Feel the Force at Star Wars Weekends!!

April 23, 2014 Cheryl 0

Force ChokeThis IS the event you have been looking for!  A new premium event for Star Wars weekends is open for booking today, and I am SO excited to say that I got a reservation!!!

The Feel The Force Dining Event will include a reserved premium viewing area for two popular Star Wars Weekend events: Guests will be able to sit in a VIP area for The Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade, AND The Symphony in the Stars Fireworks that same evening!!!

During the daytime parade, soft drinks and snacks will be included.  Then at night guests will attend a Star Wars-themed dessert party with the fireworks. Guests will also receive a souvenir PhotoPass card with a series of free Star Wars photos, which can be linked to their My Disney Experience account, so you will always remember your day in the Galaxy far, far away!!

Here are some added details:

The Feel the Force Premium Package occurs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 16 to June 15, 2014.

  • Price: adults $54, children $32 (per day, tax and gratuity included).
  • Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade viewing is from 11:00 AM to 12:00 noon with the motorcade starting at 11:30 AM.
  • Symphony in the Stars fireworks dessert party is from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM with the firework shows beginning at approximately 9:30 PM.
  • Check in for this event will be at Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner starting at 10:30 AM.
  • Guests will receive a wristband during the motorcade viewing that will allow entry into the evening fireworks dessert party. If you are unable to attend the motorcade viewing, you can check in at Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner starting at 8:30 PM.
  • Beverages include soda, water, tea and coffee.
  • The fireworks dessert party includes a specialty beverage with an alcoholic option. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages.

This year is the first time we are attending Star Wars Weekends, and I am so excited for this…just don’t tell my son, we are keeping it a secret until the big day!!!

IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Parties at Epcot

March 14, 2014 Cheryl 0

IlluminationsBeginning, March 15, 2014, you will be able to  experience IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot® in an exciting new way.

The new IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party invites Guests to enjoy international desserts and sparkling wines in an intimate, exclusive setting with a clear view of the World Showcase Lagoon during the nighttime spectacular, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  The party will be set up near the gift shop right as you enter the World Showcase from Future World.  Some of the desserts served during the dessert party will be Tiramisu’ from Italy, Baklava from Morocco, Vanilla Pot de Crème from France, Shortbread Cookies from the United Kingdom, and Ice Cream Novelties from around the Disney Parks.  This is a great way to end your day at EPCOT after enjoying time with your family strolling the World Showcase or after a day at the Flower & Garden Festival.

This new IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Parties will be available on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and will run from 7:45 p.m-9:20 p.m. The cost is $49 for adults and $29 for children. Parties begin March 15, 2014 and booking is now open. Epcot park admission is required.

 

Restaurant Review: Captain Cook’s Snack Company

March 21, 2013 Cheryl 3
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If you have ever stayed at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, then you have probably already found Captain Cook’s Snack Company – a gem of a Counter Service Restaurant.   But if you are not staying there…it is definitely worth a trip on the monorail to check it out!

The restaurant is on the first floor of the Great Ceremonial House at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and has both indoor and outdoor seating.  I recommend the outdoor seating if it is a nice day – very relaxing, great view, and lot of palm trees!!  Then again, you may have some waddling duck friends who would like to share, but that can keep the kids entertained!

To order your food, you can either select items from the cases (snacks, sides, and juice, milk, and alcoholic drinks), or order from the computer kiosks.  You then pay for your meal at the check out, fill any fountain sodas/coffees, and wait at your table for your food to be ready.  Standard meal times can be busy, so it may be best to secure a table first and then send one person up to do the ordering.

Let’s start with breakfast.  It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of the Kona Café’s Tonga Toast.   This decadent concoction is a thick slice of sourdough bread that is stuffed with bananas and then deep-fried and coated with cinnamon sugar….I didn’t say it was healthy, just delicious!!   Well, not only is it sold at the Kona Cafe…you can also get it at Captain Cook’s!  You don’t get the strawberry compote, but it is still amazing, and half the price!!  They do have other breakfast items available as well – egg platter, Mickey Waffles, croissant sandwiches – but with Tonga Toast on the menu, those don’t really matter!!   I will say though, my son ordered the Mickey waffles, and it came with a nice fruit salad and a blueberry yogurt cup with a lot of fresh blueberries on top – which was impressive.

Now let’s talk about the lunch and dinner menu.  For a Quick Service location, they have a large variety of options.  There are a few salad options (Cesar and a Polynesian variety), turkey, chicken and pulled pork sandwiches, a bacon burger, a grown up grilled cheese that is both healthy and tasty, sushi, stir-fry noodles, and several flatbread options.  I had the flat bread of the day – which was a pesto with diced tomatoes and it was a very good size and delicious.

If you are a cupcake fan, Captain Cook’s offers two very different options: a Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cupcake and a Lemon Ginger Cupcake.  I didn’t personally try either one, but they did look good.

And now for the real reason you should head over to Captain Cook’s…it is the only place at Walt Disney World® outside of the Magic Kingdom® that you can get a Dole Whip!  And not just any Dole Whip…an all-you-can-pour-into-your-cup-self-serve-extravaganza-of-a-Dole-Whip!!  You read me correctly – it is a self-service machine where you purchase the cup and fill to your heart’s content.  And believe me…people do!   I saw one woman who was literally holding the overflowing ice cream with both hands and licking the top so it wouldn’t fall anywhere!!  If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, you get dessert with your meal.  They will give you a cup at check out that you can then go back up and fill when you are ready.  But I say why wait….eat your dessert first and your salad second …life is short and you are on vacation!!

Next time you are at the Walt Disney World® Resort definitely make it a point to visit Captain Cook’s Snack Company at Disney’s Polynesian Resort!  You (and your taste buds) will be happy you did!

Tips for traveling to Walt Disney World with babies or toddlers

October 18, 2012 Cheryl 4

Thanks to fantastic Baby Care Centers, and attractions geared for little tikes, the Walt Disney World Resort® makes it easier than ever to visit with a baby or toddler.  Plus, anyone under the age of 3 does not need an admission ticket, so that make a Disney trip even more affordable.  Listed below are some travel tips and suggestions for making baby’s first visit a magical and memorable one!

 

Quick Travel Tips 

  • When flying with an infant or child under the age of 2, consider Southwest Airlines. If a seat is open, they will allow you to take the extra seat for your child absolutely free. Not to mention that bags fly free!
  • If flying with a toddler or young child, consider using the CARES restraint system. It keeps your child safely and legally secured in their seat onboard the aircraft without having to lug around a big car seat.
  • If flying, purchase Gate Check bags to help protect your stroller and car seat. They fold easily into their own zipper pockets for easy storage and help protect your items from grease and dirt when gate checked.
  • If you are driving, try to leave at bedtime or nap time.  Plan on making stops every few hours, and add an additional nights stay on the way down and the way back.
  • For babies eating solid foods, consider purchasing a Boon brand spoon. It allows you to scoop baby food into the spoon and simply squeeze to dispense for baby. It makes feeding baby on the plane or in the car that much easier.
  • The change in cabin pressure on flights can hurt little ears. Make sure baby has a pacifier or bottle at take-off and landing. Or if they are on solids, feed baby or toddler puffs or cereal, water, or any snack of your choice during take-off and landing.
  • For babies, grab small toys that can be tied together with one piece of ribbon or string. That way when baby drops the toys, they are all tethered together and are easy to retrieve.
  • For toddlers, pack a craft box to keep them happy on the flight or car ride to Disney. Crayons, paper, stickers, etc… can make all the difference.  A Disney movie on your iPad is also a good way to pass the time.  Educational phone apps are also good.
  • If taking your own stroller, I do not recommend umbrella strollers. In my experience, they do not provide enough sun protection or back support for a full day at the Disney parks. Bring your large or jogging stroller for plenty of shade, comfort, and storage space. Or rent from Disney.

While in the Parks

The great stroller debate – do I use mine or rent one from Disney?

Either option is great. Disney’s strollers are roomy, provide shade, turn on a dime, and have some storage. However, they will add to the cost of your vacation at $15 per single or $31 per double each day, and they are not as comfortable as others. For guests of the WDW Resort hotels, Length-of-Stay stroller rentals are available for a few dollars less. But this daily rental fee can significantly add up. By renting at Disney and not bringing your own, you free up your car if driving, and you do not have to worry about your stroller becoming possibly damaged on the airplane if flying.  There are also stroller rental companies in the Orlando area that will drop off and pick up the stroller right from your hotel.

Personally, we like to bring our own stroller from home. It is familiar, it has plenty of shade and storage, and the drink cups come in very handy for mom and dad. Having our own stroller at the airport makes getting through security and from gate to gate much easier as well. And the most important feature: it saves us a lot of money. Our stroller is also much easier to pick out in sea of Disney strollers when we are coming out of an attraction and looking for ours. My son is now 6 and we still bring the stroller – mostly to push our stuff (drinks, snacks, camera gear) around – just in case he gets tired.

Regardless of which stroller you decide to use, be sure to pack a rain cover or extra rain poncho to cover your stroller before each ride or show. Florida rain showers come unexpectedly and come down hard like a monsoon. And you don’t want to return to a soaking wet stroller. Netting covers are also very helpful to ward off Florida bugs. Also note, if you are staying on property and utilizing Disney transportation, all strollers need to be folded on buses and trams.

Need a double?

There are lots of fabulous double strollers out there. However, we have seen a constant trend at Disney parks with parents of multiple children. The 2012 City Mini Double Stroller is a huge favorite. It fits through doorways, is more compact, folds in a snap with one hand, has two separate sunshades, supportive and comfy seats and is a breeze to push through the parks.

Take advantage of Disney’s Baby Care Centers, located inside each park

Each of the four Walt Disney World Parks has a Baby Care Center. Check your park map for the location. They are typically located right next to first aid. These Centers are amazing! They allow you to nurse your baby privately in comfortable nursing rooms, change baby, feed baby with every kitchen gizmo or tool you might need (including microwaves and bottle warmers), a store to purchase baby basics, a play room for toddlers and older children, complete with Disney cartoons playing, and more. And most importantly, on hot days, this is a cool, comfortable, and quiet refuge for you and your family. The Studios’ Baby Care Center is the smallest of the four, but still has everything you need.

Unfortunately, there are no Baby Care Centers located at Downtown Disney. If you need a quiet, private spot to nurse, bottle feed or soothe a tired little one, I, along with Cast Members, recommend one of the fitting rooms inside the World of Disney store. I personally recommend the fitting room inside the men’s wear area. It is used less often than the women’s or kids section so you won’t have a line forming outside. The fitting rooms there are large enough to wheel your stroller in and you have a large bench to sit on as well. So it works out perfectly.

Attraction Recommendations for children under 36 months old

This, of course, like any of my other recommendations, is subject to your good judgment. No one knows your child better than you. These rides are gentle and allow parents to hold their baby on their lap during the ride. Entertainment recommendations are also listed.

Magic Kingdom

It’s a Small World

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

The Little Mermaid Ride

Magic Carpet Rides

Country Bear Jamboree

Jungle Cruise

Walt Disney World Railroad

Winnie the Pooh

Carousel of Progress

Tomorrowland Speedway

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade (find shade)

Dream Along with Mickey (no shade available)

Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Street Party (find shade)

Character Meet and Greets

* Note: loud fireworks frighten most babies. However, some older babies love them! So use your discretion for the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular Show – if they are awake that long.  If you are staying (or dining) at one of the resorts around the Seven Seas Lagoon, the nightly fireworks are also visible, and they pipe in the music as well.  I like watching them from the beach at the Polynesian the best. Relaxing and it gives toddlers something to play in!

EPCOT

Journey into Imagination with Figment

Spaceship Earth (this is dark, but not scary)

Living with the Land

Gran Fiesta Tour

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Sergio the Italian Clown Juggler (Italy Pavilion)

Turtle Talk with Crush

Voices of Liberty (just sit towards the back, as they sing loudly)

Character Meet and Greets

* Note: loud fireworks frighten most babies. However, some older babies love them! So use your discretion for the Illuminations – if they are awake that long.

Hollywood Studios

Disney Jr.  Live on Stage

Toy Story Mania  – for toddlers and older children

Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set – for toddlers

The American Idol Experience

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage

Disney Channel Rocks / Parades (find shade near the Sorcerer’s hat)

Character Meet and Greets

Animal Kingdom

Affection Section

Discovery Island Trails

Kilimanjaro Safari (nap time and they won’t go down? This should do the trick!)

The Boneyard – for toddlers and older children

Camp Minnie-Mickey Greeting Trails and other Character Meet and Greets

TriceraTop Spin

Festival of the Lion King

Finding Nemo – The Musical

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade (Avoid Africa area – no shade and too crowded)

Child Swap Pass: Don’t forget about the Child Swap Passes, offered at select Disney attractions. These swap passes allow parents to take turns riding their favorite non-baby rides with little to not wait for the 2nd rider. Ask a Cast Member outside each attraction for details.

Dining with Baby:

Helpful things to bring with you into the parks:

  • Travel placemat
  • Plastic bib with pocket (for smaller babies: bottle, formula, etc…)
  • Snack cup/munchies to keep baby happy until their meal is ready
  • Small toy that will keep them happy while waiting
  • Lots of wipes and your camera to capture all of those great messy eater photos!
  • Most Disney buffets will allow children under 3 to just eat from mom and dad’s plate, so that is a great money saver.

How many diapers should I bring each day?

Be prepared! Disney sells diapers in their gift shops and in some Baby Care Centers, but typically only newborn and size 1s or 2s. You can sometimes find pull-ups for older children. We always packed our diaper bag with 4-5 diapers for the day and stash 1-2 more into the stroller. You don’t want to have to interrupt your day to go purchase more off property, especially if you are staying on Disney property and have no outside transportation. You never know when baby will decide to go all day long, or if the tabs on the pair you have break. So just be prepared with as many as you can comfortably travel with. Luckily, they are compact and lightweight!

Must Haves for Baby or Toddler:

Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses (it’s really bright in Florida), rain shield, snacks, Sippy cup always filled with water or juice to stay hydrated, an extra set of clothes, and diapers with wipes. Also, it is a good idea to bring a few basic medications with you (Tylenol, Orajel, etc…) just in case. I also loved our “No Throw” strap that loops onto our stroller. It keeps baby from tossing out the Sippy cup or favorite new Disney plush! Halo Brand Technical Comfort onesies are a lifesaver in the summer. They keep baby cool and comfortable all day long. A battery-operated fan that you can attach to your stroller is a good idea too.

Overview Series: Downtown Disney

October 4, 2012 Cheryl 1

This is Part 6 of the Walt Disney World Overview Series.

Downtown Disney is an open-air shopping, dining, and entertainment center located at Walt Disney World Resort.  This very large outdoor area is free to enter, and offers complimentary parking and transportation to all Disney hotels (but not it’s theme parks).  The complex is divided into three areas:  the Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and the West Side.  Each section features a selection of entertainment venues, shops, and uniquely themed restaurants. Here is a quick overview of the area, including all of the shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

History

According to Wikipedia, Downtown Disney opened on March 22, 1975, as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village, a shopping complex intended to serve the planned residences within the Walt Disney World property.  However, as resorts took the place of the residential areas, it became more focused as a shopping destination for Walt Disney World Guests, and it’s name changed to the Walt Disney World Village.  On May 1, 1989 Pleasure Island opened as an adults-only area featuring themed bars and clubs that required a separate admission ticket, and the shopping area once again changed names to the Disney Village Marketplace.  In 1995 the whole complex was rebranded Downtown Disney, and in 1997 was expanded again when West Side opened its doors with such offerings as Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba and DisneyQuest.  The World of Disney (in the Marketplace) was also opened.  Then on September 27, 2008, all of the Pleasure Island nightclubs closed as part of a larger refurbishment of Downtown Disney, in order to make room for new shopping and dining offerings.  Pleasure Island was to be rebranded Hyperion Wharf – a dockside-themed shopping and dining area – but the project is on hold indefinitely as the Imagineers re-theme whatever they plan to build.

Marketplace

As the name suggests, the Marketplace is made up of a multitude of Disney-related shops and themed restaurants.  Stores include:  T-REX Retail Shop, LEGO Imagination Center, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, World of Disney, Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, Basin, Arribas Brothers, Rawlings Making the Game, Team Mickey Athletic Club, Ridemakerz, Tren-D, Once Upon a Toy, Disney’s Pin Traders, Mickey’s Pantry, Spice & Tea Exchange, Marketplace Fun Finds, LittleMissMatched, Goofy’s Candy Co., Rainforest Café Retail Shop, The Art of Disney, Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories, Disney Design-a-Tee, and Disney’s Days of Christmas.  These are all great spots to pick up a souvenir, a gift for a friend back home, or just spend a few hours browsing.

There are also lots of places to grab a bite to eat!  There are several quick service and table-service options to choose from.  Options include:  Earl of Sandwich, Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, Marketplace Snacks, Pollo Campero, Wolfgang Puck Express, Cap-n Jack’s Restaurant, Rainforest Café and T-REX.

And if all that eating and shopping weren’t enough, there are other entertainment options too!  You can rent a boat from Cap’n Jacks Marina, ride a train or Carousel, or enjoy a live performance at the Waterside Stage.  And at Christmas, you can even meet Santa!  The Marketplace is a fun shopping experience for the whole family!

Pleasure Island

Although the nightclubs are closed (I sure do miss The Adventurer’s Club), there are still a few restaurants and shops open on Pleasure Island.  Curl by Sammy Duvall, Apricot Lane Boutique, Fuego by Sosa Cigars, and the Raglan Road Irish Shop are unique options for shopping, and Cookes of Dublin, Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant, Portobello and Fulton’s Crab House are great places to grab a bite to eat.

West Side

Downtown Disney’s West Side is the most eclectic of the three areas and offers the most entertainment options.  These include Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba, DisneyQuest, the House of Blues, AMC Theatres Downtown Disney 24 and Dine-In Theatre, and Splitsville (opening fall 2012).  Dining options include:  FoodQuest, Wetzel’s Pretzels, Wolfgang Puck Café and Express West Side, Bongos Cuban Café and Window, House of Blues Restaurant, Paradiso 37, and Planet Hollywood.  Last but not least the shopping:  the Cirque du Soleil Boutique, Bongo’s Gift Shop, Blink by Wet Seal, D Street, Disney’s Candy Cauldron, DisneyQuest Emporium, Hoypoloi, House of Blues Company Store, Orlando Harley-Davidson, Planet Hollywood Shop, Pop Gallery, Something Silver, Sosa Family Cigars, and Sunglass Icon.

Parking and Transportation

As Downtown Disney is such a large complex, knowing where you are going, where you are going to park or where to get a bus or taxi is important.  Disney transportation Bus Stations are located at the far end of the Marketplace and to the right of Planet Hollywood.  These buses service all of the Disney resorts and Good Neighbor hotels.  They do not, however, service any of the Theme Parks. Resort boats are also available from Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, and Port Orleans resorts.  There is also complimentary boat service between the 3 sections of Downtown Disney. Taxi stands are located in Parking Lot B (Marketplace by Basin), Parking Lot H (West Side by Planet Hollywood) and Parking Lot K (West Side by DisneyQuest).  If you are driving, parking is free, but lots do tend to fill up.  Parking lots A – D service the Marketplace, lots E – H service Pleasure Island, and lots I – Q service West Side.

Dining Review: The T-Rex at Downtown Disney

August 31, 2012 Cheryl 3
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My son T’s favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World is the T-Rex, located in the Marketplace in Downtown Disney.  He likes it much so that I have (on multiple occasions) had to show him YouTube videos of the restaurant just so he could get his dinosaur fix.  To be fair, he has wanted to be a paleontologist since he could say the word…and when you combine life-size animatronics dinosaurs with macaroni and cheese, you have a real hit!!  J and I on the other hand are not as big of fans.  Atmosphere I would give it a 10, but food, well, not quite as high.

This restaurant is actually celebrating its 4th anniversary at Downtown Disney this fall.  It is part of the Landry Restaurant family – the same group that brought us Rainforest Café.  The T-Rex is quite similar in idea – lots of life-size prehistoric animals, the occasional meteor shower, and several different rooms/areas that represent different habitats.  They have an underwater area in the bar complete with a huge octopus, an ice age area where you sit inside an ice cave, a fern forest, a geo-tech room, and the “fire area” where the meteor shower is most visible. As far as prehistoric animals goes, it features tyrannosaurus, apatosaurus, triceratops, mammoths, stegosaurus, parasaurolophus, and multiple pterosaurs, sea jellies, large insect models alongside a pachycephalosaurus, a 13-foot wide octopus, and 2 fish tanks.   The décor is very well done, and you can walk around taking pictures of the moving dinosaurs, so that is pretty cool.  If you do go, and if you have little kids that do not like storms or loud noises, just be aware that there is a meteor shower every 20 minutes or so, and it gets loud.  You can take them into the bathrooms though; the sound show doesn’t get played in there.

As for the food, well, it took me quite a few visits to find an item on the menu that I actually liked.  I did find one – the Triassic Tortellini – and it is good.   It is tri-color tortellini with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and chicken in an Alfredo sauce (it comes with peas, but I omit them).  Pretty tasty!  J usually gets the burger (which they can never cook to the right temperature) but this time he tried out the Tyrannosaurus T-Bone, which they still didn’t get right.  He likes his steak still mooing – medium rare, and the first steak was closer to medium well to well.  They did remake the steak.  He said the second steak was ok, and that the seasoning was tasty, but the steak itself was chewy – not something you would expect of a $30 plus dollar steak.

Dessert on the other hand was delicious!  We have never gotten it before, but since we were on the dining plan, we tried it out this time.  J got the Ice Age Indulgence, which was layers of ice cream sandwiches, fudge sauce, whipped cream and Heath Bar Crunch, and I got the Cosmic Key Lime Pie.  Both were large and very good.

T always gets the Cosmos Cheesy Macaroni, which comes with piece of flat bread with cheese on it.  For dessert, he tried out the Saber-Tooth Sundae – which was a chocolate chip cookie covered in ice cream and chocolate sauce.  It was devoured pretty quickly and given double-thumbs up!

In addition to the restaurant, T-Rex has a Dino Store with all sorts of dinosaur related goods – t-shirts, toys, and even a Build-A-Dino store.  We have gotten two different dinosaurs from this store and they have both held up very well.  It is the same company as Build-A-Bear, so in addition to building your new buddy you can dress him/her as well.

There is also the Paleo Zone, which is a great outdoor dinosaur dig area that will keep your kids busy for hours if you let it. Go can on an archaeological dig, pan for treasures in Discovery Creek, and learn about prehistory on the Paleo Screens.  Best thing about this no-shoe area is the sand they use – doesn’t stick to clothes.  Wish I had that at home!!

We go to this restaurant every time we are at Walt Disney World – mostly because of T.  If your kids love dinosaurs, this is the place to be.  If you like the Rainforest Café – double bonus, you will be right at home.  If you don’t like either of these things – well, maybe look for somewhere else to eat.

Planning Tip:  T-Rex accepts the Disney Dining Plan this year, but in 2013 they will not be participating.  Reservations are definitely needed for this restaurant.

Dining Review: The Wave

August 28, 2012 Cheryl 1
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When making our dining reservations for our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we decided to try out The Wave restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, despite the mixed reviews I had read about the restaurant.  I am glad that we did.  The food was excellent, the staff very attentive, and the atmosphere tranquil and relaxed. The server (Yvonne from Germany) was very nice, attentive, and quick to replenish our drinks.  And the chef (Paul) came out to check on our orders and to make sure we all enjoyed our food.  We have food allergies, so he also personally took our orders to insure no cross-contamination.  I really love how Disney takes food allergies seriously.

The Wave is located on the first floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, on the left-hand side just past the check-in and concierge desks.  After walking through a brushed steel arch “tunnel” you will be greeted by the reservation host.  There is a relaxing waiting area off to the right where you can sit and wait to be taken to your table.  There is a video/TV area too, that will keep your kids entertained, although you probably won’t have to wait too long.

We were on the Disney Dining Plan, so adults get a non-alcoholic drink, entrée, and dessert at lunch and dinner.  Children get the same, or they can order a complete meal off of the kid’s menu, which usually includes a starter.  A lot of food for a 6-year-old!

The meal started with some very tasty multi-grain bread served with butter with Hawaiian Sea Salt.  A very tasty combination I would never have thought of but thoroughly enjoyed.  J and I both ordered the Grilled Beef Tenderloin ($29.99), which was served with a Shallot Butter, Potato Gateau, and Spring Ratatouille. The steaks were cooked perfectly, and were tender and juicy and had a good flavor. The sides were also very tasty, and for someone who is not a big fan of squash, even the Ratatouille was good!

T ordered the Grilled Cheese on Rainbow Bread ($8.99), which came with baked fries and apples (a whole LOT of apples!) dipped in brown sugar – yum!!  His also came with a dessert, and he chose the Vanilla Gelato Sundae, which he quickly devoured giving it a huge thumbs up!

For our desserts, my husband and I each tried a dessert trio ($7.99 each) – three small desserts in one.  Combined we had a Key Lime Cube with Citrus Cream, White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Raspberry Macaroon, Olive Oil-infused Chocolate Truffle Mousse with Salted Caramel Sauce, Coconut-Raspberry Bar with Roasted Pineapples, Vanilla Cheesecake with Florida berries, and a Chocolate Covered Banana Cream – wow!!  Each item was just enough to get a taste.  My favorite was the White Chocolate Crème Brûlée, and J (who loves anything chocolate) loved the Mousse.  The dessert trio is definitely a good option if you want to share!

Overall, I would recommend giving The Wave a try.  Disney classifies the restaurant as “Special & Unique Dining” and it also participates in the Tables in Wonderland program.  For those on the dining plan, it uses one table service credit.  Reservations are accepted, but do not seem to be necessary.

 

Dining Review: ‘Ohana for dinner

August 26, 2012 Cheryl 2
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While I have been to breakfast at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort several times, I had never for dinner.  Having heard many good things about it, I was looking forward to it…and if you like meat, this dinner does not disappoint.

‘Ohana means family in Hawaiian, so everyone is a “cousin” and the food is all served family style.  After being greeted by a “cousin” and lead to our table (and a conversation with the Chef regarding allergies) we were brought our first course – a tossed salad mixed with Honey-lime dressing.  It was light with just the right amount of sweetness, and even T (who only ever eats salad with ranch dressing) said it was good!  Next up were pork-fried dumplings and coriander chicken wings – J really liked the dumplings and I couldn’t get enough of the wings.  The sauce was excellent!

After the appetizer round, Cousin Gabe brought us broccoli with green peas, pad Thai noodles (EXCELLENT by the way) and some dipping sauces (peanut, spicy mustard, and sweet-and-sour)…and then came the meat!

Servers walked around with large skewers with marinated sirloin steak, Asian BBQ pork loin, mesquite-grilled chicken, and non-peeled shrimp that had all been prepared over an oak fire.  Think Brazilian Churrascaria meets Polynesian Island…definitely come hungry to this restaurant!!  They also had some more kid-friendly options such as macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers.

And, if you are not already too full, the “main course” as they like to call it is an amazing ‘Ohana bread pudding à la mode with Banana Foster sauce!  Talk about delicious!  And they definitely don’t skimp on portion sizes – there is more than enough to share.  And if not don’t worry, they will bring you more!

While all of this eating is going on, they have Hawaiian entertainment in the form of a woman playing the Ukulele, leading a parade and doing the hula with the children, and giving out lei’s.  They even had a “push the coconut with a broom stick” race (I am sure there is a more technical term for it than that!!) that the kids seemed to enjoy!

I definitely recommend this restaurant for dinner – there is nothing bad on this menu!  And if you time it right, you can get down to the beach to watch the fireworks too – a perfect ending to your evening!

2012 Epcot® Food and Wine Festival Menus Revealed

July 31, 2012 Cheryl 0

Eating and drinking your way around the World Showcase just took on new meaning!  The 2012 Epcot® Food and Wine Festival will take place September 28-November 12, 2012!    With a Taste Your Way Around the World theme and almost 30 kiosks serving guests tasty appetizer-size specialties and regional drinks, this is a not-to-be-missed event!

This annual Epcot® event showcases great food and wine from around the globe, offers special events featuring celebrity chefs and even includes free DIY seminars with your favorite HGTV stars.  This year there are some new booths as well.  The Florida Marketplace will feature some regional favorites with a fresh Florida twist, and The Terra Marketplace will be the first location in Food & Wine history to offer all-vegan options.

Check out these yummy options!!  Which is your favorite?

International Marketplaces:

ARGENTINA

Regional Cuisine:

  • Beef Empanada
  • Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée

Beverage Pairings:

  • Terrazas Reserva Chardonnay
  • Terrazas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Terrazas Reserva Torrontes
  • Terrazas Reserva Malbec

AUSTRALIA

Regional Cuisine:

  • Shrimp on the Barbie with Pepper Berry Citrus Glaze
  • Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies
  • Lamington

Beverage Pairings:

  • Rosemount Estate Traminer Riesling
  • Rosemount Estate Chardonnay Semillon
  • Rosemount Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Shiraz
  • Rosemount Estate Shiraz Cabernet

BELGIUM

Regional Cuisine:

  • Steamed Mussels in Hoegaarden Beer Broth and Baguette
  • Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream
  • Guylian Belgian Chocolate Seashell Truffles

Beverage Pairings:

  • Hoegaarden
  • Stella Artois
  • Leffe Blonde
  • Leffe Brune
  • Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Iced Coffee

CANADA

Regional Cuisine:

  • Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
  • Chicken Chipotle Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta and “Minus 8″ Onion Jam
  • “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce

Beverage Pairings:

  • Neige Première Apple Ice Wine
  • Neige Bubble
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Syrah
  • Moosehead Beer

CARIBBEAN

Regional Cuisine:

  • Ropa Vieja with Cilantro Rice
  • Jerk Spiced Chicken Drumstick with Mango Chutney

Beverage Pairings:

  • Bacardi® Frozen Dragon Berry Colada
  • Bacardi® Torched Cherry Frozen Cherry Limeade

CHINA

Regional Cuisine:

  • Mongolian Beef with Chinese Steamed Bun
  • Pork Pot Stickers
  • Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Pickled Vegetables
  • Mango Tapioca Pudding

Beverage Pairings:

  • Tsing Tao Beer
  • Francis Ford Coppola Su Yuen Riesling
  • Francis Ford Coppola Su Yuen Syrah
  • Happy Lychee with Vodka
  • Sunny Guava with Coconut Rum

FLORIDA LOCAL – NEW!

Regional Cuisine:

  • White Corn Arepa with Mangalitsa Pork Rilette and Zellwood Sweet Corn Salad
  • Florida Shrimp Ceviche with Fire Roasted Vegetables, Fried Plantains and Cilantro

Beverage Pairings:

  • Florida Beer Company Florida Lager
  • Florida Beer Company Key West Southernmost Wheat
  • Florida Orange Grove Key Limen
  • Florida Orange Grove Hurricane Class 5, Florida White Sangria

FRANCE

Regional Cuisine:

  • Escargots Persillade en Brioche
  • Coq au Vin sur Gratin de Macaroni
  • Créme Brûlée au Chocolat au Lait

Beverage Pairings:

  • Chardonnay, Bouchard Aîné & Fils
  • Merlot, Château de Mercade Bordeaux
  • Sparkling Pomegranate Kir
  • Eiffel Sour Cosmo Slush

GERMANY

Regional Cuisine:

  • Schinken Nudel (Pasta Gratin with Ham and Cheese)
  • Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll
  • Apple Strudel with Karamel-Vanilla Sauce

Beverage Pairings:

  • Selbach-Oster Estate Spätlese
  • JH Selbach Riesling Classic
  • JH Selbach Riesling QbA Red Label
  • Niersteiner Spiegelberg Dornfelder
  • Radeberger Pilsner
  • Altenmünster Dunke

GREECE

Regional Cuisine:

  • Greek Salad with Pita Bread
  • Griddled Greek Cheese with Pistachios and Honey
  • Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki
  • Spanakopita
  • Dannon® Oikos® Greek Yogurt Cups

Beverage Pairings:

  • Domaine Skouras Moscofilero
  • Domaine Skouras St. George
  • Sigalas Assytiko
  • Alpha Axia Syrah

HAWAI’I

Regional Cuisine:

  • Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise
  • Tuna Poke with Seaweed Salad and Lotus Root Chips

Beverage Pairings:

  • Seven Tiki® Mai Tai
  • Heitz Cellar Chardonnay
  • Kona Brewing Company Big Wave Golden Ale
  • Kona Brewing Company Pipeline Porter

IRELAND

Regional Cuisine:

  • Lobster and Seafood Fisherman’s Pie
  • Kerrygold® Cheese Selection: Aged-Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Cashel Blue with Apple Chutney and Brown Bread
  • Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Bailey’s Ganache

Beverage Pairings:

  • Guinness
  • Bunratty Mead Honey Wine
  • Bunratty Potcheene Chilled Irish Coffee

ITALY

Regional Cuisine:

  • Ravioli di Formaggio All’emiliana (Baked Cheese Ravioli, Creamy Beef Bolognese, Parmesan, Mozzarella)
  • Salsiccia e “Papacelli” Napoletani (Sweet Sausage, Red Pepper, Ciaibatta Bread)
  • Cannoli al Cioccolato (Chocolate-Covered Cannoli filled with Ricotta, Chocolate, Candied Fruit)

Beverage Pairings:

  • Moretti Beer
  • Prosecco Zardetto
  • Pinot Grigio Mezzacorona
  • Chianti Castello di Quercetto
  • Italian Margherita

JAPAN

Regional Cuisine:

  • Spicy Hand Roll (Tuna & Salmon with Chili Pepper, Soy Sauce & Sesame Oil Topped with Kazan Volcano Sauce)
  • Karaage Hand Roll (Crispy Chicken Breast with Sushi Rice and Spicy Mayonnaise)
  • California Roll (Avocado, Cucumber, Crab, Mayonnaise, Smelt Roe Rolled in Sushi Rice and Seaweed)
  • Sukiyaki Beef Pan (Marinated Thinly Sliced Rib Eye with Sauteed Onions and Teriyaki Sauce Served in a Bun)

Beverage Pairings:

  • Kirin Ichiban Draft Beer
  • Sake-Kikusui Super Dry, Junmai
  • Sake-Bishounen Junmai Ginjo
  • Sake Strawberry Mist

MEXICO

Regional Cuisine:

  • Crispy Shrimp Taco with Chipotle Lime Mayo and Cabbage Served on a Flour Tortilla
  • Taco de Filete with Cascabel Pepper Sauce and Scallions Served on a Flour Tortilla
  • Natilla de Cajeta (Caramel Custard Served with Sauce)

Beverage Pairings:

  • Dos Equis Beer
  • L.A. Cetto Chardonnay
  • L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah
  • Lime Strawberry Margarita On the Rocks
  • Tequila Flight: Tequila Blanco, Reposado and Anejo

MOROCCO

Regional Cuisine:

  • Kefta Pocket (Ground Seasoned Beef in a Pita Pocket)
  • Merguez Sausage (Beef and Lamb Sausage with Grilled Peppers and Onions)
  • Baklava

Beverage Pairings:

  • Casa Beer
  • Amazigh Red
  • Sangria
  • Mimosa Royale

NEW ZEALAND

Regional Cuisine:

  • Seared Sea Scallop with Kumara Red Curry Puree and Apple Radish Salad
  • Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney

Beverage Pairings:

  • Kim Crawford Pinot Grigio
  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
  • Kim Crawford Un-Oaked Chardonnay
  • Kim Crawford Pinot Noir

POLAND

Regional Cuisine:

  • Kielbasa & Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream
  • Zapiekanki-Toasted Mushroom, Caramelized Onion and Cheese Bread with House Made Ketchup

Beverage Pairings:

  • Chandon Carneros Chardonnay
  • Tyskie
  • Belvedere® Frozen Lemon Apple “Tea”

SCANDINAVIA

Regional Cuisine:

  • Taste of Scandinavia: Cured Salmon, Herring and Shrimp Salad
  • Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberries
  • Rice Pudding with Driscoll’s® Only The Finest Berries™

Beverage Pairings:

  • Iron Horse Fairytale Cuvee
  • Xanté
  • Xanté Sunshine

SINGAPORE

Regional Cuisine:

  • Beef Rendang with Jasmine Rice
  • Seared Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice and “Singa” Sauce

Beverage Pairings:

  • Tiger Beer
  • Marqués de Cáceres Satinela
  • Singapore Sling

SOUTH AFRICA

Regional Cuisine:

  • Seared Filet of Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Braai Sauce
  • Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket

Beverage Pairings:

  • Fairview Sauvignon Blanc
  • Fairview Pinotage

SOUTH KOREA

Regional Cuisine:

  • Lettuce Wrap with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw
  • Mung Bean Pancake with Shrimp and Kimchi Sauce

Beverage Pairings:

  • Bohae Black Raspberry Wine-Bokbunjajoo
  • Chung Ha Soju Fruit Slushy
  • Chung Ha Soju

Specialty Marketplaces:

BREWER’S COLLECTION

Beverage Selection:

  • Radeberger Pilsner
  • Altenmünster Oktoberfest
  • Altenmünster Dunkel
  • Hövels
  • Schöfferhofer Weizen
  • Schöfferhofer Grapefruit
  • Berliner Kindl Dark
  • Sion Kölsch

CHEESE

Cuisine:

  • Cheese Fondue with Sourdough Bread
  • Trio of Artisan Cheeses: Beecher’s Flagship Reserve Cheddar, La Bonne Vie Goat Brie and Rogue River Creamery Echo Mountain Blue Cheese

Beverage Pairings:

  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection Riesling
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection Pinot Noir
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection Meritage

CRAFT BEER

Beverage Selection:

  • Widmer Rotator IPA: Spiced IPA, Portland, OR
  • Red Hook Pilsner, Portsmouth, NH
  • Blue Moon Seasonal, Golden, CO
  • Leinenkugel Berry Weiss, Chippewa Falls, WI
  • Florida Beer Company’s Devil’s Triangle, Florida
  • Abita Purple Haze, Lousianna
  • Full Sail IPA, Oregon
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Nevada

DESSERTS & CHAMPAGNE

Cuisine:

  • Yogurt Panna Cotta with Orange Cake, Raspberries and Pomegranate
  • Lemon Custard Verrine with Blueberry Compote
  • Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Caramel

Beverage Pairings:

  • Nesquick Frozen Chocolate Foam
  • Nesquick Frozen Strawberry Foam
  • Moët & Chandon Ice Impérial
  • Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial
  • Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial
  • Moët & Chandon Impérial

FIFE & DRUM

Beverage Selection:

  • Red Stag Lemonade by Jim Beam®
  • Red Stag Honey Tea Lemonade by Jim Beam®

HOPS & BARLEY

Cuisine:

  • Linda Bean’s® Lobster Claw Cuddler® Chilled with Herb Mayonnaise
  • Linda Bean’s® Perfect Maine Lobster Roll®
  • Linda Bean’s® Maine Home Style Clam Chowder
  • Pumpkin Mousse with Craisins and Orange Sauce

Beverage Pairings:

  • Samuel Adams Boston Lager®
  • Samuel Adams® Seasonal
  • Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat®
  • 17th Anniversary Festival Beer– Samuel Adams® Chocolate Bock
  • Samuel Adams Light®
  • Samuel Adams® Cream Stout
  • Samuel Adams® Latitude 48 IPA
  • Angry Orchard Cider

TERRA (All Vegan) – NEW!

Cuisine:

  • Trick’n Chick’n Curry with Basmati Rice featuring Gardein Chick’n Breast
  • Chili Colorado with House Made Chips & Cashew Cheese, featuring Gardein Beefless Tips
  • Chocolate Cake with Passion Fruit Sorbet and Coconut Foam

Beverage Pairings:

  • Paul Dolan Sauvignon Blanc
  • Paul Dolan Pinot Nior
  • Silk® Berry Smoothie

Dining Review: Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party

July 24, 2012 Cheryl 1
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As the sun begins to set, and the lights come on along Main Street, my thoughts turn to the fireworks that will soon be lighting up the night sky.  Usually at twilight I am getting comfy on the sidewalk somewhere around the Main Street Bakery, but on our last visit to the Magic Kingdom we decided to try something special…the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party.

The event starts about an hour before the fireworks, and takes place along the lower tier of the Noodle Station.  Even though it is a limited seating event, the line to get in starts to form early.  As you wait, Cast Members will check off your reservation and place a special wristband around each member of your party.  Once you enter the party, you are lead to your pre-assigned table, which has your family name on it.  Hopefully you will be lucky enough to get a table up front.  If not, you are allowed to move down to the railing for the show, or even set up a tri-pod as my husband did.  You are not, however, allowed to bring chairs down to watch the display.

If you are a dessert lover, trust me, Disney does not disappoint…definitely come hungry!!  There are three different stations with all kinds of very decadent and very yummy desserts. Some of the goodies you will find are pistachio crème brulee, chocolate chip cookies, cheesecakes, brownies, chocolate mousse, key lime tarts, Italian cannoli, rice crispy treats, fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, and grapes, and my family’s favorite…chocolate covered strawberries.  There is also a coffee and tea beverage station, as well as a station with cool beverages such as lemonade, milk, ice tea, and water.  All of these items are constantly being replenished by Cast Members; so don’t feel like you need to fill your plate the first time…there is plenty available for seconds and thirds!

Once you have your fill of desserts, get ready for the show!  Now, I usually watch Wishes from Main Street, so I was interested in seeing what the show would look like from a different angle.  I personally didn’t think it was as spectacular as seeing the show straight on.  The castle is to the left of you, but instead of going off behind the castle, a lot of the fireworks look like they are to the right of the castle.  Plus, if you are seated in the back of the area, the overhang is too low that you can’t really see if you sit in your seat, so standing at the railing is the best option.  But, not having to fight the crowds or look over anyone else’s shoulder definitely has its advantages…and you gotta love Tinker Bell flying right over your head!!  Where is your favorite fireworks viewing spot?

Planning Tip:

This party is a perennial Disney fan favorite, and although they do take walk-ups on a first-come, first-serve basis,  I highly recommend making advance reservations, which can be made up to 90 days in advance.  Park admission to Magic Kingdom Park is required, and the Disney Dining Plan is not accepted.