Thomas Kinkade once said, "Two of the dream-memories we take from childhood on our life's journey are the wonder and excitement of Walt Disney World and the soaring majesty of castles." We certainly agree!
Do you have a princess in your life? Or, maybe you are one. Either way, this picture is a daily reminder of who a princess is and what she believes in. Hobby Lobby is where to find this royal princess picture.
This Royal Family has discovered a wonderful tool to save & earn when we are planning our next venture to Disney World...Ebates!
We click on Ebates.com and use the menu bar on the left for Travel & Vacations and low and behold everything from luggage to Snapfish, Restaurant.com to all the major rental car companies is at our fingertips.
Ebates offers Cash Back incentives and sometimes discounts are also added. Ebates pays out approximately every 3 months by check or PayPal.
Here are a few of our favorites:
*Airport Parking Reservations is offering 10% cash back, plus $4 off
*ParkSleepFly is also offering 10% Cash Back, plus a 15% off deposit
*Comfort Inn and Suites has 3.5% Cash Back and up to 20% off reservations booked in advance. (This Royal Family uses this going to and fro when we travel by land.)
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are also listed, plus Expedia, Travelocity, the Disney Store and so much more!
Click this link to uncover some wonderful ways to save & earn...http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=Op3fgPWINCft09g6gwFN8Q%3D%3D&eeid=27337
Be sure and let us know how your family used Ebates to add to your pocketbook!
So we admit it, food always seems to play a big role in our Disney World Vacations; and when it comes to Disney World Restaurants, we always enjoy revisiting our old favorites, but always try to visit at least one new dining destination each trip too. After all, Disney has literally dozens upon dozens of restaurant to choose from and there's always something new on the menu or some new change to try out. Sometimes, Disney gets it right; but on occasion, Disney doesn't. So we are putting together our own Disney Restaurant Report Card based on our dining experiences from the past few months! Take a look!
Via Napoli-Found at Epcot's Italy Pavilion, Via Napoli is famous for their pizza! When we visited, we ordered the Spaghetti e Polpettine (spaghetti with veal meatballs), Carciofi Signature Pie (artichoke, mozzarella, truffle oil, etc), and a basic cheese and pepperoni pizza.
Our Grade: A
Comments: Both pizzas were excellent! They were fresh, different, and so so good! This is especially true of the Carciofi Pie. We have never had anything like that before; and if you haven't experienced Truffle Oil, you don't know what you're missing! The spaghetti was good, but nothing special. That's the only reason why Via Napoli didn't get an A+.
Le Cellier-Another Epcot restaurant, tucked away in the Canada Pavilion, Le Cellier is a very popular steakhouse famous for their Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and Filet Mignon. We ordered both dishes!
Our Grade: A
Comments: The soup was as smoky and unique as always; however, when we visited, Le Cellier was experimenting with the popular Filet Mignon dish. It was once served with Mushroom Risotto and Truffle Butter Sauce, but chefs were beginning to add other ingredients. Recently, it has been confirmed that chefs now serve the Filet Mignon with Spinach Risotto, bacon, and Parmesan butter sauce. So while we haven't tasted the newest version, and even though we've heard it's good, we wish Disney wouldn't have messed with perfection. That's why we gave Le Cellier only an A.
Diamond Horseshoe Saloon-Only open seasonally, this counter service spot can be found between the Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square and Frontierland. The saloon is large and offers seating on the floor and up in the balcony and the menu consists of a selection of sandwiches. We had the Portobello Sandwich with Kettle chips.
Our Grade: B
Comments: The sandwich was good and fresh, but wasn't amazing. However, it's much better than greasy burgers and fries!
Boatwrights-This is Port Orleans Riverside's only sit-down restaurant and features a cozy, shipbuilder's theme. The menu here consists of Southern-style dishes, like Crawfish and Jambalaya and Pecan Pie. We had the Voodoo Chicken served with Red Beans, rice, and Collard Greens with the Bananas Foster for dessert.
Our Grade: D
Comments: The chicken and the gravy served with it did not have a good flavor; and while the red beans and rice were okay, it wasn't enough to compensate for the main dish. We ate what we could, but definitely were not in the mood to try Boatwrights again any time soon. However, the Bananas Foster was excellent!
Columbia Harbor House-A Magic Kingdom favorite, this Liberty Square counter service restaurant is known for its yummy menu and plentiful seating. Dishes include New England Clam Chowder, Fried Fish, Lobster Rolls, and more. We had the Fried Fish, Chicken Tenders, and the New England Clam Chowder.
Our Grade: A+
Comments: The fish and chicken was both excellent and had great flavor. Our favorite is always the New England Clam Chowder and it's consistently good with generous hunks of clam! Quality and taste were considerably high for a counter service restaurant.
Be Our Guest-This Magic Kingdom Fantasyland restaurant is the most popular restaurant at Disney World right now, and for good reason! First of all, the restaurant is the Beast's Castle and there are three different dining rooms to enjoy, such as the West Wing, the Rose Gallery, and the iconic Ballroom from the film, complete with falling snow out of the window. It's a counter service restaurant at lunch, but a sit-down restaurant for dinner. We ate here for dinner in the creepy West Wing with the enchanted rose glowing nearby! We enjoyed the Potato Leek Soup, Grilled Strip Streak, and the Grey Stuff!
Our Grade: A+
Comments: The Potato Leek Soup is one of our most favorite things at WDW right now. It's mellow and creamy, but not too heavy, and the taste is delicious. Trust us, you will be raving about this dish. The Grilled Strip Steak was tender and juicy, sure to satisfy meat-eaters. Did we mention it was topped with garlic butter? It was also served with pommes frites, which are french fries, but served with a special dipping sauce that we've been craving ever since. Without a doubt, Be our Guest deserves an A+.
So that's our Disney Restaurant Report Card! Did you agree with our grades?
The Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is so much more than just a place to stay while at Disney World. In addition to campsites and cozy cabins, Fort Wilderness offers recreational activities, a marina, and an escape to the outdoors!
Towards the end of our last vacation, we visited Fort Wilderness one afternoon to do a little exploring. Here's what we found out...
The first thing we discovered is that Fort Wilderness is huge and transportation is complicated! In addition to the bus route taking guests to and from the resort, there's an internal bus route that's color coded.
Lastly, there's two main locations: The Outpost and The Settlement, but that took us awhile to figure out!
Hint: pay special attention to the signs! Like this one!
It took some time, but we finally figured out what to do, got on the right bus, and made it to The Settlement.
This part of Fort Wilderness is located on the water and features the marina and the resort's dining destinations.
Pioneer Hall is home to the popular Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, a fun, rustic-style dinner show. It takes place every night and has been running for years!
Right next door is one of our favorite restaurants, Trail's End. It's a country style buffet in a log cabin, pioneer setting. We always feel right at home when dining here, especially since the food is about as close as you can get to home cooking, and it's one of the few places where you can enjoy real sweet tea in a mason jar on Disney property! Trails End is also one of the cheaper buffets you will find at Disney World, especially if you visit for lunch.
Here's the Fort Wilderness Beach. While you can't see Cinderella Castle from here, you are only a short boat ride away. Also, Wilderness Lodge is right next door and the beach itself is a nice place to relax or play!
On the beach is the marina where we decided to do a little boating...
We decided to try out a Sea Raycer, a small, two person boat that doesn't go very fast but is cheap to rent. Also, kids at least twelve years old can drive them, a big plus for families with pre-teens.
The Fort Wilderness Resort dock! In addition to renting boats, this is also where you go to board one of the ferry boats to either Wilderness Lodge or the Magic Kingdom.
This is a Sea Raycer! Great for a little zip around Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon, don't you think?
Like we said, Sea Raycers don't go very fast, but we got to cruise all over the lake and got some great views of the resorts from the water, including the new Grand Floridian DVC Villas.
There was a lot of boat traffic close to the Magic Kingdom park, so this is as close we got. Still, it's a pretty cool view, don't you think?
We cruised right under the Monorail!
Back to Fort Wilderness...
Right next to The Settlement's bus stop is the Tri-Circle-D Farm (Get it?). You can find a working blacksmith's shop, visit with the horses used at the parks, and even enjoy the resort's wagon and carriage rides!
Isn't it sweet?
Feeding time! We had heard that the horses used to pull Cinderella's Coach are kept here, and we think this pair just might be the ones!
So this is just a small sampling of what there is to enjoy at Fort Wilderness, but there is so much more from archery to pony rides to shops and etc. To learn more, click here. But we have to point out one more discovery from our Fort Wilderness venture. Look closely at the field beyond this sign. There's a herd of deer back there. Fort Wilderness really is the great outdoors!
Heading to Walt Disney World? Is it your first trip? Are you busy planning? If so, you're probably feeling overwhelmed! Don't be! While there is so much to see and do at Disney World, don't try to fit it all in. You can still have the full Disney World Vacation experience, even if you don't see it all your first time. How? Read on! We've got you covered!
10.) Visit a Disney Water Park-Walt Disney World offers two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.Typhoon Lagoon has the best wave pool in the world that's sure to thrill even the bravest, and Blizzard Beach brings a snowy, ski resort to Central Florida! Definitely take time to experience at least one of these parks in order to cool off and see what Disney can do beyond just the standard theme park.
9.) Tackle the Disney Mountains-Even if thrill rides aren't your cup of tea, we still encourage you to take on at least a few of the Disney mountains. They are some of Disney's best attractions and clearly demonstrate why Disney can't be topped. The Disney mountains are the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and now the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train; as well as Animal Kingdom's Expedition Everest.
8.) Taste Beverly at Epcot's Club Cool-At Epcot's Future World, check out a little place called Club Cool. Inside you will find soda fountains offering different sodas from around the world and you can sample these soft drinks for free! Be sure to sample Italy's Beverly soda. It's famous among Disney World regulars!
7.) Ride "it's a small world", Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party, and Pirates of the Caribbean-While many Disney World attractions are famous, some are so well-known that they are pretty much a part of American pop culture and a Disney Vacation just isn't complete without
6.) Have a Dole Whip-Available only at the Magic Kingdom and the Polynesian Village Resort, a Dole Whip is pineapple-flavored soft-serve and is one of the most popular park snacks. You can just enjoy the soft-serve, or have it served in a cup of pineapple juice as a float. That's our favorite way to enjoy this frosty, tropical treat.
5.) Resort Hop-Even if you're not staying at a particular Disney World Resort hotel, you can still visit! This practice is called resort hopping, and we always take time during our vacations to hop to the other resorts to do a little shopping, dining, and to see what each resort has to offer. You see, Disney puts just as much magic and detail into their resorts as they do their parks, and we want to see it all! Plus, it's a great way to enjoy the Disney atmosphere while taking it easy.
4.) Watch Wishes-Disney World is famous for their fireworks and the Magic Kingdom's nightly display, shot over Cinderella Castle, is called Wishes. It's narrated by Jiminy Cricket and is incredible! Don't miss!
3.) Ride the Monorail-It's so popular, and classic, that some guests consider it a ride and not just a form of transportation! Be sure to ride at least once.
2.) Experience a Character Meal-A Character Meal is a nice, sit-down meal in either the parks or the resorts where Disney Characters stop and visit at each table while you eat. Character Meals are very popular, especially at restaurants offering unique themes and locations. In short, they are a must-do when visiting Walt Disney World and are a much better way to meet characters than standing in line in the heat.
1.)Wear Mouse Ears-It's an American tradition and an absolute must for anyone's first trip to Disney; and yes, that means adults too!
With MagicBands in full swing at Disney World, and now a standard part of the Disney World Vacation experience, we decided to jump on the bandwagon by jazzing up our bands with Disney's MagicBandits!
MagicBandits are little decorations with fitted pegs that fasten into the adjustment holes in your MagicBand. They typically come in packs of three or four and currently run from $6.95 to $8.95.
So...while browsing through the Grand Floridian shops, we came across a package of Mickey-shaped pearl MagicBandits!
It's just too perfect. Pearl MagicBandits at the Grand Floridian. So naturally, we just had to get them!
Of course, there were other styles of MagicBandits to choose from as well. We found MagicBandits themed after Star Wars characters, Disney park icons, princesses, mouse ears, Muppets, Pixar characters, and more!
Here's What We Learned:
-MagicBandits come in packets of either three for $6.95 or four for $8.95.
-MagicBandits fit snugly into the adjustment holes of your MagicBand. They do turn in the slot, but are very hard to remove once you pop them in.
-MagicBandits can be a little cumbersome, as they do stand off the band, but overall it's not too distracting.
-As the packets contain three or four MagicBandits, there's enough to share! The four packet would be great for young kids as two kids could have two MagicBandits each.
-Our pearl MagicBandits were hard plastic, but most of the MagicBandits for sale were made of soft rubber and look as if they don't stand off the band as much.
-Looking for another way to spruce up your MagicBand? Consider CoverBands or MagicSliders, the first of which covers the band strap with a decorative pattern while the other slides over the band's Mickey icon.
We wore our pearl MagicBandits for the rest of the trip, but more as a memento for our afternoon at the Grand Floridian than because we actually enjoyed wearing them. As we said, they could be a little cumbersome at times; but we never lost one and have to say that we even forgot that we were wearing them most of the time.
We would recommend MagicBandits for kids as a way to show off their favorite characters or parks or even princesses. However, while we said we had difficult removing them once we inserted them, their small size could be a swallowing risk for little ones.
When it comes to adults, we wouldn't suggest going out of your way to hunt down MagicBandits for yourself, unless you really are interested in adding your own touch to your band. While cute, they are definitely geared more towards kids and don't really offer any practicality.
In short, MagicBandits are great for school-age kids; but when it comes to other age groups, another type of souvenir may be best.
So what has your experience been with MagicBandits? Are you a fan, or not? Share with us!
Summer is just about over! It's sad, but true. Kids are going back to school; and before long, fall will be upon us and we will be wanting to bring back summer just like Olaf. That's why, if you're at Walt Disney World, you need to enjoy what's left of summer before it's gone! Here's what we suggest...
10.) Hit the Pool
Grab a towel, sunblock, and those new sunglasses and head for your resort pool to relax and read or set a record for how many times you can slip down that awesome slide!
9.) Cool Off with a Frosty Snack
You can never go wrong with a cool, creamy, tropical Pineapple Dole Whip Float. It's vacation goodness in a cup!
8.) Get Soaked on Splash Mountain
Ditch the poncho, sit in the first or second row, throw up your hands, and scream all the way down into the Brer Rabbit's Briar Patch! Enjoy having your clothes dry as you walk, because this won't be the case in few months!
7.) Take Time to Listen to the Main Street Philharmonic
There are few things more American and perfectly summer than a marching band. So slow down and take a few minutes to listen to the Main Street Philharmonic play a few familiar tunes! Also, be sure to attend the daily Flag Lowering Ceremony on the square at 5 o'clock for a sure show of patriotism as the day's flag is rewarded to a veteran.
6.) Enjoy a Blast of Disney World Air Conditioning
The Magic Kingdom's Hall of Presidents has the best A/C in Walt Disney World. No contest.
5.) Spend the Afternoon at the Epcot Resorts
A beach vacation is synonymous with summer, so enjoy Disney's version of a seaside vacation by exploring and enjoying the Epcot Resort Area.
First of all, there's the Boardwalk with its delicious dining destinations, boardwalk games and prizes, and live entertainment. Secondly, the Yacht and Beach Club has a sandy beach, a mini-water park with a sand-bottom pool, a '50s diner, and a light, breezy, nautical style which makes you forget you're in Central Florida and instantly puts you at ease!
4.) Slurp a Frozen Sunshine from Beaches and Cream
It's summer and you're in Florida. That means there's sunshine! For a sweet taste of summer sunshine, try the creamy, orange Frozen Sunshine sherbet treat at the Yacht and Beach Club's Beaches and Cream! You can enjoy one while you dine, or order it to-go.
3.) Enjoy a Day at the Disney World Water Parks
There's no better place at WDW to escape the intense heat and sticky humidity than one of Disney World's incredible water parks, and you really can't go wrong with either! Typhoon Lagoon's storm-tossed park offers the best wave pool in the world, and Blizzard Beach's melting ski-resort has the coolest theme ever and offers something for everyone and then some!
2.) Close Down a Park
Everyone usually sprints for the exits after Wishes or Illuminations or Fantasmic, but late nights are an essential rite of summer, so don't follow the crowds! Hang out for awhile! Cast Members allow guests onto rides until the very last minute; and, at the Magic Kingdom, there's a special ending to the day called "The Kiss Goodnight" at Cinderella Castle.
1.) Ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
It's Disney World's newest attraction and a summer success! If you can, climb aboard and visit the dwarves before it's heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work you go!
Apparently, everyone does love a good secret! After your response to our Walt Disney Secrets Part 1, Part 2, and now Part 3, we decided to give you a Part 4! But as always, remember to keep these little hidden tidbits between us! Are you ready? Here we go!
10.) Cinderella Castle Outlets - Apparently Cinderella needs to charge her phone every now again too as there are outlets located throughout the Cinderella Castle breezeway! Guests sit along the wall and under the mural for shade and to charge up; and of all the places to charge around WDW, this one has to be the coolest of all the locations!
9.) FastPass + Time Cushion - So you have a FastPass+ reservation for Kilimanjaro Safaris and your bus is running late. You power walk through Animal Kingdom, but you still end up missing your time window by a few minutes. What to do? Go ahead and scan your MagicBand in the FastPass line. Your FastPass+ should still be good for a few minutes after your time window expires just for these circumstances!
8.) Villa Preview - On the Boardwalk, there is a model of an actual DVC Boardwalk Villa you can walk through to see what it's like! There's also Disney Vacation Club info and Cast Members available to answer questions; but even if you're not interested in joining, it's still cool to see a different room from a different resort.
7.) The Pirates Log - Inside of the Magic Kingdom's Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland, you will find references to the popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Our favorite? The book containing the roster of the Black Pearl and the Queen Anne's Revenge! Also note that Captain Jack Sparrow crossed out Captain Barbossa's name and wrote in his own!
6.) Once Upon a Toy Mural - At the Once Upon a Toy store at Downtown Disney, take a look at the mural behind the counter to see some familiar Disney characters among the paintings of toys!
5.) The Hand of Cruella - The World of Disney store at Downtown Disney is huge! Each room inside the store has its own theme, one of which is a Disney Villains theme. Look high on the wall for references of popular villains, such as Captain Hook's hook or this Cruella hand holding a fancy dog collar.
4.) Villains in Vogue Handle - Speaking of villains, the Villains in Vogue store at Hollywood Studios features lots of villainous details too. Our favorite is the door handle which is in the shape of the seashell Ursula used to capture Ariel's voice!
3.) Mickey Stickers - You know those Mickey stickers Cast Members pass out occasionally? Apparently, there are different ones for different purposes. For example, the one pictured above is from the Disney Survey Team found at City Hall on Main Street USA. Try to collect them all!
2.) Charlton Heston Mistake - Right n front of The Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, look down to see where celebrities have left their hand prints and signature in the concrete. You will find imprints from Dick Van Dyke (Bert from Mary Poppins), George Lucas (creator of Star Wars), and even R2-D2 and C-3P0! Charlton Heston, from the classic Ten Commandments and Ben Hur films, also left his imprint. However, he misspelled his name! Instead of Charlton, he wrote Charton! Go check it out for yourself when you visit!
1.) Restaurant Choices - Hungry? Don't have a reservation? Head to Epcot. Of all the parks at WDW, Epcot has the most restaurants and you can almost always guarantee a table somewhere throughout World Showcase. Oftentimes, more of the exotic pavilions' restaurants have little to no wait at all as guests tend to shy away from foreign food; but be assured that this is Disney and nothing is too strange so American guests are satisfied. Plus, the quality is excellent! Lastly, in our opinion, Epcot restaurants are some of the most reliable and delicious of all dining destinations on property.
The Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace is a popular dining destination for park guests in that it offers an all-day character buffet with Winnie the Pooh and the gang in a Victorian, light-filled setting, along with a picturesque view of Cinderella Castle!
But the Crystal Palace's location, architecture, and overall style is not just for looks, but actually for a specific purpose...
First of all, the Crystal Palace has been at Walt Disney World since opening day in 1971. It's truly a piece of original park history! But the Crystal Palace also represents a period of international history! Let me explain...
The Crystal Palace is nestled between Main Street USA and Adventureland; and this location, coupled with its architecture and design, is meant to serve as a smooth transition from land to the other. How? Well, England once occupied and colonized countries all over the world, including India, and built many Victorian, British style structures there. In fact, you can still find examples of British architecture from that era in India today, some of which look a lot like the style of the Crystal Palace!
Therefore, the Crystal Palace looks, and truly is, right at home at the end of Main Street USA and at the edge of the lush and exotic Adventureland!
Also, we should mention that there actually was a Crystal Palace in England during the mid-17th Century which featured the largest amount of glass ever used in a building at the time. The Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace shares some of the same design and overall look of the original, particularly in the vast amount of glass explaining the restaurant's bright, light-filled interior.
It's only fitting then, with all these references to England, that the Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace offers a character meal with Winnie the Pooh and gang, who just happen to be British children's book characters!
So as you can see, there's a lot more meaning to the Crystal Palace than most guests realize. It's location, architecture, and overall design all serve a purpose and help to seamlessly transport guests from one land to the next with historical accuracy!