Mar 26

A Look at Dining, from a Different Perspective

It is my pleasure to welcome Laurie Smith as today’s guest blogger.  In reading Laurie’s blog about how she picks a restaurant, I had to confess that I have never encountered any of this because sadly I have never looked at it from this perspective.  It gives me a new look on Dining from a Different Perspective……

What I look for in a Restaurant:

Lighting:  I look for enough light to read the menu and see the food.  It is not romantic to use your cell phone or cigarette lighter to read the menu.  Partially sighted guest have a hard time seeing their food, where to walk and read the menu in dimly lit rooms.  I have good vision but even I have been in places that I need a flashlight to see the menu and what I am eating.  I like to see what I am eating as I do not like cole slaw mixed with mashed potatoes.  Darkened rooms prohibit me from seeing if the meat is properly cooked, if there is a bug in my salad, and if that is the meal I ordered.

Seating:  In a restaurant, I look for at least some armless seats or banquets with movable tables. Guests with prosthesis, casts, and fused spinal columns can find it hard to get into and out of
booths that do not have movable tables.  Guests with wide midriffs or hips find seats with arms uncomfortable.  I hate Sci Fi Diner because I was crammed into a seat that pressed against my ribs.  I could not stretch out or move.  By the end of the meal, I was in a rush to leave and in pain from being stuck in one spot.  I am a fat lady nearing 300 pounds, so how would a 400 pound woman, a pregnant lady, or a barrel chested man feel in such tight quarters. The ease of moving a wheelchair to a table is
important.  Guests with autism, post traumatic distress syndrome,phobias, etc. do better in semi private dining areas and areas that do not have elbow to elbow seating.  At one restaurant in Anaheim, the tables were so tightly packed to the point that, service at the table next to me meant, the waiter’s rump was in my face or bumping my table.

Food:   I look for staff that understands cross contamination and knows how to deal with special diets.  I look for knowledge and ease of preparing a meal with limitations as well as variety of food available.  Vegans need protein like everyone else which means a green salad is not going to keep them going through the day.  Hoop Dee Doo Revue has a set menu but they have plain corn on the cob, vegeterian beans, plain baked chicken, plain ribs, plain salads, and strawberries for guests who
are vegan or cannot eat certain foods.  I had gluten and soy free cornbread, honey butter, barbecued ribs, baked chicken with side of barbecue sauce, buttered corn, meaty beans, and a bowl of whipped cream slathered strawberries.  At a restaurant in Kissimmee I was served salad with no dressing, baked potato with butter, and plain steak for dinner with no dessert.  Other people rave at the restaurant were I got the plain steak but for me it was just plain food.

Everything Else:  The final part is about the less important things.  The best themed restaurant is of no use to a guest who is embarrassed because they do not fit in a booth or to a guest who sits there with water and plain rice while their friends indulge in fine foods.  How can a partially sighted person enjoy the decor, if the room is so dim that the person cannot see.   If guests are packed in tight, then how can they enjoy their meal.

It is not hard to see the world from another person’s shoes.  Trying dining without soy.  For me that often means no salad dressing, dry sandwiches, no French fries, no side dishes, broccoli as a side dish instead of the carbs I need for doing parks, no tempting desserts, and no barbecue sauce or meat.  Try wearing dark glasses in a restaurant to see how the partially sighted experience a restaurant.  Put on a knee brace or back brace to see how hard it is to get into and out of restaurant booths.  Try using the bathroom while wearing a knee brace.  Try spending a day in a wheelchair and you will feel the bumps of cobblestones, the jarring stops when a wheel hits a hole or crack in the ground, and the bruises from hitting things. Try getting to a table through a restaurant with narrow aisles and guests sitting in the aisles, in a wheelchair.  Then you will know why, at times, I am so negative about some restaurants.

My name is Laurie Smith and I have lived in Kissimmee, FL since March, 2012, so that I could learn about WDW and help people enjoy WDW.  I love to watch cooking shows so I can learn about food.  I love exploring new places, eating out, cooking, helping people, and playing online games.  I have been going to Disney parks since 1960.




Mar 17

The Polynesian, Does It Live Up To The Expectations?

We had the priviledge to stay at the Polynesian for four nights on our recent trip to Disney in early December.  I was so excited about staying here because I had heard so many wonderful things about the Polynesian.  We have stayed at the Grand Floridian and I loved being on the monorail.  It had been several years since we had been on the monorail so I was excited to be back.  Well, I must say that the Polynesian did not disaapoint!

It was beautifully decorated for Christmas.  This resort reminds me of Hawaii.  Everything is so nice and peaceful and it has a laid back relaxed atmosphere.  The white sandy beaches and volcano slide at the pool were wonderful too, although the pool was cold.

When we got there our room wasn’t ready so we hung out on the beach.  We had a nice view of the Magic Kingdom right there.  Disney’s system was down so it took getting our room a little longer than they had anticipated.  IMG_0834We had moved from the Art of Animation so our luggage was in transit too.  Our son wanted to play in the pool but we had no bags so he wasn’t able to do that.  However, the nice Cast Members at the front desk told us to go to the Bou”tiki” and get some swim trunks and bring the receipt back to them and they would take care of it for us.  And that is what we did.  We got him changed and he stuck his foot in the pool and declared that it was too cold.  But the swim trunks still came in handy because he went and sat in the sand and played until our room was ready.  My husband sat in a lounge chair and fell asleep.

When the room was finally ready we head over and got settled in.  The room was wonderful.  It had the 2 queen beds, good size bathroom area and nice plush towels.  We got changed (I remembered to IMG_0844keep out our shirts for the MVMCP event later that night) and headed out to the Magic Kingdom.  We were located in the Tokelau building which was a short walk to the Great House where we walked out front to catch the monorail.  First stop was at the Grand Floridian and the second stop was the Magic Kingdom.  I loved being so close to the Magic Kingdom and riding the monorail was fun for our son.

We had a couple of glitches but nothing too major.  I have decided that there is no sound proof rooms anywhere.  We heard a little noise from our neighbors that were in the hallways but not too bad.  We got back really late that night from the MVMCP (about 1:00 a.m.) and we found out our bags where not in our room yet.  So we called bell services and they had them brought right up to us.  We fell into bed and right to sleep.

The next morning came our one other glitch.  I woke up earlier than my husband and son so I decided to get up and get ready.  I went into the bathroom and shut the door and started to get ready.  Well, I was putting on my make-up when my husband got up.  My husband tried to open the door and couldn’t get it opened.  He whispered for me to unlock the door.  I told him it was unlocked and that is when the fun began.  I couldn’t open the door and he couldn’t get the door to open. IMG_0849 I was stuck in the bathroom.  Did I mention that I am a little claustrophobic?  I wasn’t stuck long but it was long enough.  By that time all that woke up our son.  He wanted to know what happened so we told him I was stuck.  My husband then gets in the bathroom to take a shower and our son decides to shut the door not thinking it would stick again and low and behold, now my husband is stuck.  He twisted the plate part back on and it works again.  We did stop by the front desk and let them know and they had it fixed by the time we returned that evening.

While we didn’t have a view of the Magic Kingdom we were just a short walk to the beach and we could see it from there.  Our room overlooked the quiet pool.  It really was quiet and I loved it.

We did try out all the restaurants while we were there.  Kona Cafe is now one of my favorites.  I had a Cafe Latte and it was so yummy.  Captain Cooks was a good place for quick serive.  And of course, what can you say bad about ‘Ohana’s?  IMG_1441We even ordered room service one morning.  I got to try my first Tonga Toast and I can see why people rave about it.  It is sweet but so good and I don’t even like bananas.  I just picked those off and ate the toast.  The Strawberry Compote they have on the side for the toast – VERY GOOD!


Mar 05

Three and Anxious? Good Combination for a Disney Trip?

It is my pleasure to have another guest blogger here.  Taryn shares her expericence with taking her 3 year old to Disney.  Find out how she dealt with an anxious child and how her expectations turned out to be totally different than what she thought.

My husband and I decided to take our son on his first Disney vacation last May (2012) because of course he was a big fan of Disney. He watched the Disney channel every morning and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVDs at night before bed. He knew all the characters and everytime he saw the Cinderella castle he’d exclaim “that’s where Mickey & Minnie live!” The idea of taking him on a big trip like this was a scary one, but I felt like it was going to be worth it. Not only was he only 3 years old (he actually turned three a few days after we returned from the trip), but he was also a very anxious child (and still is actually)! I remember a few weeks before the trip laying in bed contemplating if we should just cancel the whole thing and cut our losses (our flights were non-refundable).

TarynHowever, I decided that if we were going to go on this trip that I needed to be prepared as possible. I did a TON of research (bought books, read up on Disney online), planned out every little step to make sure it went as smooth as possible (through Touring Plans), and read A LOT of Disney blogs. I felt comfortable knowing that I did all that I could to make the trip a success and that the rest would be up to him! Sure enough… our trip WAS a success, but not in the way I thought it would be.

Turns out I didn’t know my son as well as I thought I did. His favorite attractions at Disney World were: swimming in the quiet pool at Coronado Springs, Disney Junior LIVE! On Stage in Hollywood Studios, Finding Nemo – The Musical in Animal Kingdom (which honestly we weren’t even planning on seeing, but a big storm pushed us right in and it was his favorite! I was worried he wouldn’t be able to sit through it but he was MESMERIZED!), seeing all of the animals at Animal Kingdom (Kilimanjaro Safari, but also – Pangani Forest Exploration & Maharajah Jungle Trek) & the Dream Along with Mickey stage show in Magic Kingdom.

I thought for SURE he’d love the rides, but most of them made him really nervous. He liked Toy Story Mania the first time (but started to get anxious the second time around), Kali River Rapids sent him Taryn2into a panic attack after being drenched (poor thing was the ONLY one wet… and he got DRENCHED), he was upset that Donald was throwing things at him during Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Peter Pan’s Flight terrified him because we were “flying too high.”

I think the moral of the story here is that you can be prepared as you want, but kids will be kids. You can never be exactly sure what they will enjoy and won’t, so try different things and be ready to comfort them if you need to! Even though he had a couple “not so great” experiences he absolutely LOVED the trip as a whole and still has been begging us to go back. He even started his own piggy bank savings so he can help pay for our next trip! I’m glad we went and wouldn’t have changed a thing!!

About me: My name is Taryn Lau.  I am a SAH Mom blogger.  I have been a SAH Mom for the past four years and am Disney obsessed! My son shares my passion, but we are working on turning my husband into a Disney fanatic as well. I’m sure we can break him! 🙂