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.


11 Comments

A Review of Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant

The most sought-after dining reservation at Disney’s Magic Kingdom is hidden from the chaos of the crowds and nestled within the boulders and crevasses of a mammoth mountain.

It’s location, deeply tucked inside the whimsy of Fantasyland, is veiled to remain secretive and secluded from the meddling townspeople. The only clue to it’s existence is a castle, high above the bustle of the pathways and far enough in the distance to be unreachable.

 

img_2769

Be Our Guest from the Fantasyland pathway

Protected by gatekeepers and check points, guard-like statues and a large, commanding stone wall with a black iron gate, guests with reservations are the only people invited inside.

And, millions of Walt Disney World visitors seek a table at this coveted location in hopes of entering the magnificent and enchanted restaurant.

 

Welcome to Be Our Guest.

 

img_2768

If attendants make it through the first guard station, parties are directed to walk down the cobblestone bridge.  The arched structure connects the private mountain entrance to Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland and traverses a flowing channel of crystal-clear water that divides it from the crowds.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-476

disney2016-day2mk-208

To the left is a magnificent waterfall, cascading over rocks and pebbles.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-478

To the right is an evergreen forest, masking the location in intrigue and seclusion.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-470

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-471

Several horned, stoic but friendly statues line the edges of the massive bridge, upholding tall lampposts and keeping a watchful eye on those who wish to pass.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-472

The cobblestone bridge

 

disney2016-day2mk-216

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-466

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-473

 

Once guests arrive at the securing iron gates, the second guardsman will tell visitors to halt on the bridge or take a seat on boulder benches until their party is invited inside.

disney2016-day2mk-210

 

disney2016-day5-mk-150

The cavernous pass with rocky boulder benches

The doors to the Beast’s enchanted castle remain closed until an escort appears with the names of those allowed to feast.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-496

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-480

disney2016-day5-mk-146

disney2016-day2mk-222

If dining during breakfast or lunch, parties will be directed through the castle’s foyer to an armor clad, statue-lined hallway that leads to ordering stations on the right.  If the meal has been pre-ordered online, a stop might be made at the pay station on the left.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-495

The arch on the right leads to the ordering stations and the arch on the left leads to the Grand Ballroom.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-492

Dinner banquet guests are chaperoned through the magnificent and breathtaking Grand Ballroom.  A massive 12 foot tall chandelier brimming with 84 candles and 100 jewels, flanked by two other equally beautiful light fixtures is the room’s crowning centerpiece.

disney2016-day5-mk-162

The ornately carved ceiling displays an enormous and gorgeous mural of soft pastels, clouds and playful cherubs.  Elegant cobalt blue fabrics drape across arch insets above the marble columns.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-481

The Grand Ballroom is pure elegance, filled with opulent round and rectangular tables, set with delightfully padded, comfortable chairs.  At the back of the room, arched, floor-to-ceiling windows overlook a snow dusted garden, while tiny white flurries trickle from the evening sky and gracefully blanket the ground.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-491

The Grand Ballroom is one of three dining rooms available inside the Be Our Guest (BOG) Restaurant.  During breakfast and lunch, guests are typically allowed to choose a dining room, but dinner seating is chosen by The Master.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-482

Some guests are given an ornate candlestick to carry to the table.

The secretive and alluring West Wing is to the left of the Grand Ballroom. Dark and mysterious, with tattered cloths draped from the rafters, ornately carved wooden chairs, and royal printed wallpaper, this room protects and displays the beautiful red rose.

Occasionally, a flash of lightening from a clamorous thunderstorm will illuminate a hidden and concealed secret in the ragged artwork.

The very dark and remarkably dim lighting creates a feeling of imminent and mysterious events, but it does not create good pictures with my phone.  LOL

BOG1 - Copy

disney2016-day2mk-225

Momma Note:  The West Wing is my favorite dining room inside Be Our Guest, but it scares my 11 year old.  If your child is sensitive to simulated thunder and lightening or if dark rooms are an issue, you might consider avoiding the West Wing.

 

disney2016-day2mk-223

A table with Lumiere in the West Wing

 

The Rose Gallery is the third available dining room inside Be Our Guest and it is much smaller than the Grand Ballroom. With soothing and relaxing lighting, it is the most peaceful option and my husband’s favorite space.

disney2016-day5-mk-152

Inside the Rose Gallery

A warm hue bathes the cream colored wallpaper and large tapestries adorn open spaces between dark wood molding.  Tufted benches and simple cushioned chairs sit alongside rectangular wooden tables.  Small, brass chandeliers dangle from the interesting ceiling and create a calming ambiance and beautiful setting.

disney2016-day5-mk-153

Detailed and interesting tapestry

The show-stopping centerpiece is a spectacular rotating statue of Belle and the Beast dancing underneath a crimson rose.

disney2016-day5-mk-155

This enormous statue rotates.

The menu at Be Our Guest is a delightful fusion of American and French cuisine, a mix of casual, familiar dishes with a French twist and traditional French meals with an American influence.

Be Our Guest serves all three meals, with breakfast and lunch as quick service and dinner offered as table service.

Breakfast is served from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Breakfast is considered a quick service meal, but requires advanced dining reservations (ADR). At the time of this post, it is the only quick-serving Disney restaurant that accepts reservations.

The Feast A La Gaston is a plate of scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, apple smoked bacon, sausage, fresh fruit and a selection of pastries.

Assorted cured meats and cheeses are available, as well as vegetable quiche, steel cut oatmeal and a bacon and egg sandwich.

We recommend the unique Croque Madame, an open-faced ham sandwich topped with a fried egg, Gruyere and Béchamel served with fresh fruit and a selection of pastries.

My daughters love the croissant doughnut, which is fried and topped with banana caramel sauce, pastry cream and chocolate ganache.  It is also served with fruit and pastries.

I usually order the vegetarian option of warm, steal cut oatmeal with golden raisins, brown sugar and assorted pastries.  Delicious and filling!

20170104_081530.jpg

For a healthier option, choose the freshly scrambled egg whites, roasted tomatoes and chicken apple sausage.

Kid’s meals include crepes stuffed with yogurt and fresh berries, French toast, scrambled eggs and cereal.

The Master’s Cupcakes is available for $4.99 during breakfast and is a decadent chocolate sponge cake topped with Lumiere’s delicious special grey stuff.

disney2016-day5-mk-161

 

Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

It is considered a quick service meal, but requires advanced dining reservations (ADR).

We love the French onion soup, which is a vegetarian option.  A delicious and creamy potato leek soup is also vegetarian.

My husband’s favorite dish is the flavorful braised port (Coq Au Vin Style) and my girls enjoy the grilled carved ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich with pommes frites.

Quinoa salad with green beans, potatoes, olives, bell pepper, tomatoes and golden beets is another favorite.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-484

For lunch, kid’s meals like meatloaf, carved turkey sandwiches, grilled shrimp, whole grain macaroni, and grilled cheese with turkey noodle soup are all available.

The desserts at Be Our Guest are fantastic and vary slightly during lunch and dinner.  Try the Master’s Cupcake, strawberry cream cheese cupcake, chocolate cream puff and the Éclair a l’Orange.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-487

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-488

Dinner is served from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 pm.

Dinner at Be Our Guest is considered table service and requires advanced dining reservations.  It is our favorite meal inside Magic Kingdom.

Bread served with salted butter is brought to all dinner tables.  Assorted meat and sausages, soups, garden salads, salad trio and Marseilles-style mussels are listed as appetizers.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-483

Scarlet napkins are shaped into red roses.

 

Again, we love the French onion and potato leek soups.

Try the grilled strip steak with garlic butter and pommes frites, the roasted lamb chop or the sautéed shrimp with scallops in a creamy lobster sauce.

My son greatly enjoyed the pork chop and my daughter liked the layered ratatouille, which includes oven baked zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions, sliced and layered on quinoa and served with a bell pepper sauce.

A seasonal sustainable catch of the day is also available.

Kid’s meals include garden salads, fruit cup, chicken brochette, grilled steak and beast casserole.

Sparkling, white, red and dessert French wines and Belgian ales are on the menu, too.

Awe-inspiring carts, brimming with yummy desserts, are brought around the dining rooms at the end of the meal.

disney2016-day5-mk-159

Try the lemon meringue cupcakes, triple chocolate cupcake and The Grey Stuff, of course!

 

disney2016-day2mk-229

Try the Grey Stuff, it really is delicious!

 

disney2016-day2mk-226

After dinner, guests are invited to meet The Beast in the library for a Photo Pass opportunity.  (The Master does not speak, but he will pose for pictures.)

 

disney-photopass-192

Guests can pose for a Photo Pass picture and the photographers are happy to take a pic with your camera, too.

disney-photopass-088

 

The service at Be Our Guest is fantastic.  Each server has been personable, friendly, helpful, timely and attentive.  We always enjoy our dining experience.

Quick Family Review For Be Our Guest:

Be Our Guest is our family’s must-do Magic Kingdom restaurant.  Since it’s opening in 2012, we make sure to dine there at least once during our Disney vacations–sometimes as many as 4 times!   We love everything about it!

Final Family Be Our Guest Suggestion:

Make advanced reservations as soon as possible for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Dinner is our favorite, but we love breakfast and lunch, too!  The restaurant is a relaxing escape from the chaos of the theme park crowds and is a great opportunity to rest and recharge in a beautiful setting with delicious and delightful food.

Dress is casual for all meals. (theme park attire)

Getting reservations at Be Our Guest can be very challenging.  It is imperative that you book dining at Be Our Guest as soon as you can, preferably at the 180 day opening.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-485

If you don’t get the reservations that you need, be tenacious, continue to check daily for cancellations, especially 48-24 hours before your desired time because guests tend to cancel existing reservations at the last minute.

There are 550 seats–one of them must be for you!

Guests are always welcome to walk up and ask for available openings, but do not bet on something happening.  The best way to ensure a seat at Be Our Guest is to book an ADR at 180 days and continue to check your MDE app each day for cancellations.  To make reservations via telephone, please call 407-939-5277.

wdw2017004640262638_7913789539

When dining at Be Our Guest for breakfast or lunch, I highly recommend pre-ordering your meal from the My Disney Experience (MDE) app, which is available 30 days in advance.

Our pre-ordered food (breakfast and lunch) always arrives crazy fast.

 

disney-photopass-089

The commanding Beast will pose for pictures AFTER guests finish dinner.  Guests must exit the restaurant after the photo session.

A theme park ticket is required because Be Our Guest is inside the gates of Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Breakfast and lunch both count as 1 quick service meal on the Disney Dining Plan.

Dinner counts a 1 table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

Find out if the Disney meal plan is right for you–Click here.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-493

A colorful and beautiful mosaic inside the restaurant

Extra Hint:  The selection of pastries that is served with most breakfast items adds a lot of food to already large dishes.  Consider splitting a meal between people in your party to save a little money.  Everyone at the table is not required to order a separate meal at quick service restaurants.  The only time each person at the table is charged for dining is at a buffet restaurant or a prix fixe meal.

20170104_165324.jpg

 

For transportation to Be Our Guest, just travel to the Magic Kingdom.  Disney resorts provide complimentary transportation via the monorail, ferry boats or buses.  Ask your concierge or front desk for the quickest way to travel to the Magic Kingdom Theme Park. If you are a Disney resort guest, you can park your personal vehicle for free at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and ride the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom Theme Park.  Parking is $20 for non-resort guests.

Restaurant menus at Walt Disney World are seasonal and change often, so for current menu listings, check the Disney website or the My Disney Experience app.  All menus are listed for every Disney restaurant, as well as hours of operation and prices.

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 list of all character meals offered at Walt Disney World, click here.

To read a review of our favorite buffet at Walt Disney World, click here.

 

Advertisements


3 Comments

The Best Breakfast, Lunch, Snack & Dinner At Disney’s Magic Kingdom

disney-photopass-248

My favorite theme park at Walt Disney World is the Magic Kingdom.  We spend at least half of our entire vacation inside that one park and I always leave wanting more!  Over the years, dining options inside Magic Kingdom have changed and evolved and my family and I have tried every single restaurant.

As I am working on writing full reviews for every table service restaurant (and some quick service ones, too!), I thought it might be helpful to create a quick list of the best meals we regularly enjoy inside the fabulous Magic Kingdom theme park.

Confused about the Disney Dining Plan?  Click here to learn everything you need to become a dining plan master!

Let me know what you think!

Favorite Breakfast:

Be Our Guest: Quick service, requires advanced dining reservations (ADR), order the Croque Madame, which is an open-faced ham sandwich topped with a fried egg, gruyere, and Béchamel or try the croissant doughnut.

Read a full review of Be Our guest here.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-205

 

Favorite Lunch:

Be Our Guest: Quick service, requires advanced dining reservations, order the French onion soup, braised pork Coq Au Vin Style and the Master’s cupcake.

Columbia Harbour House:  Quick service, try the lobster roll, vegetarian lighthouse sandwich or the fried fish plate.

The Friar’s Nook:  Quick service, order the pot roast mac-n-cheese

Favorite Snack:

Aloha Isle:  Pineapple Dole Whip cup (DUH)

cdw1

 

Food Kiosk Carts (Frozen Treats):  Mickey Ice Cream Bars

disney2016-day-7-mk-139

 

Sleepy Hollow:  fresh fruit waffle sandwich with chocolate hazelnut spread and funnel cake

Favorite Dinner:

Be Our Guest:  Table service/character meal, requires ADR, order the roasted lamb chop, sautéed shrimp and scallops and The Grey Stuff

disney2016-day5-mk-161

 

Cinderella’s Royal Table: Table service (2 credits for dining plan), requires ADR, The menu changes, but this is one of our favorite dinners because of the experience.

fb_img_1489010267926.jpg

Favorite Buffet:

Crystal Palace:  Table service/character meal, requires ADR, large buffet, lots of options

To read a full review of The Crystal Palace, click here.

CP3

Favorite Character Meal:

Cinderella’s Royal Table:  Princess character meal and it’s located inside Cinderella’s castle

fb_img_1489010264466.jpg

 

For a complete list of all character meals at Walt Disney World, click here.

Click here to read about our new favorite Disney Resort!


4 Comments

Top 10 FREE Things To Do At Disney (when you don’t have a theme park ticket)

disney-2016-day-1-010

I LOVE Walt Disney World!  And, HEY!  Guess what?!?

There are FREEEE things to do at Disney!

Below, you will find a list of super awesome things to do at your resort or on property–and they are all FREEEE!  You are welcome.

disney-photopass-196

What can you do for FREEEEE?!?

Check out this list below 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.

disney2016-day-7-mk-053

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

20170102_163801.jpg

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

20170108_113153.jpg

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 (bring a towel!) and the Lego Imagination Center, an outdoor play spot with bins full of Legos–totally FREEEEEE!

20170101_134144.jpg

20170101_133805.jpg

fb_img_1487957946800.jpg

3.  Head on over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort!  There are several public viewing areas that overlook the African-inspired savannas, full of interesting wildlife and birds.  Visit at night and use the complimentary night-vision binoculars to see what the animals are up to after the sun goes down!  Oh…and did I mention…it’s FREEEE!

At the time of this post, Disney does not offer direct transportation from resorts to other resorts.  However, you can still travel between resorts on Disney complimentary transportation.  To get to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, just ride a bus to the Animal Kingdom theme park, get off that bus and then board a bus going to the resort!  Easy and FREEEE!

20170108_141718.jpg

Zebras on the savanna

4.  Go exploring at your own resort!  Disney resorts have some super awesome hidden treasures!  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.

20170108_113601.jpg

20170108_113804.jpg

disney2016-day-7-mk-052

old-iphone-042

old-iphone-850

20170102_170404.jpg

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!

20170108_153654.jpg

20170108_135007.jpg

iphone-pics-484

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.  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 and totally FREEEEEEE!

ipad-pics-11-15-013

ipad-pics-865

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-172

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?  I already mentioned the cool things to do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  But, I also recommend:  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.

20170107_141229.jpg

20170108_113858.jpg

iphone-pics-581

ipad-pics-008

disney2016-day4-epcot-008

disney-2016-day-1-050

20170102_162224.jpg

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.

iphone-pics-577

ipad-pics-219

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.

All. For.  Free.

Yep.

disney2016-day-7-mk-251

disney2016-day-7-mk-249

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.  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.

iphone-pics-664

I hope you enjoy some FREEEE fun at Disney!

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

Click here to read a complete list of every character and princess meal at Disney World!

Click here to read 12 reasons you need to pack garbage bags for your next Disney vacation!


Leave a comment

Disney Character Dining (No Princesses)– A Quick List

ipad-pics-093

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.

CP6

 

 

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.

wdw2017004640262638_7913789539

 

***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.

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-615

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.

 

CM3 - Copy

 

 

***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.

ipad2-997

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!

 


5 Comments

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.

fb_img_1488822122129.jpg

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!

wp-1489081845101.jpg

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.

 

disney-2014-and-easter-2015-734

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.

 

fb_img_1487215421633.jpg

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.

 

img_1028

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.

 

A12

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

 

A6

 

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.

 

photo0159fourbysix

 

I am here and happy to help.

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

 

A1

 

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

ipad-pics-061

 

{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.

A10

 

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.

 

 

christmas-2015-072

 

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

akl74

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.

20170108_114952.jpg

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.

20170107_185102.jpg

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.

akl28

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.

ak23

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.

20170108_103156.jpg

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)

akl58-copy

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!