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Disney Planning – Dream Guide by Adam Hattan

I absolutely LOVE Adam. He’s the first Disney vlogger I ever watched and he’s still my absolute favourite.

Adam has not only visited Disney on countless occasions he’s also lived and worked at Walt Disney World as part of the Cultural Representation Program.

His vlogs are incredibly honest and he gives lots of amazing tips on how to make the most out of and enjoy your trip to Disney so obviously the next logical step is to put together a travel guide and utilise all that knowledge he has gained from his travels.

Dream Guide is the result of that.

And what a wonderful result it is.

I’ve read quite a few planning books about Orlando in general and although they do go into great detail about Disney it seems to be the generic info that you can find from travel agents and the My Disney app rather than from a personal experience.  It doesn’t really matter how many of these guides you read you’re generally getting exactly the same information.

That is why Dream Guide is so different.

Drawing from his own multiple experiences Adam gives you a unique and honest account of Disney.  What it’s like to stay on site and how to navigate the parks to best get the most out of your holiday.

There’s no target audience for this book, it covers every group of people who would travel to Disney. Whether you’re on your own, with a partner, friends or family. A big group or a small one this guide is for you.

It’s well written and so easy and enjoyable to read.  It reads like Adam speaks in his vlogs and genuinely feels like he’s a friend just giving you some helpful advice – like your own private tour guide if you will! It’s an odd thing to say but I know Adam will appreciate it – it smells good too!! Not that I go round smelling books but you get a whiff if you’re flicking through it!

He uses great little icons to show you at a glance what attractions would be best for you for your trip.

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It even shows you what rides you can do in the very increment weather in Orlando. Little bit too hot – look for the thermometer, Going during the hurricane/rainy season and stuck in a downpour? Look for the raindrops.

Being that this is coming from a Disney addict and not a travel agent who will be trying to ‘sell’ you something you can rely on Adam to give you HONEST opinions of what it’s like to be in Walt Disney World. Whether it be helping you choose your accommodation or where to eat this guide will really help you to manage your expectations when it comes to being in Orlando.

I’ve traveled quite a few times to Orlando and the fact that Adam had mentioned this was helpful for those of us who have been lucky enough to visit made me even more curious to read it.

There are things in the book that I found really helpful.

Quite a few little top tips scattered through the book.

What I also liked was the fact that having been both a guest and a cast member he is able to use both sides of that to advise on things like tipping. You won’t get that from any other travel guide.

All in all, I was incredibly impressed with this book. I’m hoping in the future there will be more to cover all the parks over the world and maybe the cruises as well – which are briefly touched on in this book.

You can purchase ‘Dream Guide’ from Adams website

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for updates of his travels.

Most importantly you can subscribe to his channel on YouTube for some of the best Disney vlogs you’ll watch. But be warned watch one and you’ll be dragged into watching the rest and before you know it you’ll have been watching them non-stop for several days… not that I have experience of that in any way at all.

On top of all that he’s a lovely man too, as I can testify after a very unexpected meeting at a gig last year.. excuse the face I was very excited!!

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Food Review – Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen

Skipper Canteen was my absolute favourite place to eat on this trip and I recommend it to anyone who is asking for places to eat on upcoming visits.

Skipper Canteen is in Magic Kingdom,  it’s in Adventureland and right opposite the Swiss Family Treehouse.

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I booked here after seeing it on an Adam Hattan Vlog – You can watch that here

It was (aside from Be Our Guest) my most anticipated meal of the trip.

Food wise the menu wasn’t something I would normally choose, its African/Asian/South American inspired and not the type of menu you find anywhere else really.

Its meant to be the headquarters of the famous Jungle Cruise Skippers and you will be seated in one of 3 rooms, The Mess Hall, The Jungle Room or the S.E.A Room.

We were seated in the SEA room which is a secret dining room. And the one I’d seen on the Vlog so yay!! (Pic from WDWMAGIC.COM as I didn’t take any) We were on the table in the top left.

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This place is a hidden gem, it was so quiet and especially so being in the room we were in so that was lovely 🙂

Food wise the menu is really varied and pretty healthy!

Paul went for Pork with broccoli and rice $24

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Amelia had ‘Smilys Little Croc’ which was Chicken Noodle Soup $11

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And I went for the lamb chops $28 that couscous it came with was amazing!

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Honestly, I still dream about this meal.

It was incredible. Looking at those pictures I can still taste it! I have to eat here again!

Puddings were just as good.

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I had the coconut bar, it was so nice, again not something I would normally eat but I wanted something a little lighter. It was like a cheesecake texture and not too overbearing with the coconut (see much more detail than other reviews, I can literally still taste it) $8

Paul went for Kungaloosh which was a Chocolate cake with bananas $8

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It was small but quite heavy so that was plenty for him.

Amelia had the kids Volcano cake (I don’t have a picture sorry) which had caramel inside and popping candy.

Price wise it was the same as most of the other places we ate in $15-$35 per adult. All the menus can be viewed on My Disney Experience so you can see exact prices and what other food there is.

Dining Plans are accepted and this will cost you 1 table service credit.

All in all this was the nicest meal we had. It was quiet. Atmosphere was lovely in there and being in the small room almost made it feel like we were doing private dining. Cast members were lovely and it was just a really nice experience.

The quality of the food was incredible and it was nice to have something that was a little healthier than steak and chips!

I think this place is one of those hidden gems. When you visit for the first time you just tend to go for the character dining and the more well known/popular eateries in the parks. This tends to be one for regular visitors, which is a shame cos it is THAT good.

If you have a trip planned and want somewhere to have a nice sit down meal in Magic Kingdom I urge you to book here. You won’t be disappointed.

If you go after reading this then let me know what you think 🙂 I’d be interested to hear other opinions on it as well 🙂

Food Review – 1950s Prime Time Cafe

The first of my non character dining experiences at Disney and one of our favourites from our last trip.

This is in Hollywood Studios right next to Echo Lake.

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Hollywood Studios doesn’t actually have a great deal of choice when it comes to sit down places to eat. I find its mostly quick service. Hopefully with the opening of the new lands we’ll get some more eateries 🙂

We ate here on our last trip and it was Pauls favourite so it was one we booked as soon as we were able to.

This place is fab. It’s set up to look like a 1950’s kitchen and the idea is that you’re visiting the family for a meal. Your servers are cousins and you WILL get told off if you leave your greens or put your elbows on the table.

I’ve heard some great stories of experiences here with interaction from people like Uncle Fred but sadly we’ve not had any of those yet, but the food is sooooo good!! Closest we got was Paul getting into a drinking competition with a guy on another table after being told by the server he had to drink all the refills she bought him. 6 Rootbeers in and I think he felt a bit sick!

 

The TVS on your table play old 50’s classics on a loop which adds to the experience of it all, it really does feel like you’re going back in time.

Foodwise everything here is classic American comfort food.  And lots of it.

I went for the meatloaf, which is what I had last time and I loved it. It’s an american classic and it was so tasty. It comes with green beans, carrots and creamed potatoes. Never enough gravy for my liking though.

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Paul went for the stuffed pork chops. I’ve never seen him eat something so quickly. It comes with veg and was stuffed inside with a creamy cheese, apple and herb sauce.

 

Amelia went for a kids meal and she had Goofys Salmon, one of the few meals she actually finished entirely! It came with rice and seasonal veg and she absolutely loved it.

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I love the fact that everything here comes with veg, making it a more healthy option. Portions are big as well and I always feel full after eating here. It’s like the ultimate comfort food!

We obviously had dessert here. I went for the Cheesecake and Paul had Moms Brownie. Amelia went for the sundae but she ate it too quick!!

 

One other thing I always have here is a root beer float. I feel like I’m in Back to the Future when I eat here.

Amelia had a lot of the specialty kids drinks, sadly not usually included in the dining plan. All she remembered here was that she could have a drink that glowed. Mickeys Bee Bop drink it is, it’s only cherry sprite but it came in a souvenir cup with a glowing ice cube, both of which she still uses now we’re home.

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Dining Plan is accepted here and it will take up 1 of your table service credits.

Its moderately priced here with main meals between $17-$25 so its not too bad. We really love it here. It feels really homely, the food is always good (I even asked for the recipe for the meatloaf, I have made it, it didn’t taste as good) and it’s just a different dining experience and somewhere we will no doubt be visiting again!

Food Review – Cinderellas Royal Table

Cinderellas Royal Table is one of the hardest places to get a reservation for at WDW.

Knowing this it was one of the first places I booked when we got to our 180 day booking time and it was the place Amelia was most looking forward to eating in.

What little princess wouldn’t relish the chance to eat with the Princesses INSIDE the castle?

I think it’s location has a lot to do with the fact its so hard to get so we were really excited when we got one and it was somewhere I was very much looking forward to trying out.

For those that don’t know Cinderellas Royal Table is inside the castle in the middle of Magic Kingdom. When it was originally designed it was to be part of Walts quarters and was earmarked to be a conference room. Being told that made the whole place seem even more special.

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You check in at the podium by the entrance to the restaurant which is at the back of castle. There is ample ‘parking’ for pushchairs/wheelchairs.

Once you’ve checked in you’re taken into the lobby area and this is where you meet Cinderella. The whole place is actually beautiful, high ceilings, stained glass windows and it really IS a castle.

There is a photopass photographer here and Cinderella was wonderful. I’ve said before I do struggle with meeting the Princesses I always find it hard to talk to them. I prefer the characters who don’t talk, however Cinderella was brilliant. She was so good with Amelia and she loved it.

You’re then taken upstairs to the dining area. There is a lift for those less mobile among us!

The actual dining area is STUNNING! However it is a LOT smaller than I imagined which explains why it is such a hard place to get a reservation at. We were sat on a table in the middle of the room I would have loved to have a window seat and look out across the park but maybe next time.

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It was quite loud and seemed busy inside, there were no empty tables for long and they do feel quite close together. This isn’t by any means a relaxing meal I don’t think. But that may have been due to where our table was, I think in a window would have felt less busy.

When you sit down each ‘princess’ is given a wand and a ‘wishing star’ and for the boys? A sword, Paul was very happy with his as you can see in the photos below. They’re great keepsakes to have. There was some kind of announcement with what you do with your wishing star but it was loud as I said and we couldn’t really hear what was being said over the general hustle and bustle which was a shame.

Our servers were brilliant which you would expect from a signature restaurant. The princesses all come out to an announcement and a shortened version of their story and work their way around the tables. We met Jasmine, Snow White, Ariel and Aurora.

This is the first of my reviews that hasn’t been a buffet so this time I get to show some proper food pictures and no doubt make myself hungry in the process!

We had 3 courses here. I’ve had a look at the current menu and some of the stuff we had isn’t on it anymore so I think the menu can be seasonal.

For our starters or ‘Appetisers of the Court’, Paul went for the soup which he thinks was french onion and he said it was delicious. I had an asparagus salad which was actually raw asparagus which I wasn’t a fan of. I did like the rest of the salad though and the dressing was so nice.  Amelia had cheese and grapes.

For our entrees (mains as we call them here) both me and Paul went for the beef and Amelia had the chicken from the kids menu.

The beef came with seasonal veg and garlic mash and was so tender. It was lovely. It looks small but it was a perfect sized portion for us.

Amelias chicken however was not good. It was really dry and she really didn’t enjoy it. The server was great though and did offer her something else but she ended up having Pauls and he ate some of the chicken. I would say avoid the chicken if you can.

The best part of the meal was without a doubt the dessert – was there ever any doubt coming from a pudding family.

The desserts we had off the menu was ‘The Clock Strikes Twelve’ a chocolate mousse with choc ganache and it was sooooo good!! I loved how it came out with the chocolate clock face pointing to 12, this is the little Disney touches that I love. Amelia went for the build your own cupcake dessert from the kids menu, complete with mickey shaped sprinkles and a little carriage in cocoa.

We also ordered the Cinderella Slipper dessert. This isn’t on the regular menu. It costs an extra $15 and isn’t included in the dining plan. You have to book this no less than 48 hours before your reservation via email wdw.crt.special.events@disney.com. I would recommend doing this as soon as you have confirmed your reservation.

This was the highlight of the meal for Amelia and it was really tasty, I’m not normally a fan of American chocolate but the shoe was really nice, the mousse cake is the same as what you have with the other dessert we had.

This is not a cheap meal, it’s a premium restaurant and you obviously pay more for the location.  Had we not been on the plan this would have cost us over $200!! For 3 people!!

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This is included in the Disney Dining Plan and it takes up 2 of your table service credits.

Although I did really enjoy this and I’m glad I did it, its one off the bucket list, I’m not sure as I would have had we not been on the Dining Plan.

I wouldn’t say I’d rush to eat dinner here again, I’m curious to try the breakfast, getting an early reservation before park opening and a window seat looking over a deserted Magic Kingdom would be idyllic.

Its definitely a must if you have little princesses but for me once was enough 🙂

Food Review – Ohana

If you’ve been following my blog then you’ll know that most of the dining we did on this honeymoon trip was character dining. There are a few exceptions but for the most part it is all characters! That is why we had the dining plan after all!

Ohana is one of those places that people rave about and sometimes the trouble with that is that they talk it up so much that you can’t help but be a bit disappointed when you experience it.

Ohana has a lot to live up to.

Again we booked for breakfast as this is the only time it is a character dine and its the best friends breakfast with Lilo and Stitch. I LOVE Stitch, I have such fond memories of a past trip not long after the movie came out when I visited with a friend. We were the oldest most excited people in the queue to meet him and it was one of the best interactions I’ve ever had. He rummaged through our bags, kept stealing our cameras and at one point took our passports and ran off with them. So yeah, I have a bit of a soft spot for Stitch. Plus I’d never met Lilo and the idea of that is just too much!

One of this big draws of this for me was it being in the Polynesian. I literally will never in my life be able to afford to stay there so it was a good excuse to go and have a nosy at it. Plus it is right near Magic Kingdom.

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Don’t forget as well if you do book a breakfast at a hotel you can leave your car there for the day as well rather than use the park parking. I don’t recall if there was a charge (we had free parking as we were staying on site anyway) but for the disabled drivers among you we had free valet parking as there didn’t seem to be any dedicated disabled parking at the hotel.

The Poly is stunning! It’s all Hawaiian themed with lots of colourful flowers all over like you’re walking into a luau.  The entrance lobby was breathtaking. All high ceilings and just very very luxurious.  Maybe one day Disney will be kind enough to upgrade me and let me stay there!

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Ohana is up on the second floor I think it was of the hotel and unlike Tusker where all the characters come to you at your table you actually get to meet Stitch before you go in and there is a photopass photographer there as well which is awesome.

We got to spend quite a while with Stitch, we had an early reservation and there wasn’t anyone else behind us so that was great.

Ohana is all you can eat but it isn’t a buffet. Food here is served ‘family style’ so it comes all together in a big skillet and you help yourself. But before you get that you have some of the famous pineapple breakfast bread and fruit on the table. This was so tasty, I would have been happy to just have a tonne of that to be honest! I must find a recipe!

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We had scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, sausages, biscuits (my fave), bacon and waffles.  As I said it all comes out together but they are really accommodating if you have allergies. I have an egg allergy so they bought ours out with the eggs separate for me which was great. All the places in Disney are fabulous with any allergy as I’ve said before.

The food was good, not amazing (except the pineapple bread). I wasn’t keen on the sausages but then sausages that aren’t patties in America do tend to be a bit rank. The biscuits were a little dry but the bacon was tasty and apparently the eggs were good.

We got through 2 plates of food and they would have bought us more if we’d asked!! The best bit though was the waffles, Disney is known for the Mickey waffles but here you get Stitch ones, I was most excited by these!!

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Character interaction here was fab, we met Lilo (so exciting), Pluto and Mickey here.

Amelia was also given maracas (which she’d been eyeing up as soon as we walked in and she saw them on the side) and the kids all got taken up to do a little parade around the restaurant with the characters. I love the little touches like that, just another thing that adds to the magic! Plus the kids really enjoy it.

We were lucky that it was quiet when we arrived as it meant we had a window table. The Poly is on Seven Seas Lagoon so it’s a stones throw from Magic Kingdom. We had a perfect view of the park from our seat and when the fog cleared we could see the castle, I may have got a little emotional!

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We did this on the morning of our first trip this visit to Magic Kingdom so sitting there looking at the castle and eating breakfast really did make it a magical start to the day so for that I would recommend it 🙂

Price wise this is the same as the other Breakfast Buffets $35 per adult and $15 for a child plus tips.

This is worth 1 of your table service credits if you’re on the dining plan.

 

Food Review – Tusker House

 

Being a bit of a fan of Donald Duck this was one of the first meals I booked for our trip. I’d heard a lot of great things about it so this is definitely one of the places I was most looking forward to eating in.

Tusker House is a character buffet and you can find it in Animal Kingdom. It’s in Africa and isn’t far from the Kilimanjaro Safari. It’s actually a great location and doesn’t take too long to walk to from the entrance.

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For those of you who haven’t done a character dine before it doesn’t mean that the characters eat with you. You’re seated and all the characters will come to your table. They work on rotation so don’t worry if you see one leaving as you sit down they take regular breaks and cast members will make sure you see all of them 🙂

We chose to do this for breakfast and it was the first place we ate in on our trip.

My top tip for getting Breakfast reservations is to try and get the earliest one you can. The earlier the better. If you have one you’ll be able to get into the park early, even if it’s not officially open.  We couldn’t get a really early one for this sadly so it was about 9:30am.

When you get into Africa look for the signs that say Tusker House Check in. The CM there will take your information and then there is a small waiting area to sit in while you wait for your server to come and get you.

There is plenty of space for wheelchairs and ample ‘parking’ for ECVs and strollers outside the restaurant if you can transfer.

 

Visually it is a beautiful space, it makes you feel like you’re outside and its very large and light and airy.

Our server was wonderful and the restaurant itself was pretty quiet.

Tusker House being in Africa does have a bit of an African inspired menu. I didn’t see a great deal of that over breakfast (although there was some kind of curry there, beef bobitie I think it was called) so if you’re worried about there not being anything you’d eat or put off by that type of food , don’t worry all the regular breakfast items you’d expect from a buffet are here.

Next trip we plan on doing lunch or dinner here so we can experience some different types of cuisine.

The signature drink here was Jungle Juice and that was lovely, like a tropical fruit juice and was in plentiful supply.  I could have drunk that all day.

One thing I’d heard a lot about here is the Banana Bread and that was so nice, I had seconds and thirds of that I seem to remember. All the regular other things were here biscuits, bacon, and the all important Mickey Waffles.

It is all you can eat so you’re not rushed at all and can go up to the ample buffet as many times as you like.

And now the reason we booked this in the first place! The Characters. Donald is your host for this so you meet him – in his cute safari outfit as well as Mickey, Daisy and Goofy.

Interactions weren’t the best ones I’ve experienced at Disney but it was awesome. I like doing stuff like this and meeting the characters in their different outfits 🙂

The restaurants don’t have photopass photographers in them so you do have to take your own so there’s not as many here as I would have liked – I was too busy eating!

All in all I really enjoyed Tusker House, it was a great start to the holiday. Food and service were good as well.  As I said there isn’t anything too adventurous on the breakfast menu so if you have fussy ones and want to eat here I would recommend doing it for breakfast.  Looking at the menu for other times might be a bit of a challenge.

Price wise it’s the same as most of the character buffets in the parks it’s about $35 for an adult and $15 for a child. Plus the tip.

This is included in the dining plan and will use up 1 of your table service credits.

Disney Dining Plan – What’s it all about?

Before I go into details about this dining plan business I will mention – in case you’d not noticed in previous blogs or don’t follow me on Twitter – I LOVE food. Literally cannot get enough especially when I’m in Orlando. My whole trips tend to be planned around where we, well I say we, me mostly, want to eat and when I can get reservations for.  So having the dining plan and the ability to eat wherever I wanted on site without having to worry about the cost was just, to quote Rapunzel, ‘The best thing ever…’

What is the dining plan?

For those that don’t know. The Disney Dining plan is something that is exclusive to guests staying in the Disney hotels who book a Hotel and park ticket package and that can be direct with Disney or through any of the agents who sell it.  You cannot purchase this unless you have the room and the tickets booked together.

There are 3 levels of Dining Plan, the quick service, the Dining Plan and the Deluxe Dining plan.

It is calculated on the number of NIGHTS you have in a hotel not the number of days so do be aware if you have a 13 night stay but 14 days in resort then you only have the amount of credits for 13 nights.  Although they don’t expire until midnight on your last day.

The Quick Service plan gives you 2 quick service (or counter service, basically anywhere where you aren’t waited on) meals per night plus 1 drink (which can now be alcohol) with the meal, 2 snacks per night and a resort refillable mug for the entirety of your stay.

The Disney Dining plan is 1 quick service and 1 table service (each with a drink as above) plus the snacks and mug.

The Deluxe Plan gives you 3 meals (which can be counter or table service) and a drink, the snacks and the mug.

These show up as ‘credits’ on your account – something you can now see on My Disney Experience – it wasn’t available when we went.

You don’t have to use these per day, you are free to use these as and when you like during your trip. But once you’ve used them that’s it.

So for example for us for the duration of our trip we had 14 table service credits each, 14 quick service and 28 snack ones. We were spending a few days off site so on those days obviously we weren’t eating in Disney. That made it easy for us to have a few days when we had 2 sit down meals or to go to a restaurant that uses up 2 of your credits instead of one.

The great thing about the dining plan is that you can use your table service credits for character dining which is why I wanted it.

Resort Refillable Mugs

The mugs you get are great keepsakes but you can only use these in your resort and other Disney hotels/resorts, these cannot be used in the parks. It’s not just soft drinks although there is so much choice with the coca cola freestyle machines. There is also hot drinks (the Hot Chocolate was lovely) as well as tea and coffee and many other bits. Not alcohol though. Every time you use the freestyle machine it will tell you when the mug will expire.

You get the mugs either in the restaurants or shops in your resort. There are several different colours to choose from but the images on them are the same.

We did go to use it on our last day and it wouldn’t work but the cast members fixed it for us.

Where can you use it?

I’ve already gone into detail about HOW to book the dining in my Step by Step Disney Dining Booking 

But how do you know which ones you can use your dining plan for?

My Disney Experience is great for that it will actually tell you when you look at a restaurant if you can use the plan.  You can see below it states under the prices ‘Some Dining Plans Accepted’

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If you’re looking at a place that does accept he plans it will also tell you how many credits from your plan a meal will take. If you click on where it says they’re accepted it opens a window to tell you.

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You can also choose to only look at the places it’s accepted on the search bar.

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There is a LOT of choice.

This is what I love about it. Being as your meals are essentially already paid for (minus tips which I will go into in a bit) and you have all this choice it does in effect force you to eat in some of the nicer restaurants. Although these are places you might not have chosen had you been actually paying for a meal, I felt it forced me to eat ‘properly’ rather than just snack and have the usual ‘easy’ meal of something with chips. It encouraged me to be a bit more adventurous.

I liked the fact that we knew we could eat properly and it not make a dent in the money we’d taken to spend. It does take the stress out of it. And it did mean I could do all the character dining I’d wanted to do 🙂 For that alone the Dining Plan is worth it!

I’ve got the Quick Service plan is it all fast food?

The fact that ‘quick service’ means fast food or burgers and chips and nothing else is a common misconception at Disney. ‘Quick’ does not mean rubbish. Especially not here. Disney has such a wide range of food and although obviously there are places you can get your burgers and Hot Dogs (Caseys Corner in Magic Kingdom does great hot dogs) there is so much more to it.

Take Sunshine Seasons in Epcot for example. This is a ‘quick service’ and look at the choice you have!

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Epcot in particular is great for quick service as each of the countries in the World Showcase has somewhere you can eat so you will find the largest variety there.

This is also a great place to use your snack credits.

This was a quick service from Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom

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These are flatbreads with beans and they were delicious and HUGE! So get the idea of it all being ‘rubbish’ out of your heads! Its not true. Disney caters for everyone and there is also a great choice for anyone with specific diets be it due to an allergy or just lifestyle choice. Vegan and Veggies are definitely catered for here.

What can I use snack credits for?

The snack credits are great although I challenge you to actually use them all!! We used most of ours on Pretzels and Mickey shaped treats! With the ones we had left at the end of our trip going on bags of sweets from Goofys Candy Co and Rice Crispie treats for friends at home.

Most cakes/muffins, ice creams, popcorn and drinks (as long as they’re not in their souvenir tubs/cups) are included. You can even use them in Starbucks for a much needed shot of caffeine when you’ve been up since 6 for extra magic hours!

The famous Dole Whip is included as is the Night Blossom drink in Pandora.

All the items below were snack credit items!

 

How do I know where I can use it?

Obviously looking on your My Disney app will show you where you can use your plan. But it is easy to see going round the park as everywhere you can use it you will see this sign. If you look at the menu from the snack cart during the Food and Wine festival, each one of the things you can have has this logo next to it.

Do I have to tip?

Anyone who’s been to Orlando before or done a little bit of research will know that it’s customary to tip your servers.

With the exception of a few (Cinderellas Royal Table being one of them I seem to remember) tips are NOT included with the dining plan so you do need to tip your server. 18-20% of the bill is what is recommended.

If you are a party of 6 or more this will automatically be added so bear that in mind when you’re using the plan so you’re not surprised to be given some sort of bill at the end of your meal.

When you make your reservation for your meal your confirmation will tell you if its included or not.

You do need to budget for it but it still works out a LOT less than what you would be paying if you didn’t have the plan.

Using the plan for Food Festivals

Something I struggled to find out about before I went was how these credits can be used during the food festivals at Epcot. (Flower and Garden, Food and Wine, Festival of the Arts)

I’d had conflicting answers on everything that I asked so having used it I can now safely say that having the dining plan during any of these makes it even more worthwhile!!

We were there for Food and Wine (which as you can imagine I LOVED) and being as we mostly had table service meals we had so many snack credits and quick service credits that we weren’t really planning on using so much. This was amazing for the days we visited Epcot.

All the items you can see with the dining plan logo next to it are items you can use 1 snack credit for.

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They aren’t the smallest of items either, this is America after all. We had both of the items on the chocolate menu (we’re a pudding family).

This was the torte…

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If, like us, you have quick service credits to use up you can also use these at the booths. This worked perfectly for us as 1 quick service credit transfers to 3 snack ones. With 3 in our party this was brilliant. We could all pick one thing from each of the menus and use one of our quick service credits to pay for it. We all then got to try so much. My only regret is booking table service meals at Epcot while this was on. In hindsight I shouldn’t have done this, there is so much you can eat during the festival you don’t need to have a meal that day!

These are just some of the things we tried.

Is it worth it?

This is the million dollar question and it’s impossible to answer for everybody.  For us yes, this was absolutely worth it and although we did book our trip when the plan was free we did pay to upgrade it and I don’t think I’ll visit Disney ever again without it.

I loved having the ability like I said to eat wherever and not have to worry about the cost, to try places I might not have gone to if I was paying out of pocket and also knowing it was paid for already I was a bit more adventurous with what I ate and tried a lot of new things. I didn’t eat one thing I didn’t love during this trip.

The beauty of this is that there is a plan for everybody. Not massive eaters? Go for the quick service, there’s still plenty of choice for you and you have all your snacks if you do feel a bit peckish.

Want to do the character dining and make sure you have a proper sit down meal and like being waited on? Go for the dining plan.

Want to eat in some of the signature restaurants and the dinner shows like Hoop De Do? Then go for the deluxe! (You can do these on the normal dining plan too but they do take up 2 of your table service credits)

Have a look at the menus on the My Disney, all the prices are listed there for you. That will really show you how much money having a plan will save you. Although I do warn you it will make you hungry and you will want to eat everywhere.

All the food places I mentioned in my daily blogs at Disney were covered by the plan and I’ll be doing full reviews of each of them as well so you’ll know a bit more about each of them.

Personally for me I would recommend it. Especially if you’re at the parks during any of the festivals at Epcot and if you’re booking at a time when it’s offered free take it! It adds to the magic of your trip, eating at Disney is an amazing experience.

Last Day :( – Last visit to Epcot and lunch at Garden Grill

I’ve been dreading this day. I always find the first week of my holiday goes at a steady speed as soon as you get halfway the days just fly by 😦 There is still so much we want to see and do and I’m sad we don’t have time to do it this trip. There will be another one but that’s not the point!

We checked out and left our luggage with concierge so we had room for the ECV in the car and also got them to print out what we still had left on our Dining Plan. (Going to Epcot we knew we’d use snack credits…)

Epcot is my favourite park so it’s kind of fitting that this is where we spend our last day.

I was determined to do Journey into your Imagination. Paul hadn’t done it and I knew he’d find the song irritating so it had to be done. I do love this. Amelia liked the interactive bit when you come out but sadly we didn’t have a lot of time to take it all in.

We did a little bit of eating, knowing we had a late(ish) lunch booked and we found the chocolate stand that we’d looked for on the last visit. We loved everything. There was an amazing item which was hot inside but frozen with dry ice, when you smash it it’s all gooey inside. I have that on video. But the rest of it was amazing.  We are a pudding family!

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Food and wine is amazing! I know I’ve already said that but I loved it. It’s a shame we missed the live music stuff because of Irma but it’s a foodies dream. I think we’ll book for the same time of year for subsequent trips. When the dining plan is free it’s so worth booking at this time, you can really utilise it. Even if you’re paying for it, I think it’ll be worth more when this is on. (I’m going to do a new blog on the Dining now that I’ve used it)

We didn’t do many rides today because of time, Nemo was closed 😦 But we did go on Spaceship Earth again and Frozen cos we loved that.  And we tried on a lot of hats…

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Lunch was at Garden Grill with Chip and Dale. I’d read some really good things about this so was looking forward to it. Problem was we weren’t that hungry 😦 I need to make sure I ONLY book breakfasts in Epcot in future..

Garden Grill is in the Lands Pavillion and it rotates, very slowly though so you won’t feel sick, so whilst you’re eating you can see parts of the ‘Living with the Land’ Exhibit which is cool. Chip and Dale are your hosts for this so you meet them, Mickey and Pluto. I thought they would all be in Farmer costumes but it was just Mickey.

 

Food here is served ‘family style’ which I’m still not a fan of but it was tasty and as much of it as possible is actually grown at Epcot which is pretty cool. The characters were great here we really enjoyed it.  I was just excited that the plates were set out in a hidden mickey when we sat down… simple things..

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We decided to head off after our food so we could use the last of our snack credits in the hotel shop and make our way to the airport. I’m actually not going to put the last pictures we took of the day up, I do NOT look happy in them. I really didn’t want to go home 😦

We had such a good time on this trip. Disney is great for a Honeymoon, I love it anyway but it makes it even more magical when you’re celebrating something.

I’ll be doing full blogs on all the character dines (and normal places) we ate on this trip, about the resorts we stayed in and of course the dining plan.  I have a tonne of video footage to edit together as well to give you some visuals on all of those things as well as hiring an ECV and what it’s like getting about in one – including how well they fit in the back of a car.

Writing these do keep the trip ‘alive’ a bit longer but they also make me want to book again. And for the first time in a while I don’t actually have a trip booked. But for now, that’s the end of this trip for us 😦 So off we head to get on the plane and head home to the dogs!

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Day 13 – Animal Kingdom and being Married by Rafiki

We had a pretty short day in the parks today being as we go home tomorrow night and we needed to pack 😦  So this will no doubt be quite a short blog 😦

But we headed off to Animal Kingdom and it was so busy! I think the remnants of Irma had gone and flights had started coming back in so the crowds were picking up again.

Pandora this morning was insanely busy and even getting into it was near on impossible so we gave it a miss for now and decided to do all the other stuff first.

The rest of the park was pretty quiet compared to Pandora, it did seem like a lot of people were coming in to do that and not really visiting the rest of the park.

We got a return time for Kilimanjaro Safaris which we love and went off to use our fastpass for Everest. Our favourite ride here I think 🙂 Amelia always insists that she sits on her own!! I love this picture of us on Everest, she’s loving it me and Paul look as if we’re in class about to answer a question or something!!

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As it was quiet we went on this 3 times in a row! Everest is such a fun ride and you get such a great view of the park when you’re going up the mountain, especially at night. If you look the other way I’ve seen you can see Epcot I think it is but I always forget to look!

We tried to get on Kali River Rapids but it was closed still after Irma so we didn’t get to do that. There was a massive tree down in Animal Kingdom due to the hurricane. Pretty much the only significant damage I had seen through the parks so far.

The safari was great, it’s one of the best things about Animal Kingdom, I love Hippos so that’s my favourite bit and seeing the Elephants at the water hole is always fun to see 🙂 We didn’t get the time sadly to do the night safari so that’s something for the next trip.

We had lunch today in the Harambe Market, we were in the parks early so it was an early lunch. Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a large amount of choice for table service places to eat and a lot of the quick service looks a bit spicy and not really something we like to eat. So we struggle here. However Harambe Market was lovely. There are a few different windows serving the different dishes and we went for the Beef and Lamb Gyro flatbreads cos the looked the most plain thing there.

It was really really nice. I’d definitely eat there again.

I love the African part of Animal Kingdom the most. There’s a lovely atmosphere here and the street entertainers are great. Particularly the dancers who always get Amelia up with them, they did some kind of song and dance for me and Paul which is a wedding celebration. I got it all on camera so it will be up in a future vlog.

The best show at Animal Kingdom is by far Festival of The Lion King so we had to make sure we saw it before we had to go home.

I love this show. It’s ‘in the round’ so you can see wherever you sit (kind of a theme with the Disney shows all the theatres are like that). It’s not the story of the film but it has a lot of the songs in it and some of the characters. Again little miss has been picked on for this each time we’ve seen it and this time she was even more happy as she was the one who was chosen to interact with Timon today. (Again all on video). It’s a great show, the tumble monkeys are the highlight of it for me 🙂  You do not need to use one of your fastpasses for this unless you want to sit right at the front. It’s a big theatre you’ll get in 🙂

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Cautious of time we decided to head to Pandora to use the return time we had for Flight of Passage, we’ve talked about this ride the whole trip so we had to do it again. We also had a look at the Banshee rookery which seems to be the ‘big’ merchandise item for Pandora. They look pretty cool and the fact they move and make noise is fab but the harness on your shoulder doesn’t really stay straight and they are really expensive for what they are. I can honestly say I didn’t see many people with them. Amelia decided against getting one in the end, she’d saved enough money to get one, and got herself a little plush one instead that she loves and was much much cheaper!

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I wasn’t overly impressed with the merchandise there if I’m honest but I’m not the biggest fan of the movies.

I did have another Night Blossom though and we got some lovely shots in Pandora with the Photopass.

I hate saying goodbye to Disney and just as I was feeling sad coming out of Animal Kingdom I spotted characters. We missed Meeko but we did meet Rafiki and this was quite possibly my most memorable character meet and one of the highlights of the whole honeymoon.

Rafiki saw our ears and insisted on making us stand in front of him while he conducted a whole wedding ceremony – I’m so upset I didn’t get this on video – it was so fun and something that we weren’t expecting. Amelia loved it being made to stand and hold some imaginary flowers. He was such a great character and it made us laugh!!

We had such a great day at Animal Kingdom and it was the perfect way to end the day.

Sadly now it’s packing time ready for our flight home tomorrow but we are spending as much time in Epcot as we can first and we do have a character lunch booked too 🙂

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….