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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Disney Character Dining (No Princesses)– A Quick List

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Character dining at Walt Disney World is a must for most families traveling with children.  It is also a great opportunity for people of all ages to meet and interact with favorite characters without standing in long lines.

Character dining can also be overwhelming and knowing which meals to book is confusing and daunting at first.

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My quick disclaimer:  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.

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

Click here for the most important Disney information!

Click here to become a Disney Dining Plan master!

More character dining information is at the bottom of the post, so read it all my friends.

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***Here is a complete list of all Walt Disney World character meals (minus princesses)–for those who want to skip interactions with royalty.

I am going to make this as quick and painless as possible.  You are welcome.

{Restaurant name, location, the meals that offer characters, known characters that visit}

Character Dining, the quick list:

1900 Park Fare.  The Grand Floridian Resort.  Breakfast/Brunch:  Mary Poppins, Pooh, Tigger, Alice and the Mad Hatter.   Read a full review of this character meal here.

Be Our Guest.  Magic Kingdom.  Dinner:  The Beast.  Visit him inside the library on your way out after dinner.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Cape May Café.  Disney’s Beach Club Resort.  Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast:  Minnie and friends.

Chef Mickey’s.  Contemporary Resort.  Breakfast, brunch and dinner:  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Crystal Palace.  Magic Kingdom.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Garden Grill.  Epcot, Future World.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Chip-n-Dale, other characters. (Mickey and Pluto usually)

Garden Grove.  Walt Disney World Swan Hotel.  Dinner:  Any combination of Pluto, Goofy and Chip-n-Dale.  Good Morning Breakfast Events on Saturday and Sundays:  same characters.  Call for dates.

Ravello Restaurant.  Four Seasons Resort Orlando.  Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and Pals. Breakfast on Thursdays, Saturdays and some Tuesdays:  Goofy and Pals.

Hollywood & Vine.  Hollywood Studios.  Breakfast and Lunch:  Disney Junior characters, possibly Doc McStuffins, Sofia The First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Handy Manny.  Seasonal Dinner Dining:  Minnie and friends, Daisy, Donald and Goofy.

‘Ohana.  Polynesian Village Resort.  Breakfast:  Lilo and Stitch and possibly other friends.

Tusker House Restaurant.  Animal Kingdom.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Safari Donald Duck and friends.

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Character shows and special events:

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.  Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.  Dinner Show:  Mickey, Minnie, and friends (Usually Goofy and Chip-n-Dale).

***Characters are always subject to change.  It is Disney’s prerogative.

 

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***Call Disney to verify any information.  To book advanced dining reservations, visit the Disney website, download the My Disney Experience (MDE) app or call 407-939-3463.

I HIGHLY recommend advanced dining reservations (ADR) for all of these character meals and experiences.

Remember:  Character meals ALWAYS cost more than regular table service meals.  You are paying for the time and interactions with the characters.  If you have children or if you love Disney like we do, book character dining!  It is soooooo much better than waiting in lines at the theme parks to meet your favorite movie figures and the character interactions aren’t as rushed.

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Extra hint:  While dining at character meals, the characters COME TO YOU.  There is a pattern all characters follow, visiting tables in a certain order.  Your party is free to enjoy the meal, as the characters make their way around the restaurant.  Every character will eventually get to your table.

If you have a concern, ask the wait-staff for assistance.  It is very much so frowned upon if you send your child over to a character during a character’s interaction with another table.  Wait your turn, my friend.  That is just good character dining etiquette. ***Be Our Guest is a little different.  The Beast is available after dinner on the way out of the restaurant.

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A theme park ticket is required for any character meals that take place inside a theme park.  If the restaurant is inside of a Disney resort hotel, you do not have to be a guest at that resort to make dining reservations and you do not need a theme park ticket.

If you have advanced dining reservations (which you most certainly should), and your character meal is at a restaurant inside of a resort, you can park your vehicle in complimentary self parking lots or use valet parking for $20-$25.

Character dining takes time.  Schedule at least 1 hour for travel to a character meal and at least 1.5-2 hours for dining.  If you are in a hurry to get to the theme parks or to catch an airplane, I do not recommend a character meal.

Click here to check out a super fun list of FREEEEEE things to do at Disney!

Click here to read about my obsession with rain ponchos!

Click here for a list of all princess dining available at Walt Disney World!

 

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12 Reasons To Take Garbage Bags To Disney

We are Disney junkies.  And through the years, I have developed and put in place a strong plan for if/when it rains while we are enjoying the Walt Disney theme parks.

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Rain ponchos are the #1 item on my Disney packing list.  It rains every time we travel to Orlando and I am NOT going to let a little rain dampen our Disney fun!

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Click here to read about my obsession with rain ponchos.

Even though rain ponchos are my #1 Disney item, something odd comes in a very close second place.  So…what is the #2 item on my Disney packing list???

Garbage Bags.  Yep.  Garbage Bags.

Classy choice, I know.

Garbage bags are sooooooo perfect for vacations, I could almost give them the #1 slot on my Walt Disney World packing list.

WHY garbage bags?

They are very cheap, fold up easily, exceptionally light weight, difficult to break and super water proof.  Garbage bags are the perfect theme park backpack stowaway.

Throw 7 or 8 garbage bags in your suitcase and put 3-4 in your theme park bag.  You won’t regret it.

12 SUPER AWESOME uses for this odd item on your Disney packing list:

1. Water ride protection.  Sit on trash bags to protect your bottom from puddles.  Cut a hole for your head and wear the trash bag to protect your clothing.  Cover your bag, purse or shoes, too!  Throw it away once you exit the ride or save it for when you ride again!

 

2. Make-shift rain poncho.  If you don’t want to purchase rain ponchos, garbage bags make great rain protection in a pinch.  Just tear a hole in the sealed bottom for your head (and arms on the sides, if you want)

 

3. Stroller protection.  Garbage bags can be used to cover your stroller during a downpour, keeping fabric nice and dry.  Garbage bags can also protect your stroller from getting too hot in the summer heat, shading the hard plastic and metal pieces from direct sunlight.  Garbage bags can easily be used to quickly cover bags, purchases and personal items in the stroller basket when you leave the stroller to ride something fun.

4. Purchase protection.  Wrap and cushion breakable purchases with several garbage bags, while in the parks and in your luggage when returning home.

 

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Keep your souvenirs safe and dry!

 

5. Dirty laundry.  Garbage bags are great receptacles for dirty clothes.  Hang one in your resort room to catch previously worn clothing and keep the dirty separated from the clean.  Then, take the bag to do some laundry or pack it for the return home.

6. Wet swimsuits.  Or shoes or socks or undies or clothes.  Whatever gets wet!  To keep wet items from ruining other things, keep it separated by placing in a protective garbage bag, either in your theme park bag or your luggage for the return home.

 

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Swimming at the Polynesian Village Resort

 

7. Mat for parades.  Most theme park guests sit on the concrete to view parades and fireworks shows at Disney.  Sit on a garbage bag instead of sitting directly on the concrete, especially if it rained earlier in the day.

8. Table cloth.  If it’s been raining, use a garbage bag to cover wet outdoor tables or benches.

9. Cast protection.  If someone has a cast or brace or walking boot, wrap it in garbage bag to protect from rain and splashes from water rides.

 

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Yep–She broke her ankle 3 days before our Disney vacation.

 

10. Electronics safekeeping.  Protect cell phones, tablets, cameras and games from rain, sun and theft by storing inside a garbage bag for safe keeping.

11. Stuffed animal conservation.  It is impossible for me to count how many very loved and very important stuffed animals have enjoyed Disney in the arms of my children.  Use garbage bags to protect these important family members from rain, water rides and spilled drinks.

12. Sickness bag.  I put this one last because hopefully you never have to use garbage bags for this reason. But, you never know.  Motion sickness from spinning rides, stomachaches from too many treats and crazy viruses are all real possibilities, unfortunately.  Better to be prepared, just in case.

 

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Too many treats at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall?  You decide…

 

To see my not-so-obvious Disney packing list, click here.

For a list of every character meal at Disney, click here.

 


3 Comments

Disney Princess Dining– A Quick List

 

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Princess dining at Walt Disney World is a big deal.  It is a must-do, no-way-are-we-skipping-this event for most families traveling with children.  It is also a great opportunity for people of all ages to meet and interact with famous royalty without standing in long lines.

Princess dining can be soooooooo overwhelming for parents and knowing which meals to book is confusing and daunting at first.

 

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I am here and happy to help.

More princess dining information is at the bottom of the post, so read it all my friends.

 

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I am going to make this as quick and painless as possible.  You are welcome.

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{Restaurant name, location, the meals that offer princess dining, known royalty that visit}

Princess Dining, the quick list:

1900 Park Fare.  The Grand Floridian Resort.  Dinner:  Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine and the wicked step-sisters.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  Epcot, World Showcase, Norway.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Ariel (These princesses are on a rotation. Not all guaranteed).

Cinderella’s Royal Table.  Magic Kingdom.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner:  Cinderella and other princesses.

Trattoria al Forno.  Disney’s Boardwalk.  Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast:  Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.

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Princess special events:

Perfectly Princess Tea.  Grand Floridian Resort.  Garden View Tea Room.  Princess Aurora.

Tiana’s Riverboat Party.  Magic Kingdom.  Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.

***Characters are always subject to change.  It is Disney’s prerogative.

 

 

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My quick disclaimer:  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.  Just so you know, princess dining changes often, which is really quite awesome! (Just in case you need a reason to go to Disney again!)

***Call Disney to verify any information.  To book advanced dining reservations, visit the Disney website, download the My Disney Experience (MDE) app or call 407-939-3463.

I HIGHLY recommend advanced dining reservations (ADR) for all of these princess meals and experiences.

Remember:  Princess meals ALWAYS cost more than regular table service meals.  You are paying for time and interactions with royalty, my friends!  If you have children or if you love Disney like we do, book princess dining!  It is soooooo much better than waiting in lines at the theme parks to meet your favorite movie figures and the princess interactions aren’t as rushed.

 

Extra hint:  While dining at princess meals, the princesses COME TO YOU.  There is a pattern all royalty follows, visiting tables in a certain order.  Your party is free to enjoy the meal, as the princesses make their way around the restaurant.  Every princess will eventually get to your table.

If you have a concern, ask the wait-staff for assistance.  It is very much so frowned upon if you send your child over to a princess during an interaction with another table.  Wait your turn, my friend.  That is just good princess dining etiquette.

 

***The two princess meals that do not require a theme park ticket are 1900 Park Fare and Trattoria al Forno.  A theme park ticket is required for any princess meals that take place inside a theme park.

If you have advanced dining reservations (which you most certainly should), and your princess meal is at a restaurant inside of a resort, you can park your vehicle in complimentary self parking lots or use valet parking for $20-$25.

Princess dining takes time.  Schedule at least 1 hour for travel to a princess meal and at least 1.5-2 hours for dining.  If you are in a hurry to get to the theme parks, use a fast pass or to catch an airplane, I do not recommend a princess meal.

Click here to check out a super fun list of FREEEEEE things to do at Disney!

Click here to read about my obsession with rain ponchos!

Click here for a full list of all Disney character meals!


8 Comments

A Review of Boma–Flavors of Africa

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) is the most secluded of the Walt Disney World deluxe resorts.  It is a breathtaking safari-themed hotel with approximately 43 acres of African savanna inspired, natural looking landforms and home to 200 animals and 130 birds.  Read a full review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort here.

Jambo House and Kidani Village are the two main buildings on property.  The buildings are connected by a half-mile walking trail lined with tall reeds and flowering bushes.

Located in Jambo House, Boma–Flavors of Africa, is the most popular and only buffet-style restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Boma–Flavors of Africa is two floors down from the Jambo main lobby.  Elevators are available as well as a beautiful grand staircase.  At the base of the stairs, is a calming, rocky water feature and the entrance to Boma.

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On our first visit, my daughters and I had advanced dining reservations for dinner and checked in at the hostess stand.  The entire area was very crowded and there were only 2 small benches for seating.  Most guests were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the large, open walkway, which prevented others from checking in comfortably.

We stood in the noisy crowd until the hostess texted my cell phone and we were seated at our table.  Even though the restaurant was jam-packed, our little table for 3 was off in a secluded corner and offered some reprieve from the chaos and chatter.

The floor at Boma is painted to look like dirt, mud and rocks, while the décor is reminiscent of a bustling African marketplace.  Patterned fabrics, tribal paintings, wood carvings and draped, colorful prints fill the large and open dining room.

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Even though the open dining room is enormous, the tables are placed deceptively close to one another.  Because Boma is buffet-style, guests and children are constantly getting up and walking through the restaurant.  The tables can accommodate large and small parties.

The single entrance buffet line was entirely too long, but once we encountered the delicious offerings, my daughters and I did not mind the wait.

A strong African influence is apparent just by the names on the food labels.  While inching through the line, we took turns attempting to pronounce the unique dishes.  I don’t think we were very successful, but it was entertaining.

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The dinner menu consists of a rotation of robust house-made soups, such as butternut squash, Cape Malay Lamb stew, Ghanian oxtail stew, spicy Nigerian peanut soup, and chicken corn chowder.  A large salad selection included watermelon rind salad, Tunisian couscous salad, apple jicama salad, pasta salad and lentil and heart of palm salad.

Main entrées were full of unique African flavors, as well as a few traditional offerings: pap and chakalaka, roasted salmon, hummus with bread, bobotie, pork ribs, beef sirloin, plantain crisps, Zulu cabbage, spiced sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables.  There were multiple vegetarian dishes.

A children’s food section displayed the expected items like chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese.

A large variety of desserts included guava panna cotta, apple cobbler, chocolate chip cookies and zebra domes.

Boma offers a full service bar and has an all South African wine selection.

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Dinner was delicious.  The buffet dishes were fresh, appropriately varied and flavorful.  My daughters and I enjoyed trying the new, exotic dishes.  In fact, we decided to make advanced dining reservations for breakfast the next morning while we were still sitting at our dinner table.

Breakfast was not as crowded as dinner and there was no line for the buffet, which had more traditional and familiar menu items and just a few unique African-inspired dishes.

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The buffet offered African fruit fool, mixed assorted pastries, create-your-own yogurt, spinach-quinoa salad, omelets, pancakes, French toast bread pudding, breakfast ham, sweet plantains, oak grilled asparagus (my fav!) and of course, Mickey and Simba waffles!  (YES!  PLEASE)

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A press pot with Kenyan coffee is served as well as a blend of passion, orange, and guava juices.  Traditional beverages are also available.

Breakfast was top quality, hot and fresh and my daughters (ages 11 and 12) voted it our best Disney breakfast ever.

Ironically, we sat at the same quiet table for both meals.

The service at Boma–Flavors of Africa for both dinner and breakfast was superb and quite possibly the best we have encountered at a Disney buffet restaurant.  Our waitresses were personable, friendly, attentive, and very quick to refill our beverages.

Quick family review for Boma:

Overall, both meals were top-notch at Boma–Flavors of Africa and we plan to make this restaurant a new Disney tradition.

Final Family Boma Suggestion:

Because breakfast and dinner were both delicious and very different, we recommend you try both meals!  Dinner was very crowded and noisy, so avoid peak dining times and ask for a table away from the buffet line.

Breakfast is served 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Dinner is served 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

There is no lunch service at Boma.  For a delicious lunch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I highly recommend Sanaa.  Read a full review of Sanaa here.

Friend-to-Friend, I want you to know:

I highly, highly, highly recommend advanced dining reservations (ADR), especially for dinner at Boma. Yes, booking meals 180 days before you plan to eat is crazy, but do it.  Just.  Do.  It

Advanced dining reservations are recommended for all table service restaurants at Walt Disney World and can be made online through My Disney Experience or by calling (407)-939-3463.

The current menu at Boma can be found on the Walt Disney World website under the “dining” tab.  At the time of this post, this restaurant does not offer character dining and all meals are buffet-style.

Boma–Flavors of Africa breakfast pricing ranges from $15.00-$34.99 and dinner ranges from $35.00-$59.99.  Yes, prices fluctuate at Disney according to season and crowd levels.  Plan accordingly and discuss such changes with your wallet.

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

Dress is casual.

Boma does accept the Disney Dining Plan and is considered one table service meal per guest.

If you have advanced dining reservations (ADR), you can park your vehicle in the self-parking lot free of charge.

Valet parking can cost between $20-$25.

Boma–Flavors of Africa is located inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort in the Jambo House building.

At the time of this post, there is no direct transportation between Disney resorts.  The quickest and easiest way to travel to Boma from a Disney resort is to take Disney transportation to the Animal Kingdom theme park and then board the Disney bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  You can get off of the bus directly in front of Jambo House.

If you are at a Disney theme park, the best way to travel to Boma is to board a Disney transportation bus that is headed directly to the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort.

A theme park ticket is NOT required.

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.

For a quick list of every character meal available at Walt Disney World, click here.

Do you love animals? Want to have lunch with a Disney animal specialist? Click here to read my review of that awesome experience!


22 Comments

Disney Character Dining– A Quick List

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Character dining at Walt Disney World is a must for most families traveling with children.  It is also a great opportunity for people of all ages to meet and interact with favorite characters without standing in long lines.

Character dining can also be overwhelming and knowing which meals to book is confusing and daunting at first…but I am here to help!

Want to plan a Disney vacation like a pro?  Click here.

photo0159fourbysix

Look!  I have on my Disney pants!

 

My quick disclaimer:  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.

More character dining information is at the bottom of the post, so read it all my friends.

wdw2017004640262638_7913789539

 

I am going to make this as quick and painless as possible.  You are welcome.

{Restaurant name, location, the meals that offer characters, known characters that visit}

Character Dining, the quick list:

1900 Park Fare.  The Grand Floridian Resort.  Breakfast/Brunch:  Mary Poppins, Pooh, Tigger, Alice and the Mad Hatter.  Tea Experience:  Wonderland Characters.  Dinner:  Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine and the wicked step-sisters.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  Epcot, World Showcase, Norway.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Ariel (These princesses are on a rotation. Not all guaranteed).

Be Our Guest.  Magic Kingdom.  Dinner:  The Beast.  Visit him inside the library on your way out after dinner.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Cape May Café.  Disney’s Beach Club Resort.  Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast:  Minnie and friends.

Chef Mickey’s.  Contemporary Resort.  Breakfast, brunch and dinner:  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Cinderella’s Royal Table.  Magic Kingdom.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner:  Cinderella and other princesses.

Crystal Palace.  Magic Kingdom.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet.  Read a full review of this character meal here.

Garden Grill.  Epcot, Future World.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Chip-n-Dale, other characters. (Mickey and Pluto usually)

Garden Grove.  Walt Disney World Swan Hotel.  Dinner:  Any combination of Pluto, Goofy and Chip-n-Dale.  Good Morning Breakfast Events on Saturday and Sundays:  same characters.  Call for dates.

Ravello Restaurant.  Four Seasons Resort Orlando.  Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and Pals. Breakfast on Thursdays, Saturdays and some Tuesdays:  Goofy and Pals.

Hollywood & Vine.  Hollywood Studios.  Breakfast and Lunch:  Disney Junior characters, possibly Doc McStuffins, Sofia The First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Handy Manny.  Seasonal Dinner Dining:  Minnie and friends, Daisy, Donald and Goofy.

‘Ohana.  Polynesian Village Resort.  Breakfast:  Lilo and Stitch and possibly other friends.

Trattoria al Forno.  Disney’s Boardwalk.  Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast:  Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.

Tusker House Restaurant.  Animal Kingdom.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner:  Safari Donald Duck and friends.

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Character shows and special events:

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.  Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.  Dinner Show:  Mickey, Minnie, and friends (Usually Goofy and Chip-n-Dale).

Perfectly Princess Tea.  Grand Floridian Resort.  Garden View Tea Room.  Princess Aurora.

Tiana’s Riverboat Party.  Magic Kingdom.  Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.

 

***Characters are always subject to change.  It is Disney’s prerogative.

 

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***Call Disney to verify any information.  To book advanced dining reservations, visit the Disney website, download the My Disney Experience (MDE) app or call 407-939-3463.

I HIGHLY recommend advanced dining reservations (ADR) for all of these character meals and experiences.

Remember:  Character meals ALWAYS cost more than regular table service meals.  You are paying for the time and interactions with the characters.  If you have children or if you love Disney like we do, book character dining!  It is soooooo much better than waiting in lines at the theme parks to meet your favorite movie figures and the character interactions aren’t as rushed.

ipad-pics-11-15-018

Extra hint:  While dining at character meals, the characters COME TO YOU.  There is a pattern all characters follow, visiting tables in a certain order.  Your party is free to enjoy the meal, as the characters make their way around the restaurant.  Every character will eventually get to your table.

If you have a concern, ask the wait-staff for assistance.  It is very much so frowned upon if you send your child over to a character during a character’s interaction with another table.  Wait your turn, my friend.  That is just good character dining etiquette. ***Be Our Guest is a little different.  The Beast is available after dinner on the way out of the restaurant.

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A theme park ticket is required for any character meals that take place inside a theme park.  If the restaurant is inside of a Disney resort hotel, you do not have to be a guest at that resort to make dining reservations and you do not need a theme park ticket.

If you have advanced dining reservations (which you most certainly should), and your character meal is at a restaurant inside of a resort, you can park your vehicle in complimentary self parking lots or use valet parking for $20-$25.

Character dining takes time.  Schedule at least 1 hour for travel to a character meal and at least 1.5-2 hours for dining.  If you are in a hurry to get to the theme parks or to catch an airplane, I do not recommend a character meal.

Click here to learn all about the 2018 Disney Dining Plan–find out if it is right for you and your family!

Click here to check out a super fun list of FREEEEEE things to do at Disney!

Click here to read about my obsession with rain ponchos!

 


7 Comments

What’s the deal with needing rain ponchos at Disney?!?

 

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My people.  In rain ponchos.

 

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“Nicer” rain ponchos from Academy

 

I could probably sum up this post with one short sentence:

It rains in Orlando.

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Cheap rain poncho from Walmart

 

Most people don’t like to get wet.

Got it.

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But, until the human race learns to control the weather, it is best to be prepared for any kind of downpour when traveling to Walt Disney World.

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Cheap rain poncho from CVS

So, what is my obsession with the rain ponchos!?!

First, let me tell you that Disney sells rain ponchos at every single park.  The Florida rain can come down in sideways sheets and it can sprinkle for only 10 minutes and the merchandising gurus know that guests will need (and buy) rain ponchos in an emergency attempt to keep dry while enjoying the theme parks.

If you like to enter the parks with no bags, you can skip this post and just purchase a rain poncho when it starts raining.

I hope you are right in front of a store that carries them when the storm blows through.

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1 “nicer” rain poncho and one “cheap” rain poncho

Second, let me tell you that almost all rides continue to operate in the rain and a lot of people will leave the theme parks if the rain doesn’t subside quickly.  Do you see where I am going with this?

 

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Cheap rain poncho

 

A rainy day at Disney is still a day at Disney!  (And maybe a less crowded day, too!)

 

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Cheap poncho

 

Rain ponchos are serious business.

And, if it rains, we stay.

 

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Cheap rain ponchos

 

For the pre-planners out there, this is how I handle the rain poncho situation:

I purchase 2 kinds of rain ponchos.  I call them the cheap ponchos and the nice ponchos.

Cheap ponchos are for the freak, quick and unexpected showers that usually occur in the afternoons.  These ponchos are thin, and well…cheap.  I usually buy these at the dollar store or drug store and they cost a dollar.  Cheap.

 

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Cheap rain ponchos and super awesome kids

 

I pack 2-3 of these cheap rain ponchos per person in our travel party.  I put one of these for each person at the bottom of our park backpack and my husband carries it every day.  That way, we are never in the theme parks without rain protection. If we use a cheap one, we throw it away at the end of the day and put a new one in the backpack for the next day.

 

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Cheap rain ponchos

 

Academy and Walmart carry thicker, more substantial rain ponchos and I purchase one of these for each person in my travel party.  These “nicer” ponchos only go in the backpack if the chance of rain is greater than 50%.  Otherwise, the nice ponchos stay at our resort until needed.  We reuse the nicer ponchos.

 

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Nice rain ponchos

 

 

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Nice rain poncho and cute husband

 

***Side note:  You can find both kinds–thin emergency rain ponchos and the “nicer” ponchos in the camping sections at Target, Walmart and Academy.

 

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1 nice rain poncho, 2 cheap rain ponchos

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Rain ponchos have other uses, too!

In a rain storm, use a poncho to protect your stroller.

A poncho is great to cover purchases, stuffed animals, souvenirs and food during a down pour.

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Sit on a folded poncho as extra cushion during parades.

In a pinch, a poncho can help shield your skin from the blazing sun.

And, ponchos are great to use on water rides–wear them to protect your clothes or sit on one to protect your bottom from sitting in a puddle.

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Help!  We need rain ponchos for Splash Mountain!

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No rain ponchos on Splash Mountain–Oops!

 

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Rain ponchos on Splash Mountain

 

What else should be on your Disney packing list?  Click here.

Where do I buy all of my super cool Disney shirts?  Click here.

 

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Enjoy every day at Disney–even a rainy one!

 

 


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Top 10 FREE Things To Do On Your “Rest” Day at Disney

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Kiki Tikis Splash Play area at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

I am a planner.  Shocking, I am sure!  I know how to plan a super fun day at Disney.  (Just ask me!)  I know how to book must-see character dining reservations and maximize fast passes, which rides to do at rope drop and which rides to visit in the evenings.

But, it is slightly embarrassing to admit that it took my family (ok…me) 10 years to figure out that we needed a “rest” day in the middle of our Walt Disney World vacations.  Ten.  Long.  Years.

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A vacation at Walt Disney World is an adventure like no other.  Most trips are go-go-go, crazy family fun, out in the sun, jam-packed days full of laughter, theme park food and let’s be honest…exhausted kids (and adults!).

I am here to encourage all of you to PLEASE learn from my mistakes!

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It seems backwards, but the constant fun can be overwhelming.  I have a “secret” solution to the madness–Consider planning a day to rest in the middle of the excitement.  EVERYONE can benefit from a day of recharging.  Trust me.  It’s a game changer.

After ten years of trying to ignore the signs, a rest day (or two!) is a permanent, non-negotiable part of my planning for each Disney trip.  Below, you will find a list of super awesome things to do on your next rest day–and they are all FREEEE!  You are welcome.

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What can you do on a rest day?!?

Check out this list of the top 10 super awesome and FREE things to do that do not require a theme park ticket. And, click here to see a list of 10 MORE super cool things that do not require a theme park ticket, but cost a little $$$.

  1. Pool Day At Your Resort!  Disney resorts have some pretty amazing pools and a day of swimming, lounging and relaxation just might be what the Mouse ordered.  2 tiny things you MUST know: (a.) All Disney pools are heated, so you can swim year-round. YIPPEEE! (b.) Disney resort pools are for the enjoyment of resort guests.  You can visit any resort, but you can only swim in the pool at your resort.  And yes, they scan your bands.  And, yes that is true.  Please follow the rules, my friends.

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Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

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Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

 

2.  Take everyone to check out Disney Springs!  All Disney resorts have free transportation to Disney Springs (DS), which is an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment marketplace.  The complex sits next to the peaceful Sassagoula River and has four main areas:  The Landing, Marketplace, Town Center and West Side.  Check out the open-area splash pad and the Lego Imagination Center, an outdoor play spot with bins full of Legos!

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Amazing outdoor Lego creations at Disney Springs

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Awesome Lego creations near the massive Lego Store at Disney Springs

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Splash pad area at Disney Springs

 

3.  Make it a TRUE rest day!  Sleep late, snuggle up, kick back and watch cartoons (maybe a Disney movie??)  Play board games and cards all day!  Extra hint:  This is a great day to do laundry, too!

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4.  Go exploring at your resort!  If you haven’t had the chance to walk around your resort, a rest day is the perfect time to take a quiet stroll to new areas and possibly discover something fun!  Find out if your resort has a playground, splash pad, arcade, ping pong tables, hammocks, volleyball courts, benches or walking trails.  Get outside and just go exploring!  You never know what you might find.

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Hakuna Matata Playground at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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Ping Pong at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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Kiki Tikis Splash Play area at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

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Relax on a quiet swing or bench

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Find a hammock and grab a book!  (Yes, those are my feet.)

 

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Volleyball courts at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

 

5.  Skip on over to the front desk or concierge at your resort and ask for a calendar of resort activities, which might include super awesome things–outdoor movies, cookie and cake decorating, educational lectures, game night, roasting marshmallows and pool parties–all for FREEEEEE!

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Cake decorating at The Animal Kingdom Lodge

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Cookie decorating at Boma

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Roasting marshmallows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

 

6.  Exercise!  Many Disney resorts have fitness centers, walking paths and running trails.  Burn off some of those theme park calories (excessive intake of Dole Whips anyone?!?) and make your heart happy in the process.  I don’t have a picture for this suggestion because I have never done this on a rest day.  LOL  It sounds like a good option, though, right?!?  No excuses!  Get out there and sweat!

7.  If exercising on vacation isn’t your cup of tea (or even if it is), I have just ONE word:  MONORAIL!  (See what I did there?  The prefix “mono” means “one”.  LOL  I am so clever.)  Anyway, all Disney resorts offer free transportation to the Magic Kingdom (MK).  Once you get to the Magic Kingdom theme park, walk to the monorail boarding station and hop on!  You can ride all day long if that makes you happy.  You can even get off at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and transfer to the Epcot monorail and ride that one, too!  No ticket required!

 

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Riding the monorail and I am wearing my super awesome Disney pants!

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Monorail and Disney pants again

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Monorail again!  Though you can not see them, my husband does have on pants (not Disney pants).   He is a “just jeans” kind of guy.

 

8.  Visit other Disney resorts!  At the time of this post, Disney does not offer direct resort-to-resort transportation.  However, that tiny challenge is quite easy to remedy. While you are jet setting around the Disney property on the super awesome monorail system, disembark and check out one of the deluxe hotels near the Magic Kingdom (MK).  You can also ride a Disney bus (or boat, if available) to a theme park and then transfer to a bus going to ANY resort you want to scope out.  Each resort has an unique theme and super cool things to see!  You do not have to be a resort guest to look around!  Just ask a cast member or concierge what is the quickest way to get where you want to go.  My recommendations, you ask?  Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL), Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (CBR), Wilderness Lodge (WL), the Grand Floridian (GF) and the Polynesian Village Resort (Poly).  You can even walk from the Poly to the GF.

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Check out several African-themed savannas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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Watch flamingos eating and splashing at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

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Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has a beautiful, tropical island theme.

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Enjoy the walking trail between The Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Village Resort.  Since this picture was taken, a rope fence blocking access to the open waters was put into place.

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Lots of photo opportunities at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  This is the beautiful lobby.

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Breathtaking mural in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

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Romantic views and walking trails at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

 

9.  Ride some ferry boats!  Disney resorts have multiple forms of transportation:  bus, monorail and/or boat.  There are boats that stop at multiple resorts, theme parks and even Disney Springs.  Hop aboard one of these and see where it takes you!  Some of the ferry boat routes to enjoy:  Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness to Magic Kingdom.  Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian Village to Magic Kingdom.  Disney Springs to Saratoga Springs to Old Key West to Disney Springs.  Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Boardwalk Inn and Villas to Beach Club Resort, to Yacht Club to the Swan to Dolphin back to Hollywood Studios.  Disney transportation changes often, so ask a cast member or the concierge to share the best way to get to a boat dock.  Feel free get on and get off at your leisure–the ferries run approximately every 45 min-1 hour, depending on route, crowd level and weather, of course.

 

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Riding the boats is super fun and relaxing!

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Waiting for a boat at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

 

10.  Fireworks!  Fireworks!  Fireworks!  You don’t have to be inside the Magic Kingdom theme park to enjoy a spectacular nighttime fireworks show.  Head on over to any of the resorts serviced by the monorail (Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower, Polynesian Village and the Grand Floridian).  I recommend the Polynesian because it is directly across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Magic Kingdom.  Find a cozy bench and wait for the magic to happen!  This is also a great option for people who want to enjoy the show without the loud noises, explosions and booms.  Extra Hint:  You might get the added bonus of experiencing the Electrical Water Pageant, which appears on Seven Seas Lagoon at varying show times throughout the year.

 

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Fireworks as seen from Disney’s Polynesian Village

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Wishes Fireworks from the Polynesian Village Resort

 

BONUS:

11.  Eat a Pineapple Dole Whip!  (Or 2 or 3–no one is counting)  Ok…so, this isn’t actually free…unless you can get someone else to pay for it.  But, it is my favorite thing to do on a rest day.  So, to make this a money-free splurge, I suggest you make a friend and celebrate that new friendship by allowing said friend to purchase you a tasty treat!  Or Plan B–Eat someone else’s Dole Whip when they are distracted by a camera!

***There is only one place outside of the theme parks to find Dole Whip and that Heaven-on-Earth location is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  Make a friend.  Be a friend.

 

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My super awesome friend (She’s a Jen, too!)

 

I hope you enjoy your “rest” day and find yourself recharged for whatever Disney adventures come next!

Click here to read about the Not-Free Top 10 Things to do at Disney that don’t require a theme park ticket!