Jun 05

Selfie Sticks at Amusement Parks

Good advice from Laurie on selfie sticks.  Remember to enjoy your time with your loved ones……

There is word that the selfie sticks are banned from all WDW rides and attractions. I (Laurie) did a search of the WDW site and have found no such rules listed. However, selfie sticks are covered under ride rules that are not made public. On Kali River Rapids, one is to stow ALL gear which means selfie sticks. They retrieve lots of cameras that fall overboard when guests try to take pictures even back before the selfie stick was invented. Tower of Terror requires gear to be stowed yet every night they scrape up the remains of phones and cameras.

No selfie stick was harmed.

No selfie stick was harmed.

Signs are going up that prohibit selfie sticks. Greeters are going to be trained to remind guests about selfie sticks if they see them. Greeters will not hunt for selfie sticks. Selfie sticks will be treated like cameras, canes, crutches, hats, and anything else that can and will go flying on a ride. If they say stow gear then you have to stow your selfie stick. If they tell you to hold on with both hands, then put away your selfie stick.

Selfie sticks on a ride can go flying into other guests or the ride itself. During shows, the selfie stick can hit other guests especially on simulator type theaters and they are distracting as they invade other people’s space. Would you hold a cane out in front of you?


Advice on selfie sticks

1. Do you really need that shot? Billions of images have been made over the past century of amusement parks without selfie sticks.

2. How much time is used to set up a shot? 10 selfies at 3 minutes each is 30 minutes. That is half an hour that could be spent eating or riding a ride.

3. Whose space are you entering with your selfie stick? I ducked because a selfie stick came swinging at my head. People see your body not the selfie stick!!! People will pivot as they try for the perfect, ultimate, award winning shot. As they pivot they swing that selfie stick without seeing objects, horses, and people around them.

4. ROAD HOG! I promised Tabitha to be nice, but one thing that irks me to no end, is the person who has to have that perfect shot. With or without a selfie stick they want you to stop what you are doing and not interrupt their shot. All guests must go around the photo shoot and must not enter the scene. It doesn’t matter that a kid has a dirty diaper, a person is sick, someone has a fastpass, or a cast member is trying to get to work. STOP!! Photo shoot in progress so everyone walk around or wait. Worst is when photo shoots are in narrow paths and everyone is forced to walk single file. Bridge photo shoots are the worst as they require everyone on the bridge to stop.

5. Down in front, please! For us in scooters, the kids, and many other guests, it is hard to see over your selfie stick and camera. All of my parade shots are from my chest area. I hold my camera chest high so as not to interupt everyone. My images are not perfect but they invoke memories. It is not fair for guests at a parade to suddenly get whacked by a selfie stick.

6. Failure of guests to act in a civil and fair manner will end up with rules. We have gates on rides and yellow lines because of guests jumping into ride vehicles before the current guest exit the vehicle. Because of careless parents we are now asked to put kids on the inside of the ride vehicle. People parked at resorts to avoid paying parking so now resorts are very strict on who parks at their resorts. Selfie stick users need to be careful or there could be tighter rules.

7. There are cast members and guests who will gladly take your picture. The photographers in the parks will take your picture. Have a friend stand on a bridge and wait to snap pictures of you on rides.

Try to remember that you are sharing a public area with disabled guests, short people, kids, and a wide variety of people who cannot see well. Try to remember that instead of doing selfies you can savor moments with your group. It was a fun tool until people got hurt. Look around you and see what you paid to visit. I regret that in 1998 I spent too much time on camcorder time instead of savoring the experience.


Jun 05

Great Movie Ride Changes and Rebel Hangar Review

Laurie brings us her take on the changes at The Great Movie Ride along with her review of the Rebel Hangar.

The biggest changes are the opening and closing montages. I was not able to stay long enough to see all of the opening sequence in the waiting area but you can find online, the opening montage. The closing montage was too fast for me as I prefer to savor the clips and remember those moments. GOOD MORNING VIETNAM has remained as are some of the best ones from the past. Added were Frozen, Rapunzel, Bruce and Nemo from Finding Nemo, and the Incredibles as well as modern classics like new scenes Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Guardians of the Galaxy. As before, it is fast moving, and best seen on YouTube. The montage now focuses on themes and genres, as well as, gets rid of some violent images like the chariot crash. Robert Osborne does a fine job narrating.

TCM is the new sponsor so you will find “The Great Movie Ride Presented by TCM” on posters that replaced most of the old posters such as Titanic. A new tag is “presented by TCM” that can be found at the entrance marquee, the marquee at the loading area, and on the Mary Poppins display. Some artifacts have been replaced with new artifacts. Outside is a “photo op” area that few know exists, few actually use it as a photo opportunity (photo op), and many use as a shelter in the time of storms.

WARNING: read and study BEFORE you go to the park. I told a group that the nearest food open at 9 pm might be at Sunset Boulevard. I had left the Rebel Hangar after closing into a downpour. Depending on the day you go you might find certain restaurants closing early, paths blocked because of fireworks, and rides closing before the park closes. This advice applies to all areas of WDW, Seaworld, Universal Studios, and Legoland. Always have plans in case something is missed or is closed. I met a family sitting in a photo op area and started talking with them. Finally, I told them that they might as well do Toy Story Mania and wait in a dry warm room instead of sitting out there doing nothing.


Rebel hangar9Reservations are recommended. We arrived late so were able to be seated immediately. I was not overwhelmed with the theme and decor. Maybe if I had time to walk around I might have seen something awesome. There are guests who are not dining that wander the halls looking at the decor and getting pictures with the storm troopers. Rebel hangar4The chef came out immediately and discussed my dinner while the waitress brought out the blue milk. First sip was milk, the more of a Nestles Quik type of drink, then raspberry. It was not a pleasant drink. Being soy and gluten free he offered me the salad, French fries, pork wings, sliders, and the skewers.

My friend can eat almost anything thankfully. I shared with him the Pilot’s Pommes Frites which are almost shoestring fries, minced then roasted garlic, parsley, and tiny shards of parmesan cheese. There is enough for two or three people. You can smell the garlic as you dig into the best French Fries I have had in a long time. Rebel hangar6My friend loved the Lightsaber Bites which are corn dogs that use knockwurst instead of hot dogs. I tasted the honey-mustard sauce and agreed with my friend that a corn dog needs yellow mustard or Gulden’s mustard. This came with the house made chips. I had the sliders on gluten free buns. It is called The Sith and The Jedi with “The Sith” being a delicious barbecue-braised brisket with cole slaw and “The Jedi” being barbecued pulled chicken with arugula. Mine came with house chips which we both agree are awesome and full of flavor. Rebel hangar7I was full from the fries but like a kid he gleefully dived into the Mini Darth Vader (chocolate-peanut butter), Mini Yoda (chocolate-hazelnut), and Mini Jabba the Hutt (salted caramel latte) served in a Han Solo Carbonite Souvenir Box. Overall the chefs are very good at using spices and herbs to season the chips and sliders well. Everything we tried was flavorful and I think the sliders were as good at the ones at the Brown Derby Lounge.

The only issue for me was the draft where we sat. Some guests may find the place to noisy and there are so many people going in and out that it can get on one’s nerves. Overall the seating and lighting are good and disabled guests should not have trouble getting around. Remember to use the main entrance as there are stairs in certain areas. It was well worth the experience and the prices are reasonable. $5.49 for a large order of fries that would fill me up. They offer beer, wine, specialty drinks, and the usual nonalcoholic beverages. The fries can be made vegan if they hold the cheese. The salad can be made vegan as well as one other dish. Vegetarians can find many dishes here that are vegetarian or can be altered to be vegetarian. The chef tried hard to meet my diet and seemed very knowing about the food he offered. I HAVE FRIES! If I won the lottery I would be there every night for the fries. They have family friendly dining as well as a nice place for adults to hang out with a few drinks with friends. Tonight it was 4 thumbs up!

Rebel hangar1 Rebel hangar2 Rebel hangar3

May 30


Laurie gives us the skinny on the new changes for the dining plan starting tomorrow. The first major issue with the dining plan was with what guests cannot and will not eat. Picky eaters, vegans and vegetarians, diabetics, small eaters, allergies, medical diets, religious diets, pharmaceutical diets, and other factors made the dining plans not right for guests. Not all children can live on burgers and macaroni nor can they finish meals. I skip dessert most time as there is nothing I can eat. Vegans often had few or no dessert options.

The second major issue was the rules. How and what rules were in place and were enforced depended on restaurant/resort/merchant management, site managers, and employees. Now we have an easier way of dealing with things and it is clearly stated.

General Rules

1. Snacks and drinks in stores, restaurants, kiosks, and vendors do NOT applie to souvenir containers, glow cubes, alcoholic beverages, alcoholic snacks, and anything containing more than one serving. One cannot use as a snack credit for the sandpail sundae, souvenir cups, souvenir mugs, clip on lights on cups, and popcorn buckets. The serving size varies at WDW. That 10 ounce bag of chips is not a snack credit.
****TIP: alcohol, big snacks, souvenirs are not snack credits.

2. Guest may now use their credits on someone who is not staying with them and who is not on their dining plan. Now guests may use their excess credits with family who are visiting.

3. Only the Deluxe, Premium, and Platinum dining plans allow a guest to use adult meals for children. For example, 2 parents and two children could order 4 adult meals at a table service or quick service restaurant. The children at Le Cellier could have:
Grilled Sirloin – with Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans and veal jus with juice, milk, or water.
Now the children can have:
Braised Lamb Shank – horseradish gremolata, smoked cipollini, glazed vegetables with choice of coffee, tea, water, juice, milk, and soda.
****TIP: does not apply to quick service and regular dining plans.

4. NO DESSERT!! For me this is the best change. Guests can substitute, at table service restaurants, a small salad, cup of soup, or fruit plate for dessert. This is for table service only as quick services has more rules to boggle the mind.


1. Guests may substitute a snack for desserts or drinks. A guest has a refillable mug so they don’t want their drink or are on a diets that limits sweets now they can take a muffin, cereal with milk, or chips for breakfast and midnight snacking. This will help guests stretch their quick service meals.
****TIP: this must be done in the same transaction and is one snack per dessert or drink. This is only in Quick Service restaurants no kiosks and store.

2. Any guest may substitute a quick service meal for three snacks. This applies to all dining plans only at quick service restaurants. Instead of a meal you could take a muffin, salad and soup. This would allow a person to stockpile breakfast items as well as take home snacks.
****TIP: 3 snacks for a quick service meal only at quick service restaurants, confectioneries, and some stores!

3. Children may order the adult meal. This is only for the Quick Service restaurants using the quick service credit.
Children can have:
Cheese Pizza $5.99
Butter Chicken – with basmati or multigrain rice, naan bread and 2 sides
This is a great way for families to get a variety of food for kids and even split meals between children.

4. BREAKFAST has changed!!! Breakfast snacks must be part of a regular meal such as sausage to be counted as a snack. One quick service meal may be traded for three sides or snacks at breakfast time such as eggs, bacon, and grits. Breakfast snacks include cereal with milk, French toast stick, oatmeal, quinoa, grits, side of bacon or sausage, side of eggs, side of potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and biscuits with gravy.
****TIP: Only applies to breakfast at quick service restaurants using the quick service credit.


1. Price will no longer be the deciding factor on what is a snack credit.

2. Snacks usually will be limited to one serving, rarely two or three. DVC stores usually have snack packs of donuts, cookies, and other snacks.

3. Alcoholic food and beverages are not covered under the dining plan.

4. No souvenir cups, mugs, buckets, sandpails or glow cubes are included.

5. All ice cream novelties and all hand scooped ice cream are now included but limited to one scoop.

6. If something was not a snack because of a topping such as:
Funnel Cake – topped with strawberries and whipped cream $6.49
Waffle – with powdered sugar or cinnamon $4.99
Pretzel with cheese sauce was two credits.
it will take time to find out what will be included as funnel cakes are not always a snack credit.

7. QUICK SERVICE RESTAURANTS, only. All sides will become snacks unless they are otherwise prohibited such as size and alcohol. Soup will become a snack.
****TIP: only at quick service restaurants can you get sides and soup as a snack credit.


This is going to take more work on us the writers, the travel agents, and you as a guest. Would having dinner at where you can skip dessert make the plan better for you? For me as well as diabetics the skipping of dessert is a blessing. If your child could have lamb shank instead of macaroni and cheese would you go for the dining plan? What if you could split that lamb shank with two or even three people? You might be bringing home a lot of snacks. There is a lot to digest here and a lot of changes that might make the dining plan a good deal for you.

Apr 22

Downtown Disney aka Disney Springs

Laurie brings us news on Disney Springs…….

Over the next year you will see changes occuring at Downtown Disney (DTD). Eventually at Planet Hollywood will be the anchor for Town Center shopping district that connects to Marketplace. This connecting path will be the easiest way across DTD as Pleasure Island aka The Landing is a hill with some steep paths across and up from Raglan Road, Portobello, and Westside. The alternatives are the ferries and eventually the second bus stop. Eventually there will be a second bus stop at Planet Hollywood just to the east of the current parking garage. Any trips to DTD requires planning of transportation due to the hills, crowds, and limited means of transportation. I recommend walking to one end then taking a ferry back especially if you have disabled guests or children.

Westside has space for two new stores and maybe some cosmetic changes in the future to tie Westside to the Disney Springs theme. The Food Truck park and the hub in front of Starbucks and Harley Davidson are two areas that have entertainment that may vary as well as the new park near the Boathouse. Planet Hollywood will become The Observatory and will have construction for the next year as a hub is formed in front of Planet Hollywood and AMC Theaters. This hub will be a focal point for the bus area, the garage, Town Center, and Westside. Just north of this hub is the hub for The Landing and Westside. Planet Hollywood will become an old observatory at the beginning of Disney Springs with the creek flowing between The Landing and Town Center. Menus will be worked over but many of the Hollywood memorabilia will remain inside The Observatory.  World of Soccer has moved to a kiosk in Westside.

Pleasure Island aka The Landing has all the shops occupied and open. The Boathouse has opened up as well. Eventually there will be a terraced area to the west of STK that leads down to STK and to Town Center. The hill top has a road leading down to the main level at Portobello and a path along Raglan Road down to Town Center and the lower areas. At T-Rex will is a hub that leads to Town Center, the new parking garage, Marketplace, and The Landing. The remaining restaurants at The Landing will open when they are ready. Sadly The Boathouse is not getting rave dining reviews. It is designed as an old warehouse turned restaurant with added amenities to keep guests coming. It offers gondola and amphicar rides. The issues are the cost of food compared to other WDW restaurants and the noise in the restaurant. I compared Yachtsman, Shula’s, Boathouse and other restaurants to see if their prices were too high. Porterhouse 28 ounce and the filet mignon were cheaper at Boathouse with house salads cheaper and many items the same or less that Shula’s and Yachtsman. This is gourmet dining that with tips, taxes, appetizer, dessert, nonalcoholic beverage, and entree can cost at least $100 per person. Please read the menus and decide if you want to do fine dining on $4.50 an ounce steak or rather go to two nice restaurants like Turf Club and Kona Cafe for the same price.

The Causeway has opened up on the lake which makes for more walkways and less congestion. There are four new shops in kiosks on the causeway. Icon Jewelry by Bico, Florida Bath Co., Kate and Leo games and toys, and Flour and Sugar gourmet cookies are the current tenants. This is a good place to watch amphicars, gondolas, and other watercraft as well as take in the skyline. The bridges at the corner of Buena Vista Drive and Hotel Plaza Drive will be open shortly making for easier access for guests in offsite resorts. The Paradise Island barges are being demolished so do not hope for a dock at The Landing for a long time if ever. There is no word on when the bus depot at Planet Hollywood will open but hopefully soon.

IMG_6697The Marketplace will remain with the same footprint with exception of some additional buildings in the east side. The new construction will be reported as part of Town Center updates. There will be an expansion of World of Disney and cosmetic changes to Marketplace to make the area more in tune with the Disney Springs them. I will have to update my records on Town Center before adding new information. Rumors are that Fulton’s will get a menu and theme change as there will be so many similar restaurants in the area. Lego store should have all walls down and a new statue. The old waterfront Margarita Bar was closed to make way for more seating and to change the theme. There will be a faded old Disney Springs themed sign that reads “Fresh Picked Produce” which implies that someone turned a produce stand into a bar. This is one of the little details of Disney Springs where we no longer have a bar but have a bar with a history. It will be named Dockside Bar and offer Floridian themed drinks such as Florida Citrus Freeze, Sugar Cane Mojito, Orange Grove Rum Runner, and Sunset Margarita. They will use Floridian citrus juices, sugar cane syrup, and Orlando Orange Vodka.

Town Center will have Edwin Pearl jewelry, Joffey’s Tea with drinks and merchandise, and Vivoli Gelateria selling paninis and gelato. More when information is available. I am still on hiatus due to health and finances. I will try hard to keep you informed on anything new in WDW even if only my heart is there, hugs, Laurie.

Mar 04

Favorite Restaurant Series – Cinderella’s Royal Table

Kelli’s back with another one of her favorites, Cinderella’s Royal Table.  See what she has to say and if it lived up to her expectations.  

Who doesn’t want to eat in Cinderella Castle?

When you think of Walt Disney World, one of the first images that comes to mind is the castle. It has become synonymous with the theme park itself, inspired by no less than five real-life European castles. The dining experience at Cinderella’s Royal Table, located inside this incredible structure, does not disappoint.

On my first trip to Disney World as an adult, my mother, sister and I all made plans to take my niece to Cinderella’s Royal Table for lunch.  We checked in at the reservation desk, just outside the entrance to the Grand Hall. We were called back quickly and got in line to meet Cinderella. After taking pictures with her (a photo package is included in the price of the meal) and getting her autograph, we walked up a set of stairs to the Royal Banquet Hall. (Note: There is an elevator for guests that do not want to take the stairs.)

The atmosphere is truly amazing. There are huge vaulted ceilings, stone archways and exquisitely detailed windows. The tables and chairs are nearly as grand as the hall itself.

Request a table by the window. The view you get during your meal is incredible. We were somehow assigned to one of these tables during a later trip to CRT (we did not request it) and this was our view.



Throughout the meal, a variety of princesses greet you at your table, sign autographs and take pictures. Each is introduced with a bit of music and fanfare. As a life-long Disney fan, I got a few goose bumps each time a new princess came into the room. While they are subject to change, we visited with Ariel, Aurora, Snow White and Jasmine. The princesses were fantastic and paid special attention to each little guest in the Royal Banquet Hall.

The food was good, too, although it is one of the pricier meals at Walt Disney World. It is important to keep in mind that you are really paying for the experience more so than the food. Your meal arrives in three courses. There is an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert.  While selections vary, you can expect a pork tenderloin, chicken, gnocchi and beef offering for the main course. If you are on a dining plan, CRT uses two table service credits. If not, expect to pay at least $60 per adult.

We had an incredible time. My one regret was that I did not bring my son, who was two at the time. After all, he loves princesses and I felt sure that he would have enjoyed the experience. So, on my next trip, I secured dinner reservations for my husband, my son and myself.

To all parents of boys out there, I can’t recommend this experience highly enough for them. He had a magical time. The princesses paid him a lot of attention and made him feel special. He might have even gotten a few kisses out of the deal as well. IMG_7581

All children receive a special wishing star. Boys are given a sword and girls receive a wand.

Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of the more difficult dining reservations to secure. Make sure to set up reservations starting 180 days from the first day of your trip (if you are staying on Walt Disney World property). It is one of our “must dos” each time we head to Walt Disney World!

Kelli is a stay-at-home mother with two wonderful children. She enjoys reading, crafts, and planning her family’s Walt Disney World vacations!



Feb 06

Favorite Restaurant Series Continues with 1900 Park Fare

The Favorite Restaurant Series continues…..Melissa brings us her favorite, 1900 Park Fare.  Thanks Melissa for sharing your favorite.

When you think of fairy tales and some day meeting Prince Charming you also think of Cinderella but there are 2 places on Walt Disney world property that could help bring this real life fairy tale to a night you will never forget! My favorite Disney restaurant happens to be located In the most beautiful Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!  Yes, I’m talking 1900 Park Fare, where you can experience both dinner and breakfast but with different characters!.

In the morning, at 1900 Park Fare it’s called the Supercalifragilstic breakfast with some of your favorite Disney characters like Alice and Mad Hatter to Mary Poppins and much more!.

The real magic happens at night with the Cinderella Happily Ever After Dinner.  Once you arrive you will check in and they will give you a pager and then you will have your photo taken in front of Cinderella’s Castle backdrop.

The food at night is a wide selection for both kids and adults anywhere from prime rib to macaroni and cheese with chicken nuggets and the best part is actually getting to see a Disney Magic moment happen!!

Who doesn’t dream of meeting Prince Charming if you’re a girl?!?!  And for all you fellows……

1900 Park1900 Park1Cinderella awaits you! You also get to meet the stepmother and both stepsisters!! Now keep in mind they do make their rounds to everyone so you will get plenty of time with each character. And did I mention they share a special dance!?!.

Now your probably asking yourself what are the differences in breakfast pricing and dinner pricing well, here’s your pricing..

Adult price range 28.60$-30.00$
Child (ages 3-9) price range: $12.77-$15.88

Adult price range: $38.33-$44.50;
Child (ages 3-9) price range: $19.16-$21.29

But this buffet has a never ending food bar with amazing desserts and don’t forget to dress up your little girls and men in their princess attire!!!

My name is Melissa and I am 27 and an avid Disney fan.  I have a premium pass and I stay on Disney property every month and it never gets old.  I love Disney and everything that comes with it.

Feb 04

Portobello Cooking Class

Laurie entered and won a free cooking class at Portobello’s and shares her experience.

Carnevale del Veneto was presented on January 31st by Tony and Cathy Mantuano at Portobello. I was blessed to get a free admission to this yummy repast!

I was heartily welcomed when I entered the villa Portobello. I was sent to Joe at the bar, who was giving event attendees Jeio Prosecco and peach Bellinis. I had iced tea and ended up with one sweet and one regular. Waiters walked around with pesto pizza and clams casino pizza. We were seated in a semi-private room with paper over white table clothes. In all, I could have had 4 slices of pizza and 2 – 3 glasses of wine. Chef Tony ran a well paced demonstration and answered questions. Everything used common ingredients and was rather easy to make. Cathy showed us how to make squid ink pasta.

I am not a fan of raw meat. The second course was carpaccio di manzo which is thinly sliced raw beef eye of round topped with arugula salad and parmigiano reggiano cheese. The salad had tiny thin celery slices and a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette. The carpaccio was excellent for raw beef, but I rather have it cooked and spiced up. I would love the arugula salad as an appetizer as it was so light and refreshing. The cheese was not too strong. The wine pairing was Valpolicella, La Sallette, which is a ruby red blend of corvina, rondinella, and Sangiovese.

I watched Cathy make black pasta, as Tony explained some awesome tips such as always use boiling water for pasta; freezing pasta is best done by laying out the pasta in desired shapes in pans, then storing the frozen shaped pasta. I was served thick rice penne pasta that was perfect. They used lobster stock, lemon butter, rock shrimp sautéed in olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, and roasted tomatoes for a delicious, light sauce. This sauce is best on thin pasta such as angel hair.

I am disgusted by raw alcohol so I tasted and decided not to eat the next dish, that the others loved. They used chicken broth, butter, finely chopped shallots, rice, a gallon of wine so it seemed, parmigiano reggiano cheese and pepper. It was a brown soupy rice dish. Sorry but I tired hard. The wine pairing was Soave Classico, Suavia that is a blend of garganega and Trebbiano di Soave.

The grand finale for me was heaven, because I am gluten and soy free! I received my beloved vanilla and honey panna cotta topped with berry sauce and shaved white chocolate! Cold and smooth with notes of honey and vanilla makes this one of my favorite desserts in the universe! Everyone else was offered fried pizza dough with sugar and zabaglione. Zabaglione are egg yolks, sugar, salt, water, and grappa di moscato mixed in a bowl that sits above, not touching, simmering water then placed finished product in ice bath and stir to cool.  Then add real whipped cream and fold. The pairing was Brut Rosé, Jeio. All wines were from Venice, Italy.

Overall they did extremely well despite no notice of my diet. They were accommodating and had the sommelier restaurant manager and an Italian and American certified sommelier. Wait staff were kept running. The tables were quickly removed of unused table settings. Through the day they were bringing out dishes and bussing tables. Tony, Cathy and others answered questions and made this a fun lesson. I learned how to make several dishes and improve my current pasta dishes. For $50 a person, you receive 7 to 10 glasses of wine, 2 – 4 slices of pizza, carpaccio, pasta, risotto, and dessert.  Bellinis usually sell for $12 minimum in WDW. As one who avoids alcohol, I received what I paid for and fee,l with the cooking class, the value was worth $80 without wine.

I highly RECOMMEND!  Please, try these cooking classes. They are worth the time and money invested. I have happy memories and was filled up with the best Italian food in WDW!


Feb 02

Favorite Restaurant Series – Chef Mickey’s

I wanted to do a Favorite Restaurant Series so I asked for guest bloggers to write about their favorite table service restaurant at Disney World.  First up is Kelli, and one of her favorites is Chef Mickey’s.  See what she has to say about it……

I love Chef Mickey’s.

It honestly may have more to do my memories of the restaurant than the food itself. Nearly 20 years ago, I visited the Chef Mickey’s for the first time as a teenager. Chip ‘n Dale were still greeting guests at that time, and Dale got down on one knee and proposed to me. I will never forget how much I laughed with my family.

When we prepared to take my son to Disney World for the first time in 2012, I knew I wanted to bring him to Chef Mickey’s. My little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fanatic would have the chance to meet The Fab 5 – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Pluto – all in one place, without waiting in long lines at the parks.
As we walked toward our seats, Mickey was out greeting guests in the dining area. I turned around and snapped this picture of my son, as he walked in the room and spotted his favorite mouse for the first time:

I know that since he was only two years old, he probably won’t remember that trip or that experience. But I will never forget his face when he got up to hug Mickey and the rest of the crew. Chef Mickey’s will always be a priority in my dining plans, because the food is good, the characters are fun and the experience is… magical.

We have been to Chef Mickey’s several times in the past few years, each time enjoying the breakfast buffet. In all honesty, Tusker House has my favorite buffet style food. However, Chef Mickey’s has a few other things going for it. First, it is located in the Contemporary Resort. It is incredibly easy to dine at the restaurant and then head in to the Magic Kingdom on the monorail. And, I like the character interactions better. There are more friends to meet, and when the music starts playing and everyone begins whipping their napkins in the air and dancing… well, it is just a lot of fun.

Like most of the buffets at Disney World, Chef Mickey’s is pricey. Depending on what time of day you go, the experience will run you anywhere from $30-$60 per adult. The restaurant is open for both breakfast and dinner. The food is good. It’s not the most creative meal you’ll have at Disney World, or the best, but you should find something to please everyone in the family on the buffet.

Breakfast offerings include Mickey waffles, various Kellogg’s cereals, a variety of fruit and yogurt, cheesy potatoes, bagels, bacon, sausage, French toast, quiche, eggs and oatmeal. Dinner offerings include chicken, pasta, mixed vegetables, macaroni and cheese, salmon, mashed potatoes, pizza, and an ice cream bar.

It is fairly loud in the restaurant, so it is important to take that into consideration before making your plans.
Have you been to Chef Mickey’s? What are your favorite memories?

Kelli is a stay-at-home mother with two wonderful children. She enjoys reading, crafts, and planning her family’s Walt Disney World vacations!

Jan 27

So, You Have Booked Your Disney World Vacation, Now What?

Getting your vacation is work in itself.  It’s a workout trying to decide on your dates, which resort, how many days you want to spend in the parks, etc.  Now you need a vacation from all that right?  Well, just not yet.  There are more things you need to consider.  I have decided to write up things you might not have thought about and things you need to consider.  Here is my list in no certain order.  I must also say, that if you book with me, most of these, I take care of for you, one of my many services.

  1. Did you link your reservation up to My Disney Experience?  Did you set up the account?  If not, go to www.startyourdisneyexperience.com and get started.  Pull in your reservation and then customize your magic bands.
  2. Be sure to start making dining reservations.  You can start making those at 180 days in advance.  Yes, these are very important if you want to sit down and eat.  Most restaurants fill up, and walk ups to many of them, are going to be impossible to get.  If you are less than 180 days away, start booking ASAP.
  3. Are you celebrating anything when you go to Disney?  Anniversary, Birthday, First Visit, Personal Triumph, etc?  Let Disney know because they want to celebrate with you!  Be sure to pick up one of these buttons at check in.  If you have let them know ahead of time they should automatically give you a button at check in but if they don’t, ask for it.
  4. Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom is hard to get into for a dinner reservation.  So if you missed the window opportunity to get that one, be sure to grab one for breakfast or lunch.  It is a quick service for breakfast and lunch (and you can use your quick service meal off of your dining plan to eat there).  HOWEVER, NOTE THIS IMPORTANT PART……you MUST have a reservation for breakfast and lunch for this location.  You can make these reservations through your My Disney Experience.
  5. I cannot stress this enough, be sure you know what is going on during your stay.  You don’t want to miss something just because you did not know about it.  Some of the things that might be going on are:  Marathon races (there are several throughout the year), Flower and Garden Festival (Spring), Atlanta Braves Spring Training, Gay Days (June), Cars Masters Weekend (June), Sounds Like Summer Concert Series (Summer), Food and Wine Festival (Mid Sept to early Nov), Night of Joy (Sept), Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (Sept/Oct), Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (Nov/Dec) and Christmas at Disney World (Nov/Dec).  Be sure to check them all out.
  6. Another thing I cannot stress is be sure you get your fastpasses set up.  If you are a resort guest you can make these at 60 days in advance of your arrival.  Be sure to do this.  If you are not staying on Disney property and you have your tickets and linked them to your My Disney Experience then you can make them at 30 days in advance.
  7. One thing that our family likes to get is Pressed Pennies.  This is a fairly reasonable souvenir and fun to scout out.  If you go to www.presscoins.com you can find the complete list of pressed coins – these include pennies and quarters.

And last but not least, remember that there are too many things to do at Disney to get them all done in one visit.  So do what you can, but don’t stress yourself out trying to do it all!  I have been there and done that and it was NOT a magical vacation like I had envisioned.  ENJOY yourself!  So what did I miss?  Do you have anything to add to this?  Let me know in the comment section.  Thanks for stopping by.


Jan 03

It’s Disney World! Nothing Scary There! WRONG!

It’s the world’s happiest place on earth, Disney World!  Why nothing there could be scary!  Well, I have come to tell you just because it is the happiest place on earth does not mean everything is appropriate for all children.

I want to tell you about what might frighten young children.  If you are like me, I have a child who use to (and still does at times) gets frightened by things easily.  Are there rides, shows and restaurants that might scare your child?  YES!  While every child is different, and you know your child the best, there are things that could scare them.  This DOES NOT include rides that have drops that might scare your kids.  If your child doesn’t like roller coasters, I suggest looking at those on YouTube before you get them on one.

Here is my list and if I have forgotten something, please list it in the comments section.  Most of these we have first hand experience with.  I will try to describe what can scare the kids (our experience) and if you are still unsure, go to YouTube and check out the “ride” and shows.  Also, note restaurants too.  Some of those can scare children.

Let’s start with Magic Kingdom.  Just because your child is tall enough to ride something, don’t assume that they are mature enough.  It can still scare them if you have a tall 3 year old.

Haunted Mansion – our son didn’t make it past where they close the doors and before the room goes completely dark before he freaked out.  If your child(ren) has a fear of ghosts and dark enclosing rooms this might not be a ride for them.

Pirates of the Caribbean – we did this one when our son was 4 and he closed his eyes at the scary parts. Overall it isn’t too bad but if “bones” (what we used to call skeletons) scare your kids, there are a lot of those.  🙂

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – we never did this one when our son was younger (and he is “too old” to ride it now) but the Heffalumps & Woozles could scare young kids.

Stitch’s Great Escape – It’s just your lovable, mischievous Stitch!  WRONG!  This one even bothered me!  You go in a round room and are harnessed in (as in over the shoulder harnessed in) and Stitch is locked up but he gets loose.  Then the room goes completely BLACK and you can’t see your hand in front of your face and you cannot comfort your child except to hold their hand or reassure them with your hand on their leg.  Then you hear Stitch making a bunch of racket all around and he will breathe on your neck from time to time.  It is completely dark for what seems like FOREVER!  Yes, we have first hand experience with this and our son LOVES Stitch but he did NOT love this.  I kept reassuring him by talking to him through the darkness that it wasn’t real.  Just beware!

Now on to Epcot – we didn’t find anything there that really scared our son – it is actually his favorite park.  If fast rides might scare your children or even heights then be sure to review Test Track and Soarin’.  However, from a child that is scared of a good bit, those are 2 of his favorites.

Hollywood Studios, this park has a few things that could scare children.

Tower of Terror – this is all about ghosts and my husband has taken our son into the entrance and he said, “Nope!” and they left.  If they don’t like drops then this is one you do NOT want to take them on because that is all you do – up and down.

Great Movie Ride – while this is a very tame ride, there are 2 things that could scare someone.  The Gangster scene, our son still to this day, plugs his ears and closes his eyes when the gangsters start shooting and take over our vehicle.  Then the other thing that is REALLY CREEPY is the Alien in the Alien section.  Be sure your kids don’t look up into the ceiling and they should be fine.

So what about Animal Kingdom?  It’s all about animals – all warm and fuzzy right?  NOT!  There is one that tops my list.  While it offered us (my husband and I) a good laugh, our son HATED IT!

It’s Tough to be a Bug – yeah all bugs are our friends right.  NO!  Yes, I know this one tries to tell us that bugs are our friends but our son wanted no part of any bug being his friend.  He went on this at the age of 7 and still talks about it.  Pretend huge spiders drop from the ceiling, bees poke you in the back, stink bugs let out the stink, and on and on.  Let me preface this with – yes, again, he had his head in my lap – mind you he has had nightmares of snakes so bugs and stuff are not our friends.  But the biggest and funniest part for us, but not so much for him, was the end.  The humans are told to remain seated while the cockroaches, stinkbugs, etc. exit the building first and then rollers roll across your rear end to make it like they have just crawled across your rear.  Well, thankfully we were on the end because as soon as the doors opened on this “show” our son ran out the door smacking his rear and declared, “I think I need to go back to the room, because I think I have bugs in my booty!”  We have never laughed so hard!  To this day he still will not go on that again.

Dinosaur – that one has a dinosaur that sort of looks like it is coming at you.  Just beware on this one.  I can’t tell you too much because I had my son in my lap, again, telling him it was all o.k.  It is a jerky ride also.  I think the anticipation of that dinosaur was what scared him the most.

Last but not least, I must warn you of Rainforest Cafe.  I NEVER thought that would bother any child.  However, if your child has a fear of thunderstorms, this could cause them to get scared.  We can now eat there but we tried this 2 times when our son was younger and both times I had to take him out and show him it really wasn’t storming at all.  He thinks of tornadoes when there are thunderstorms.

So what did I miss?  Share your experience and details with us.  A helpful hint, take out your phone and distract your child when a scary part is coming up.  I did this.  I told him if he got scared to look at the phone and it provided a little light and some distraction to that particular section.



Oct 18

Hidden Mickey’s – Do You Spot Them Everywhere?

Whitney is back with her love of Hidden Mickey’s.  So what about you, have you spotted any Hidden Mickey’s at Disney or even at home?

IMG_2031Anyone who has visited Disney World has likely come across a seemingly random collection of circles here and there that resemble a certain mouse we all know and love. These “Hidden Mickeys” as they are called are just another example of the effort put into even the smallest details at Disney. They have been found in paintings, pebble paths, tiling, manhole covers, signs, and numerous other cleverly placed spots throughout the parks. They are too numerous to be counted, but what began as a bit of fun for Disney’s Imagineers has turned into something that brings a little extra magic to each trip. I know it is especially exciting for my kids when they spot one first and are able to share it with the adults. There are even tons of Hidden Mickeys throughout the many Disney movies. Ingeniously camouflaged, these little gems will often slip right by unless one keeps a sharp eye out.

It seems like ever since our last trip, we have been spotting Hidden Mickeys everywhere. Maybe we just have Disney on the brain, which is very possible, but we are finding them all over the place. Now that I think about it, I guess we find a pretty even amount of Hidden Mickeys and “Accidental Mickeys”, as we’ve come to call them. It’s actually getting a little bit out of hand, because now, whenever we spot one (or accidentally make one) my 3 year old son insists on pulling out my phone to take a picture. I don’t mind, though, because it brings a huge smile to his face and a little unexpected Disney magic to our day. Before too long, there may be more pictures in my phone of various substances in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head than my own children.

If you are not already on the unofficial Hidden Mickey Search Team, maybe you will consider joining. I hope on your next trip you are able to find a few of these hidden surprises, or that in your day to day life, a few drips of spilled cheese will become a reason to smile, rather than a frustration.


Oct 02

Remembering Mom

Laurie’s mom loved Disneyland.  This a very touching tribute to her mother.  Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.  Thanks for sharing your memories with us Laurie!

momMom was born September 22, 1925, in Hynes, CA. Late in life I figured out that she was high functioning autistic, probably, as no tests were ever done. All the signs were there that something was wrong with a teenager who had an IQ of 79 and bottom in English. I also have gone through the system that did nothing but seat me with boys and put me in remedial reading class when I was 3 grades ahead of my age. Mom was giving, kind, loving, generous, and a comforter. I look back at our trips to Disneyland and see now, things I did not know, but now understand.

On September 23rd, I went to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World to celebrate her birthday. I headed right for Casey’s for a gluten free hot dog and chips then onward to the popcorn stand in Liberty Square for popcorn and a bottle of diet Coke. I found a rare shady spot along the parade route in Frontierland and started on the hot dog. I was like a little kid with disintegrating bun, pickle relish, mustard, and onions everywhere. Gluten free buns can fall to pieces easily. I remember, sort of, times like that when I was a kid and spilled things on me. I tossed the trash and went for a bottle of water then started on our ritual, of sorts.

My mother could not handle stress but she loved Disneyland so much. The flowers and music as well as sitting on a bench with a diet Coke and popcorn as she watched people pass by. Sometimes she would encounter a stranger and enter an engaging conversation which she would later tell me. Around age 78, she went to the hospital with double pneumonia and out of control diabetes. She, her cousin Alicia, and her sister Mary, eventually died of complications of diabetes. Mom’s brother, sister, and half sister had diabetes as did her cousins. She came home and could barely walk and ended up at the end, in the wheelchair. I eventually lied to her and told her that at last minute we had to take a paid for trip. Once she was out of the house, she loved these local trips.

My celebration focused on that part of her life, the last and best part. She would sit in her wheelchair with me on the ground beside her as we shared popcorn and Diet Coke. During parades, she would sit there tapping her black brogue to the beat of the music. Oh, how she loved music. I would take her on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland and Small World which she rode every trip. I watched the parade at Magic Kingdom with her in my heart then hit Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a soft opening two days before the March 18, 1967 official opening. Mom, Dad, Dad’s brother Bill, and I had just eaten a big meal when a cast member asked us if we wanted to try a new ride. We went on it and had fun but some were a bit more scared, lol.

I received a free Halloween event ticket so I was in line for that when the rain drenched me. It was not a normal rain but one that kept going for hours and at 9 pm was still drizzling. I changed out of my top into a zip up jacket. I waited for the rain to ease up, if you can say that, and went to City Hall where they gave me a new date for the event. I was soaking wet when I arrived at the Polynesian Resort. I bought a towel and hit the bathroom for a new change of shorts and shirt.  I put my other jacket on and tossed the towel on my lap. Could Mom’s celebration memorial end so bad?

I was given 90 minute wait time for Kona Cafe so I found a barstool at Tambu Lounge while my scooter was charging. The chef gave me a gluten free roll and beef satay on three skewers. I took the sweet fruity slaw and beef satay together on top of the roll for the most awesome sliders one could imagine. I took my iced tea to a seat and waited happily. Kona Cafe finally paged me and boy were they on fire with the food that night. I started with the mushroom soup which reminds me of Mom, she loved canned soup as well as my clam chowder. Next was a dish that was just like ones Mom used to make with steak, mashed potatoes, and onions. OH MY WORD, BLISS!! I was taken back to days as a kid when I would eat and eat and eat taters and steak. She was not a good cook and rarely made anything fresh beside salads and meat, but oh the happy memories. This dish has a clove of garlic and roasted potatoes. Mom loved steak and potatoes au gratin at Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel.  That was probably the last meal out she ate. She would tap the table so that the coffee cup was on the left side. She would eat bread and butter, steak, potatoes, and share dessert with me. So the night ended with a bang and a fitting tribute to Mom at Kona Cafe.

Thank you for sharing my memorial celebration of Mom’s birthday. She taught me manners, respect, love of nature, love of animals, love of food, and most important appreciation of the good things in life. She loved plush animals, country music, cartoons, Disney, movies, theater, art, and life. She did bad things but in the end she taught me well. I cannot hurt an animal because of her and I have given to others in need.


Sep 18

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Updated Guide

Each group and individual must plan how to do the festival to meet their needs and limits. I am giving a run down of key areas to look at.


1. This one is awesome. Download atwww.DisneyPodcast.net/FoodandWine
They have a map that links to the menus of kiosks. BEST THING: you can search words like Gluten. I found all the gluten free items listed in the passport. You can find a drink or food that way. They have reviews by viewers and comments. Events list all the events and times along with the cost so you can see where the free things are at as seminars usually sell out. They list free book and bottle signings.

2. Beers and Ears is my favorite GPS site for WDW. They seem faster than Google. They have a map showing only the booths selling beer. They list all the beers and where in the festival to find those beers. You can use their main app for finding that beer outside the festival. They list all locations of the beers and have a list of beer sold for each kiosk. Some have pictures, links to reviews and discriptions.

Major change is to Epcot® Food & Wine Late Nights LIVE! which has been limited to Thursdays only from 9:45 PM to 1:00 AM for $79 per person. You get 6 noshes of their choice, live DJ, unnamed entertainers, and beverages at the backstage pavilion near United Kingdom Pavilion. No strolling along the park late at night and dinner is not included. It is a hefty price when the noshes and drinks are $3 to $10 each. I rather spend $30 on my favorite 6 items and use the $49 for a party and dinner at Raglan Road, Bongos, or Boatwright’s.

The cranberry bog is gone so there are three key areas to focus on. It is a bit of walking to get from one to another. It is best to do everything on that area at one time. You can get to these areas by 9:30 AM and get most rides done by the time World Showcase opens. World Showcase usually has food booths open until 9 pm or some half an hour earlier. Get rides and shows out of the way first and try for fastpasses later in the day after you used your allotment.

Spaceship Earth is at the main entrance where you pick up maps and time guides, The next major area is East. This has Ellen’s Energy Adventure with no waiting, Mission: Space, Test Track, Baby Care, Nurse’s Stations, and the Festival Center. The most important thing here for the festival is the Festival center as they have free chocolate, lectures, event merchandise, and seminars. You can stand to the side or back of seminars for free but you do not get the sip of wine or yummy decadent chocolate treat. I learned a lot about cooking at these seminars without paying. Rarely a stranger will offer you a free ticket which is how I scored yummy chocolate. Food is made ahead of time so let them know as soon as you arrive so they can see if they can make you something without the allergen.

On the opposite side is West which has Captain EO, Journey into Imagination, The Land, and The Living Seas. The Land is where you can get awesome food at Sunshine Seasons and they do most diets including vegan. Soarin’ in The Land needs a fastpass. The Seas with Nemo and Friends is in the Living Seas and is where Turtle Talk with Crush is shown, both need fastpasses or go early in the day. No festival events occur in this area.

World Showcase is the third area of concern and is area around a lake. Just keep walking until you see the Spaceship Earth. American Adventure will feature kiosks selling alcoholic beverages at Fife and Drum kiosk, Liberty Inn, and Block & Hans. Hot and iced apple maple spice lattes at a kiosk and the Fife and Drum will sell Ghiradelli sundaes. Hops & Barley booth and Puerto Rico booth will be there as well. The Chase Lounge is upstairs in the pavillion and offers free soda pop, ice water, and coffee. Nice air conditioned spot to charge scooters and technological items. The American Gardens is where Eat to the Beat is located which will have some famous bands as well as a few not so famous bands. Check the schedule and those with Chase debit or credit cards might get a wristband for seats for the concerts. They will not check to see who is the owner of the card such as driver’s license, if you are past due, or the card has been terminated. No worries.

Hotel guests staying at Swan/Dolphin and WDW resort can check out the premium package with concierge, runners who run to booths to buy your food, themed magic band, $50 gift card, chocolate truffles, wine glass, and bottle of wine. One person for $199 is not that bad if I am having someone wait on me. Looking at the map I can start with dessert and work my way through entrees to sides and salads, lol.

Right now speak with your group so everyone is on the same game plan. Nothing is worse than an adult whining about not seeing something they want to see NOW!! Have back up plans like the line is long so let’s head to another country, or the show was cancelled. Knowing where everything is helps for you to keep going from one fun thing to another. Keep an eye open for fastpasses and other time sensitive things to do. READ EVERYTHING!!!! Take photos of your tickets and have those numbers with receipt safely put away. I lost $200 when my gift cards were stolen with the receipt in the envelope.

NOTE: most, if not all, book signings and bottle signings, require the purchase of a book from the adjacent marketplace but it is worth a try as far as books go. They will ship up front or to your room, bottles of alcoholic beverages. I strongly recommend they pack and deliver to your room, home, or package pickup breakable items, awkward items, and hard to replace items. You may be careful but other guests might not be so careful. I rather be free of packages so I can eat, drink, and be in line for more food and drink.

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 have been going to Disney parks since 1960.

Sep 18

Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Changes from Last Year and Not Vegan

Today, the 18th, is soft opening for the Festival but I (Laurie) am staying home as I rather put a full day in the park. I am discussing changes from past years, some new things to check out and explaining vegetarian offerings.

Most maps are wrong as Brazil (26 on map) took over Belgium and booted them to the curb. Belgium has rebuilt a new kiosk and Brazil turned their kiosk into a party zone. The Craft Beer kiosk comandeered Odessey Restaurant aka Odessey Center (5 on map). Brazil currently shows up on old maps as being next to Mexico in the area just below the Odessey Center. Craft Beer Kiosk is showing as the first kiosk you come to as you walk toward the lake, on your right side. Apps may still show them there and maps online may not show the changes. This move allows room for the beer kiosk as that is so popular and room for the new booths. The Cheese Kiosk could not cut it and was replaced by Puerto Rico as there are other booths doing cheese plates.

Craft Beer will offer for free, with beer purchase, a savory Chex party mix type of offering with nuts, fruits, and crackers. For sale, are muffuletta pinwheels (savory take of the muffuletta) and pickles; country pate with pickled carrots and bread; and pimento cheese dip with crackers. Disney considers ale, Pilsner, lager, and other beer like drinks as beer so check menus for possible options such as stout and ale.

Chile and Argentina will be combined into Patagonia. Patagonia will be the same spot overlooking the lake when it was Argentina. Florida Fresh changed names to Farm Fresh. In the past there have been kiosks for India, New Orleans, Caribbean Islands, Cheese, Mouse Catch (cheese), Scandinavia, Spain, and Turkey. They used to have booths for cities such as Barcelona and San Francisco instead of the whole area being covered.


Patagonia replaced pork with Verlasso salmon which is found in Chile where they are raised in fisheries. This ties the two former kiosks into one larger area.

Mexico replaced rice pudding with sweet corn cheese cake.

China replaced Silk ice cream with Peking (Beijing) Duck.

South Africa replaced the cheese and spinach paneer with bobotie, a turkey and mushroom dish.

Puerto Rico is replacing Cheese and will offer a coffee cake and flan dish, fried sweet polenta fries and cheese fritters, braised beef, and conch salad.

Germany replaced apple strudel with the Berliner donut, schinkennudein returns after rave reviews (noodle and ham and cheese)

Poland is adding sauerkraut pierogies.

Italy removed the salsiccia for chicken breast and tweaked their ravioli.

America replaces Jamacian shake with apple maple spice latte with choice of hot or cold.

Fife and Drum will offer a Ghiradelli sundae.

Farm Fresh erased their menu and offer pepper bacon hash and Griddled yard bird.

Japan got rid of their fake crab meat rolls and erased the menu. Spice hand roll, teriyaki gyoza bun, and chirashi sushi are now offered.

Morocco replaced the chicken roll for a spicy shrimp roll.

France adds a wheat pasta and cheese and mushroom dish. Creme brulee will be caramel instead of chocolate.

Refreshment Port added packaged Squishems fruit treat and croissant doughnuts.

Greece removed the calamari dish and yogurt cups. They are offering a vegetarian moussaka and spanokopita.

Desserts and Champagne changed the desserts.

Scotland has replaced the Banoffee dessert with crannachan dessert trifle.

Disney Vegetarian may contain gelatin made from fish and mammals, cochineal and carmine that are made from bugs, honey, dairy products, and anything made from animals that does not kill the animal. This is fine for someone who will, on occasion, eat a bit of meat or fish. For a dedicated vegan the festival has few items that are 100% animal free. You will have to look at each dish for ingredients such as carmine, lard, and gelatin.

Disney vegetarian dishes are:

Terra is dedicated to vegan cuisine but is not soy or gluten free, sigh.
Patagonia; quinoa salad with arugula topped with salmon, ask them to hold it.
Craft Beer: snack mix (vegan?), pimento cheese dip
Australia: berries and vanilla custard
Mexico: sweet corn cheesecake is not listed, should but is not
Germany: Berliner donut
Poland: Pierogies should be vegetarian but they come with meat
Italy: cheese ravioli, the cannoli is not listed as vegetarian
Hops & Barley: cheese plate, carrot cake
Morocco: baklava
Belgium: chocolate candy, and both dessert waffles
Brazil: cheese bread, the coconut candy should be soy and wheat free and vegetarian but no word why not
France: pasta gratin with mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, creme brulee
Ireland: cheese plate, the chocolate pudding should be vegetarian but not listed, may just be a quirk in system
Greece: spanokopita, moussaka, and the yummy griddled Greek Cheese
Puerto Rico: frituras fritters, the bolitos de papa combo dish should be vegetarian but no reason why not
Refreshment Port: croissant doughnuts, Dole Whips, Squish’ems! packaged fruit
Desserts & Champagne: not know why but only the Belgian chocolates are vegetarian
Scotland: vegetable cake but no word on Cranochan dessert
Intermissions Cafe in Festival Center: grapes, side salad, key lime tart maybe, brownie maybe, fruit and cheese plate, VEGAN trio,

If you cannot or will not eat or drink something you should speak to kiosk staff about your options.  The main concerns they have is that the food is mass produced and someone might accidentally contaminate the food. All it takes is a person touching a contaminant then touching the food in question. Ingredients may change such as Hallal vanilla flavor might be used by one person and nonHallal by another person. Brands change ingredients or mislabel ingredients. Over time chefs may tweak dishes for a newer chef might miss things like dusting with flour an item. ASK!!! If the item is made at the kiosk then they might hold the bun on your slider or not put something on your order. This has been a long 3 events for me as a soy and gluten free food explorer. It is hard work but honestly there are not enough vegan dishes out there and some dishes are not for me even though they should be.

PLEASE let us know good news and how we can make this event the best ever for you. We do need your feed back, thank you, Laurie.

Aug 29

Walt Disney World – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Tips

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party starts September 1st.  It is cute to be a pumpkin until you try to get on a ride. Heavy costumes will tire you out, much like walking around carrying 50 pounds of pet food. Buy your tickets in advance and apply discounts if you can get one. Be prepared for bad weather as it is starting to get cooler at night and it does rain a lot in Florida. You do not want to end up like Scout who was dressed as a ham and could not see thus falling down. IMG_3385Shoes should be able to keep you from sliding on wet ground. Disney prohibits offensive costumes; anything that could be mistaken as a hand gun or weapon; costume parts that stick out so much as to hit other guests; and any sharp point costume parts.

Upon arrival at the Magic Kingdom you will want to have one person take bags and the other take the kids. To make the line shorter it helps that those without bags use the bagless line and for others to leave their bag with one person who goes through the security check point. Be in line so that at 4 p.m you will be heading to rides. Get fastpasses online for attractions you must see, so that from 4 to 7 p.m. you are doing rides and shows while the park has regular guests in the park. This is a good time for picture taking and eating dinner at Crystal Palace, Cinderella’s Castle, and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. Your goal should be to see and do everything with short lines so that during the event you can focus on the parade, fireworks, treat stations, activities, and other things you paid for.

IMG_3408Before 7 p.m. be in line for your favorite character meet and greet as the wait time is over an hour long later in the night. Get popcorn and snacks for the wait. This is a good time for you to rest up and plan your next move. As soon as the event map and schedules are out they will be online, which you should study. You will have a wristband that you got when you entered the park. Cast members will start denying access to anyone without a wristband at about 7 p.m just like a nightly sweep. Villains, Snow White and Seven Dwarves, and Nightmare Before Christmas characters will have the longest lines. The best place for characters is designated meeting areas, dance parties and the Villains Mix and Mingle.

The best place for HalloWishes is Main Street near Plaza Restaurant and to the side of the hub. You will need to stake out your parade spot as adults like to stand on the parade route which makes it hard for kids and disabled guests to see. The fireworks can be seen anywhere on Main Street, though some spots are better. After HalloWishes you can hit the Villains Mix and Mingle to try to meet some characters. The best place to see the parade is as far from Main Street as possible. IMG_3393Main Street is packed with people while Frontierland has spots open and room to stretch out. If possible, have one person stake out an area while the the rest are off having fun but remember to take turns.

I cannot tell you how to see everything as it depends on the speed of your group especially with disabled guests and little kids. It is best to use the first three hours for shopping, rides, dining, and shows the line up for your favorite rare character. Once you are done with that you can do everything around the HalloWishes show and fireworks. Some do the parade afterwards and others beforehand. A person with kids or a disabled person might prefer to do things by land such as treat stations, parties, and rides. A single person or couple might hop from one end of the park to the other doing what they prefer to do. Just make sure everyone knows the rules you have set for the night. Let the group know your general plan of doing things so everyone knows what will happen.

IMG_3439Save treat stations until the last moment if possible unless there is a short line. It is the same penny candy and mini bars you can buy at your local grocer. Bring a pillowcase or tote bag as it is easier for cast members to put a big handful of candy in the bag. With sheer joy say “YOU HAVE LEMONHEADS!” Cast members usually will respond by picking out your favorite candy. Patient guests who do not whine, say Happy Halloween, and are polite, tend to get more candy. Sometimes at closing they give out more candy. Remember that there is a warehouse full of candy to last the whole season. Telling the person that you cannot have a candy will get you something else. There are healthy options such as grapes and apple slices available. City Hall has special treats for those with food allergies and other dietary limitations.

There will be merchandise such as t-shirts and pins that are only available at the event. Watch for special editions of buckets at popcorn carts. Check the event map and guide for what special treats will be for sale, such as holiday flavored ice cream and Halloween cupcakes. Casey’s Corner, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, The Lunching Pad, and Gaston’s Tavern will offer pork shank, hot dogs, burgers, chicken nuggets and other quick service meals. Not all restaurants, attractions, and rides will be open so check the map to see where you can eat.