Day 3 – Ohana, Cinderellas Royal Table and Magic Kingdom

Good News, we have the camera back so I have pictures yay!!!

Today we did a LOT of eating with characters starting our day at Ohana in the Polynesian. I’ve never been in there before and I have to say it’s a stunning looking resort. We did find that they don’t have any disabled parking there when we pulled up but instead they give you free valet parking which made us feel a bit special!!

I loved Ohana – I may have had something in my eye when we met Stitch and were seated at a table with a view of the castle!

Food is served Family Style which means it all comes out on the same plate and you help yourself as much as you like. The Pineapple and Coconut bread you get as you sit down is amazing I could have eaten that all day and no Mickey Waffles here they’re Stitch ones!

We met Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto.

On to Magic Kingdom after eating and we signed up for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom which is a really good way to keep kids entertained as they walk through the park.

We did both the mountains (Splash is closed 😦 ) and while we were having a refreshment stop we were asked if we wanted our picture taken in a rocket. This is the rocket!! The cast member insisted I stayed in my ECV so we have this ridiculous photo!! I can assure you this is not a very fast rocket!!

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It was really quiet in the parks today which was lovely most rides only a 25-30 minute wait if that. This is why I love coming at this time of year. Weather is fab – obviously apart from the threat of the Hurricane.

Lots of characters about as well with little or no queue at all. (I’ll put all the Memory Maker photos up when we get home)

Amelia decided she wanted to drive the car on Tomorrowland Speedway which was more of a thrill ride than Thunder Mountain, she can’t steer and I was only just big enough to be able to reach the pedal so everytime it jolted my foot would come off the pedal and the car would stop! I think it took an hour to get round… I am dreading her getting her driving license…

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Gaston is by far my favourite character meet ever! I laughed so much I was crying!! Great use of snack credits today with the LaFous brew I’d been looking forward to since last time. We *might* have made Paul buy a light up rose cup 🙂 Suits him don’t you think?

We decided to skip the parade today and go on rides instead and it seemed like the day just went so quickly and before we knew it it was time for our 7pm reservation at Cinderellas Royal Table which was Amelias choice of restaurant.

I have to say eating inside the castle is really exciting, the service as you would expect from a $260+ price tag for 3 was exceptional. What surprised me is how small it is inside, there really isn’t that many tables, I guess that’s why its so hard to get a reservation there. I found out from our server that it was actually meant to be Walt’s conference room so that explains why it’s compact in there. That for me made the whole experience so special knowing that this room was one Walt himself had designed.

The food was lovely! Although Amelia ordered chicken which was more than dry! (I will do a full review on the food when I get home)

We met 5 princesses all together Cinderella as you walk in and then Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine and Ariel as we were eating.  You get given wands if you’re a girl and a sword for the men – which Paul was a little too happy about!!

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The puddings though were the best bit!

We did more rides after eating and as we came out just before the fireworks started we decided not to attempt to get to the front of the castle and struggle to find a spot so instead we watched from behind which was a really different experience than we’ve done before. I’ve watched a few vloggers film it and if you stand by the tangled bathroom they’re actually all around you which is something to behold.

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We were really lucky after coming out of Cinderella Royal Table we were really lucky that there was a photographer by the Tangled bathrooms doing the Lantern photos, they are amazing and a must do if you’re around when they’re doing them.

On the way out we headed to the photo place near where Mickey meets as we’d had loads of photos on our memory maker not upload and some of totally different families to ours!! We spoke to a wonderful cast member called Katie who is still trying to retrieve some of them for us, we were there for nearly 45 minutes trying to get it all sorted. Once we finally got back to our room we walked in and our phone rang – which is always a worry when you’re on holiday. Katie had found our camera and remembered our name and did some investigating to find where we were staying to make sure she got it back to us. This is why Disney is so special. Cast Members who go that extra mile to make sure you don’t lose things like those special memories. So massive thanks to her for that!!

Next blog will be Epcot tomorrow!! 🙂

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Disneymoon Blog – Day 1 – Animal Kingdom, Armidillos and Oh Getting lost…

I was up at 4am this morning, unpacking and writing yesterdays blog and went off for a little adventure around the resort while everyone else was asleep being a good wife and getting drinks for when Paul and Amelia woke up.

Port Orleans is such a nice resort as I said yesterday, it has such a relaxed atmosphere and because it is a small resort it’s not crowded which is brilliant. (I’ll do a proper in full review of the resort and the room when I get home)

We had an 8:20 reservation for Tusker House this morning with EMH at Animal Kingdom from 8am. We got there just after 8am and it was packed. Labour Day weekend and obviously Pandora I think were the reasons for that. In all my visits I’ve never seen so many people running towards a park at that time of the morning. As we made our way to Tusker and passed Pandora that crowd did thin out. A Lot.

Tusker House is fab!! It’s a large restaurant so even though it seats a lot of people it doesnt feel too crowded. It’s worth remembering for those of you who aren’t staying on site that if you do have a dining reservation before the park opens that is a really good way to get in the parks. Although you won’t be able to get on anything until it does open for rides like Flight of Passage it would mean you can get in line early.

Food at Tusker is standard for a Breakfast Buffet although it does have a bit of an African twist with things like corned beef hash and curry for you to try. I have a sweet tooth and would highly recommend trying the Banana Bread pudding which was lovely. As is the specialty drink ‘Jungle Juice’ which they give you when you get to your table. I could drink that all day.  I don’t know what was in it but it was lovely and fruity.

We met 4 Characters, Donald obviously, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey.  I do love the character dining it’s a great way to meet the more popular ones without having to be in a line for ages.

Bellys full we headed off to get my DAS sorted on our Magic Bands which was as usual quick and easy from Guest Services.  Then off we went to visit Pandora. We had a fast pass for River Journey and it was pretty quiet which we found a little odd. Turned out none of the rides were running. We did have a little look around and Amelia was fascinated by the big plant that lights up when you touch it. I have to say from that little bit that we saw I was completely gobsmacked. It is stunning!! The theming, the ambience the whole lot of it is breathtaking.  I knew it was going to be incredible after seeing all the vlogs and pictures but honestly none of those do it justice at all. IMG_8114

With Pandora having issues we decided to head up to Kilimanjaro Safaris – I was a bit lame today with taking photos and mostly videoed instead so look out for those when we get home. We saw loads of animals on the safari including a baby elephant which was absolutely the cutest thing we saw all day.

We bumped into Tarzan on our travels which was fab as I’d not met him before 🙂 I managed to embarass myself a little by tripping on my feet and very nearly grabbing his bum…

Off to Everest after that Amelia’s favourite, And a lot faster than I remember it being last time!! Then a quick visit to the river rapids which was lovely in the heat as it was incredibly muggy and hot yesterday.

Disability access for all the rides is so easy – I will go into all that a lot more when I get home – I know it’s something that is really important to know when you go somewhere like Disney.

We went back to Pandora for lunch and off to Satu’li Canteen one of the places I’d been most looking forward to eating in. Again the ambience is breathtaking in there!! Food was amazing, I recommend the beef but not with the grains which basically taste like plain brown rice, Paul went for the sweet potato hash which was lovely so that would be my choice for next time.

No pudding though cos we were full, instead we went and got a Night Blossom from Pongo Pongo. Which tastes like a twister in a glass 🙂

Using my DAS we got a return time for Flight of Passage – a wait of 4 HOURS – and then went back to the hotel for a bit of time in the pool. And we managed to get back without getting lost!!

Bad news when we got back literally just as we got to the pool they closed it due to lightning so instead we went in the arcade which was so much fun.

Back to Animal Kingdom after refilling our resort mugs for the journey, it was chucking it down so it was nice walking in that everyone else was heading in the opposite direction.

Straight to River Journey as they let us keep the fast pass to use at any time as well as giving us an extra for something else too.

Just like Pandora itself River Journey is just stunning!! There is so much to look at as you go round. It really takes your breath away with the sounds smells and noises you hear as you travel slowly around. I decided not to take pictures on this on my first time round just so I could fully concentrate on what was going on and take it all in. Then off we went to Flight of Passage. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do this ride being that the restraints hold your feet forward and also come up to fasten you at your back – 2 things that for me with my condition looked like they would be a little problematic. So I ducked out 😦 Paul and Amelia went on it though and when they came off Paul explained everything to me about the ride vehicle and we decided that I would be able to go on so we decided to go back again another day, instead a lovely cast member who I’d been chatting to while I was waiting actually took us back round so we could all go on again then.

Flight of Passage there are literally no words to describe how amazing it is!! It uses similar technology to Soarin but much more state of the art. Not only do you see all the places you’re flying over on your banshee you smell them as well.  It’s that realistic that you almost forget that you’re on a ride and you do really feel a little worried you might fall off of things might hit you as you fly at them – I had to stop myself putting my hand up to shield myself from some of it!! Because of the incredibly realistic effects it is really really intense. I have strange fears and big waves/tidal waves and things like that do scare me there is a bit where you fly towards a huge wave and I think you fly through it as it crashed over you but I shut my eyes for that so I could be wrong!! 🙂

It was dark when we got off so we were lucky enough to see Pandora at night with everything lit up. It’s beautiful!! You MUST go here at night and see how all the plants and walkways light up in the dark, if there is any place throughout Disney that showcases the talent of the imagineers this is it!! How they come up with the ideas to make these things so real I will never know!!

We did Dinosaur which is probably one of the fastest rides I’ve ever been on, I don’t remember it being that quick – maybe we’re just getting old and things seem a bit faster than they used to be – I was knackered getting off that you get thrown around that much!!

Then last fastpass of the day was Everest about half hour before park closing 🙂 In the Dark with an AMAZING view of the park all lit up!! Highly recommened doing that at night 🙂

Wandering out of the park we saw a little Armadillo which was highly entertaining for all the Brits around us!!

Then we left. To come back to the hotel which we found with no trouble earlier!! Took us an hour again in the dark!! Theme of this holiday is definitely getting lost in Disney!! I’m beginning to regret not getting a decent map or renting a sat nav!!

Off to Islands of Adventure today and Blue Man tonight, I wonder if we’ll get lost coming home.. stay tuned I shall update you tomorrow!!

Character Dining in Orlando

One of the most fun things about being in Orlando – and Disney particularly – is the ability to dine with the Characters.

There is so much choice though so how do you decide on which one (or ones) that you want to do?

I thought I’d put together a little guide to all the Character Dining options in Disney (and the other parks) so hopefully I can help you choose which one(s) is best for you. I’ll include whether or not there are allergen/vegan options (although I will do a more extensive blog on eating with specific diets) and also a price guide and if it accepts dining plans and how many credits it uses.

The first thing I will say, as I thought this before I had done it, is that the characters don’t actually ‘dine’ with you. They come around to your table as you eat and do pictures and autographs while you’re there. The characters rotate and you don’t need to worry if you see one walk out as you walk in, that character will be back and your hosts always make sure your table isn’t missed out.

Another thing that’s a bit of a misconception is that you can only do the dining in the parks. There are places in resort hotels you can dine with characters and you don’t have to be staying there to do that. So if you’re on a trip to Orlando and you’ve done Disney before and don’t fancy the parks but do want a little of the magic. You can do this!!

Currently I’ve only done Chef Mickeys in Orlando and Cafe Mickeys in Paris so review wise I can only comment on those. However for our upcoming trip I’ve gone a bit mad on the character dining and so far have booked 4 character dining experiences (5 if you include Be Our Guest) I’m sure there will be more….

So let me start with the ones available in the parks!

All these are correct and available at time of writing but they do have one off dining events sometimes as well. Keep an eye on your MDE (My Disney Experience) for them.

MAGIC KINGDOM

Magic Kingdom has 3 in park character dining – I honestly thought there was more!!

Cinderellas Royal Table, The Crystal Palace and Tianas Riverboat Party

CINDERELLAS ROYAL TABLE is one of the most popular dining experiences in WDW and if you want to dine here you need to pre book. (a step by step guide on how to book dining via your MDE app can be found here)

The restaurant is inside the castle in Magic Kingdom and is one of the most stunning looking places to eat in the parks not to mention the incredible views you must have from inside the castle.

WHO CAN I MEET? Obviously this is Cinderella’s castle so you will get to see her. After doing a little bit of research it seems you meet her before you enter the dining hall and the others come around the tables. You will see Ariel, Aurora, Jasmine and Rapunzel here. Also Snow White on occasion. They do have different ones so just ask your server who it is that day.

WHAT CAN I EAT?

Breakfast you can have pastries and choose from a few different breakfast plates including a traditional American breakfast, Shrimp and Grits, Quiche and a healthy option. TOP TIP If you’re not staying on site and you want early entry to the park book in for breakfast.

Lunch and Dinner menu is pretty similar with Pork, Beef, Fish, Chicken and a vegetarian CousCous option. Puddings here look incredible and you can pre order the Cinderella shoe dessert for around $15. It comes in white and milk chocolate and you can have your own message written on it as well. You can view the full menu for it here and all the other restaurants on your MDE app.

ALLERGEN /VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes ask your server.

PRICE $35-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED?  Yes it requires 2 of your Table Service credits.

Extra info – it seems as though you need to turn up dead on your reservation time here you will not be let in any earlier. Wands and Swords will be provided for the children. I’m hoping I will get a wand as well but I guess we will see in a few months!!

THE CRYSTAL PALACE is found at the end of main street. Looking at it it reminds me a little of the Plaza Gardens at Disneyland Paris.

One of things I love about any of the character/themed dining in Orlando is how it can transport you to a different time/place. This restaurant looks beautiful.

WHO CAN I MEET? This is a Winnie the Pooh and friends experience so you will see Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Rabbit.

WHAT CAN I EAT?

This is a buffet restaurant and I do love a buffet!!

Breakfast buffet will be standard american breakfast regulars bacon, sausages (that look like burgers), biscuits and of course the infamous Mickey Waffles.  As well as pastries and fruit.

Lunch and Dinner are again the same with various meats and fish, salad and sides and vegetable ‘creations’

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes ask your server. They do have the Tofu ice cream in here.

PRICE $15-$35 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes it requires only 1 of your Table Service Credits.

TIANA’S RIVERBOAT PARTY Now this looks amazing!! I actually didn’t know about this one until recently.  This is actually ON the Liberty Square Riverboat and isn’t just dining. This is a dessert party with perfect viewing for the parade. It only runs once a day.

WHO CAN I MEET? After the parade and a little journey on the lake you are met by Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.

WHAT CAN I EAT? This is strictly for those of you with a sweet tooth. It’s cakes and ice cream so really my idea of heaven!!

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ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Can’t find any info on this.

PRICE – $49 PER ADULT $29 PER CHILD

DINING PLANS ACCEPTED? No

EPCOT

Epcot has 2 Character dining experiences.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and Garden Grill

AKERSHUS ROYAL BANQUET HALL is found in Norway in the World Showcase and is incredibly grand. It’s a nice alternative to Cinderellas Royal Table.

WHO CAN I MEET This is a Princess Dining experience and as with CRT they can change them around. Here you can meet Snow White, Belle, Aurora, Jasmine and Ariel. Anna and Elsa don’t appear at any of the dining.

On reading it seems that you do meet one of the Princesses before you go in, much like at CRT.

WHAT CAN I EAT? As you’d expect from being in the Norway pavilion the menu is Norwegian themed. It’s all all you can eat buffet.

Breakfast has the normal american staples but also a few other things found in a traditional Norweigan breakfast, meats and cheeses.

Lunch and Dinner are similar menus with a wide range of choices including the famous meatballs and various different fish dishes.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? A really extensive GF menu here and chefs are really great at walking you through and letting you know what you can eat being Vegan.

PRICE – $35-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLANS ACCEPTED? – Yes it requires 1 Table Service Credit.

THE GARDEN GRILL is in the Land pavilion in Future World and is a really cool rotating restaurant that rotates through different scenes of the Living with the Land ride which is underneath.  TOP TIP from the reviews I’ve read you will have a much better experience if you sit in one of the booths so be sure to request one.

WHO CAN I MEET? This is the only place you can meet ‘Farmer’ Mickey as well as Pluto and of course Chip and Dale who are the hosts of this particular dining experience.

WHAT CAN I EAT? This is a harvest style ‘family’ dining experience so although this is all you can eat. Its not a buffet. Your servers bring you round what is on the set menu and you can ask for more if you wish. A lot of the food is sourced from inside the ‘Land’ pavilion so the salad items will be different depending on what’s in season at the time.

Breakfast items are the same as everywhere else in Disney.

Again Lunch and Dinner are pretty similar. There are various different meats on the menu Turkey, pork and Pot Roast.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes, ask server for options esp Vegan as they can change according to season.

PRICE $15-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 table service credit.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Hollywood Studios has only one permanent dining experience at Hollywood and Vine which is located opposite Echo Lake.

WHO CAN I MEET?  During Breakfast this is a Disney Jnr Play and Dine where you can meet Jake and Doc Mcstuffins, Sofia the First and Handy Manny. Lunch and Dinner will be Mickey, Minnie and friends. This is seasonal and changes throughout the year with them all dressed in seasonal outfits!

WHAT CAN I EAT? Breakfast is again the same as the other places in Disney. Lunch has a variety of different meats and nuggets and chips for the kids. Dinner has more choices including steak.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes both and quite extensive.

PRICE $35-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes 1 Table service credit.

N.B during some events they do have different offerings here such as Star Wars and Villian Dining. These may not be included as part of the dining plan.

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Animal Kingdom also only has one dining experience. The Donald Duck hosted Tusker House which can be found in Africa in AK.

WHAT CAN I EAT? Breakfast is slightly different here as the menu is African inspired so you’ll find some interesting new items you can try.  Most people I’ve spoken to have said this is the best breakfast in Disney..

Lunch and Dinner are the same menu roughly.

WHO CAN I MEET? Well this is Donald’s restaurant so you’ll meet him all dressed in his Safari gear with his friends.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes and very extensive. African food is all about flavour and a lot of vegetable dishes are available.

PRICE $15-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 Table Service Credit.

DINING OUTSIDE OF THE PARKS

1900 PARK FAIR AT GRAND FLORIDIAN

This has really cool themeing based on an old Victorian Carousel (just like the one Mary Poppins brings to life)

WHAT CAN I EAT? It’s another all you can eat buffet. Breakfast here is a little different to the others with a lot of fresh fruit, smoked salmon and made to order omelettes. Brunch has some of the breakfast items and salads and the famous Floridian Strawberry Soup. Dinner menu combines some of the things from the brunch with a few extra meat dishes and a wide selection of veggie ones. And Sushi! (This is a bit of a posh one!)

WHO CAN I MEET? There are 3 different types of experience here (for each meal) Breakfast is Supercalifragilistic where you can meet Mary Poppins, Alice, Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Brunch there isn’t a list for but Dinner is Princess themed, although it changes all the time Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Ugly Sisters are a regular occurrence here.

There is also a Wonderland Tea Party here for children only 4-12 which is an hour of fun, games and stories with Alice and her friends.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS Yes, lots of veggies here. Ask server for the allergen menu.

PRICE $15-$60 PER ADULT FOR THE BUFFET AND $40 FOR THE TEA PARTY (CHILDREN ONLY)

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 Table service credit. Buffet only. Dining plan can not be used for Tea Party.

PERFECTLY PRINCESS TEA is also found at Grand Floridian and is a really pricey option for Character Dining at over $300 for 1 adult and 1 child. For Fruit, Sandwiches and Cake. You do get lots of Disney merchandise like dolls and jewellery but it would probably be cheaper to purchase them yourself!!

CAPE MAY CAFE is at Disney’s Beach Club resort with beach-side themeing throughout.

WHAT CAN I EAT? Character dining here is breakfast only and is the same sort of breakfast food at the other buffet offerings.

WHO CAN I MEET? Minnie and friends so usually Mickey and Donald and Pluto.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes as with the other breakfast ones.

PRICE $15-$35 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes,  1 Table Service credit.

CHEF MICKEYS is inside the Contemporary resort right next to Magic Kingdom and can be seen from the monorail.

WHAT CAN I EAT? It’s another buffet so breakfast food is the same including the famous Mickey Waffles. Brunch and Dinner are pretty similar with meats, fish and vegetable dishes. As well as some awesome puddings!!!

WHO CAN I MEET? Mickey and friends all dressed in chef outfits! We met Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN Yes

PRICE $15-$60 PER ADULT

DINING PLAN ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 Table Service credit.

MICKEYS BACKYARD BBQ is at the Campsites at Fort Wilderness and is a little different as this is more like a dinner ‘show’ with music and line dancing with the characters.

WHAT CAN I EAT? Well it is a BBQ so you’ll have plenty to chose from with chicken, burgers, corn on the cob and plenty of sides.

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WHO CAN I MEET? Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Goofy all dressed in their best line dancing gear!

ALLERGEN/VEGAN There are a few vegan options but it is mostly meat. Servers will show you what you can eat if you have allergys.

PRICE OVER $60 PER ADULT – IT’S NOT CHEAP BUT IT IS ENTERTAINMENT AS WELL

DINING PLANS ACCEPTED? Yes 2 Table Service credits for this one.

OHANA BEST FRIENDS BREAKFAST is in the stunning Polynesian resort just a short monorail ride from Magic Kingdom so along with Chef Mickeys is a fab choice to go for Breakfast on a Magic Kingdom day.

WHAT CAN I EAT? American Breakfast with a Polynesian twist. This is all you can eat but not a buffet. It’s family style so your food is bought to your table.

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WHO CAN I MEET? Lilo and Stitch!! And Mickey has been known to make an appearance as well. This is only during Breakfast there are no characters at other times of the day.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS Yes, ask server and they will accommodate.

PRICE $15-$35 PER ADULT

DINING PLANS ACCEPTED? Yes, 1 Table Service Credit.

That’s everything that I know of in Disney, they will have extra seasonal dining experiences as well so it’s worth checking on your MDE. You’re able to filter your search for dining to ‘Character Dining’ so have a look before you go especially if it’s during Halloween and Christmas time.

UNIVERSAL

There is only one permanent in park character dining experience here. The Superstar Character Breakfast at Cafe La Bamba in Universal Studios.

WHAT CAN I EAT? It’s a traditional American breakfast. All you can eat but you order from a menu and it’s bought to your table.

WHO CAN I  MEET? Minions!! and Gru!. We also saw Dora and Diego, EB and Fluffy from Hop, Spongebob, Patrick and Squidwart. However these can change around. This was one of the best character interactions we had.

ALLERGEN/VEGAN OPTIONS? Yes, but you need to advise when you book. There doesn’t seem to be any menus online for any of the Universal places although they do state they cater for food allergies/specific diets.

PRICE? $35 FOR ADULTS $20 FOR CHILDREN

This breakfast is also available in some of the Universal Hotels on select days as well.

During the Halloween Period you can Dine with the Scare Actors from the Halloween Horror Nights at the Monster Cafe and during Christmas you can eat Green Eggs and Ham with The Grinch.

Both Seaworld and Busch Gardens have previously had dining with Elmo and Friends however that seems to be off for this year but hopefully it’ll come back on.

If I’ve missed anything then please let me know and I’ll do an extensive review on all 7 that I’ve booked for this upcoming trip when I get back 🙂 Did you notice it was only 4 at the start of this blog? Writing and researching made me want to do more….

 

 

Step by Step Disney Dining Booking

I’m now at my 180 day mark (well, 179) and am able to book dining up until 3 days before the end of my trip. So it looks like when you hit your 180 mark (on resort anyway, I can’t comment if you’re off site) you can book dining for the next 10 days.

There is lots of blogs on booking dining etc but I thought it might be useful for you all to see exactly how it’s all done.

You will need to connect a credit or debit card to your account to secure the reservations, they don’t take any money from you unless you don’t turn up to the reservation. The only exception to this was when I went to book ‘Cinderellas Royal Table’ if you have the dining plan then it gives you the option to secure the booking using that if you don’t it’ll ask to charge it to your credit card. It was not cheap. $205 for 3 of us.

I was lucky with my reservations and managed to get all the places we wanted. So far we have bookings for Tusker House (breakfast with safari Donald and friends), Cinderellas Royal Table (Princess dining INSIDE the castle), Be Our Guest (where the Beast makes an appearance during dinner only and is not the same as character dining, he isn’t inside the restaurant while you eat but a separate room after), and this booking I’m going to use to show you how it works at Ohana (best friends breakfast with Lilo and Stitch)

So the first thing you do is choose your restaurant from the list and then choose your date, party size and either a specific time or you can choose a time of day.

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With this one I chose Breakfast but I wanted earlier than the available times listed so I actually chose a time instead and it came up with availability for 7:30 which was a better time for us. So it’s worth doing it both ways if the times that come up aren’t suitable for you.

Click on the time you wish to dine and then you’re taken to the next page where you chose who you’re booking for.

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You have a drop down menu for each of the other people you’re booking for, all you need to do is select their names in the list and then click on ‘next’ at the bottom.

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This shows you the date, time and location of your booking so check that you have the correct ones before you continue – I had to change a few reservations cos they booked for the wrong month – it will then give you the option of using your stored card or another one to secure the booking.

The next page will ask for a reservation contact, you need to put your mobile in using +44 at the start and dropping the first 0 of your phone number.

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Under the phone number you are able to make any special requests diet wise – it gives a list of common allergens and you can select whatever you need to. It does say to notify your server as well on arrival.

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All the terms and conditions of booking are on this page and it will tell you how many dining credits it uses as well.

You need to click to agree to these before clicking next.

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The last page is your confirmation and will have the number on it, a copy of all this is also sent to the email address you set up your MDE with.

Once all this has done it will show in ‘Your Reservations’

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And there you go!! You’re all booked and all the dates/times/confirmation numbers will show in your MDE account so you can have everything there in the palm of your hand when you’re in the parks. You can see as well you’re able to cancel or change your reservations from here as well if need be.

Disneyland Paris Trip 2013 vs 2016

I’ve always had a strange relationship with Disneyland Paris. I visited for the first time the year it opened and to be honest other than Captain EO and buying a cool Star Tours baseball cap that I lost I don’t really remember a lot. At that point in my life I wasn’t really ‘into’ Disney so I don’t think I was particularly bothered about going which is why I don’t remember. My Dad was a coach driver at the time and it was one of his trips I got to go on. I think I was about 11.

It’s always been the ‘poorer’ sister to WDW, it’s smaller and of course you’re not guaranteed the weather like you are in Orlando. About 5 years ago I went with Paul (our first holiday together) and we took Amelia for her first Disney experience. We went in August and we had a great time, we had 2 days in the park and stayed in nearby Val’D’Europe. It was busy but we had amazing weather and seeing her little face when she met Cinderella is another one of those things that stick with you and make you all emotional when you think about it.

She was so little then and she was just excited the whole time. We drove there it took us about 8 hours in all I think from leaving home and getting on the ferry and then driving to Chessy the other side. She barely slept from the time we got there to the time we came home – and I remember her talking non stop for the whole trip.

All in all that trip cost us about £500 so we really did it on a budget, Eurotunnel, Ibis in Val D’Europe and the 2 day park tickets. This was before I worked in travel and I got my tickets then from 365 tickets as they were the cheapest. What I didn’t realise at the time was we were being sent vouchers so that meant a good hour or so queue when we got there before we could go in being as they had to be exchanged for ‘real’ tickets. If you’re doing this on a budget I recommend checking with the ticket provider that they are either real tickets or gate ready e-tickets. Attraction Tickets Direct are a great place to get them from and they do have offers from time to time on their tickets.

That trip changed my mind a little on DLRP but I was still disappointed at the lack of characters, Disney for me as you know is all about them and there really wasn’t that many about. I didn’t see them wandering about like you do in Orlando and it just didn’t make it as magical as WDW was.

Fast forward just over 3 years and I did another trip. No kids just me and my mate Manda (who had spent half a day at Disneyland park over the summer not really being a Disney fan and had sent me a picture of herself there that day with the caption ‘I get it now!’) and she really wanted to spend a bit more time there and experience it properly. We got a really good deal and we went all-inclusive this time.  We flew from Southampton to Orly and it was a short just over an hour flight, had transfers on the Disney Shuttle which is really easy to find when you get to the airport and a great way to get to the park. It was about an hours journey again to our on resort hotel. We stayed in Newport Bay which has been newly refurbished. Check in was quick the staff were really helpful just the Disney attitude I’d been used to.  Newport Bay is in a great location its right near Disney Village and is walking distance to the park entrance. There is also a shuttle bus which can take you to the parks as well which we used and that was really quick. They ran every 10 minutes.  The pool was big and we spent a little time in there, breakfast was included with our package and was a standard continental all you can eat buffet in the hotel. We had to book our time slot for breakfast which we had really early so we could make use of the extra magic hours.

We had the dining package as well which was brilliant. It meant we could eat in some really nice places in DLRP. Amanda is vegan so she was really happy to find before our trip that there was quite a lot of selection for her. We picked our choices of eatieries based on if she could eat more than just pasta or a veggie burger. DLRP advertises that they have an allergen menu as well which was useful for her. However we had issues trying to get the staff in Cafe Mickey to understand what we were asking for. Cafe Mickey is great for character dining, however not so great for food if you have allergies or are vegan. If you have the dining plan it’s worth going to but if you’re paying I don’t think it’s worth the money. In hindsight we wish we had chosen a different character dining experience. Allegen food comes in plastic pots and it’s a lot to pay for something so basic. Characters here rotate so you may get different ones at different times of day.

Inside the park was quiet. We went in September and went during the week. Most rides were walk on (with the exception of Ratatouille) with the extra magic hours we could actually walk up to the castle with no one in front of us at all. That was a moment!!

Knowing that these parks are a lot smaller than WDW I didn’t even think about hiring any sort of wheelchair or taking an ECV (which you cannot hire here). It would have made the trip easier if I had. Instead we had 2 days when Amanda had to push me about in a chair. Which I hired at 20 euros a day and a 100 euro deposit. The parks are a lot smaller and the studios you can walk from one side to the other in about 10 minutes. Next time however I will take a chair with me.

Disability access is not like Orlando. You can get a guest assistance pass and this allows exit entrance to most rides although with some we were given a return time. You can use the card for character meets too and they give you return times so you don’t queue. It works well and I didn’t have any issues with it at all. The rides are a lot closer together than on Orlando and it’s so much more manageable I think.

I had an amazing time on this trip. Staying on site made a real difference and not having to worry about purchasing food was amazing. I’d never had that before and I don’t think I’ll take a trip there without it again. We ate in some incredible places and with the exception of Mickeys the food was incredible. Your dining plan is given to you in vouchers which you exchange whenever you eat. You have vouchers for every night you are staying in the hotel not the amount of days you have in the park.

CHEF REMYS was the place I most wanted to eat in. Seeing all the pictures online the themeing of it just looked incredible. We booked that one quite far in advance as it does get booked up really quickly. I can’t recommend it enough!!

It’s in the Studios park and you can see the ride from the restaurant. Our waiter was amazing the service was incredible and the food was to die for!! Whatever you have make sure it comes with the ratatouille. In terms of the atmosphere and surroundings this was my favourite place that we ate.

CAFE AGRABAH was the place that Amanda was most looking forward to eating it. There was so much vegan stuff on their menu. I love Morrocan food so I was really looking forward to this. It’s an all you can eat buffet and it was so good. It wasn’t your normal boring nuggets and chips buffet it was proper healthy but tasty food. All sorts of rices and different stews etc. Plus it looks AMAZING!!

I loved the feel that you were in a Moroccan market place and outside when in reality you’re in a theme park in Paris and inside. This is a must do for everyone. It will cater to all tastes they do have the chips and nuggets for the fussier ones among us and it’s a nice change to the normal buffets you will find.

ANNETTES DINER is in the Disney Village and we ended up there by accident as we couldn’t get a table in any of the restaurants in the park (which taught us to book every meal and we did that for the rest of the trip when we got back to the hotel, hotel reception can do this for you). I do love a good american diner and Annettes is really good. The food is what you would expect from a diner mostly burgers and hotdogs.

I’d seen pictures of Annettes online and seen cast members dancing on the bar and I’m sure I’d seen them on roller skates (I’ve always wanted to go to a diner where the server is on skates) that never happened when we were there. I’m not sure if it’s something that only happens seasonally or if it doesn’t happen anymore. I was really disappointed by that. The food was good but it’s not amazing.

PLAZA GARDENS we actually ate here twice we liked it so much. Best puddings in the park!! This is an all you can eat buffet and had all sorts of different cuisines. Lots of vegan choice and some really nice stews and casseroles as well as pizza and chicken. It’s in a great location to eat before the fireworks which is exactly what we did. We booked for 7 and when we got to the castle at half 7 we had a perfect front row view of Disney Dreams.

And now onto the interesting stuff!! Rides and Characters!!

There wasn’t a lot new since my last trip. Ratatouille was the newest ride and that was really good but not if you suffer from motion sickness!! It’s really clever but did make me feel a bit sick. I was a bit upset that Star Tours and Big Thunder Mountain were closed. But I knew that before I went. There’s a lot of work going on in Discoveryland ready for the new updated Star Tours due to open in March. Always check online before you travel as the website will tell you all about any ride closures.

Character wise I had an amazing time there were loads of them!! Random ones as well and ones I’d never seen before which was exciting for me and made me a DLRP convert.

I am one of those grown ups who still takes an autograph book with her when she goes to Disney and this time I ran out of space.

We had the photopass included with our package as well which was really good. They could use some professional photographers all over the parks like in Orlando taking pictures in front of the castle instead of us having to take them. Aside from the characters and some of the rides (mostly the ones I can’t go on like Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster) there isn’t really anywhere else you can use the photopass.

DLRP has some incredible shows. Obviously you have Disney Dreams (which is soon to be replaced with ‘Disney Illuminations’ as part of the 25th Anniversary Celebrations) and you have the parade in the Disneyland Park – again something that’s being updated for the celebrations. The parade in Paris is no-where near as good as the Orlando one, there isn’t many floats and it doesn’t last very long at all. Hopefully the new one will be a little better.

Stitch LIVE! Is brilliant, it’s an interactive show where Stitch talks to the audience and gets children involved in it as well. It’s funny and great for all the family.

The best show at Disney however is Mickey and the Magician. It was due to run for a limited time but has now been extended until 2018. It’s in the studios park and is a must see. It’s in English and French but it’s easy to follow and it’s a music and magic show with loads of your favourite Disney characters and songs from the films. I most definitely did NOT cry!! I won’t ruin it and tell you what happens or what songs/films are included but what I will say is you’d be a fool to miss it. The special effects in this show are incredible as well, I was blown away by it.

All in all I think DLRP has improved massively. It’s a great place to visit for a bit of a Disney fix and with more character appearances and the new shows and parades it can only get better.

Obviously it’s not as big as Orlando and you won’t get the weather but if you go treating it as a completely different place and don’t compare it to Orlando then you’ll have an amazing time 🙂

Planning Your Trip – Where to Start – Dining Plans

One of my most favourite things about Orlando is the food, I literally dream about it!! Seriously! A lot of the planning for our upcoming trip is choosing what places we want to eat in – the places we loved the most last time (Longhorns) and the places we couldn’t get a reservation in (Be Our Guest).

All the parks have some sort of Dining plan you can purchase, whether it be the Disney dining plan or one of the all day dining packages at some of the other parks.  Whether they are worthwhile for you is all about personal preference and of course how much you eat!!! Today I’ll cover Disney (as there’s loads to cover) and I’ll do the other parks in another post.

There are also some really fun dining experiences in all the parks as well but I’ll cover those and character dining in another blog 🙂 As well as the dining events such as Epcot food and wine and Magical Dining Month.

This trip we booked when the Disney Dining plan was being offered free – which is worth doing I think if you can. I haven’t had the plan before at WDW but I did have it on a recent trip to Disney Paris and from what I can gather the idea of it and the way that it works is pretty similar. Having on that trip was brilliant and it did allow us to eat in some of the fancier resturants without it costing us the earth.  Of course we could have just had quick service meals for a little less but when you like good food it’s well worth having.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking into how the plan works and some of the dining packages available  to those staying off site and in the other parks so hopefully this should give you a little more information on the Disney one and see if it’s worth it for you.

Obviously the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is something that is much talked about on blogs and the internet and there are some really good sites that explain it all in intricate detail. I’m going to attempt to do it a little more concisely then if you want a bit more info you can head over to Disney Food Blog and fill your heads with loads more info!!

DDP is only available to those staying on site at Disney and are only available when booking your hotel and tickets as a Disney package. There are 3 different ‘plans’ available and give you the following for each NIGHT that you stay in and on site resort.

Quick Service Dining Plan – 2 Quick Service (counter) meals, 2 snacks and a refillable resort mug (roughly £38 per adult per night and £16 per child (3-9))

Dining Plan – 1 Table Service, 1 Quick Service, 2 Snacks and refillable resort mug (roughly £54 per adult and £20 per child)

Deluxe Dining Plan – 3 Table Service or Quick Service meals, 2 snacks and refillable resort mug. (roughly £84 per adult and £30 per child)

To put it into perspective the average quick service meal (entree and drink) costs around $17, average table service $30, Buffet $30 and Character Dining $50.

My Disney Experience (MDE) has all the menus and prices listed, just choose your restaurant and click on view menu. That should give you a really good indication of whether or not you would actually eat enough food to warrant paying for the plan and help you decide on the places you really want to eat in – be careful though it will make you hungry!

This year Disney also trialed a one day dining plan called ‘Dine on the Go’ through Jan-Feb which is Quick Service only and only valid at a few restaurants in Magic Kingdom. There’s no word on if this will be extended but I would imagine it’s something that they will continue to do if it’s popular.

How does it work?

Your dining credits are loaded on to your Magic Band or ticket. When you go to your selected restaurant you tell the server how many of your credits you want to redeem. You will be given a receipt that will show you how many credits you have left. I would think that there would be something in MDE that would show as well but looking online I have found no information as to whether it does or not.  I’ll let you know after my trip.

Where can I use my dining plan?

If you’re looking on the MDE app at restaurants it will say if dining plans are accepted or not.

What is the difference between ‘counter service’ and ‘table service’?

Table service is where you would be sat down at a restaurant and your order taken by a server and bought to your table. Counter Service is what we expect from a fast food restaurant over here. You order your food and then take it yourself to the table.

I don’t want to just eat burgers all the time is there anything else?

It’s a common misconception that ‘quick service’ just means burgers.and hotdogs. There are some surprising things on offer at Disney in Quick Service locations.

Magic Kingdom – Be Our Guest has quick service for Breakfast and Lunch with some french inspired food, Columbia Harbour House has healthy salads and fish, and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn is mexican inspired with Fajitas and Tacos.

Hollywood Studios – ABC Commissary has club sandwiches and Mediterranean style salads,  Catalina Eddies has pizzas and salad.

Animal Kingdom – has loads of different food in keeping with the african/asian themeing of the park Flame Tree Barbeque – has BBQ meats, salads and ribs,  Harambe Market has curry, flatbreads and skewers.

Epcot unsurprisingly has the most choice with food and there are loads of quick service places in Epcot with some incredible looking menus Katsura Grill is Japanese with sushi and noodles, Kringlan Bakeri Og Cafe is in Norway with fresh sandwiches and meatballs and lots of cakes!, La Cantina De San Angel can be found in Mexico and serves all sorts of tacos, Lotus Blossom in China does a variety of rice and noodles, Sommerfest in Germany has different types of german sausage and strudel, Sunshine Seasons has the most choice and is very much like food courts in the mall with all different variety of  foods all under one (very big) roof. The one for me that is top of my list is Tangierine Cafe in Morrocco with wraps, hummus and taboleh.

Epcot is quite literally foodie heaven!!

What does a quick service credit get me?

It gets you an entree (main as we call it here) and a non alcoholic drink. It does not include dessert. That’s what your snack credits are for.

You can use a quick service credit to get 3 snacks as long as they’re all from the same participating place and purchased at the same time. This would be particularly useful during Epcots food and wine festival as some of the food stands will allow you to do this meaning you can quite literally eat your way around the world.

What does a Table Service credit get me?

An entree, dessert and a  non alcoholic drink at a table service restaurant. Or a buffet and drink at a buffet restaurant.

Can I have a starter (appetizer) instead of dessert?

Strictly speaking no, but it’s always worth an ask as I’ve had differing answers to this question.

What can I use my snack credits for?

Snack credits can be used for bottled water, juice and fountain sodas. Most bakery products and ice creams. Generally most things around $5 are covered by your snack credits at places that accept the dining plans. If in doubt ask a cast member. You can get the Mickey Ice Creams, Mickey Pretzels, Dole Whip, La Fous Brew (but not in a souvenir cup)…

Can I use my Dining Plan for character dining?

If you have the Dining Plan or the Deluxe dining plan you can use your table service credits for Character Dining.  Most character dining will use 1 of your credits with the exception of Cinderellas Royal Table which will take 2 of your credits.

Can I use 2 counter service credits and have table service?

No. You can only use the counter service for counter service food. You are unable to double up on them.

How do I find out how many credits each restaurant/meal costs?

The servers will tell you but I found a really interesting page on WDW Prep school that lists it all for you.

What if I want to use extra credits than my daily allowance?

The credits do not have be used by ‘day’. For example if you have the regular plan you don’t have to have 1 Quick, 1 table and use both your snack credits every single day. You just have however many days you’re there to use them all. Most Brits won’t spend all of their trip at Disney so the days you’re at other parks like Universal or days at the beach you won’t be using your dining credits.

So you could use 2 table service credits in a day if you wanted to. You could even use 3. You’ll still have enough to keep you fed for the rest of your trip.

I’ve got a refillable mug can I use that in the parks?

No. You can only use your refillable mugs to fill up in resort hotels not the parks.

What isn’t included?

Tips are not included with the dining plan and neither is alcohol.

Do I need to book?

Some of the more popular restaurants and character dining would require an advance dining reservation (ADR). These can get booked up really quick. You are able to book these 180 days before the day you wish to dine using your MDE app. Quick Service you do not need to book. These can get quite busy during peak times eat a big breakfast and have a late lunch or an early dinner to avoid the queues if you’re going for quick service.

Can I buy the plan just for a few days of my trip?

No you can’t. It has to be for the duration of your stay on the Disney resort. Also all members of the party have to have the same level of dining plan.

Hopefully that should have answered some of the questions surrounding the dining plan. I’ll be able to go into more detail and tell you all exactly how it works after my trip in September and I’ll no doubt have some restaurant recommendations for you as well.

It’s a personal preference with the dining plan though so it may not be for everybody. I think it’s a great idea but I do like to eat so for me and my family it’s worth it.

 

 

Updates :)

I’ve been a busy bee today!!

I’ve added a few food reviews here, Chef Mickeys and dining with Minions How To Eat Cheap in Orlando… and some of the best places 🙂 

I’ve also updated some of the disability info and talked a bit about the best ways to get around Orlando Disney (and other Parks) – With Disabilities

Have a read 🙂