Dining

The Disney Dazzle: Cinderella’s Royal Table

by on September 7, 2014

We’re back for another Disney Dazzling story! If you want to read about my magical time meeting Mickey Mouse, click here.

I experienced breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table* in early 2014. Reservations had been made the previous fall, and the anticipation had been building ever since. Not only would I be visiting Magic Kingdom, but I was going to meet five of my childhood idols. My inner five-year-old was rejoicing at the opportunity!

We walked down Main Street, U.S.A., and the closer we got to the castle, the faster I walked. I’m pretty sure I was sprinting those last few yards, trying to quickly close the distance between the castle and myself.

The entrance to the restaurant is next to Fantasyland. As I walked through the castle tunnel, I noticed five beautiful mosaic murals depicting Cinderella’s fairy tale. Fun Fact: These murals were made with over 300,000 pieces of Italian glass, and some contain sterling silver and even 14-karat gold. They were sure a ‘gem’ to look at! (bu dum, chee!)

Photo - Keith Dahlgren

How majestic!

Upon notifying the hostess of our arrival, we waited outside only a few minutes before being ushered into the castle. We walked through a gothic archway and entered the beautiful entry hall. The medieval-inspired hall had antique-looking tapestries covering the marble walls, while aged light fixtures made the space glow. I saw several coat of arms high above, and wooden benches lined the walls. As I walked further in, I saw none other than Cinderella herself greeting guests. My mind began to wonder as I waited in line: Would I be able to give her a hug? Would she let me live in the castle with her? If she asked, I would surely say, “Yes,” even if it meant having Gus and Jaq as roommates. When it was our turn, she smiled and signed my autograph book while asking us about our morning. She graciously accepted my hug (Hugging a princess, check that off my bucket list!), and a Disney photographer took our picture. There were other photo opportunities following our time with Cinderella. I recall a throne chair, suit of armor, and an old fireplace. We took a picture of our baby daughter in the fireplace (don’t worry, it wasn’t lit), and, luckily, she didn’t get any soot on her dress.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort

by on September 6, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons to Check Out Disney’s Pop Century Resort. One of Disney’s Value Resorts, Pop Century has a level of theming that makes it stand out compared to the other lower priced hotel offerings at the All Star resorts as well as dedicated bus transportation to the parks and Downtown Disney. The entire resort is themed around pop culture icons from the latter half of the twentieth century, with the wings of the hotel dedicated to the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each wing has elements from their particular decade throughout the area. If it sounds cheesy, that’s because it is cheesy, but it’s a good kind of cheesy way and one that can bring back a lot of memories for every family. At the very least Pop Century is great for an afternoon of “resort hopping” to see some of the things they offer that you can’t find at any other Disney resort, starting with…

 

# 6 – The Lobby is a Wonderful Trip Back Through Time

SS_PopCentury_Lobby2

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 

While the check-in desks inside Classic Hall are the same that you will see in many theme park hotels, the walls opposite check in are filled with shadow boxes containing items from the 1950s through the 1990s. This is a wall that will have various generations of every family seeing an item and instantly remembering where they were in life when that was popular.  Elvis, the Moon landing, Dobie Gillis (with Maynard G Krebs), the Beach Boys, Star Wars, Mork & Mindy, Jane Fonda’s workout book, Trivial Pursuit, He-Man, Go-Bots, Smurfs, and so much more are in this area.

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La Cava del Tequila to Host Patron Party at Coronado Springs on Friday, September 12

by on September 3, 2014

On Friday, September 12, at 7:00 PM La Cava del Tequila (the tequila bar located Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion) will host a party at Rix Lounge at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Limited to 150 people, each $30 ticket includes a shot of Patrón Single Barrel Reposado, a Patrón margarita, and light appetizers. Guests can RSVP via email to CavadelTequila@me.com 

laCava

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Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Review

by on September 2, 2014

Ed. – Today the blog is taking you to Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter. These resorts are connected by a very pleasant walk along the Sassagoula River and are favorites on the Unofficial Guide reader survey.

On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World, I stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, which is my personal favorite moderate resort hotel. An important factor in choosing any Walt Disney World Resort is the food. Especially when traveling with a larger group, variety is essential when it comes to dining options. Luckily, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, the main dining option at French Quarter, offers a variety of choices with a strong influence on Cajun and New Orleans cuisine.

Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a breakfast, lunch and dinner quick service food court decked out in a bright and colorful Mardi Gras theme. If you’re into subtlety, you might just die of excessiveness while eating here. Some may say that many of the decorations of Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory are “creepy” or “terrifying” but I personally think they straddle the, “almost scary but hilarious because of it” line quite nicely. Also, in case you were wondering, both the Disney Dining Plan and Tables in Wonderland are accepted at Sassagoula. That’s all well and fine but the real question remains. Is the food any good? I’m happy to report that after staying at French Quarter for a week and having multiple meals there, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Fun ambiance or terrifying nightmare fuel? You decide!

Fun ambiance or terrifying nightmare fuel? You decide!

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Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Same-Day Reservation Policy Updates: September 1, 2014

by on September 1, 2014

Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly...unless you know the restaurant's latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Trying to get a lunch table at Be Our Guest can be downright Beastly…unless you know the restaurant’s latest policies. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Last week’s blog post about my unsuccessful attempt to eat lunch at Be Our Guest provoked a number of comments and questions, so I spent a humid Labor Day morning trying to make sense of the latest policies and procedures at the Magic Kingdom’s newest premiere restaurant. Be warned that everything in the below Be Our Guest lunch update should be taken with a shaker of salt, since operations are being adjusted on a daily basis — much to the chagrin of front line cast members, who often don’t know exactly how things will operate on any given day until they attend their morning meeting. With that said, here is my latest first-hand experience with Be Our Guest lunch standby and return time tickets, as well as same-day dinner reservations.

Be Our Guest Lunch Standby and Return Time Tickets

One of my first stops after rope drop was Be Our Guest restaurant, where much to my amazement I found a couple of people already in the standby queue for lunch. When I initially inquired about standby and return time tickets, I was told there was no guarantee yet whether they would be used that day, and was invited to wait in line or return closer to the 10:30 a.m. opening time.

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Menu Monday: WHY WAIT IN LINE WHEN WE CAN JUST DINE? Considering the value of Disney’s Character dining.

by on September 1, 2014

Now that Walt Disney World has a fully operational Fastpass+ system, it seems more clear than ever that the days of spontaneous character meet and greets are over. Instead of wandering up to park-goers on Main Street, characters meet with guests at specific locations, at specific times, with specifically designated lines. This translates into more planning, and, possibly, more waiting, to meet your favorite Disney icons.

Character Times

Character Times from the My Disney Experience App

Thankfully, character dining provides another opportunity to meet some of your favorites. As Brian McNichols outlined in a post here a few months ago, Walt Disney World offers a number of different dining experiences that feature visits with beloved characters to go along with your meal.

But is a character meal, which can approach $50 per adult at certain restaurants, a better value than waiting in line for a meet and greet (which has no cost other than Park admission and the time spent waiting)?

In this post, I’ll do my best to put values on character dining and on meet and greets so you can compare and decide how/where you’ll get a picture of little Suzie with Ariel. Read on for an explanation of how I made my calculations, or, if you prefer, skip right to some examples

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Takeaways from Disney’s Villains Unleashed

by on August 30, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Takeaways from Disney’s Villains Unleashed. Last weekend the first hard ticket event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since 2009 took place, celebrating everybody’s favorite bad guys. It was created out of the Unleash the Villains event, which took place at DHS on Friday the 13th in September of last year as part of Limited Time Magic. If anything, Unleash the Villains in 2013 may have been too popular, as what many people remember from that fateful night is the gridlock of vehicles outside DHS trying to get in, unorganized queues to meet the villains inside the park, and nowhere near enough staff to handle the throngs of guests who descended upon the night’s events. What was popular? The Villainy in the Sky fireworks show, which almost all who have seen it agree it was among the best nighttime spectaculars Disney has ever produced. The good news is that Disney brought Villainy in the Sky back, but did it fix the other problems? We’ll examine that and other issues as we look at Six Takeaways from Villains Unleashed starting with…

 

# 6 – The biggest villains of the night may have been the eBay pirates

VillainsUnleashed_shirt

Villains Unleashed shirt (photo by Scott Wurzel)

 

Most of us theme park fans love our merchandise, and nothing is more frustrating than to find out that limited edition merchandise is completely sold out halfway through an event, only to see the very same items up for sale on eBay with ridiculous prices. It happens all the time, so we shouldn’t be surprised, but it happened in spectacular fashion at Villains Unleashed. There were only a couple pieces of event specific merchandise (including a shirt, a water bottle, and a pin), and much of it flew off the shelves before the majority of party goers even had a chance to see it. Lo and behold, all the items began immediately appearing for sale online.

 

VillainsUnleashed_ebay1

eBay items put up during the Villains Unleashed event

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Villians Unleashed pin put up on eBay while the event was taking place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pineapple Lanai Opens at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

by on August 29, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Do you miss getting Dole Whips at Disney’s Polynesian? Well I bring good news, as the sweet/tart pineapple treat is now back! Guests looking to purchase a Dole Whip must now head to the all new Pineapple Lanai kiosk window, which can be found near the pool area, taking up part of the space occupied by the former Wyland Gallery. This new addition is all part of the current renovation project taking place at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

The Pineapple Lanai menu features only Dole Whips:

  • Dole Whip Soft Serve: vanilla or pineapple – $3.99
  • Dole Whip Soft Serve Swirl: pineapple swirled with vanilla – $3.99
  • Pineapple Float: vanilla or pineapple soft serve in pineapple juice – $4.99

Guests can also choose to purchase these items in fun tiki-themed souvenir containers. The two Soft Serve options can be served in a Tiki Bowl for $8.79. The Pineapple Float can be served in a Tiki Sipper, which can be purchased for $9.99.

One other change: the Lanai is not a self-serve location, so for those of you who liked to see how high you could fill a cup with the treat over at Captain Cook’s, I’m sorry to say that option has gone the way of the dodo.

Who else is excited that Dole Whips are back at The Poly?

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Menu Monday: Top Places to Find Ice Cream

by on August 25, 2014

In Florida, summer seems to last until October. Unless you have a personal flurry, like Olaf, you will quickly find yourself looking for ways to stay cool. In addition to ducking into some of the air conditioned attractions around Walt Disney World, a sure-fire way to cool off and satisfy your snack cravings is to enjoy a cool, refreshing treat. Let’s explore some of the top ten places to find ice cream in Walt Disney World. (Prices listed are current as of post date.)

 

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow.

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow.

Sleepy Hollow (Magic Kingdom): Sleepy Hollow Refreshments is a quaint window at the entrance to Liberty Square, just off the hub. You’ll know it from the aroma of funnel cake wafting through the air, beckoning you to come closer. But don’t be seduced by the funnel cake, there are giant ice cream sandwiches to be had here! The ice cream cookie sandwich is probably one of best bargains if you’re using a Disney Dining Plan Snack Credit. And at $4.19, I’d argue it’s a bargain paying out of pocket, as well. You get two full-sized, giant, homemade chocolate chip cookies (often still warm from the oven), and squished between them is a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s large enough to share, but why would want to?! It’s that darned yummy!

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Menu Monday: Best Disneyland Candy – Candy Palace vs. Trolley Treats

by on August 25, 2014

Candy Palace sign - Disneyland - Natalie Reinert

The surprisingly understated sign of Candy Palace, at Disneyland

Disneyland candy. It’s a tradition, right up there with corn dogs and churros. From elaborate candy apples to house-made toffee, Disneyland serves up some of the most toothsome sugary treats in the theme park business. But where’s the best spot to get it? Do you opt for the original in Disneyland’s Candy Palace, or head over to Disney California Adventure for the sweets at Trolley Treats? I tried both, checking out the selection, atmosphere, and amenities at each location, to help you acquire the best sugar buzz on Disneyland property.

Disneyland traditionalists will argue for the Candy Palace. This Main Street, U.S.A., institution has been dishing out the treats for nearly sixty years, after all. In 2012, the Candy Palace was expanded, increasing display space as well as the iconic show kitchen, where guests can watch

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