Day 11 – Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party and Skipper Canteen

One of the best things about being in Orlando at this time of year is all the Halloween festivities that are happening. Although Universal doesn’t start until the day we fly home (don’t remind me of that I’m not forgiven for booking too early to go). I first did MNSSHP 5 years ago on a trip with a friend and her family and I loved it one of my favourite things I’ve ever done at Disney. I loved meeting the rare characters and the fact you get free candy and can trick or treat around Magic Kingdom is just amazing!

We had quite a relaxing day, had a swim in the morning and then spent the rest of the day trying to buy some white facepaint for our fancy dress outfits, the make up we’d picked up at home we didn’t look at properly and the bit we thought was paint was actually a make up sponge….. We had NO luck at all, even though Disney decided Halloween should start at the end of August it seems the shops didn’t and nowhere could we get any 😦

We had decided to dress up this year, Paul and I as Wednesday and Pugsley Addams (mostly because I’d not long seen the musical and loved it) and Amelia, well she wanted to be a Zombie Bride… She’s such a girly, dainty, sugary child! After the face paint failure we decided to get her face painted in MK, it cost us $20 but they would touch it up for free if any of it came off.

We got in the park in time to watch the Festival of Fantasy parade and do a few rides before our dining reservation at Skipper Canteen. I was so excited about this place. I’d watched a few vlogs on it and it was highly recommended. I’d looked at the menu as well and it was different food than you normally expect from a theme park.

This place ended up being my top eatery of the trip!! Food was unbelievable, it was a bit more on the healthy side. But just look at it, everything looked so lovely!

I still dream about this meal now and honestly if anyone wants a good place to eat at Magic Kingdom this would be my recommendation. I will go into more detail about all the places we ate in in future blogs but for now I’m just going to say, the coconut pudding was just, well there are literally no words for how good this meal was!

With the Halloween party none of the events actually start until around 7pm, however you are allowed in the park from 4pm if you have a ticket for the event. We had the park hoppers as well so we could go in whenever we liked.

One of the big draws for these events is the rare character meets so knowing they were the most popular as soon as we finished eating we went on the search for Jack and Sally. There was already a pretty long line and I think we ended up waiting just over 90 minutes to see them. They were great, well worth the wait. Brilliant interactions and Amelia loved them.

We did as many of the trick or treat locations as we could but not many rides, that’s why its a good idea to get in at 4pm if you don’t plan on visiting for anything other than the party, it means you can do rides and then concentrate on all the Halloween stuff during the party.

We watched the Boo-To-You parade which is my favourite parade at Disney. The music is so good and seeing an actual headless horseman riding through Magic Kingdom is something you won’t forget.

As you can see from some of the pictures there are a LOT of awesome magic shots throughout the park for these events and we made the most of as many as we could.

It was a pretty quiet night and apart from Jack and Sally, Moana and Lotso from Toy Story the queues for characters weren’t too bad. Even Seven Dwarves which is normally a good few hour wait was only about 30 minutes.

We missed the Hocus Pocus show which was a shame and proved to me that I think if you can you should go to 2 nights of this. There isn’t enough time in one night to do everything and meet everyone.

The fireworks at this is brilliant, Hallo-Wishes is another of my favourite things at Disney. Halloween themed music and images projected on the castle, it’s a must do and we really loved it 🙂

It is a late night and Amelia was exhausted after it but she really loved it and especially loved the attention she was getting for her outfit, most people go as Disney characters or something less gruesome than she was so I think she was a bit of change for everyone!

Cost of MNSSHP varies depending on when in the season you go, obviously the earlier you go the less it is and Halloween night itself is the most expensive. We paid about $70 each for our tickets but UK ticket sellers like Attraction Tickets Direct have started doing these and had we bought them from there we would have only paid about £40 each so it’s worth keeping an eye out for those when the dates are announced.

Tomorrow we are off to Wild Florida to do an airboat ride, this is what Paul has been most excited about doing, I’m a bit dubious I’m not a fan of boats….

 

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Day 8 – Brunch with Pooh and more Disney Springs

 

Today was a strange day to be in the parks, with Irma due to hit tomorrow all the parks have announced they will be closed for it. Today I was expecting it to be busy with people getting a bit of magic before everything shuts down. Magic Kingdom today, like Universal yesterday was eerily quiet.

We had a dining reservation at 10:30 we got in just before it, this was main street…

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Crystal Palace was one of the dinings I was most looking forward too, I’d heard good things and was excited to try the famous breakfast lasagne. Plus there’s nothing better than getting a hug from Pooh, he’s like a big teddy bear who cuddles you back 🙂

Again it was quiet in here so I think we got more of an interaction than normal with the characters just strolling about and playing with the kids rather than just stopping for pictures and to sign. I booked at a time so we could try breakfast and still be there when the lunch buffet came out but we were all a bit stuffed so we didn’t get to try that as well.

 

Food here was really good one of the better buffets, and if you are doing breakfast you must have the lasagne, it’s like some sort of heavenly trifle with waffles, pancakes, bananas and all manner of good sweet breakfast stuff.

Weather wise today we did get caught in a few showers meaning we spent a bit of time looking in shops and spending our snack credits. I haven’t had nearly enough ‘Disney’ themed snacks so far so I had a Mickey marshmallow bar which I was most pleased with 🙂

These snacks are great ways to use your snack credits on a dining plan, the toffee or dessert apples are great too but to me they always look far too good to eat!

Trying to stay away from the dodgy weather we did a lot of indoor stuff today, Philharmagic, and a lot of character meets. Including my favourite Donaldo and Pauls Ariel in her grotto 🙂

We went to see the boss man today as well in his theatre and this is the Mickey that talks to you. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of this one. There’s always a kid in front of us who is seeing a talking Mickey for the first time and their faces are always priceless. It’s a must do for anyone on a first trip and one to fastpass as it does get really busy.

Another first for me today was meeting iCan the robot in Tomorrowland, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve spotted him whilst on the Peoplemover only to get off and find he’s gone so this was a special moment 🙂 He’s really cool so keep an eye out for him when you’re there.

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I finally got to have my ‘balloon’ photo today as well, it’s one of the magic shots you can get with the Disney photographers, make sure you ask them when they’re taking them if they have any magic ones. It’s fun to see what they are when you check your memory maker ones after. I love this it’s one of my favourites from the whole trip…

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Dinner today was in Rainforest Café, not somewhere I generally like to eat. It’s too loud for me and after doing T-Rex as well I wasn’t that enamoured with doing this one. But the weather was getting more and more dodgy and it was the closest restaurant to where we got off the boat from our hotel therefore we didn’t have to walk too far in the wind 🙂

Amelia loved it here, they got our name wrong when we were asked for it, we were the ‘Buff’ family. I’ll take that!

Food is pretty similar to T-Rex being that it is owned by the same company, we enjoyed it food was good, service was good and we had a few cocktails.

We had a very quick wander around the Springs, the weather was getting worse and more windy and going on a boat for someone who is a little bit scared of them is bad enough but doing it in bad weather and the dark is just not fun so we headed back before it got too blowy and spent the evening watching Disney movies which were kindly put on our TVs for free for the duration of the hurricane.

We’re not sure what tomorrow holds to be honest, no parks are open so we will be confined to the hotel. Disney were great at keeping us informed as to what was going on so for the time being the hotel facilities – minus the pool – are all there to use, including the arcade on free play for the kids and Disney movies in room to keep us occupied. I guess if anything it gives us a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep!!

Day 5 – Hollywood Studios, ‘enjoying’ Rock n Roller coaster and BE OUR GUEST!

We had a bit of a lie in this morning and arrived at Hollywood Studios about 10 for our dining reservation at 1950s Prime Time Café, Pauls favourite from our last trip. It’s a really fun experience putting you in the home of 1950s America serving old favourites such as meatloaf and stuffed chops. The food is so good but make sure you eat your greens and beware of putting your elbows on the table!! You will be told off!!

 

After lunch we had a stroll around the park taking advantage of the memory maker.  There are some great photo opportunities here especially for Star Wars fans who I’m sure will love the chance to sit on a speeder 🙂 I would imagine with Galaxys Edge opening next year there will be so much more like this too 🙂

 

There is a lot of work going on at the park meaning it doesn’t seem like there is a lot to do currently. I was devastated that I missed the opportunity to do Great Movie Ride one more time it was sad seeing it closed 😦

Amelia was most excited about coming back to this park, being 2 years older this time and finally big enough for ‘an upside down ride’ she was beside herself with excitement for Rock n Roller Coaster. We had tears last trip as she was too small but this time she loved it!!

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For me once was more than enough and who’s idea was it to be in the back carriage where we all know its far faster than anywhere else? (Note the child chose to sit on her own, I was glad I was NOT getting on that coaster if I didn’t have a grown up with me). She would have ridden that all day if she could!

Onwards to Tower of Terror (for them not me) and even though Paul hates it he was subjected to it multiple times, in the end we were those parents we swore we’d never be at Disney, stood in the giftshop holding the bags while the kids go on the rides! I love this picture she looks so happy he doesn’t 🙂

Make sure you say hello to Stitch the Bellboy when you come out of the ride too 🙂

Hollywood Studios has one of my favourite shows on property so we had to go and watch Beauty and the Beast. Again. I love this show, it’s a shortened version of the musical with amazing performers and all the songs we all love, I always get a bit emosh watching this but it is a must see 🙂 Even more so today knowing where I’m off to eat at tonight!!

The Indiana Jones stunt show is a great way to spend an hour as well, although our show was cut a bit short due to the weather we did still get to see some incredible stunts and an insiders view on how some of the big stunts in the blockbusters we love to watch are achieved 🙂 It’s great for the younger audiences who are always wowed by the gunshots and the near miss accidents in this show!

After a brief stop at our resort for a nap – not me I might add – far too excited, we headed for Magic Kingdom ready for our dinner reservation at Be Our Guest.

Out of all our reservations for this trip this was the one I was most excited about and it really did live up to my expectations. I’ll do a full review of the food etc in a future blog but I think this is a must do. The restaurant is beautiful the theming is incredible, I *may* have cried when I walked in. We were seated in the Ballroom and I was so impressed with the ‘magic’ windows making it look like it was snowing inside.

The food was great the desserts even better, we all had the grey stuff, it was delicious 🙂 Although it’s something put on top of puddings and not just a mousse itself which is what I was expecting.

Then of course you can meet the Beast which is the big draw of having an evening meal here. It’s the only place and time you can meet him. I *may* have cried!!

It’s such a magical experience being in Beasts castle, it is actually like being in the film. Definitely one of the highlights of this trip…

Tomorrow we’re off to Universal to spend a night in the Hard Rock Hotel…

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Epcot Food and Wine, Akershaus and Biergarten

Today was a day for eating and the food and wine is something I’ve been so looking forward to. In hindsight booking 2 table service meals for a day when we’re essentially eating our way around the world was not a good move!

We started with breakfast with the princesses at Akershaus, we booked it for before the park opened and walking into Epcot with hardly any people about was amazing! It was so quiet I just wish we’d got there a little earlier (we got lost. again.) so I could soak it in a little more.

Akershaus is Norweigan food so lots of fish for breakfast and pastries. You meet princesses here and meet with Belle before you sit down. We had Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora visit us.

 

Food was ok, the restaurant was beautiful. It’s a nice (much cheaper) option than Cinderellas Royal Table. Amelia loved it although I don’t think eating a whole plate of salmon for breakfast was one of her best ideas.

We managed to meet Anna and Elsa after breakfast and get on Frozen all before 9:30! (Little tip, although the showcase doesn’t open until 10am, Frozen does open when the rest of the park does so you can go on that from 9am)

Frozen is wonderful, we ended up riding it 3 times! The technology they use is so good!

There is an awful lot going on during Food and Wine including having some artists around and we were lucky enough to meet the wonderful Larry Dotson and purchased a few of his prints which are beautiful. I always love looking in the Disney art shops when I’m in Disney, I always want so much stuff for the house but we just don’t have the space for everything.  It just goes to show that the Disney merchandise isn’t just for kids!

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We rode Soarin’ Around The World for the first time which is so much better than the original one, I always really liked Soarin so it’s nice to see it a little bit differently.

There was 2 new character meets at Epcot that we were all really looking forward to, well I say all of us, mostly me! And I was super excited as you can see….

Baymax is AWESOME! We were really lucky that there were literally no queues for anything, we were in and out of meeting Baymax and Joy and Sadness in about 30 minutes.

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Character meets out of the way and breakfast fully digested off to do what Epcot is made for and eat!!

I absolutely LOVED food and wine! Our plan was to try and eat something savoury and sweet from each of the booths as we walked round but it quickly became apparent that we are a pudding family (which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows us) and we mostly ate puddings!!

One thing that was really awesome is that if you are on the dining plan you can use your snack credits to purchase items at the booths. They don’t publicise it but that’s what we did. I knew you could use a quick service for 3 snacks from the same vendor but everywhere I looked said no to using snack credits.  It’s a great reason to get the dining plan I think it worked so well for us, we ate loads of stuff!!

The Creme Brulee in France was our favourite sweet and the meatball from New Zealand our savoury.

Epcot is definitely my favourite park, I just love walking around, there’s loads of cool places to take photos and the shops in all the pavilions are so much fun to look around – and great for kids to spend their holiday pennies in as they do have some really cool things at a fraction of the price you would pay to buy anything with Disney on it 🙂

We had dinner in Biergarten so we missed Illuminations. This was one of the places I was looking forward to eating in it looks really cool online but I have to say I don’t think I’d chose to eat there again. The entertainment was fabulous that part of it I really liked but we were not overly impressed with the food. There wasn’t a great deal of choice. It’s also incredibly loud in there so it is hard to have a conversation with whoever you’re with when you’re in there. It’s good for kids, they can have a dance to the band who play, Amelia really liked it but for us we weren’t blown away.

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We managed to get back to our resort without getting lost tonight – tomorrow we go to BE OUR GUEST and I am so excited!!

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!! 🙂

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.

bbq3

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.

ohana3

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….

 

 

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 🙂