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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100 Experience Adventures–January Summary

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By now, most of my readers know that my daughters and I are attempting to complete 100 experiences during our 6 month sabbatical away from our home in Texas.

For newbies, click here.

And read this.

I am super happy to report we surprisingly completed 18 awesome experiences during the month of January and I kept a running list of the events and the cost for reference.

Below is a quick summary and each one is a clickable link to more information about the experience, in case you are curious. ūüôā

Experience 1:

The Pennsylvania Farm Show (Free to attend, $15 for parking)

Experience 2:

George’s Furniture in Marietta, PA (Free to visit, we donated $20 for the personal tour)

Experience 3:

Cinnaholic, Vegan cinnamon rolls in Lancaster, PA ($28.04 for four cinnamon rolls)

Experience 4:

The National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA ($8.40 for four tickets through Groupon)

Experience 5:

The Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, PA ($45.75 for three people to attend the lab class and the experience)

Experience 6:

Burning Bridge Antiques Market in Columbia, PA (free to visit)

Experience 7:

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe and Stroopie Co. in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 8:

Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 9:

Beiler’s Doughnuts in Lancaster, PA ($11.25 for 2 dozen doughnuts through Groupon)

Experience 10:

Sledding in real snow in Carlisle, PA (free!)

Experience 11:

Maymont in Richmond, Virginia ($12 for three tickets to the nature center and $15 “donation” for three people to tour the mansion)

Experience 12:

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia ($24 for three tickets)

Experience 13:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA (free for military families, $10 for the audio tour for two people)

Experience 14:

The Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia ($32.10 for three tickets)

Experience 15:

The Museum of Science and History (The MOSH) in Jacksonville, Florida ($30 for three tickets)

Experience 16:

Hunting for fossilized sharks teeth in Nokomis Beach, Florida (free)

Experience 17:

Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop at the International Festival of the Arts in Epcot, Walt Disney World ($166.16 for four tickets)

Experience 18:

Disney After Hours event at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World ($476 for four tickets)

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What is next?!?

Many more adventures to explore in the month of February!

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Disney After Hours–Experience Adventure 18 of 100

 

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Me and my “babies” at Magic Kingdom, After Hours, 2018

Everyone on this planet knows how much I love Walt Disney World.¬† While growing up, my parents instilled in me an unwavering commitment to all things Mickey Mouse and I joyfully pass the obsession down to my own three kids–like any good mom would do.¬† ūüôā

 

jenandjack

Me and my cute sister!¬† The tradition (ok, it’s a necessity) of matching T-shirts started a long, long time ago!

 

Honestly, I thought long and hard about this–Would it be CHEATING if I counted every experience we enjoyed during our most recent trip to Walt Disney World as part of our 100, especially since it was our 8th time to visit Disney!?!

Um…ethically…I think yes.

To be transparent and fair, I decided not to use the actual trip as an “official” experience adventure.

BUT, we DID enjoy something totally NEW and it was certainly an ADVENTURE!

And, I am totally counting this one!¬† ūüôā

So, for our 18th of 100 experience adventures, we super maxed out the Disney junkie-side of our family and we partied like it was 1999 at Disney After Hours!

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I could post 10,000 pictures, but I will resist the urge.¬† You are welcome.¬† ūüôā

 

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OMGGGGGGGGG!!!!  Friends and family, Disney After Hours is a GAME CHANGER!

So…what is this SUPER AWESOME Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom?

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Disney After Hours first appeared in the spring of 2016, at the Magic Kingdom park inside Walt Disney World in Florida.¬† As always, Disney constantly tweaks the original offering a little here and there, but the glorious premise remains the same:¬† It is an extraordinary “Disney After Hours” experience.

In other words, guests purchase a ticket to the After Hours event (separate from a theme park ticket), and the ticket grants the unbelievable freedom to enjoy Magic Kingdom after it technically closes to the public–with some super awesome perks!

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!  This event has our names written allllll over it!

 

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Disney After Hours is NOT offered every night.  In fact, the dates are VERY limited.  At the time of this blog entry, the posted dates for 2018 were only January 19, 26, and 30, February 8 and 15 and March 1 and 8.  Pretty rare.

No one knows the exact number (except the all-mighty Disney people), but Disney enthusiasts estimate somewhere around 1,000 tickets per date are sold.¬† Obviously, it sells out quickly.¬† Super exclusive.¬† We are fancy like that.¬† ūüôā

 

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More than 25 popular rides remain operational from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with little to no wait.  (Times for this event can vary depending on seasonal park closing times.)

Once the park closed to the public at 8:00 pm., only lanyard sporting guests were allowed on rides.  **I did see other people walking around the park for a little while, but they were turned away at the entrances to the attractions and rides.

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I hope you are sitting down for this.

From 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., my kids and I rode the following rides:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad–3 times

Pirates of the Caribbean

Haunted Mansion

Under the Sea–Journey of the Little Mermaid

Peter Pan’s Flight

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Mad Tea Party

Tomorrowland Speedway

Space Mountain–3 times

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train–7 times

Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover

All in 3 hours!  Unbelievable!

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We focused on riding all of our personal favorites, but other rides were open, such as the Astro Orbiter, It’s A Small World, and Jungle Cruise.¬† I also noticed Mickey’s Philharmagic and the Princess Fairytale Hall were both accessible.

The event also gave guests an unlimited amount of frozen treats, popcorn and bottled beverages, sold from carts stationed around the park.  If you possess the elusive lanyard, you just walk up, flash your card and get ice cream!

HELLO!

For real.

Disney heaven on Earth!

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The event produced my own personal, magical Christmas morning–my kids and I were laughing and skipping like carefree, unattended children in a candy store–going merrily from ride to ride–without the stress of crowds, long lines and posted wait times–freely eating an obscene amount of Mickey bars and cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwiches.

We wanted to stay ALL.  NIGHT.  LONG.

OH!¬† And I noticed a SUPER cool phenomenon:¬† For those 3 short hours, all of the guests in the park were members of a special, exclusive club–everyone was OVERLY friendly to one another, all interacting like old college roommates that just won a shared lottery jackpot…a feeling of blissful celebration that I honestly find difficult to accurately describe.

The opportunity to truly act and feel like a kid again.

No stress.  No sadness.  Free from the weight of our crazy world.

IMG_20180130_214851.jpg

Pure joy.

With a little hint of elated disbelief.

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We found little to no wait and NEVER a line at every ride we approached.  In total, the kids and I rode 21 times (some repeats).

 

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My final thoughts:

I LOVED every single minute of this experience.  What else can I say?

Was it worth $119 a person for only 4 hours?  Absolutely!

Would I do it again?  Yes, in a heartbeat.

Do I think this ticketed event could replace an entire day at Magic Kingdom?  Maybe.  It depends on your personal ride preferences and priorities.  We rode everything we loved and felt fulfilled when we returned back to our resort.

 

***The only thing that could make this event better is if Mickey Mouse and Walt himself stood on Main Street U.S.A. handing out Dole Whips.

I will say, this event is best suited for kids and adults that can easily and effortlessly stay up late without a break.¬† Time flies when you are having fun! ūüôā¬† It was the shortest 3 hours of my life!¬† Go!¬† Go!¬† Go!

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Once we enjoyed this amazing experience, the rush and urgency to ride the most popular rides on our next day at Magic Kingdom completely disappeared.  No more pressure!  It opened up our schedule to focus on other attractions and relax longer at our table service dinner at Be Our Guest.  For a full restaurant review, read this.

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Side note:

I booked our 2018 vacation 8 months in advance, long before special event options are posted, so the dates of our trip were already in stone.¬† About 2 months before check-in, I noticed a list of dates for Disney After Hours on the Disney website–and one of those dates–January 30th–fell right in the middle of our stay.

Luck or pixie dust?!?¬† You decide.¬† ūüôā

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Why are we attempting 100 adventures in 6 months?  Read this!

How do I plan our Walt Disney World vacations?  Click here.

Everything you need to know about the 2018 Disney Dining Plan–Read this.

A list of all of the Disney character meals?  Yep.  Right here.

Free things to do at Disney?  Yes, please!  Click here!

 

 

 


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Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

 

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Me and my “babies” at Magic Kingdom, After Hours, 2018

Everyone on this planet knows how much I love Walt Disney World.¬† While growing up, my parents instilled in me an unwavering commitment to all things Mickey Mouse and I joyfully pass the obsession down to my own three kids–like any good mom would do.¬† ūüôā

 

jenandjack

Me and my cute sister!¬† The tradition (ok, it’s a necessity) of matching T-shirts started a long, long time ago!

No one in my family can remember how many times we visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland when we were little.¬† We even did a Disney family cruise when I was in high school, but there is an ongoing debate about which year…

As a mom, I totally keep count:¬† Walt Disney World 8 times–2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.¬† Disneyland 2 times–1999 and 2011 and one Disney cruise in 2004.

I could post 10,000 pictures, but I will resist the urge.¬† You are welcome.¬† ūüôā

ONE **amazing** Disney experience trumps every other experience from all of those other trips, hands down–and it happened during our most recent vacation.

Yep.

DISNEY AFTER HOURS

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And, OMGGGGGGGGG!!!!  Friends and family, Disney After Hours is a GAME CHANGER!

So…what is this SUPER AWESOME Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom?

IMG_20180130_185640.jpg

Disney After Hours first appeared in the spring of 2016, at the Magic Kingdom park inside Walt Disney World in Florida.¬† As always, Disney constantly tweaks the original offering a little here and there, but the glorious premise remains the same:¬† It is an extraordinary “Disney After Hours” experience.

In other words, guests purchase a ticket to the After Hours event (separate from a theme park ticket), and the ticket grants the unbelievable freedom to enjoy Magic Kingdom after it technically closes to the public–with some super awesome perks!

Below is everything you need to know about this AMAZING event, directly experienced by me and my 3 children (ages 24, 13 and 12) on January 30, 2018.

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Disney After Hours is NOT offered every night.  In fact, the dates are VERY limited.  At the time of this blog entry, the posted dates for 2018 were only January 19, 26, and 30, February 8 and 15 and March 1 and 8.  Pretty rare.

From the Disney website, I purchased 4 tickets for $119 EACH.  No one knows the exact number (except the all-mighty Disney people), but Disney enthusiasts estimate somewhere around 1,000 tickets per date are sold.  Obviously, it sells out quickly.  Super exclusive.

I printed 4 paper copies of the tickets and carried those with me to the park on our designated night.  The printed tickets allowed me and my children to enter Magic Kingdom at 7:00 p.m.

 

 

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Under “Event Check-In”, it states that official check-in begins at 7:00 p.m.

We arrived at the front gate and saw a cast member holding an “After Hours” sign.

We checked in with her and took this cute pic.¬† ūüôā

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She handed us each a lanyard with a hard plastic information card–our passes for the night–and we walked into Magic Kingdom!

 

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Front

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Back

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After we entered the park, we took several fun Photopass pics (The tangled lanterns!) and rode a few exciting rides before the park closed to the other guests at 8:00 p.m

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For the After Hours event, these marvelous lanyards grant visitors the ability to stay in the park AFTER CLOSING TIME!  More than 25 popular rides remain operational from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with little to no wait.  (Times for this event can vary.)

Once the park closed to the public at 8:00 pm., only lanyard sporting guests were allowed on rides.  **I did see other people walking around the park for a little while, but they were turned away at the entrances to the attractions and rides.

IMG_20180130_185803_1.jpg

I hope you are sitting down for this.

From 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., my kids and I rode the following rides:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad–3 times

Pirates of the Caribbean

Haunted Mansion

Under the Sea–Journey of the Little Mermaid

Peter Pan’s Flight

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Mad Tea Party

Tomorrowland Speedway

Space Mountain–3 times

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train–7 times

Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover

All in 3 hours!  Unbelievable!

00100sPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180130210405738_COVER.jpg

IMG_20180130_211125.jpg

 

IMG_20180130_225548.jpg

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We focused on riding all of our personal favorites, but other rides were open, such as the Astro Orbiter, It’s A Small World, and Jungle Cruise.¬† I also noticed Mickey’s Philharmagic and the Princess Fairytale Hall were both accessible.

The event also gave guests an unlimited amount of frozen treats, popcorn and bottled beverages, sold from carts stationed around the park.  If you possess the elusive lanyard, you just walk up, flash your card and get ice cream!

For real.

Disney heaven on Earth!

IMG_20180130_220352.jpg

 

IMG_20180130_220335.jpg

The event produced my own personal Christmas morning–my kids and I were laughing and skipping like carefree, unattended children in a candy store–going merrily from ride to ride–without the stress of crowds, long lines and posted wait times–freely eating an obscene amount of Mickey bars and cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwiches.

We wanted to stay ALL.  NIGHT.  LONG.

OH!¬† And I noticed a SUPER cool phenomenon:¬† For those 3 short hours, all of the guests in the park were members of a special, exclusive club–everyone was OVERLY friendly to one another, all interacting like old college roommates that just won a shared lottery jackpot…a feeling of blissful celebration that I honestly find difficult to accurately describe.

The opportunity to truly act and feel like a kid again.

No stress.  No sadness.  Free from the weight of our crazy world.

IMG_20180130_214851.jpg

Pure joy.

With a little hint of elated disbelief.

IMG_20180130_230029.jpg

IMG_20180130_230058.jpg

 

IMG_20180130_231353.jpg

 

A brief breakdown:

For January of 2018, tickets for this event cost $119 each.  Prices can vary.

Disney After Hours is a special, ticketed event–it is separate from a theme park ticket and must be purchased separately.¬† **$119 PER PERSON for 4 hours in Magic Kingdom, 3 of those hours represent the event after closing to the public. ¬†

The price of the ticket allows guests to enjoy 25+ rides and includes frozen treats, popcorn and bottled beverages, like water and sodas.

Our event was from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Magic Kingdom park closing time on January 30, 2018 was 8:00 p.m.)  We were allowed to enter the park at 7:00 p.m., one hour before closing time, which gave us 4 hours in the park.

We found little to no wait and NEVER a line at every ride we approached.  In total, my children and I rode 21 times (some repeats).

Future After Hours events *might* offer different time windows, different rides or different treats, depending on scheduled park closures and ride refurbishments.  Additional food options were available for purchase at restaurants on Main Street.

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My final review:

I LOVED every single minute of this experience.  What else can I say?

Was it worth $119 a person for only 4 hours?  Absolutely!

Would I do it again?  Yes, in a heartbeat.

Do I think this ticketed event could replace an entire day at Magic Kingdom?  Maybe.  It depends on your personal ride preferences and priorities.  We rode everything we loved and felt fulfilled when we returned back to our resort.

The most popular question:

If you have a theme park ticket and spend the day at Magic Kingdom, do you still need to spend an additional $119 for this event?  Yes, IF you want to stay after closing AND you want to ride the attractions, you MUST purchase the After Hours ticket (in addition to the theme park ticket).  However, you DO NOT need a theme park ticket to attend this event.  You can just purchase the After Hours ticket and enjoy the park after closing.

Consider this event for a check-in day or a rest day. ** We spent the day at Animal Kingdom and then enjoyed the After Hours event at Magic Kingdom that evening.

***The only thing that could make this event better is if Mickey Mouse and Walt himself were standing on Main Street U.S.A. to say goodnight as guests left the park.¬† ūüôā

I will say, this event is best suited for kids and adults that can easily and effortlessly stay up late without a break.¬† Time flies when you are having fun! ūüôā¬† It was the shortest 3 hours of my life!¬† Go!¬† Go!¬† Go!

MK_MINETRAIN_20180131_8168597638

Once we enjoyed this amazing experience, the rush and urgency to ride the most popular rides on our next day at Magic Kingdom completely disappeared.  No more pressure!  It opened up our schedule to focus on other attractions and relax longer at our table service dinner at Be Our Guest.  For a full restaurant review, read this.

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Side note:

I booked our 2018 vacation 8 months in advance, long before special event options are posted, so the dates of our trip were already in stone.¬† About 2 months before check-in, I noticed a list of dates for Disney After Hours on the Disney website–and one of those dates–January 30th–fell right in the middle of our stay.

Luck or pixie dust?!?¬† You decide.¬† ūüôā

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Still have questions about Disney’s After Hours event?¬† Email me anytime!

How do I plan our Walt Disney World vacations?  Click here.

Everything you need to know about the 2018 Disney Dining Plan–Read this.

A list of all of the Disney character meals?  Yep.  Right here.

A review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge–read it here!

Free things to do at Disney?  Yes, please!  Click here!

 

 

 


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Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop–Experience Adventure 17 of 100

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When I planned our 2018 trip to Walt Disney World, I was SUPER excited to see that the International Festival of the Arts would be at Epcot during the same time.  (I will do a blog post all about the festival soon!)
The festival offers guests a chance to spend the day walking through and experiencing the arts–visual, culinary, music and theatre.¬† As an extra added fun bonus, Epcot hosts a ton of seminars, workshops and classes at an additional cost.
Hands-on learning at Disney??  Yes, please!  Sign us up!
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As Christmas gifts, I gave my children tickets to the P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop.  My son works in the food industry and my daughters love to cook and bake.  A class all about spices was a perfect fit for the 4 of us and we looked forward to doing something different while at Epcot during our vacation.
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Read the description of the class below (taken directly from the Walt Disney World website):
P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Artistry
Pam Smith and Nicole Ramsland, P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Blends
Odyssey Festival Showplace
Workshop begins at 11:00 AM
$39 per person plus tax
Blend your own spices with a “sand art twist” and learn the creative
process of bringing a beautiful artisanal spice blend to life
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Unfortunately, the class was not AT ALL what we hoped it would be.  BIG BUMMER.
First of all, the first 20 minutes of the workshop was filled with awkward banter
between the mother and daughter who were running the class.
We did NOT blend our own spices.  We took the spices provided and put them
in a jar.  That was it.  We moved the spices from small containers
into a glass jar.  The spices were pre-measured, so we just poured from the small, black cups into a jar.  FOR REAL.
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The “Blend your own spices” was the adobo spice blend sold by the presenter’s company, P.S. Flavor!¬† Essentially, we WAY overpaid and unknowingly packaged a bottle of the company’s spice blend, which was the only spice we were given.
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Pouring the spices from one container to another took about 5 minutes.¬† Next, and for more than half of the “workshop”, we made “paint” by adding water and painted with another set of spices.¬† Yes.¬† Painted a picture.¬† Where in the description does it
state that more than half of the class focuses on painting?
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My son was not thrilled.

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Pam Smith (the woman that owns the spice company) kept
“sharing” random and incorrect information about paint history–going as
far to say that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel with spices.
That is simply not true.
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The majority of the time was filled with what can only be described as
an infomercial for the personal spice company.  The class felt like a long, drawn-out infomercial, a desperate attempt to get everyone to buy the online spice and cooking subscription classes.  My children and I found the workshop uncomfortable and a complete waste of time and money.
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The WORST part–At the end of the class, we were left with these sopping wet paintings
and no place to put them.  HELLO!  We were in the middle of Epcot!
My son and one of my daughters just threw their paintings in the trash, which made my heart hurt a little bit.  So disappointing!
I had to take the other 2 paintings back to our car–a long, long walk that wasted at least another hour of my Epcot park time.
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We left the “class” with a small jar of spices and an informational card about the spice company–another sales pitch.¬† We were all very upset that we wasted our Epcot park time and spent the rest of the day trying to make up for lost time.
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We did NOT “Blend our own spices”.¬† We filled a jar, listened to an
infomercial for a spice company, received false information and painted
some palm trees.  This class was a complete waste of time and money and
we could not have been more disappointed in the false advertisement and
the way we were forced to sit through a sales pitch from the presenters.
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I try to find the good in a bad experience and honestly, I enjoyed the painting process–because, well…I am an artist.¬† But, I did NOT sign up and pay for a faulty art lesson (palm trees?!?) and I would NEVER commit part of our Epcot day for such, especially for my 3 children.¬† Disney dropped the ball on this one, for sure.
Even though this experience is our 17th of 100 adventures, I did contact Guest Experience Services at the Walt Disney World company and asked for a refund for the price of the 4 tickets to the workshop.  I am still waiting for a response.
UPDATE:
***I am very pleased to report that Disney did in fact refund the $166.16 for the 4 tickets to this event.  Thank you Disney for making this right.  We appreciate you and LOVE you!
Good or bad, our experience adventures continue!
Read about another adventure here!
And here.
And here.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World soon?  You gotta read this!


10 Comments

2018 Disney Dining Plan–Everything You Need To Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 2018 Disney Meal Plan

The Basics:

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

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

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Restaurant Credit Descriptions:

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

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This is the snack credit symbol

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

 

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Quick service breakfast

 

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

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

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

 

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Chef Mickey’s buffet is 1 table service credit.

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Three Options:

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

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

The Quick Service Plan:

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

The Dining Plan:

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

The Deluxe Dining Plan:

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

 

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1900 Park Fare breakfast buffet is 1 table service credit.

 

Confused yet?

I am going to create several scenarios to help clarify.

Scenario #1

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

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

For 2 adults, the total is $524.90.

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

For 2 children, the total is $217.50.

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

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

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

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

Adult #1–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Adult #2–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Child #1–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

Child #2–10 QS credits, 10 snacks

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scenario #2

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

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

For 2 adults, the total is $754.90.

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

For 2 children, the total is $258.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scenario #3

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

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

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

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

For 2 children, the total is $399.

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

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

Adult #1–15 meals,¬†10 snacks

Adult #2–15 meals,¬†10 snacks

Child #1–15 meals, 10 snacks

Child #2–15 meals,¬†10 snacks

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

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

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

The Benefits:

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

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

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

The Struggles:

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

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

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

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

The dining plan is only available for Disney resort guests.

Thoughts And Things To Consider:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How About My Family?

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

Here are my reasons:

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

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

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

My daughters have outgrown most character meals.

 

 

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1 quick service credit breakfast at Be Our Guest

 

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

Message me if you still have questions!

Happy eating, my friends!

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1 table service credit

 

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1 snack credit

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1 table service credit

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1 snack credit

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

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Akershus restaurant is 1 table service credit.

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

Click here to read about our favorite buffet at Disney!

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

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

Click here if you love animals!

 


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Best Disney Restaurants for Kids Ages 5 and Under

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Magic Kingdom:

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The Crystal Palace–Read all details and a¬†review here

Cinderella’s Royal Table

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

Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

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Epcot:

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Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Garden Grill Restaurant

 

Hollywood Studios:

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Hollywood & Vine

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

 

Animal Kingdom:

Tusker House Restaurant

 

Disney Springs:

Rainforest Caf√©–Avoid if your child is frightened by simulated thunder and loud noises.

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

 

Resorts:

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1900 Park Fare–Read all details and a¬†review here

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

‘Ohana

Cape May Cafe

Whispering Canyon Café

 

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

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

Click here to read about our favorite Disney buffet!

 

 

 

 


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A Review of 50’s Prime Time Caf√©

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Yes, lunch and dinner menus are identical.

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

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

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

Dress is casual.

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

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

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

Current and full menus for every Walt Disney World restaurant can be found on the Disney website.¬† Click on ‚ÄúThings to do‚ÄĚ, then click on ‚ÄúAll Dining‚ÄĚ.¬† Every restaurant is listed alphabetically.¬† Click on the name of the restaurant and then click on ‚ÄúView Menu‚ÄĚ off to the right of the middle photograph.

50’s Prime Time Caf√© accepts the Disney dining plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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