Blog roll

Some our best travel blogs!  Full of tips and great information to help you plan your next vacation!

Disney Dining Plan snack credits – more than just water and chips! 

How to surprise your kids with their first Disney trip

Reserving the Magic: Tips for scheduling your advanced dining reservations

Where can I find Lightning McQueen at Disney World?

Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

 

 

Reserving the Magic: Tips for Scheduling your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR’s)

You have chosen your resort, tickets, and booked your package. Now you are ready to relax and daydream about your upcoming vacation to Walt Disney World. But then your travel agent says “It’s time to make your advanced Dining Reservations” and you have a mini freak-out. Sound familiar? Don’t worry -It happens all the time. I am the first to admit I dislike making decisions. So when there are hundreds of amazing options and all sound wonderful I tend to get overwhelmed. But let’s focus on the positive; Walt Disney World offers TONS of amazing dining options- a foodie’s dream come true! So, whether you have planned multiple Disney vacations or are in the midst of planning your first trip, think about these tips for scheduling your dining and enjoy the bountiful options.

Are you a Morning Person? If you wake up before the sun and enjoy being out and about in the morning consider breakfasts and lunches.

· BREAKFAST: Consider making some breakfast reservations for restaurants inside your favorite parks. Some take reservations before the park even opens. This will get you in before the majority of vacationers are stirring. Eat, enjoy some characters (character breakfasts are FUN, and be ready to experience many of the best attractions with low wait times.)

· LUNCH: Another option for early risers is to eat a quick breakfast in your hotel room (or while waiting for the bus) and get to the park before it opens. Being there for the opening is always fun and again, you will probably have the shortest waits and lowest crowds of the day. Just as you are getting hungry for an early lunch, the crowds will be coming in and you can sit and relax at a lunch reservation. You might even hop to another resort for your meal and enjoy walking around in a quiet area away from the parks.

Morning People

Night Owls-Have no fear! Walt Disney World is even more magical at night!

· I recommend making at least one dinner reservation at Epcot during Illuminations or at Magic Kingdom during Wishes. Many restaurants with viewing areas of these nighttime shows will dim the lights and pipe in the music during the show. Some of my favorites are California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and La Hacienda de San Angel at Epcot. Other options are available-tell your travel agent if you want to book during the fireworks or other nighttime shows.

· Restaurants are open pretty late at most locations so if you like to linger over dinner and relax in the evening there are plenty of great options in each park. I especially enjoy being in one of the pavilions at World Showcase in Epcot for dinner. The light, sounds, smells all take you right into the culture and atmosphere of the country you are “visiting”.

Night Owls

Families with Children

· I have 2 words for you: Character. Meals. These are a hit with kids and give you some forced downtime. Plus you get personal one on one interaction with characters and some really great photo opportunities. If you are on the dining plan they are a great deal! Many character meals only require one table service credit!

· If your kids are on a schedule think about keeping them on that schedule. There is nothing worse than a tired, hungry child on vacation. So try to schedule your meal times for times they are used to. And remember you can bring snacks into the park! Aim for scheduled meal times but always have some back up.

· One of the best tips I have is to get to the parks early in the morning, take a long afternoon break (when the parks are the most crowded and the weather is usually the hottest) and then go back to the parks in the evening. With this schedule a long lunch or an early dinner could fit right in without taking away from your time in the parks.

For the Spontaneous . In my daily life I appreciate (need) routine and structure. But when I am on vacation I do not want to have any plans. I don’t personally like the idea of being tied down to specific meal times each day. If that sounds familiar-read on!

· Schedule your Advanced Dining Reservations for breakfast every day. That way it forces you to get up (for you sleepy heads) , you get a good hearty breakfast, and then the rest of the day can be spontaneous! Try it-you might like it!

· If you are on the dining plan, consider trying some of the Signature restaurants. They take 2 table service credits and are top notch dining experiences. This will give you some very special meals to look forward to. I would recommend scheduling them for the beginning and or end of your trip-think of them as a celebration of the start or end of an amazing vacation.

· Look at the days you arrive and depart. If you do not plan on going to the parks one both of those days these can be great times to plan meals that won’t take time away from the parks.

 

food!

 

General Tips for All

Where to eat?

· Ask your friends who have been where they like to eat. You should get good, honest feedback that you will trust (you really have to take some on-line reviews with a grain of salt). Pose the question on your Facebook or twitter-you should get plenty of responses/opinions

· Talk to your travel agent. If you have a good one, they can recommend some dining experiences based on personal experience. Tell your travel agent about your family, dietary restrictions likes and dislikes. We will give you as much info as you need to make the best decision.

· Ask your travel agent for descriptions and sample menus of the dining locations you are interested in.

Consider the Park Hopper

· Your travel agent can give you info about park hours and crowd levels for each day of your vacation. Look at the info and try to anticipate where you might like to be on a certain day. But remember, things can change (especially if you like to be spontaneous on your vacation). So a park hopper can save the day when your plans change! You may find yourself at one park in the morning and another in the evening, but oh no!-your dining reservation is in a different park! If you have a park hopper just hop on over to the right place and enjoy your meal.


Plan Early and Be Flexible

· Advanced Dining Reservations can be made 180 days before check in. Do not wait till the last minute to decide what you want-plan ahead so you or your travel agent can make your reservations on the first day they are available.

· You may not always get the exact time you want for each restaurant. List some alternate times/locations for your travel agent in case your top choices are not available.

So, maybe you are still overwhelmed at all this info. Don’t worry! “Keep Calm and Call your Travel Agent!” That is why we are here. Thinking about these tips and what some of your preferences are will help your travel agent to help YOU have the best dining experiences for your family.

Do you need help planning your next Disney trip? Contact me today-I would love to help you.

“See Ya Real Soon!”

Aleshia Sokoloski

1-800-670-4312 ext 139
Aleshia@travelwiththemagic.com
Find me on Facebook
Pin with me on Pinterest

Rainforest Cafe – Frequent Diner Club

Recently my son Sean and I had a “boys night out” in which we had dinner at our favorite restaurant, Rainforest Cafe!  We’ve loved eating there ever since our first trip to Disneyland when we had dinner at the Downtown Disney RFC. So we’re fortunate to live close to three other locations to relive a bit of that magic.

bart2

I felt compelled to share a little tip! Landry’s Select Club, the “frequent diner club” of Landry’s Restaurant Group, owners of RFC is a dynamite value! The moment you join (one-time membership fee of $25 bucks) you get a Welcome Reward added to your card of . . . $25 bucks!

Plus the card entitles you to 10% off retail merchandise and 10% of food on subsequent visit at any Landry’s property.  So it practically pays for itself immediately and then it’s all about saving cash. Cha-ching!

bart1

On top of that, they send you a $25 credit on your birthday as well as the occasional surprise like a free appetizer or kids meal.  Dinner for my son and I cost $10, because I ordered a beer (doesn’t cover alcohol.) Were I not in the club, it would have cost me a lot more!

Why am I bringing this up on a Disney travel blog?  Along with the previously mentioned Disneyland location, there are 3 Landry’s properties at Walt Disney World – 2 Rainforest Cafes and T-Rex Cafe at Downtown Disney.  Joining prior to a trip could get you your credit in plenty of time, meaning 25 less dollars you need to spend on vacation.

Perhaps the biggest value of all, not the savings, not the credit . . . it’s the VIP treatment that little green card affords you.  Club members get priority seating. We showed up around 6:00 pm, the dinner rush on a Friday night, and once I presented that card at the elephant, I was directed right up front, past the irritable hungry hordes,  We were seated in just a couple minutes, ahead of would-be diners who were waiting when we got there, and still waiting as we sipped our drinks! And we were given a six-top table (for the two of us) right next to one of the saltwater tanks. Can’t beat that!

seantank

When you’re on vacation and tired & hungry after a day of adventure, that priority seating is almost better than monetary savings!

Take my word for it – if you live anywhere near a Landry’s property, or are going to Walt Disney World soon, join the Select Club.  It is well-worth it!!

Bart Scott  – Bart@travelwiththemagic.com  (800) 670-4312 x 141

Sanaa; A Savannah Dining Experience

The Sanaa Restaurant located in the Kidani Village of the Disney Animal Kingdom Villas, is definitely a welcomed change of pace from your Disney adventures. Sanaa serves both lunch and dinner and is a pleasure that is missed by many but was enjoyed by my family at our last visit to Walt Disney World.

sanaa1

Having planned our reservation to Sanaa on a day we were exploring the Animal Kingdom, we caught a bus to the Kidani Village from the Animal Kingdom Villas bus stop. The Kidani Village lobby is beautiful with a glass back wall, giving you a full view of the Savannah. The restaurant is found down the staircase in back of the lobby, and once there you feel as though you have arrived at an African Game Reserve: gazing upon giraffes, zebras, ostrich, kudu, and gazelles. After checking in for your reservation, walk out onto the deck. This view should never be passed up. It’s amazing to see the animals so close. You and your will family quickly get immersed in the wonder and magic of Disney and forget for a moment that you are still in Walt Disney World!

sanaa2

I always encourage guests to talk to the Cast Members they meet, as you will hear fascinating stories of far away places and cultures. We met a special Cast Member, Bulelani, from South Africa, and he shared with us the many facts and stories about giraffes. We hung on his every word and really enjoyed talking to him! Did you know that giraffes in their native habitat sleep only 30 minutes a day? They take very short naps because of the constant danger of predators. We saw a giraffe lying down, and he told us you would never see that in the wild. So fascinating! Bulelani continued to entertain us by talking about his home, and we were amazed that there are 11 official languages in South Africa.

sanna3

Our adventure continued as our name was called and another wonderful Cast Member sat us at our table. Amee was from Botswana, and she told us that is was very hot in Botswana but that Florida was way too humid for her – she could hardly breathe!

sanna4

The menu at Sanaa is a fusion of African and Indian – the best of both worlds! They did include a Bison Burger on the menu in case your tastes were more traditional. The entrees were delicious, but the desserts could not be beat in display or taste! I had the Tanzanian Chocolate Mouse (my mouth waters just thinking about it today!). Everything on my plate was made of chocolate – including the butterfly and the writing on the plate! At this point, I became a little selfish, and would not share with anyone, no matter how much the begged; it was way too good!

sanaa5

sanna6

After the enjoying your meal, don’t let the adventure stop – be sure to explore the Resort! One place to stop is The Library. As you enter the lobby from the stairway, walk down the hall on your left… you will find a sign for the Library. We actually thought we were going to a Library (we are readers). However, we found a beautiful sitting room with an outdoor porch where you can sit in rocking chairs and enjoy the Savannah View.

sanaa7

With the beauty of this Resort and the tremendous views, you can understand how easy it would be to get lost in the moment and feel as if you had been transported to the exotic continent of Africa! It was a perfect ending to our visit to the Kidani Village. Don’t you think it is time for you to enjoy Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

sylvia@travelwiththemagic.com

‘Ohana’s Best Friends Character Breakfast

stitch_new

‘Ohana, which means family, is one of my personal favorite restaurants. You really are treated like family there. You are even referred to as cousin. ‘Ohana is located at the Polynesian Resort which has a beautiful tropical oasis setting.

lilo_new

This character meal is a must do for all Lilo and Stitch fans. These lovable characters are also joined by Mickey and Pluto. Each character will spend some one-on-one time at each table. Make sure to bring along your autograph book and camera. This is a great opportunity to snap a keepsake photo. The kids will also enjoy parading around the restaurant in a conga line and playing games.

mickey_new (2)

Your waiter/waitress will initially bring you a basket of bread followed by a plate of fruit. You will forever be in love with the pineapple bread and cinnamon rolls. The main breakfast platter includes biscuits, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and potatoes. No Disney breakfast would be complete without Mickey waffles. The POG juice was really good also – orange, pineapple, and guava. Remember it is all you can eat so don’t hesitate to request seconds.

pluto_new

This is a character meal that is sure to not disappoint. It is a great way to start your day before heading to the parks.

I would love to help you plan your next magical vacation to Disney World. Contact me today for a no obligation quote.

Michelle Terry

MichelleT@travelwiththemagic.com

1-866-Hi-Miki-2

Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom

Signature Dining at Disney – A Must

LeCellier Menu Cover

When you think of a Walt Disney vacation I’m sure that fine dining is not the first thing that comes to mind. Mickey Mouse has a way of appearing in all of our minds at the mere mention of anything Disney. When my family started our addiction of Disney traveling we never imagined that our trips would start to revolve around our dining options. This is the thing we all look forward to as we prepare for our trip. The 180 day mark is visible on every calendar in our house.

Our last visit was just a few weeks ago and we made this trip all about food. We upgraded our dining plan to the deluxe which is something I recommend to everyone that enjoys food and want to have an incredible dining experience while still on vacation. With the deluxe dining plan you get and appetizer, main course and dessert with every meal. Let me fill you in on my favorites.

Leceller2

LeCellier is a Steakhouse inside the Canadian Pavilion at EPCOT. I had the pleasure of a first visit last spring and now make it a standard reservation for every visit. The setting is gorgeous, as you enter the restaurant the gardens are stellar and very inviting. I started this meal with the tomato and mozzarella salad, I can honestly say the is exceptional, I have never tasted tomatoes’ with such flavor, when mentioning it to our server she informed me that the tomatoes are grown right at EPCOT inside the Land, the only downside is that I can never again eat this salad at another restaurant, it just cannot meet the same standard. There are many choices for the main course but I cannot seem to order anything other than the Mushroom Filet Mignon. This incredible piece of Canadian AAA beef is paired with the most amazing flavored mushroom risotto that is severed with a white truffle butter sauce. You will definitely have to hit the gym before this meal so you can take it all in without guilt. It is my favorite meal at Walt Disney World. I can’t go on without mentioning the Ribeye and the New York Strip they definitely get an honorable mention. This meal is always finished with a fresh cup of coffee and the Maple Crème Brulee’.

Flying Fish is centered at the Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, it specializes in sea food. The restaurant will take you into the old days of the Atlantic Boardwalk, with décor representing old roller coaster tracks as well as a Ferris wheel and if you look close you’ll see funhouse mirrors. The open kitchen is also a plus. You can dine at a chef’s table which includes wine and dinner or just sit back and relax at a table of your own where the service is impeccable. You will definitely be treated like a celebrity while dining. Let me add that Flying Fish is known as a celebrity favorite and has been known for many celebrity sightings.

You can treat your palette to an incredible steak or seafood dish. We started our meal with the Calamari and Mussels. The Calamari was the best I’ve ever ordered and could have taken the place of my meal. For the main course I enjoyed the Signature Flying Fish Duo which is a New York Strip with Potatoes wrapped Red Snapper, who knew food could be so heavenly. The night finished with a caramelized Banana Napoleon and the Trio of Concession Sweets. We have already made another reservation for our next visit!

Remember that signature meals count as two meal credits so when planning make sure you calculate correctly. The two meal credit cost is more than reasonable for what the signature restaurants have to offer.

If you are a Steak and potatoes kind of eater do not let signature dining scare you away, take the plunge and enjoy more than just characters and attractions. Dining can be the best attraction on your vacation.

Keep your eye out for part two of this blog, Jiko, Hollywood Brown Derby and Artist Point will be the feature.

For a magical dining experience contact me Amy Blades – amyb@travelwiththemagic.com

Boma: Dining with Food Allergies, Intolerances, or Sensitivities

Boma Collage

I will admit that I am not a huge fan of buffet style dining. However, I AM a HUGE fan of Boma, which IS a buffet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. One of the reasons I do not particularly enjoy dining at buffet style restaurants is because I have many food sensitivities and intolerances. Eating out can be difficult when you have such limitations so ordering from a menu is usually more appealing as it usually allows you customize what you get. So, the while the prospect of dining at Boma was a little uncertain for me, I was willing and excited to give it a try because of all of the rave reviews I have received from others who have tried (and loved) Boma.

Boma Buffet Stations

Since we made Advanced Dining Reservations, which I HIGHLY recommend, our server was already aware of my dining limitations when we arrived. Once we were seated, greeted, and had our drinks, James (a Boma chef) came to our table and talked to me about my dietary needs. He then walked me and my husband through the whole delicious spread and described each dish and pointed out the best options for me and the dishes that were completely safe for me to eat. I never felt rushed or like I was a burden at all. In fact, I felt quite special to have a chef give me my own tour of the menu! I was able to ask questions of James as well as the other cooks in the open style kitchen.

Kitchen

Not only did our server continue to check on us throughout our meal but James also checked on us multiple times. This was a long meal since there was SO much great food to try and I wanted to try everything I could!

One of my favorite stations was the soups. I LOVE soup! Luckily the one I wanted to try the most was also the best option for me and it did not disappoint. I still think of that soup sometimes! The family that was seated next to us lives in the area and said they come to Boma often for family dinners since everyone can find unique foods they enjoy. They were raving about the mushroom soup but found out it was only served on Mondays and we were there on a Friday. They talked to their server and a little while later a chef brought them each a bowl of fresh mushroom soup. They were so happy you would have thought they got it for free!

Boma is known for their fabulous dessert spread and so I was disappointed to find out most of the desserts would not be OK for me and my dietary restrictions. But, by the end of the meal I was so full that I really was OK with not having dessert. Just as my husband sat down with his plate of desserts James arrived at our table with a beautiful dish of fresh fruit sorbet prepared just for me. I was amazed since I hadn’t ordered or asked for this. But it was totally safe for me to eat and the BEST sorbet I have ever had.

Desserts

Boma is located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House- just downstairs from the main lobby. Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World. After supper, be sure to hit the gift shop which is a unique store with some one of a kind finds.

Location

Boma has variety (including child friendly food), uniqueness, and friendly chefs. The atmosphere is energetic; especially when the African Drummers come around and the kids join in. I would recommend Boma to anyone –even those with allergies or sensitivities. I can’t wait to try the brunch buffet and I will definitely be more apt to try other Buffet style dining experiences at Walt Disney World.

If you have special dietary or other needs, talk to your travel agent so they can help you make the most of your vacation! I would love to help you plan your next Disney trip. Contact me at Aleshia@travelwiththemagic.com or 1-800-670-4312 ext 139.

See ya Real Soon,

Aleshia

Waffle Sandwiches

Have you heard about the new craze? Waffle sandwiches. Yes, it is real and they are available at the Magic Kingdom Park, at Sleepy Hollow a refreshment stand in Liberty Square located to the left of Cinderella’s Castle. Here you can get this magnificent masterpiece every day.

There are different types of waffles.

Nutella Waffle (1)

Nutella and Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich

Sleepy Hollow6

Ham, Prosciutto, and Swiss

Sleepy Hollow (3)

Sweet and Spicy Chicken

Waffle with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Waffle with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

The waffles are made fresh while you wait and they are absolutely delicious. The sandwich is large enough for a meal or you can share it as a two person snack. The Nutella waffle is available all day however the ham and chicken waffles are only available between 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. Waffles are not the only delicious treat at Sleepy Hollow. Funnel cakes, ice cream cookie sandwiches, huge fresh chocolate chunk cookies, floats, Cappuccino and many other items are also available. Sleepy Hollow accepts the Disney Dining Plan. Snack credits and counter service may be used here. So on your way to Liberty Square stop and pick up a tasty waffle sandwich.

If you are ready to book your magical vacation give me a call and I will be glad to help you.

 Allison@Travelwiththemagic.com or 1-800-670-4312 ext. 134

Disney’s Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is known for making guests feel like they stepped back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood – Disney style.  If you’d like to keep this feeling right on through lunch or dinner visit the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant located on Hollywood Boulevard.  The restaurant is an authentic replica of the famed restaurant located in Los Angeles and is officially licensed by the chain.  You will truly feel transported back in time.

 Brown Derby 1

 The feel here is total Hollywood.  This is a place where you might have seen movie executives meeting over lunch or starlets and their managers eating dinner.  The décor is identical to the original Brown Derby restaurant.  From the mission style iron and woodwork to dark leathers all the way down to the caricatures of movie stars on the wall; this restaurant exudes 1930’s Hollywood.  Fun fact:  the black and white caricatures are reprints while the gold framed ones are originals!

 And then there’s the food!  This would not be a Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant without the original Cobb Salad.  This is where the famed chopped salad got its start and it’s as popular as ever.  It can be ordered as an appetizer or entrée with the entrée size mixed tableside.

Brown Derby 2

 While the restaurant is known for its salad it also offers up a wonderful oyster and brie soup, crab spring rolls, prawn and other unique appetizers.  Entrees include filet of beef, duck, salmon, pork chops, bison as well as vegetarian offerings.  For dessert treat yourself to another Brown Derby original, the Grapefruit Cake.  This is heaven on a plate – grapefruit sponge cake and cream cheese frosting.  Of course if you aren’t a fan of grapefruit there are other to die for desserts including fruit cobbler, crème brulee and chocolate mousse.

Brown Derby 3

 The Hollywood Brown Derby is included on the Disney Dining Plan as a Signature Restaurant (requires 2 table service credits).  It is also offered as part of the Fantasmic! Dinner Package where guests pay a set price that includes dinner and reserved seating at that evening’s Fantasmic! show.  The restaurant also participates in the Dine with an Imagineer program which includes a special dinner with an imagineer.

My name is Susan Heidenrich and I would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation.  I am a Disney Destination Specialist with Travel with the Magic and my services are complementary.  Please email me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com.  You can also follow me on facebook!