Celebrating at Disney World

On our first trip to Disney World as a family, we were lucky enough to be there on my birthday.  2 years later, we were there again on my birthday.  Here are some wonderful things I learned on my trips!

Happy Birthday Mouse Ears are the best!

 First, make sure your travel planner KNOWS you are celebrating!  If they know that you’re celebrating, they can note it in your reservation.  When you check in, you should receive a “Happy Birthday” button with your name on it.  Not staying on property?  No worries!  Simply go to Guest Services and request a “Happy Birthday” button.  (There are also buttons for first visits, honeymoons, anniversaries, and “just celebrating”).

 Be sure to wear this button EVERYWHERE you go during your whole trip, not just on your actual birthday.  The words, “Happy birthday, Amy!” from Cast Members (and even other guests) followed me around our whole trip and truly made my day each and every time I heard it.  Characters in the parades even notice too!!

 If you have a meal planned, again, make sure your travel planner notes the celebration in your reservation – MAGICAL things may happen!!  At our character breakfasts (one at Chef Mickey’s and one at Tusker House), I was given a birthday cupcake and the whole restaurant is led in a rousing song of “Happy Birthday”.  At Tusker House, I was also presented with a birthday card signed by Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Daisy!  At California Grill, there was no performance, but our table was covered in Mickey shaped confetti and I was presented with an AMAZING piece of chocolate cake.

Reading my birthday card from Donald and friends at Tusker House

Birthday cupcake at Chef Mickey’s. Nothing beats sprinkles for breakfast!

 Wear the button during unplanned meals too.  My brother, his wife, my husband and I left the children with the grandparents and headed off for an “adult only day”.  I was surprised at Kimono’s (a sushi restaurant/karaoke bar) with one of the best crème brulees I’ve EVER eaten with a candle in it.  I was also offered a birthday dessert at Boma even though we hadn’t noted the celebration in our reservation.

 My husband and I splurged on the Dine with an Imagineer experience for my birthday.  (We’re both engineers and I’m a Disney nut, so it seemed like a great idea!)  Again, I had not noted on the reservation that it was my birthday.  But because I was so excited to be there, I completely forgot to take off my birthday button!  The hostess noticed and so at the end of the meal, I was brought 2 dessets – the dessert that was included with the meal AND a birthday dessert.  The Imagineer and the other guests happily sang to me.  Then, instead of the “regular” personalized menu you receive at the end of the meal, I received a special birthday one!

 You can also preorder celebration cakes to be delivered to most table service restaurants.  There are also some AMAZING packages available from the Disney Florists that can be delivered to your resort.  These include everything from Pirates to Princesses and everything in between!

 The best part?  Getting to be a kid again!  I was in tears when we walked into the Magic Kingdom on my actual birthday, after an amazing breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, when the first character we saw was none other than Mary Poppins (my hands down, all-time FAVORITE).  And where else can you wear Happy Birthday Mouse Ears all day long and not feel silly?

A supercalifragilistic birthday photo with Mary Poppins

Want to visit the Magic Kingdom for your OWN celebration?  Contact me today for a free quote!  I’d love to plan your magical celebration!!  Amy@travelwiththemagic.com, www.facebook.com/TravelWithTheMagicAmy or 1-800-670-4312, x129.

Character meals At Walt Disney World!

There is another magical memory that we never miss with any trip to see the mouse – Character Meals! (And princesses too!) These are always a favorite with my family.  It is an exciting opportunity for a great photo with your child’s favorite character or princess.  It definitely beats standing in the long lines in the hot sun at the parks.  Although, that is also another great chance for a memorable meet and greet. At every meal, the characters individually rotate around the entire restaurant, stopping at each table for a visit with your family.  If your child is a little timid and this is their first time meeting character, don’t worry.  The characters are very aware of this.  They approach the table cheerfully but not in an over bearing manner.  Their intent is for this to be a happy experience for the children. As each character comes individually to your table, you can get some great photos as your children and the characters exchange hugs, high fives and a lot of other fun banter.  They will also take the time to sign autograph books or whatever else you bring for a signature (we have had them sign t-shirts in the past and I have known others to have them sign baseballs).  The characters always spend plenty of time acknowledging each child and adult.  No one ever gets left out.

 

These meals are typically more of a buffet style.  The food is usually located in the center of the restaurant.  This way you have the flexibility of getting up to get your food when it is convenient.  Each restaurant is very open so that you can easily see when it is your turn and which character is on their way to see your family.  There is always a wide variety of meats, pastas, salads, breads, fruits, and tasty desserts offered.  There is also a children’s section that typically offers macaroni and cheese, green beans, nuggets and more.  However, I usually grab whatever my son will eat even if it is from the adult selections. You should plan on this meal taking approximately 1-1.5 hours to complete.  You want to allow ample time for your children to get a chance to visit with each character.  And if you eat slow enough and relax, you may get a chance to see them on a 2nd rotation!  These meals give the parents a great opportunity to slow down and refuel before heading back out to the parks.  Especially in the summer when the heat is beating down, most families welcome the leisure lunch or dinner in the air conditioning.

There is an overwhelming popularity with the character and princess meals.  I strongly recommend getting dining reservations in advance.  This is another way a planner can be helpful for you.  Dining reservations can be booked 180 days prior to your arrival.  When you are working with a planner, they will work hard to get these in place for you in a timely manner.  A planner is also great in helping you to design the best itinerary for your family in regards to which park, which day in correlation to which dining experience you want.  Also most of the character and princess meals are included on the dining plan! Other fun aspects to the character meals are CELEBRATIONS!  Make sure that when the reservations are being placed for these experiences, it is mentioned whether or not you are celebrating something with your family.  We have celebrated many birthdays with the characters.  All birthday celebrations are recognized throughout the meal with song and sometimes a dance.  Your table is typically decorated with Mickey head glitter and streamers.  And the recipient gets a cupcake and a card that is signed by all of the characters.  You can also contact the Disney Cakes number and pre-order a specialty cake if you desire – it will be delivered to your table.

Here is a list of the character/princess dining experiences throughout the parks and resorts: Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace – breakfast, lunch and dinner Cinderella’s Royal Table – breakfast, lunch, and dinner Epcot Garden Grill – dinner only for characters Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – breakfast,lunch, and dinner Hollywood Studios Hollywood and Vine – breakfast and lunch only Animal Kingdom Tusker House – breakfast and lunch only Contemporary Resort Chef Mickey’s – breakfast and dinner only Grand Floridian Resort 1900 Park Fare – breakfast and dinner only Polynesian Resort O’hana’s – breakfast only for characters Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Cape May Cafe – breakfast only for characters For more information on character/princess dining or making other magical memories at Walt Disney World, Disneyland or the Disney Cruise, please contact me!  I can be reached anytime at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125 or robyn@travelwiththemagic.com As always, ALL of my services are completely free!

Watching dreams come true at Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner

 

As a little girl my dream to meet Cinderella was real, but just that a dream. It wasn’t until I was married with children of my own that I was able to meet Cinderella in a tearful introduction. Yes, I did say tearful and my first words to her were “I have been waiting for this my whole life”. In her delicate, bright and cheerful manner, she responded “Well I hope it was worth the wait”, and indeed it was. When we arrived home I shared this story with my Mother and my Sister, they both shared with me that they to have that same dream, it was then that we put plans in motion for me to introduce them to my new friend Cinderella.  After a year of planning a once in a lifetime trip for them, the day had finally arrived.

As we entered 1900 Park Fare we were immediately directed to a photographer who captured our event. We were then taken to our table which was perfectly placed towards the back of the restaurant, very personnel and warm, it felt as if we were the only guests joining Cinderella for dinner. With the sounds of a trumpet we were first introduced to Cinderella’s Stepmother Lady Tremaine who was grumpy and stout, true to character, and so much fun to watch. Then came the two darling step sisters, now bare with me I say that with mixed emotion. Drusilla and Anastasia were by far the best characters I have ever interacted with at Disney. They were excellent and spot on with their portrayal of the nasty step sisters who didn’t miss a beat with descriptions of their relationship with Cinderella and not missing a chance to holler for their “Mother” when a guest would do or say something that they did not like.

These interactions were so good I had almost forgotten the reason I had brought my Mother and Sister to this restaurant was to make their dreams come true. It was at that moment that the trumpet sounded again and we were introduced to Cinderella and Prince Charming, although I had met her just a year before, I had that same emotion as I watched my Mother and Sister take it all in. As Cinderella approached the table I couldn’t help but tear up as I watched amazingly at the expression of my Mom and Sister. It’s amazing what the magic of Disney can do. Even for adult princesses! As the characters made their way to other tables we were able to enjoy the delicious buffet that was truly magnificent, starting with a chilled strawberry soup, mixed greens a tomato and mozzarella salad and the list goes on. We were then given the choice of prime rib, salmon, chicken, potatoes, pastas and finish with several exquisite desserts such as key lime tarts, lemon cheese cake, ice cream, brownies and chocolate chip cookies. As we left the restaurant my Mom became overwhelmed as she truly couldn’t explain the feeling of sharing a dream come true with her daughters.

This character meal has become one of my favorites and I recommend it to all of my clients who have little princesses waiting for their dreams to come true. Don’t miss a chance to dine at 1900 park fare where many dreams come true.

 

Amy Blades

amyb@travelwiththemagic.com