick service credits per night per person (1 quick service meal is considered 1 entrée and 1 drink)
  • Under 21 years of age:  A drink is one non-alcoholic drink or specialty drink if diner is under 21 years of age.  A specialty drink can include artisanal milkshake, fresh smoothie, premium hot chocolate, soda, coffee and tea
  • 21 years or older:  A drink can either be non-alcoholic or alcoholic.  A single serve alcoholic drink can include beer or cider, wine, sangria, mixed drinks and specialty cocktails.
  • Includes 2 snack credits per night per person
  • Includes 1 refillable mug per person

The Dining Plan:

  • $75.49 per night per adult
  • $25.80 per night per child
  • Includes 1 quick service credit per night per person (1 quick service meal is considered 1 entrée and 1 drink)
  • Includes 1 table service credit per night per person (1 table service meal is considered 1 entrée, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner) and 1 drink or 1 buffet and 1 drink.)
  • Under 21 years of age:  A drink is one non-alcoholic drink or specialty drink if diner is under 21 years of age.  A specialty drink can include artisanal milkshake, fresh smoothie, premium hot chocolate, soda, coffee and tea
  • 21 years or older:  A drink can either be non-alcoholic or alcoholic.  A single serve alcoholic drink can include beer or cider, wine, sangria, mixed drinks and specialty cocktails.
  • Includes 2 snack credits per night per person
  • Includes 1 refillable mug per person
  • 1 table service credit can be used for most character meals. (Cinderella’s Royal Table is considered Signature Dining and is 2 table service credits.)
  • 2 table service credits can be used to dine at Signature Dining Restaurants (meal includes 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 drink)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for dinner shows (category 2 or 3 seating)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for private in-room dining (meal includes 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 drink)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for pizza delivery (meal includes 1 pizza entrée, 2 desserts and 2 drinks)

The Deluxe Dining Plan:

  • $116.24 per night per adult
  • $39.90 per night per adult
  • Includes 3 meals (QS or TS) per night–3 quick service or 3 table service credits per night per person used in any combination. (1 quick service meal is considered 1 entrée and 1 drink).  (1 deluxe dining table service meal is considered 1 appetizer (lunch and dinner), 1 entrée, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner), and 1 drink or a 1 buffet and 1 drink.)
  • Under 21 years of age:  A drink is one non-alcoholic drink or specialty drink if diner is under 21 years of age.  A specialty drink can include artisanal milkshake, fresh smoothie, premium hot chocolate, soda, coffee and tea
  • 21 years or older:  A drink can either be non-alcoholic or alcoholic.  A single serve alcoholic drink can include beer or cider, wine, sangria, mixed drinks and specialty cocktails.
  • Includes 2 snack credits per night per person
  • Includes 1 refillable mug per person
  • 1 table service credit can be used for most character meals. (Cinderella’s Royal Table is considered Signature Dining and is 2 table service credits.)
  • 2 table service credits can be used to dine at Signature Dining Restaurants (meal includes 1 appetizer, 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 drink)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for dinner shows (category 2 or 3 seating)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for private in-room dining (meal includes 1 appetizer, 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 drink)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for pizza delivery (meal includes 1 pizza entrée, 2 desserts and 2 drinks)

 

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1900 Park Fare breakfast buffet is 1 table service credit.

 

Confused yet?

I am going to create several scenarios to help clarify.

Scenario #1

2 adults and 2 children (ages 4 and 7) book 5 nights at a Disney resort and choose the quick service plan.  Total cost for dining:  $742.40.

The cost for each adult on the quick service plan for 5 nights is $262.45.

For 2 adults, the total is $524.90.

The cost for each child on the quick service plan for 5 nights is $108.75.

For 2 children, the total is $217.50.

Total cost for the quick service meal plan for this family of 4 is $742.40.

Each person is given 2 quick service credits and 2 snack credits for each night of the reservation.  That is 10 quick service credits and 10 snack credits per person for the entire vacation.

There are 2 adults.  So, they have a total of 20 adult quick service credits and 20 snack credits.  There are 2 children.  So, they have a total of 20 quick service (kids meals if offered) credits and 20 snack credits.

In total, this family has 40 quick service meal credits and 40 snack credits.  The math is getting ridiculous, right?  Are you following me?

Adult #1–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Adult #2–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Child #1–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Child #2–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

These credits all expire on midnight of the check-out day.

***Between the check-in day and midnight of the check-out day, this family can use these 40 quick service credits and 40 snack credits any way they please and in any combination.  The credits are all lumped into one total.

These credits are not linked to a certain person, either.  If adult #1 only wants to eat snacks the entire vacation, then he/she can eat all 40 snacks and all of those snacks can be Dole Whips…hypothetically, of course.

If this family wants to eat 20 quick service meals in one day, they can.  All of these 40 QS credits and 40 snack credits can be used in any combination on any day of their vacation.

Guest can use these quick service credits for quick service breakfast, lunch or dinner.  When all 40 quick service meals and all 40 snacks run out, any food purchases must be paid out of pocket.  ***If this family decides to eat at any table service restaurant, the bill would not be covered by their meal plan.

 

Scenario #2

Same family, 2 adults and 2 children (ages 4 and 7) book 5 nights at a Disney resort and choose the Dining Plan.  Total cost: $1012.90

The cost for each adult on the dining plan for 5 nights is $377.45.

For 2 adults, the total is $754.90.

The cost for each child on the dining plan for 5 nights is $129.

For 2 children, the total is $258.

Total cost for the dining plan for this family of 4 is $1012.90.

Each person is given 1 quick service credit, 1 table service credit and 2 snack credits for each night of the vacation.  That is 5 quick service credits, 5 table service credits and 10 snacks per person for the entire vacation.

Adult #1–5 QS credits, 5 TS credits, 10 snacks

Adult #2–5 QS credits, 5 TS credits, 10 snacks

Child #1–5 QS credits, 5 TS credit, 10 snacks

Child #2–5 QS credits, 5 TS credits, 10 snacks

The family in total has 20 quick service credits, 20 table service credits and 40 snacks to use in any combination over the duration of their resort stay.  This family could eat at 3 different table service restaurants in one day, if they choose.  Or, they could use 2 table service credits each to eat at a signature dining restaurant, like Cinderella’s Royal Table.  If the family of 4 all dined at Cinderella’s Royal Table, 8 of their 20 table service credits would be used.

If this family of 4 all ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at 3 table service restaurants in one day and then had breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, their 20 table service credits would be gone.

***To get the most benefit, this family should use their snack credits for breakfast items, quick service for lunch and each table service credit for a character meal or buffet.

 

Scenario #3

Same family, 2 adults and 2 children (ages 4 and 7) book 5 nights at a Disney resort and choose Deluxe Dining.  Total cost: $1,561.40.

The cost for each adult on the deluxe dining plan for 5 nights is $581.20.

For 2 adults, the total is $1,162.40.

The cost for each child on the deluxe dining plan for 5 nights is $199.50.

For 2 children, the total is $399.

Total cost for the deluxe dining plan for this family of 4 is $1,561.40.

Each person is given 3 meal credits (can be quick service or table service, in any combination) each night of the vacation.  That is 15 meal credits and 10 snacks per person for the entire vacation.

Adult #1–15 meals, 10 snacks

Adult #2–15 meals, 10 snacks

Child #1–15 meals, 10 snacks

Child #2–15 meals, 10 snacks

This family has a total of 60 meals that can be either quick service or table service, plus 40 snacks.  The 60 meals belong to the family as a whole.  Anyone can use the credits in any combination.

If this family of 4 all ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at 3 table service restaurants in one day and then had breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, they would still have 40 meal credits left to use.  To get the most benefit, this family should eat all meals at table service restaurants and avoid quick service all together.

That’s a lot of math.  Yes, I used a calculator.

The Benefits:

All 3 meal plans are essentially pre-paid dining and are accepted at over 100 locations on Disney property.

It is a nice feeling to have dining costs already covered.

Guests using meal plans can save money if they choose wisely.

The Struggles:

The dining plans require pre-paying and must be paid in full when the final resort reservation payment is due.

Guests must actively keep track of how many dining credits have been used and how many are left. (Credits are printed on each dining receipt).

Children ages 10 and up are considered adults and are charged the adult dining plan fees.

At the time of this post, if you want the dining plan, Disney requires you to pay for the plan for every night of your resort stay.  There is no option for anything less and your entire traveling party (in your resort room) must be on the dining plan.

The dining plan is only available for Disney resort guests.

Thoughts And Things To Consider:

The quick service plan is pretty straight forward.  To avoid running out of credits, guests can use 2 snack credits to cover breakfast by getting a muffin for 1 credit and a piece of fruit for 1 credit and filling the refillable mug with coffee (at the resort).  Or guests can use the 2 daily snacks to cover a light lunch by using the credits for a cup of soup and chips.  Quick service meals should be used for the largest meals of the day to get the most bang for your buck.

Table service, character meals and buffets can cost anywhere from $35 to $59.99 per adult.  The dining plan is $75.49 per day per adult and covers 1 quick service, 1 table service and 2 snacks.

**An adult not on the dining plan eats 1 character meal that costs $59.99, a quick service meal for $17.99 and gets 2 snacks for $12 for a total cost of $89.98

**An adult on the dining plan would pre-pay only $75.49 for the exact same meals and snacks.

***We used the dining plan and saved a ton of money when my kids were younger than 10.  We used every table service credit to eat at buffets and character meals and we saved quite a bit of money.  Plus, knowing that our meals were essentially pre-paid helped quite a bit with “sticker shock”.

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Honestly, whether the dining plans will save you money completely depends on your family and your eating habits.

If you answer “yes” to these questions, chances are very high that the dining plan will save you money.

  • Do you plan to eat at only table service, buffets and character meals?
  • Do you eat a dessert at every lunch and dinner?
  • Does your entire family drink sodas or tea?
  • Do you want to dine at signature dining restaurants or dinner shows?
  • Do you have children under the age of 10?

How About My Family?

Like I said before, we were dining plan worshippers for many of our Walt Disney World vacations.  But for the last two trips, we chose not to use the dining plan.

Here are my reasons:

Now that my daughters are 12 and 14, all 5 of my family members are considered adults in Disney’s eyes and adults cost more $$$.

I drink tea, but the rest of my family only drinks water with meals.

We usually split 1 or 2 desserts at dinner time only and prefer to eat a very light breakfast and lunch.

My daughters have outgrown most character meals.

 

 

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1 quick service credit breakfast at Be Our Guest

 

If you are still uncertain, there are many Disney dining plan calculators available online to help determine if the dining plan will save you money.

Message me if you still have questions!

Happy eating, my friends!

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1 table service credit

 

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1 snack credit

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1 table service credit

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1 snack credit

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Be Our Guest is quick service for breakfast and lunch, but uses 1 table service credit for dinner (will soon become signature dining!!!)

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Akershus restaurant is 1 table service credit.

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Boma–Flavors of Africa breakfast buffet is 1 table service credit.

Click here to read about our favorite buffet at Disney!

Click here to read about our favorite character meal at Disney!

Click here to read all about the FABULOUS Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom!

Click here if you love animals!

 


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The Delicious Firefly Grill in Effingham, Illinois

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I live in Texas.

Serendipity lead me to find the BEST restaurant in Illinois by complete happy (mouthwatering) accident.

And, within the last 10 months, I have eaten there three times!

Are you road tripping through Illinois?  Add this unbelievable restaurant to your must-visit, travel agenda.

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In July of 2016, my husband and I made a quick and unexpected road trip from Chicago to Houston.  No pre-planning, color-coded itineraries, museum stops or kids…just me and my husband on the open road, in a hurry to get home to Texas.

We left Chicago around 4:00 p.m. and decided to drive until we were too tired to continue.  As we made our way along I-94 and then I-57 S, I saw a billboard advertising a farm-to-table restaurant.  I Goggled the name (Yea! for the internet and cell phones and the all-mighty Google) and my husband and I agreed we would stop there for dinner.  (We do not eat fast food and we were THRILLED to have a fresh dining option!)

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Instantly, we knew we stumbled upon something special.  The rustic, natural wood, relaxing front porch, and open, outdoor seating welcomes guests, especially weary travelers looking for the perfect meal and an opportunity to unwind.

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As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I spotted the beautiful garden to the right of the main building.  In all of it’s summer glory, it was magnificent!  Farm-to-table…with the farm right there!

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The menu…the fresh food…the garden…the ambiance…

We ordered several appetizers, two entrees and two desserts.  Yes, it was just the two of us…we like to indulge once in awhile.  No judging.  Of course, this was long before I started this blog.  I took pictures of the land and building, but unfortunately, the AMAZING food was completely devoured without being photographed.

My husband and I took our time enjoying everything the Firefly Grill offered.  We were in no hurry to get back on the road. Blissfully satisfied and in a complete food coma, we reserved a hotel room right in Effingham that evening.

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Lucky for you, my son lives in Chicago and my family took a return road trip to Illinois in May of 2017.  Firefly Grill was placed at the top of the must-do, color-coded itinerary–TWO stops in fact–one on the way into Chicago and the other, on the way back home to Texas.

***When your all-time FAVORITE restaurant is 886 miles from your front door, you gotta make a BIG effort to eat as much and as often as humanly possible.  No judging.

And the good news:  This time, I took pictures of EVERYTHING.  You are welcome.

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The Firefly Grill delivers a fresh, farm-to-table, sustainable and environmentally responsible menu that changes often and reflects seasonal availability.  The commitment to conscious dining is reflected not only in their food, but also in the abundant reclaimed barn woods, recycled steel, composting practices, thoughtful irrigation from the on-site pond and an unwavering dedication to using non-chemical gardening practices.

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Using a simple philosophy, “Source the best ingredients possible and stay out of their way”, Chef Niall creates uncomplicated, distinctive, and original dishes in an expedition style kitchen.

The main dining room is modern casual, with dark chocolate wood floors, comfortable leather seating, cool cobalt blue glassware, single bulb pendant lighting and a full bar.

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Billowing drapery and a warm, gentle color scheme creates a home-like and welcoming setting.

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Large plate glass windows and doors showcase a relaxing and peaceful outdoor setting, tempting visitors to dine alfresco, if the weather permits.  My family and I ate on the charming patio during all of our visits.

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Outdoor tables provide casual and comfortable seating, with several cushioned couches, woven chairs and cooling ceiling fans.  The porch offers a rustic and relaxing environment, where guests enjoy the tranquil views.

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The side patio faces a large grassy knoll, highlighting one graceful, willow-like tree.

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As the patio wraps around, tables and sofas sit above the banks of the peaceful Kristie Lake.

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YES!  Enormous and beautiful orange and black fish swim around in the lake!

The environment and the ambiance are reason enough to visit this amazing restaurant.  It is a breathtaking oasis with a family-friendly, peaceful and relaxing vibe, full of environmentally responsible actions.

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However, it is the simple, fresh, locally sourced and sensational food that impressed my family the most and stamped Firefly Grill with the honor of being my new favorite restaurant, even if it is 886 miles from my house.

Firefly Grill offers diners a diverse menu showcasing ingredients, vegetables and herbs grown onsite.  The restaurant combines great food with a peaceful location.  It is the perfect farm-to-table example of what fresh and responsible dining should be and could be in our country.

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Because meals are prepared when ordered, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and allergen-friendly requests are welcomed and easily created.  Every staff member we encountered was knowledgeable, helpful and attentive, producing a professional team and family community within the restaurant.

Below are several pictures of the yummy menu when we visited in May of 2017.  Remember friends, this is a farm-to-table restaurant with a focus on serving seasonal, available and responsibly sourced food, so this menu will change as often as needed and that is what makes this place so incredible!

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The menu boasts all kinds of delectable options:  soups, salads, small plates, pizzas, sandwiches, entrees, sides, desserts, coffees, after dinner drinks, as well as beer and wine.

Honestly, we wanted to try it all!

So what did we eat?  No judging…remember?

During one visit, I ordered the Firefly Garden Salad, which was full of crispy mixed greens (from the onsite garden!), tiny sprigs of dill, roasted red and gold beets, a crunchy and tangy goat cheese croquette, all lightly tossed with white balsamic.  Bright, fresh, and delicious!

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I ordered the Wedge Salad during our second visit.  It was a perfectly portioned plate of crisp iceberg lettuce, a sprinkle of Applewood smoked bacon, green chives, soft bleu cheese crumbles and a drizzle of creamy dressing.  Traditionally, this salad also comes with fresh red tomatoes, but I ordered without.

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My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the fried morel mushrooms (which are only available for a limited time) served with chili lime aioli and a zesty dill ranch.  It was the BEST ranch dip I have EVER tasted.

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As you can see, I practically licked the ranch bowl.  Maybe I did…maybe I didn’t…there is no proof…

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My husband ordered the Fish-n-Chips–fresh and crispy pieces of Atlantic cod, bold Guinness Stout, malt vinegar, served with firefly tartar sauce and French fries.  He loved the fish and the tartar sauce was divine.  I finished off his fries by dousing them in malt vinegar and dredging through the tangy tartar.  (My mouth is watering as I type this sentence!)

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Below is a picture of the Cave-Aged Gruyere Burger, served with red onion jam, boursin, delicious gruyere, a Portobello mushroom, and crunchy homemade onion rings.  Full of savory flavors, original and tempting!

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The Portobello Veggie Burger was the perfect option for my vegetarian daughter–a large Portobello mushroom, green pesto, juicy tomato, topped with micro-greens and chevre boursin, all served on a grilled bun with French fries.

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Firefly Fish Tacos were accompanied by a sweet chili slaw, pineapple pico de gallo, fresh sliced vegetables, all scooped into grilled flour tortillas and presented along side several appetizing sauces.  My daughter’s favorite component?  The fresh and tangy pineapple pico de gallo!

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We ordered the Beer Cheese & Pretzels as an appetizer during both of our May visits.  Yes, it was marvelous!  Yes, it was delicious!  Yes, I wish I was eating it right now!  Warm, house-made beer cheese, house-made pretzel bites, grilled to crispy perfection (but still soft and chewy on the inside), sprinkled with flaky snowflakes of salt…pure heaven.

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I love Brussels sprouts.  If I see them on a menu, I always place my order.  Below is a picture of the Brussels served at Firefly Grill:  fresh Brussel sprouts, tossed with bacon and shallots.  To be 100% transparent and honest, this dish was a little bland for my inappropriate and excessive love of sprouts, but I rarely expect perfection, so all is forgiven.  These were ordered as a side dish.

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My husband devoured the Firefly Steak Burger which is prepared with bacon, caramelized onion and mornay, all topped with a local sunny side up egg and presented on a chewy pretzel bun.

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I know what you are thinking–“There is NO WAY these people left any room to try the desserts…bummer!”

But, fear not my little friends!  When we indulge, we GO BIG OR GO HOME!  No quitters here.

So, on to desserts!

Try the Chocolate Valrhona Cake if it is available during your visit.  The yummy chocolatey dessert blends layers of valrhona cake and milk chocolate mousse into a splendid confection, presented with craters of caramel sauce and usually served with house-made espresso ice cream.  I switched it up and chose to order my cake with salted caramel ice cream instead.  (PS–How cute is this wooden plate?!? Not only did I love this dessert, but I LOVED the plate.  I did not EAT the plate…I just appreciate the pleasing aesthetic feeling that it brought to the party.)

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I also recommend the amazing and seasonal firefly ice cream.  Nothing beats a fresh, in-house made, creamy frozen dessert.  There were 5 or 6 flavors to choose from and the salted caramel was my favorite.  I ordered it during both of our May visits.

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Firefly Signature Shooters combine delightful and manageable portions of yummy desserts–a perfect way to quiet a sweet tooth after an enjoyable meal.

These sweet options include Caramel Cookie with dulce de leche and oreo filling, s’mores with spiced pound cake, cheesecake with strawberry preserves, butterscotch pudding with a chocolate crumble and a passion fruit mousse.

My daughter ordered the chocolate espresso, featuring espresso soaked devils food cake, a chocolate cremeux and topped with a dark chocolate crumble.

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espresso soaked lady fingers assemble a perfectly indulgent dessert, hugged between
house-made toffee and fluffy whipped cream.

 

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The Firefly Grill delivers.  It delivers on freshness, flavor, ambiance, service and originality.  In the open, American heartland, this restaurant brings sustainable, farm-to-table food to diners seeking seasonal, responsible and modern cuisine.

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Executive Chef Niall Diarmid Campbell II and his wife, General Manager Kristie, met in Puerto Rico and through an interesting turn of events, the couple opened Firefly Grill in 2006, in Effingham, Illinois.  Together, they have created an outstanding restaurant with the “feel of coming home” in the heart of the Midwest.

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The Firefly Grill is located at 1810 Avenue of Mid America, Effingham, Illinois, 62401.  The peaceful location creates a beautiful backdrop for weddings, private parties, dinners and events.

For more information, a list of food sources and farms, and current hours of operation, please visit their website at www.ffgrill.com or call (217) 342-2002.

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Want to learn all about my favorite museum in Houston, Texas?  Click here.

My fav museum in Oklahoma?  Glad you asked…click here!

I have a few favorites in Florida, too!  Check them out here and here.

Don’t worry…I have some favorites in Illinois…I will write those reviews ASAP.


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Best Disney Restaurants for Kids Ages 5 and Under

OH!  Disney Dining…you keep us coming back for more and more and more!

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With 7 Disney trips under their belts, my kids have eaten at a ton of WDW restaurants, ranging from simple snacks to quick counter service to almost every character meal to fine dining at Victoria & Albert’s.  They have seen and eaten it all–and at all ages–from 8 months to 23 years old!

Disney does a great job of creating themed restaurants to serve all guests, kids and kids-at-heart.  Though almost all Walt Disney World restaurants offer a kid’s menu, some are obviously more geared towards the younger visitors.

My daughters and I chose the BEST kid restaurants based on kid-centered theming, characters, fun environments and kid-friendly (not just kid’s menu) food.

 

These are the BEST of the BEST table service restaurants for kids ages 5 and under.

For a list every character meal inside the Walt Disney World theme parks, click here.

Put these table service restaurants on your ‘Must-Do’ list!

Magic Kingdom:

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The Crystal Palace–Read all details and a review here

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Be Our Guest Restaurant–Read all details and a review here and avoid the West Wing dining room if your child is afraid of the dark, simulated thunder and lightening.

Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

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Epcot:

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Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Garden Grill Restaurant

 

Hollywood Studios:

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Hollywood & Vine

50’s Prime Time Café–Read all of the details and a review here.

 

Animal Kingdom:

Tusker House Restaurant

 

Disney Springs:

Rainforest Café–Avoid if your child is frightened by simulated thunder and loud noises.

T-REX–Avoid if your child is frightened by loud noises and large dinosaurs that move.

 

Resorts:

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1900 Park Fare–Read all details and a review here

Chef Mickey’s–Read all details and a review here

‘Ohana

Cape May Cafe

Whispering Canyon Café

 

Click here to learn all about the 2017 Disney Dining Plan.

Click here to learn how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation like a pro!

Click here to read about our favorite Disney buffet!

 

 

 

 


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A Review of 50’s Prime Time Café

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Among the glamour of Hollywood films, exciting stunt shows, Star Wars rebels and Toy Story mania, there is a magical restaurant offering guests an opportunity to step back in time to a by-gone era of poodle skirts and Ford Thunderbirds.

50’s Prime Time Café is a retro-themed restaurant serving American comfort food to theme park guests inside Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.  And.  We.  Love.  It.

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The entire restaurant is perfectly and classically themed, including the large lobby, created to look exactly like a 1950’s living room.  Comfy, floral couches, vinyl chairs, old fashioned wallpaper, wood bookcases, sunburst clocks and vintage tchotchkes fill the retro-styled room.

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The quaint decorations and considerable 1950’s knickknacks generate a familiar feeling of visiting an old family friend or spending time at Grandma’s house.  The waitstaff conveys the delightful, old-school time warp by donning checkered dresses, scarves, dish rags and simple aprons.

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50’s Prime Time Café highlights old-fashion theming throughout the restaurant, including the many dining rooms built as if each table is placed in a splendid 1950’s kitchen.  Antique refrigerators, decoupage art, fruit-themed items and copper Jell-O molds line the walls.  Dining areas are separated by open bookshelves displaying kitschy decorations and rooms are reminiscent of a simpler time in American history.

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In this Formica and vinyl heaven, diners can order hearty home-cooked comfort food while enjoying black and white popular vintage sitcoms on multiple retro television sets.

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Lunch and dinner have the same home-style, classic menu featuring familiar and family favorite dishes.

Appetizers include crispy beer battered onion rings, chicken noodle soup, and a delicious Cousin Amy’s iceberg lettuce wedge salad with thick blue cheese dressing, bacon and chives.  I can’t help it–I order the wedge every time.

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Hearty and tasty retro entrées include Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop with gouda cheese, apples, herbs, roasted potatoes, carrots topped with a demi-glaze drizzle and Mom’s Old Fashion Pot Roast, slow cooked and served with garlic mashed potatoes, brown gravy and carrots.

My husband’s favorites are the chicken potpie and the traditional meat loaf.  My son (age 23) loved ‘A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes’ that included golden fried chicken, tender pot roast, traditional meatloaf and all the fixings.  He voted 50’s Prime Time Café the best meal we enjoyed during our January 2017 trip.

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Try the vegetable lasagna, sustainable fish or the Caesar salad with chicken or salmon.

Kid’s meals include turkey meatloaf, baked chicken, meatless meatballs, mac-n-cheese, pot roast sandwich and fresh fruit.

Yummy old school desserts include warm apple crisp, a delicious pineapple upside down cake (My FAV!), ice cream sundaes and my kids (ages 23, 12 and 11) loved the PB & J milkshake!

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Familiar drinks and beverages are served, but there are also flavored sodas, like Coca Cola with vanilla or cherry!  Don’t forget to order a root beer float!

Classic 1950’s cocktails are available–Mowie Wowie, Grandma’s Picnic Punch, Long Island Iced Tea and a chocolate martini, to name a few.  There is a full bar with wine, craft and draft beers.  The Tune-In Lounge is next door and serves the same menu in a 1950’s vintage bar setting.

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The banter between the servers and the diners is just as entertaining as the delightful environment.  Just like momma always said, the waitstaff will yell, “Elbows off the table!” and “Eat all of your veggies!”  Our waiter sternly told my son, “No toys at the table!” when my son was checking his phone.  LOL.

If you eat everything on your plate, you might receive a “clean plate club” sticker.  My husband laughed at the sticker and in conversation, mentioned how he would love to give the sticker to his dad.  Our server overheard us and came around the corner with a roll of extra “clean plate club” stickers, which we gave to my father-in-law when we returned to Texas.

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50’s Prime Time Café is our favorite restaurant inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The remarkable theming is second-to-none and the service has always been outstanding.  Eating at this super fun restaurant is a chance to step back in time and experience a splendid, by-gone era, while enjoying some delicious and old-fashion home cooking.


 

Yes, lunch and dinner menus are identical.

Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Dinner is served 3:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Operating hours for all Disney restaurants can change due to seasonal crowd levels and refurbishments.

Dress is casual.

A theme park ticket is required to dine at 50’s Prime Time Café.  The restaurant is inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios and remember, any restaurant inside a Disney theme park requires a ticket for entrance into that specific park.

To travel to 50’s Prime Time Café, take any Disney transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.  Parking is also available in the Disney Hollywood Studios parking lot for a fee.  Walking from the park entrance, the restaurant is near Echo Lake on the left.

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are highly recommended and can be made directly on the Disney website, through the My Disney Experience app on a smart phone or by calling 407-939-3463.

Current and full menus for every Walt Disney World restaurant can be found on the Disney website.  Click on “Things to do”, then click on “All Dining”.  Every restaurant is listed alphabetically.  Click on the name of the restaurant and then click on “View Menu” off to the right of the middle photograph.

50’s Prime Time Café accepts the Disney dining plan.

Both lunch and dinner are 1 table service credit on the dining plan.

Click here to find out if the Disney dining plan is right for your next vacation!

If you only learn one thing from my blog posts, I hope it is the fact that Disney changes every day.  That is exactly why Disney is so popular–there is ALWAYS something new for junkies like me to experience!  It is also why I always say everything is subject to change.

Overwhelmed with planning a Disney vacation?  Click here and learn everything you need to know!

To read about how I save money on every Disney vacation, click here.

Want to know which restaurant is our fav in Magic Kingdom?  Click here!


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A Review of Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen Restaurant

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Step into Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen, where the Jungle Cruise crew serves up hilarious corny jokes, silly idioms and entertaining puns along side some creative and unique food.

Casually called Skipper Canteen, the entertaining outpost restaurant is located deep inside the jungles of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Adventureland.

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An outdoor pavilion welcomes diners with an island vacation flair, showcasing comfortable wicker chairs, green shutters and a beautiful glass ceiling with cooling fans.

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Three uniquely themed rooms with quirky, British outpost decorations create a quiet escape from the theme park crowds.  The Crew’s Mess Hall is the largest dining area.  There is also a Jungle Room and the S.E.A. room–the secret meeting place for the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.

Take a minute and check out each room–there are some silly and interesting finds!

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Walls are decorated with artifacts, sculptures, maps, photographs, masks and baskets collected from many high adventure explorations of the world’s tropical jungles.

Muted, but colorful, the walls and moldings are painted to look like worn wood and fresco-style plaster, with plenty of shutters and exotic travel details.

Tables are comfortably spaced and can accommodate large parties or small intimate couples.  Seating is mostly cushioned chairs, but there are a few tables with one-sided, fabric-lined, booth seating.

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The restaurant servers are rusty, I mean, trusty skippers ‘taking a break’ from narrating tongue-in-cheek tours aboard Disney’s light-hearted Jungle Cruise expeditions.  Clever jokes and silly puns create a fun and entertaining interaction between diners and servers.

A creative, wandering menu, fusing exotic flavors of South American, Asian, Latin, and African spices and cuisines, represents the rivers visited on a Jungle Cruise journey:  The Amazon, African Congo, Nile and Mekong River.

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Skipper Canteen servers both lunch and dinner and the menus for these two meals are identical.

Appetizers include Baladi Salad, an Egyptian creation made with Romaine lettuce, red peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and parsley served with coriander mint vinaigrette and Ambasha bread croutons.

Though the portion was too small, I enjoyed the Falls Family Falafel made with chickpeas, garlic, onion, lemon juice and herbs served with white bean dip and a tomato and cucumber salad.  Try the Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas, which is corn pancakes, mojo-braised pork, black bean salad served with an avocado cream.

Entrees include Char Siu Pork served with Chinese broccoli and jasmine rice, noodle bowl with chicken, lamb chops and a sustainable fish option.

My daughter liked Skips Beefy Baked Pasta, an Egyptian dish with spiced braised beef, pasta, cheese and Béchamel sauce served with seasonable vegetables.

We also recommend the Curried Vegetable Crew Stew, served with coconut rice and seasonal vegetables.

Kid’s meals include sustainable fish, grilled flank steak, mac-n-cheese, chicken and fresh fruit.

Desserts are the artistic showstoppers at this Magic Kingdom restaurant.  The coconut bar with pineapple basil compote, vanilla ice cream, vanilla chiffon cake with coconut lime, white chocolate ganache was delicious and probably the reason we will return.

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The Kungaloosh is an African inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas, cashew caramel ice cream, topped with coffee dush.  Our favorite part was the cashew ice cream.

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Traditional sodas and teas are served as well as coffee, espresso, cappuccino and lattes.

Skipper Canteen also serves a few select beer and wines.

The bold menu also offers fun non-alcoholic beverages, like exotic Coca Cola Guarana Kuat from Brazil and Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand.

Yes, lunch and dinner menus are identical.

Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.

Dinner is served 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Operating hours for all Disney restaurants can change due to seasonal crowd levels and refurbishments.

Family-friendly, tongue-in-cheek narration mixed with clever jokes from the skippers makes this a fun and light-hearted restaurant.

The food plays second fiddle to the fun interactions with the servers.

Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen was very clean and the service was top-notch.  Though the food was original and bold, there wasn’t anything we desire to eat again, except the coconut bar dessert.  The food was underwhelming.

The ambiance is relaxing and since this is not a character meal, it is a peaceful escape from the chaos and crowds outside.

Skipper Canteen is a must for die-hard Jungle Cruise fans.

Dress is casual.

A theme park ticket is required to dine at Skipper Canteen.  The restaurant is inside the Magic Kingdom and remember, any restaurant inside a Disney theme park requires a ticket for entrance into that specific park.

To travel to Skipper Canteen, take any Disney transportation to Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park.  Enter the park and take a left before the castle and head towards Adventureland.  The restaurant will be on your right.

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are highly recommended and can be made directly on the Disney website, through the My Disney Experience app on a smart phone or by calling 407-939-3463.

Current and full menus for every Walt Disney World restaurant can be found on the Disney website.  Click on “Things to do”, then click on “All Dining”.  Every restaurant is listed alphabetically.  Click on the name of the restaurant and then click on “View Menu” off to the right of the middle photograph.

Skipper Canteen accepts the Disney dining plan.

Both lunch and dinner are 1 table service credit on the dining plan.

Click here to find out if the Disney dining plan is right for your next vacation!

If you only learn one thing from my blog posts, I hope it is the fact that Disney changes every day.  That is exactly why Disney is so popular–there is ALWAYS something new for junkies like me to experience!  It is also why I always say everything is subject to change.

Overwhelmed by the planning process of a Disney vacation?  Don’t worry!  I am here to help!  Click here to learn how to plan a WDW vacation like a total pro!

Click here for a list of all character meals at Walt Disney World.

 


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2017 Disney Dining Plan–Everything You Need To Know

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To Dining Plan Or Not To Dining Plan…that is the question.

It is the most common inquiry I receive and honestly, one of the more challenging to answer.

Whether the dining plan will save you money completely depends on your family, the ages of your children, where you plan to eat and what you eat. Everyone eats differently, especially on vacation and every family is different.

So many factors.  So many options.  So many questions.  So many different answers.

I will try to simplify. (Ha!  That rhymes!)

If you are just beginning the planning process, click here to see a list of questions to answer BEFORE you plan a Walt Disney World vacation.

Click here to learn how to plan a Disney vacation like a pro.

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The 2017 Disney Meal Plan

The Basics:

  • Guests must purchase a Magic Your Way Package through Disney in order to be eligible to purchase any meal plan.
  • Guests must stay at a Walt Disney Resort.  The dining plan is not available for the Swan and Dolphin Hotels, Shades of Green and the hotels of the Disney Springs Resort area.
  • Typically, a minimum 3 night resort stay is required.
  • Annual pass holders and DVC members can purchase the Disney dining plan.
  • Each person on your resort reservation must be on the dining plan.
  • Each person on your resort reservation must be on the same level of dining plan, too.
  • Plans are set based on the number of nights on your resort reservation.  i.e. If you book 5 nights, you get 5 days worth of the dining plan.  You can not get less days and you can not pay for more.  I will explain in greater detail below.
  • The dining plan expires at midnight on the check out day.
  • Disney defines children as ages 3-9.
  • Children ages 3-9 on the Disney dining plan are expected to order from the children’s menu when one is available.
  • The dining plan is not available for children under the age of 3.  Children under 3 can eat off of an adult’s plate or a meal can be purchased separately.
  • Any guest age 10 or older is a Disney adult.  (I don’t make the rules.)
  • Tax is included.
  • Tips and gratuities are NOT included.
  • 18% gratuity is automatically added to parties of 6 or more guests.
  • The refillable mugs can be filled an unlimited amount of times (during your stay) at Disney resort quick service restaurants only.  Not the theme parks.  Drinks include sodas, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc.
  • If you order something that the dining plan does not cover, you will be charged separately for that item.
  • Desserts and appetizers at breakfast are not included.
  • Alcohol is not included.
  • Meals are considered quick service (QS) or table service (TS) or signature dining (SD).
  • Pricing for the dining plan can increase at anytime.
  • The dining plan is always changing.

Have you read my post about changes at Disney?  Click here my friend.

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Restaurant Credit Descriptions:

Snacks are a plethora of all kinds of things and are marked with a purple and white 4 point segmented square on all Disney menus offering snacks.  If you don’t see the symbol, there are no snacks on that menu.  1 snack credit can be used for a frozen ice cream novelty, 1 scoop of popcorn, 1 piece of whole fruit, 20 oz. soda or water, Dole Whip!, soups, chips, puffed rice treats and so much more.

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This is the snack credit symbol

Quick service restaurants are just like they sound, quick.  Ordering is made at a counter or register and the food is casual, quick and easy.  Guests choose their own tables.

 

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Quick service breakfast

 

Table service restaurants are more formal than quick service.  Guests are escorted to their tables and menus are provided for ordering (if not a buffet).  A server will wait on the table.  Most buffets and most character meals are considered table service.

For a list of every character meal at Walt Disney World, click here!

 

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Chef Mickey’s buffet is 1 table service credit.

 

Signature dining restaurants are more formal and elegant than table service restaurants.  There is a “resort casual” dress code for signature dining.  Signature dining uses 2 table service dining credits.  Cinderella’s Royal Table is considered signature dining and uses 2 table service credits.

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Cinderella’s Royal Table is considered signature dining and uses 2 table service credits.

Dinner shows are just like they sound, dinner and a show.  Think Disney’s Spirit of Aloha or Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.  Dinner shows require 2 table service dining credits.

 

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The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort requires 2 table service credits from the dining plans.

 

The Three Options:

Disney offers 3 different dining plans:  Quick service, Dining, and Deluxe Dining.

Quick Service:

  • $48.19 per night per adult (ages 10+)
  • $20.88 per night per child (ages 3-9)
  • Includes 2 quick service credits per night per person (1 quick service meal is considered 1 entrée and 1 drink)
  • Includes 2 snack credits per night per person
  • Includes 1 refillable mug per person

The Dining Plan:

  • $69.35 per night per adult
  • $24.95 per night per child
  • Includes 1 quick service credit per night per person (1 quick service meal is considered 1 entrée and 1 drink)
  • Includes 1 table service credit per night per person (1 table service meal is considered 1 entrée, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner) and 1 drink or 1 buffet and 1 drink.)
  • Includes 2 snack credits per night per person
  • Includes 1 refillable mug per person
  • 1 table service credit can be used for most character meals. (Cinderella’s Royal Table is considered Signature Dining and is 2 table service credits.)
  • 2 table service credits can be used to dine at Signature Dining Restaurants (meal includes 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 drink)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for dinner shows (category 2 or 3 seating)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for private in-room dining (meal includes 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 drink)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for pizza delivery (meal includes 1 pizza entrée, 2 desserts and 2 drinks)

Deluxe Dining:

  • $106.68 per night per adult
  • $38.75 per night per adult
  • Includes 3 meals (QS or TS) per night–3 quick service or 3 table service credits per night per person used in any combination. (1 quick service meal is considered 1 entrée and 1 drink).  (1 deluxe dining table service meal is considered 1 appetizer (lunch and dinner), 1 entrée, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner), and 1 drink or a 1 buffet and 1 drink.)
  • Includes 2 snack credits per night per person
  • Includes 1 refillable mug per person
  • 1 table service credit can be used for most character meals. (Cinderella’s Royal Table is considered Signature Dining and is 2 table service credits.)
  • 2 table service credits can be used to dine at Signature Dining Restaurants (meal includes 1 appetizer, 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 drink)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for dinner shows (category 2 or 3 seating)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for private in-room dining (meal includes 1 appetizer, 1 entrée, 1 dessert and 1 drink)
  • 2 table service credits can be used for pizza delivery (meal includes 1 pizza entrée, 2 desserts and 2 drinks)

 

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1900 Park Fare breakfast buffet is 1 table service credit.

 

Confused yet?

I am going to create several scenarios to help clarify.

Scenario #1

2 adults and 2 children (ages 4 and 7) book 5 nights at a Disney resort and choose the quick service plan.  Total cost:  $690.70.

The cost for each adult on the quick service plan for 5 nights is $240.95.

For 2 adults, the total is $481.90.

The cost for each child on the quick service plan for 5 nights is $104.40.

For 2 children, the total is $208.80.

Total cost for the quick service meal plan for this family of 4 is $690.70.

Each person is given 2 quick service credits and 2 snack credits for each night of the reservation.  That is 10 quick service credits and 10 snack credits per person for the entire vacation.

There are 2 adults.  So, they have a total of 20 adult quick service credits and 20 snack credits.  There are 2 children.  So, they have a total of 20 quick service (kids meals if offered) credits and 20 snack credits.

In total, this family has 40 quick service meal credits and 40 snack credits.  The math is getting ridiculous, right?  Are you following me?

Adult #1–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Adult #2–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Child #1–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Child #2–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

These credits all expire on midnight of the check-out day.

Between the check-in day and midnight of the check-out day, this family can use these 40 quick service credits and 40 snack credits any way they please and in any combination.  The credits are all lumped into one total.

These credits are not linked to a certain person, either.  If adult #1 only wants to eat snacks the entire vacation, then he/she can eat all 40 snacks and all of those snacks can be Dole Whips…hypothetically, of course.

If this family wants to eat 20 quick service meals in one day, they can.  All of these 40 QS credits and 40 snack credits can be used in any combination on any day of their vacation.

Guest can use these quick service credits for quick service breakfast, lunch or dinner.  When all 40 quick service meals and all 40 snacks run out, any food purchases must be paid out of pocket.  If this family decides to eat at any table service restaurant, the bill would not be covered by their meal plan.

 

Scenario #2

Same family, 2 adults and 2 children (ages 4 and 7) book 5 nights at a Disney resort and choose the Dining Plan.  Total cost: $943.00

The cost for each adult on the dining plan for 5 nights is $346.75.

For 2 adults, the total is $693.50.

The cost for each child on the dining plan for 5 nights is $124.75.

For 2 children, the total is $249.50.

Total cost for the dining plan for this family of 4 is $943.00.

Each person is given 1 quick service credit, 1 table service credit and 2 snack credits for each night of the vacation.  That is 5 quick service credits, 5 table service credits and 10 snacks per person for the entire vacation.

Adult #1–5 QS credits, 5 TS credits, 10 snacks

Adult #2–5 QS credits, 5 TS credits, 10 snacks

Child #1–5 QS credits, 5 TS credit, 10 snacks

Child #2–5 QS credits, 5 TS credits, 10 snacks

The family in total has 20 quick service credits, 20 table service credits and 40 snacks to use in any combination over the duration of their resort stay.  This family could eat at 3 different table service restaurants in one day, if they choose.  Or, they could use 2 table service credits each to eat at a signature dining restaurant, like Cinderella’s Royal Table.  If the family of 4 all dined at Cinderella’s Royal Table, 8 of their 20 table service credits would be used.

If this family of 4 all ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at 3 table service restaurants in one day and then had breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, their 20 table service credits would be gone.

To get the most benefit, this family should use their snack credits for breakfast items, quick service for lunch and each table service credit for a character meal or buffet.

 

Scenario #3

Same family, 2 adults and 2 children (ages 4 and 7) book 5 nights at a Disney resort and choose Deluxe Dining.  Total cost: $1,454.30.

The cost for each adult on the deluxe dining plan for 5 nights is $533.40.

For 2 adults, the total is $1,066.80.

The cost for each child on the deluxe dining plan for 5 nights is $193.75.

For 2 children, the total is $387.50.

Total cost for the deluxe dining plan for this family of 4 is $1,454.30.

Each person is given 3 meal credits (can be quick service or table service, in any combination) each night of the vacation.  That is 15 meal credits and 10 snacks per person for the entire vacation.

Adult #1–15 meals, 10 snacks

Adult #2–15 meals, 10 snacks

Child #1–15 meals, 10 snacks

Child #2–15 meals, 10 snacks

This family has a total of 60 meals that can be either quick service or table service, plus 40 snacks.  The 60 meals belong to the family as a whole.  Anyone can use the credits in any combination.

If this family of 4 all ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at 3 table service restaurants in one day and then had breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, they would still have 40 meal credits left to use.  To get the most benefit, this family should eat all meals at table service restaurants and avoid quick service all together.

That’s a lot of math.  Yes, I used a calculator.

The Benefits:

All 3 meal plans are essentially pre-paid dining and are accepted at over 100 locations on Disney property.

It is a nice feeling to have dining costs already covered.

Guests using meal plans can save money if they choose wisely.

The Struggles:

The dining plans require pre-paying and must be paid in full when the final resort reservation payment is due.

Guests must actively keep track of how many dining credits have been used and how many are left. (Credits are printed on each dining receipt).

Children ages 10 and up are considered adults and are charged the adult dining plan fees.

At the time of this post, if you want the dining plan, Disney requires you to pay for the plan for every night of your resort stay.  There is no option for anything less and your entire traveling party (in your resort room) must be on the dining plan.

The dining plan is only available for Disney resort guests.

Thoughts And Things To Consider:

The quick service plan is pretty straight forward.  To avoid running out of credits, guests can use 2 snack credits to cover breakfast by getting a muffin for 1 credit and a piece of fruit for 1 credit and filling the refillable mug with coffee.  Or guests can use the 2 daily snacks to cover a light lunch by using the credits for a cup of soup and chips.  Quick service meals should be used for the largest meals of the day to get the most bang for your buck.

Table service, character meals and buffets can cost anywhere from $35 to $59.99 per adult.  The dining plan is $69.35 per day per adult and covers 1 quick service, 1 table service and 2 snacks.

**An adult not on the dining plan eats 1 character meal that costs $59.99, a quick service meal for $17.99 and gets 2 snacks for $12 for a total cost of $89.98

**An adult on the dining plan would pre-pay only $69.35 for the exact same meals and snacks.

We used the dining plan and saved a ton of money when my kids were younger than 10.  We used every table service credit to eat at buffets and character meals and we saved quite a bit of money.  Plus, knowing that our meals were essentially pre-paid helped quite a bit with “sticker shock”.

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Honestly, whether the dining plans will save you money completely depends on your family and your eating habits.

If you answer “yes” to these questions, chances are very high that the dining plan will save you money.

  • Do you plan to eat at only table service, buffets and character meals?
  • Do you eat a dessert at every lunch and dinner?
  • Does your entire family drink sodas or tea?
  • Do you want to dine at signature dining restaurants or dinner shows?
  • Do you have children under the age of 10?

How About My Family?

Like I said before, we were dining plan worshippers for many of our Walt Disney World vacations.  But for the last two trips, we chose not to use the dining plan.

Here are my reasons:

Now that my daughters are 11 and 12, all 5 of my family members are considered adults in Disney’s eyes and adults cost more $$$.

I drink tea, but the rest of my family only drinks water.  (Well, my husband and son drink beer, but the dining plans don’t cover alcohol.)

We usually split 1 or 2 desserts at dinner time only and prefer to eat a very light breakfast and lunch.

My daughters have outgrown most character meals.

 

 

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1 quick service credit breakfast at Be Our Guest

 

If you are still uncertain, there are many Disney dining plan calculators available online to help determine if the dining plan will save you money.

Message me if you still have questions!

Happy eating, my friends!

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1 table service credit

 

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1 snack credit

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1 table service credit

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1 snack credit

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Be Our Guest is quick service for breakfast and lunch, but uses 1 table service credit for dinner.

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Akershus restaurant is 1 table service credit.

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Boma–Flavors of Africa breakfast buffet is 1 table service credit.

Click here to read about our favorite buffet at Disney!

Click here to read about our favorite character meal at Disney!

Click here if you love animals!