December 27, 2012

Character Meal Options

One of the best ways to meet characters at Walt Disney World is at a character meal. These meals, which are often buffets, guarantee you getting some one on one time with your favorite Disney characters. Did you know that there are over 10 character dining options. Here is a quick review of your choices...


1900 Park Fare
Location: Grand Floridian Resort
1900 Park Fare has three dining options for guests, which include breakfast, high tea and a dinner.  Different characters are available at all three meals.

Supercalifragilistic Breakfast
Characters: Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Eeyore, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh
Food: A traditional Disney breakfast buffet, complete with Mickey waffles

Wonderland Tea Party
Characters: Alice in Wonderland Characters
Food: Tea (really just juice), cupcakes and snacks
- This is a great option for younger girls.  It is a drop off optional event, so Mom and Dad can relax for a while during the tea party.

Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner
Characters: Cinderella, Prince Charming, Anastasia and Drizella and Lady Tremaine
Food: A buffet with "royal" food options, including salads, pastas, seafood and meats.

Cape May Cafe
Location: Disney's Beach Club Resort
Characters: Goofy, Donald, Minnie, all dressed in beach gear
Food: Another Disney breakfast buffet.  Characters only meet here during breakfast.

Chef Mickey's
Location: Contemporary Resort
Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto
Food: Characters meet guests for breakfast and dinner at Chef Mickey's with traditional American buffets at each meal.

Mickey's Backyard BBQ
Location: Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
Characters: Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale
Food: A traditional barbecue buffet is served while guests listen to music and even get to dance with characters.

Location: Disney's Polynesian Resort
Characters: Lilo and Stitch
Food: Lilo and Stitch meet guests for a traditional breakfast and a few items with a Hawaiian twist.

Garden Grove
Location: Walt Disney World's Swan Resort
Characters: Goofy and Pluto
Food: Buffet menu themes including Mediterranean, Southern Barbecue and Seafood Sensation. Goofy and Pluto visit nightly for dinner and for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.


Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Location: Epcot, Norway Pavilion
Characters: Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, Ariel, Mary Poppins
Food: A sit down meal with Norwegian style food for grownups and traditional kid fare for the younger crowd.

Cinderella's Royal Table
Location: Magic Kingdom
Characters:  Belle, Princess Aurora, Jasmine, Snow White and Ariel
Food: Princesses greet guests for breakfast lunch and dinner.  This very popular meal takes two dining credits on the dining plan.  Breakfast is served family style. Lunch and dinner are sit down menu service meals.

The Crystal Palace
Location: Magic Kingdom
Characters: Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger and Piglet
Food: Characters greet for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Food is served buffet style.

The Garden Grill
Location: Epcot, Land Pavilion
Characters: Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale
Food: Food is served family style at this rotating restaurant in the Land Pavilion.

Hollywood & Vine
Location: Hollywood Studios
Characters: Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso and June from the Little Einsteins
Food: American food buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner with characters greeting at breakfast and lunch.

Tusker House Restaurant
Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Characters: Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey dressed in safari gear
Food: The characters meet for breakfast and lunch.  Food is served buffet style and is African inspired.

So, there you have it! There are options for every taste and character preference! These meals can be expensive, but are well worth the expense. If you're on the dining plan, most count as one sit down meal. We make sure to schedule at least one character meal per trip.

What is your favorite character meal at Walt Disney World?

Happy planning,

December 26, 2012

Holiday Events Still Continue at the Walt Disney World Resort

Christmas may be over... but it hasn't quite ended at the Walt Disney World Resort. For those of you heading to WDW over the next 2 weeks, here's some of the Holiday events you'll still be able to catch before it completely ends: 

  • Dec 27, 2012: Last day for Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney & Santa Goofy appearances
  • Dec 30, 2012: Last day for Holidays Around the World & the Candlelight Processional at Epcot
  • Dec 31, 2012: The final Christmas Parade at Magic Kingdom will occur
  • Jan 2, 2013: The last showing of Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Jan 6, 2013: Last day to see The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Jan 8, 2013: The last showing of the Castle Dream Lights at Magic Kingdom Park

What was your favorite Christmas attraction at WDW this year?

December 17, 2012

Hidden Mickeys Go To Sea - A Review

On one of our family trips to Walt Disney World, we told our kids they could each choose one special gift.  My youngest chose Mickey hands and my oldest chose Steven Barrett’s Hidden Mickey field guide book.  We spent the rest of the trip following the clues in the book looking for Hidden Mickeys.  The book has been with us on every trip since and has been a big help in finding those elusive Mickeys.

Steven has just published his newest book, Hidden Mickeys Go to Sea: A Field Guide to Disney Cruise Line's Best Kept Secrets.  This is a 2nd edition that helps guests hunt for Hidden Mickeys on Disney cruises and at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.  I have to be honest; it never occurred to me that there would be Hidden Mickeys on the Disney Cruises!  I should have known better!

Hidden Mickeys Go To Sea breaks down into chapters dedicated to each of the Disney ships, Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, along with Castaway Cay. In each chapter you can walk the ships following the clues in the book and looking to find Hidden Mickeys.  There is even a spot in each chapter that lets you note how many Mickeys you found.  After the hunt, he offers more specifics on how to find each Mickey, in case you weren’t able to spot it on your hunt.

The book covers more than 300 Hidden Mickeys on the ships and at Castaway Cay. I especially liked the list of his top ten favorite Hidden Mickeys.

(Here you can see a Hidden Mickey made of life preservers at the top, on Castaway Cay)

Our Hidden Mickeys book is a staple on every Disney trip we take and when we go on a Disney cruise we will be sure to take the cruise version of Steven's book.  I think it's as important to pack as a traditional guide book.  (Just a note that the new book will be published in February 2013.)

Now, is anyone planning a Disney cruise?  Who would like to bring me with them?  I'll bring a copy of Hidden Mickeys Go To Sea...

Happy sailing...and hunting,

Editor's Note: This book will retail for $10.95 beginning Feb 1, 2013. However, you can purchase Hidden Mickeys Go To Sea right now, direct from the publisher, for $7.66 - that's 30% off (plus you'll get free shipping!) This special offer expires Feb 1, 2013.

December 10, 2012

$150 Disney Gift Card Giveaway from "Mouse"cation!

Well, we're just in the gift giving mood all December-long! This week, we're participating in another Disney Gift Card giveaway - $150 to be exact. This contest is hosted by the wonderful "Mouse"cation. Entering is very easy and free - just use the Rafflecopter form below. This contest runs from Dec 10th to the 18th (2012).

But wait!! There's more! In addition to the $150 Disney Gift Card, the winner will also receive a personalized tote bag! The winner will get their choice of the 'Mickey' or 'Minnie'-styled bag pictured below, and their own name will be embroidered on it.

Be sure to visit all of these great Disney-related websites after you've 'liked' them. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 8, 2012

What would You do with a $400 Disney Gift Card?

What would you spend a $400 Disney gift card on? Pay off a portion of your trip? Souvenirs? Meals? A special tour? Whatever your desire... stop dreaming and go enter! The contest ends Sunday, December 9th (2012) at midnight (eastern.) Don't put it off any longer!

All of these sites have contributed to the $400 gift card - please stop by and pay them a visit!

December 6, 2012

Should you rent a car at Walt Disney World?

Every time I have visited Walt Disney World I have relied on Disney transportation.  And I said I would never do anything else.  We always chose hotels based on their locations so we could at least walk (or take the Monorail) to one of the parks.  However, this last trip, my family and I decided to stay at the new Art of Animation resort which is a "buses only" resort.  So, we broke with tradition and rented a car.  I have to admit, it was fantastic!

(This would have been a great rental car!)

I do see plusses and minuses of renting a car and using Disney transportation.  Here are reasons for and against each option.

Arriving and Departing

There is something very nice about showing up in the Orlando airport and hopping onto the Magical Express buses to get to Walt Disney World.  Disney gets your bags for you, so all you have to do is hop on board and your bags show up at your room a few hours later.  There is no need to worry about directions or tolls.  My kids love the Disney video that they show on the buses as well.  It really feels like your vacation has begun as soon as you arrive at the airport.

That being said, there may be lines to wait in before you can get on a bus and you could be stopping at a number of different resorts before arriving at your home for your trip.  It's not necessarily the fastest way to get to Walt Disney World.

Renting a car certainly isn't as fun as the Magical Express.  You have to wait on line to get your car and then figure out how to actually get to Walt Disney World.  You do get to go right to your resort, however.  We found it much faster than taking the Magical Express.

On the way back to the airport, we were able to leave whenever we were ready.  The Magical Express is likely to pick you up three hours before your flight.  With our car, we left two hours early and had an extra hour to play in the parks.  This may not seem like a lot, but to me, it was huge to be able to stay in the parks longer.

Traveling around Walt Disney World

(photo courtesy of "Mouse"cation)
There are buses galore at Walt Disney World, ready to take you from your resort to the parks.  Bus stops are convenient and easy to find at each resort.  It's nice to climb on a bus and relax until you arrive at your destination.  I have to be honest - I also love talking to people on Disney buses.  I always find there is a different atmosphere at Disney and people love to chat with strangers about their trips.

Of course, there are issues with buses.
  • You never know when the next one will arrive, so I find that we always end up running to a bus stop so we don't miss a bus. 
  • Buses can be crowded and you may not get a seat.
  • Your bus may stop at other parks or resorts before getting to your stop, making a trip much longer.
  • Buses don't go everywhere!  You need to transfer from one bus to another if you're going from resort to resort.  (Again, this adds time)
  • When traveling with a stroller, a bus can be difficult.  Everyone and everything has to come out of the stroller and the stroller has to be folded before anyone can board.  That's fun with a sleeping child.
We had the complete opposite feeling with our car.  We didn't have to be on anyone else's schedule with our travels and we could go anywhere at any time.  I especially loved that we could leave the stroller and any items we wanted in the car overnight.  Sunglasses and sweatshirts stayed in the car until they were needed, which meant less schlepping at the resort.

With a car, you have to be prepared to walk further when exiting parks (and taking a monorail or ferry at the Magic Kingdom) to get to your car.  You also have to be prepared to figure out where in the "World" you are going, while you drive.  And, when you're totally exhausted at the end of the day, you need to wake up to drive.

The verdict

I wasn't sure how I would feel having a car at Walt Disney World.  I did miss the "Disney atmosphere" of the buses and excitement of the Magical Express, but I LOVED having a car.  I must have said it every time we got into the car.  I loved being on our own schedule and not having to bring everything into the hotel each night.  We had no problems finding our way around Walt Disney World, since everything was so well marked.

I will definitley be getting a car on our next trip.  What about you?  Do you prefer to rent a car at Walt Disney World?


December 3, 2012

Who wants to WIN a $400 Disney Gift Card?

We've teamed up with Chip & Co. and many more of our Disney friends, to bring you our biggest contest yet... $400 worth of Disney Gift cards! The contest entry form is on this article over at Chip & Co. Entering is free and easy! Good luck!!

These are all of the sites involved in the contest, be sure to visit them soon!

And if you don't win this time around, no worries! We're involved in a $150 Disney Gift card giveaway next week - so come back and see us real soon!