Monday, January 30, 2012

A Pirate's Life For Me

One of my favorite Disney rides has always been The Pirates of the Caribbean. I love the pirates, the music and the visual effects. The fact that Walt Disney had a hand in the development of the ride is also part of the fascination that I have with the ride. The details in the audio-animatronics including the hair on the pirate’s leg that had to be placed there by hand is an indicator of the respect that Walt Disney had for his audience.

Although there are many similarities between the ride in Florida and California, the ride in California is definitely better in my mind. When in California, the ride begins in the Louisiana Bayou. The passengers of the ride are still in a boat that seats fifteen or twenty people. Once you pass the flickering fireflies and the sound of someone strumming a banjo, you move toward and archway that provides the occupants of the small boat a warning of what is to come.

Many of the images after the second plunge are reminiscent of the ride in Florida. The pirates are attacking a small seaside village and creating havoc for the townspeople. The ride continues through the village which is now on fire. The town’s jail where pirates are seen trying to negotiate with a dog who holds the keys to the cell and then the treasure room which now features Jack Sparrow. In California, the ride travels back up the hill which returns the boat to ground level and past the parrot that visitors can see from the line’s queue.

Although the fact that there is an additional drop in California adds to the ride, it is the fact that the ride features one of my favorite restaurants that makes it worth sharing. The Pirates ride in California is in the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. The restaurant is called Blue Bayou and provides the diner with the feeling of being on a back porch in an old southern plantation. The fireflies can still be seen in the area of the ride that takes place in the bayou. Whether there for lunch or dinner, I have never had a bad meal at the Blue Bayou. My favorites in the past have included the Monte Christo sandwich or the prime rib and a mint julep. If you ever get the chance to visit, please be sure to make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) as it is popular among visitors and locals alike.

Ahoy Mateys....

Enter the world of Jack Sparrow, you begin this adventure in an underground cavern, its dark, its musky, the perfect place for Scallywags to hang about. You twist and turn through the queue, you finally see your boat, it seats about 30 people, You board your boat , and off you go, you round a corner, and you look, you really think your are about to get soaked, the magicians at Disney made a way to make mist look like a real runnning waterfall, and who's face appears in this waterfall?No other than Blackbeard(normally its Davey Jones), as you laugh your butt off at everyone covering there heads thinking they are about to get soaked, you go through, on the sides you see the unfortunate souls that have tried to get that most important Pirate booty! be careful of the little crabs, the move.
 Now you come onto seeing Barbossa's ginourmous Pirate ship. Gun fire, that sounds like bullets whizzing by, cannons being shot, you will swear they are aiming right at you, but luckily they miss your boat.

 You travel on, pass a few bridges, Don't forget to watch for Jack Sparrow himself(well animatronic of him anyway) He is seen in 3 different areas, you see lots of pillaging pirates, wenches, and some funny people who have had just a little too much rum.

 The ride is a fun, a bit dark, the best part, well my favorite is one of the last scenes where the dog is holding the keys, and the jailers are trying there best to get the dog to open the door.

 The last scene is Jack sitting in a chair, sourounded by the most jewels, and booty you have ever seen.

 This ride is for everyone, any age can enjoy, small kids may be frightened by the dark ,and noises.  There is one small dip during the ride, nothing like Splash mountain, as some people think, Yes, I have actually heard some people would not go on the ride because they think that.

 So grab yer Mateys, and have a fun Pillaging time!!!! Arghhh!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Around Cresent Lake (or a trip to the Epcot Resorts)

An easy alternative to spending time in the parks or your own resort is to explore the Epcot resorts. This includes the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club and the Swan and the Dolphin. It is possible to walk from resort to resort or even rent a bicycle designed to carry multiple people to wind around Crescent Lake.

One of the best means to explore these hotels is to walk through the International Gateway that sits between Great Britain and France in Epcot. A visitor can also take a boat from the Disney Hollywood Studios and dock at any of these resorts or at Epcot.

If you take the time to explore these unique resorts you will discover a wonder to the senses. The Yacht and Beach Club Resorts feature one of the best pools on the property. Although you need to stay at those resorts to swim in the pool, it is fun to see the pirate ship peeking over the sandy beaches. Beaches and Cream has a great sandwich and ice cream shop worth checking out for a quick snack. The Yachtsman Steakhouse is reputed to be one of the best restaurants on property. Cape May Café is a great spot to enjoy seafood and other traditionally American fare.

Designed by the architect Michael Graves, the Swan and the Dolphin Resorts offer a visitor a number of different restaurants and lounges. Within walking distance is the Fantasia miniature golf course or the Disney Hollywood Studios Park.

The final hotel in this group is the Boardwalk Inn and Villas. This resort offers fun both day and night. Along the Boardwalk there are games and entertainment, funnel cakes and ice cream and fine dining opportunities and a sweet shop. At night you can find magicians, a piano bar and dance hall. Inside the lobby there are both a model carousel and roller coaster. A visitor can sit on the back deck and rock while people watching.

This area provides a great variety of things to see and do. The senses may be overloaded but the experience is well worth the visit to these five hotels.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Foodie Friday: Le Chefs de France

Le Chefs de France is located in the France area of the World Showcase at Epcot. We were all a little apprehensive about it because none of us had ever tried French food before. We were pleasantly surprised! The atmosphere was fancy French dining but casual enough for park attire. We had a lunch time reservation and seated at a table near the center of the left side. We were near a window and could see the streets of France. We saw Belle and the Beast come out to had to their greeting spots. Our waiter took our drink orders and brought us French bread and butter.
Zachary decided to try a Prix Fixe, a 3 course meal. His appetizer was Lobster Bisque, he said it was okay, but a little fishy tasting. Paul ate most of it! He also had a French ham and cheese sandwich that he described as the best he had ever eaten.
I had the Demi Poulet Fermier roti Pommes ris soles et broccoli- basically a half of a roasted chicken with rissole potatoes and broccoli. Man, this was delicious. I even ate the broccoli and I don't like broccoli! The chicken was fall off the bone tender and the potatoes were perfectly seasoned. I would definitely order this dish again.
Erin had the child's cheeseburger and fries. Clay also had a burger. It's called the Steak Hache' Angus, champignons et Bearnaise ou frites, or a 1/2 lb Angus burger with confit onions, mushroom duxelle, tomatoes and Bearnaiseon and fries. The fries come in a cute little newspaper cone. Clay is our big burger lover and this one is at the top of his list of burgers to try again.
Paul had the Plat de Cafe de boeuf au cabernet aree pates, simply, beef short ribs braised in cabernet with pasta, pearl onions and mushrooms. He said that this was one for the best dishes he had ever had at a Disney table service restaurant. He couldn't believe how good it was and he cleaned his plate!
In between our entree's and dessert we were surprised with a visit from sweet Remy! He comes out on a wheeled cart being pushed by a waiter. Remy himself does not speak but responds with motions as the waiter jokes and interacts with diners. Kids and adults alike loved watching him move around from table to table. Cutest rat I have ever seen!
Now, on to dessert. Zachary's choice to go with his 3 course meal was the Creme Brulee. None of us had ever had it and were excited to try it, however, we didn't care alot for it. Paul had Crepe a la pomme et cannelle, glace vanille, caramel jus de pimies- crepes filled with cinnamon, apple, vanilla ice cream and covered in a apple caramel sauce. I did not like it, but Paul and Erin did.
Erin had kiwi sorbet with a candle in it for her birthday. Clay and I had profiteroles au chocolate. These were puff choux with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. We loved them! They were great little flaky puff pastries with vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate sauce. AMAZING! The service at Le Chefs de France was fast and fun. The waiter was vary attentative to all of our needs and we hope to visit again on our next trip!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Expedition Everest

There it is...buried all the way back in Asia, you can see the snow topped mountain as you are pulling up to Animal Kingdom, you are a little scared after hearing of that dreaded Yeti, and what he has done to the start to head all the way to the back of the park, where the Yeti is waiting, up high in the mountains, you prepare for your journey in the queue line, seeing artifacts, pictures of long long members of the last journey to find the yeti, you even see what was left of the backpackers tent, and everything that was left behind. You even get a glimpse of the last photo taken on the one persons camera, as you await for your turn , you see masks, many pictures, and even learn a few things along the way. You get to your train, your heart is pounding, this is it, no turning back now, You put your bar down in front of you, and you are off. 

 You begin going around a circle of sorts, then you are off, up to the top of this huge mountain, the views are awesome, be sure and have your camera in your hand to take a pic of the spectacular view on your way up the mountain, (then put your camera away, and hold on!) You go all the way to the top of this mountain(200ft) in search of this beast, when you get to the top, you notice something that is not good, where are the tracks???? Seems the Yeti has been here!! Well, with no where for your train to go, there is only one way out, yes, its backwards...

 You fly backwards down the mountain, you come to a stop, look up, and you are greeted by a shadow on the wall of the Yeti ripping apart the track, yea, def time to get outta here, the new track opens, and now you are going forward again(what a relief)! You are really flying now, just when you think you have gotten away from the Yeti, there he is all 20 ft of him, he is standing right there, tries grabbing you, and you plunge down the 50 ft drop.

 You pull up to the trader's station, and you are happy to be alive. We love going on this ride as soon as the park is open, the best thing is when it is nice and cool in the morning , that cold wind blowing on your face, its so nice. The train are nice in size, they fit 2 to a row, and even Pooh size people can fit. This ride is really fun, thrilling, and is great for the 44'' plus crowd. 

 You come out into the gift shop, where you are greeted by some of the neatest  T-shirts, and the cutest little Yeti plush you have ever seen.

Nemo Peel and Stick Giveaway

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Disneyland's it's a small world

One might consider me to be a Disney purist. I am the person who would be happy if they opened a park that featured the retired rides so that I can share them with my kids. This park would include Dreamflight and If You Had Wings and yes even Mission to Mars. I would have this Tomorrowland section hosted by Mr. Tom Morrow.
This fear of change might be one reason that the renovation to it’s a small world at the Disneyland Park in California made me anxious. I have always been wowed by the outside of this ride. The train goes right in front of the ride. There are incredible topiaries of animals and the clock is amazing. There is even the obligatory gift shop to the left of the ride featuring items associated with the ride.
In California, the guests board the ride outside of the building. Upon making the turn inside there is a sensory overload. The music is playing and there are moving figures on either side of the ride and even on the ceiling.
About three years ago, the Disney Imagineers recreated this ride to feature characters from animated classics. In the scene that features Great Britain you can find Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. Pinocchio is in Italy. Aladdin and Jasmine soar above the section with the Middle Eastern characters. Hawaii features Lilo and Stich surfing and the section focused on the United States features Woody atop Bullseye. There are a total of 29 Disney characters integrated into the ride.
I was worried that the connection between the tradition of the ride and the addition of the animated characters would be flawed. The characters appear as if they have always been there. It was as if the ride was designed with the forethought that this change would be made at some point in the future. There are some characters that are more obvious than others and it can take a couple of times through the ride to fully view all of the additions.
There have been other attempts to integrate existing Disney rides and movies. Some have been more successful than others. The Disneyland version of the ride now serves as a link between the Disney tradition and the future.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Foodie Friday: Mama Melroses' Ristorante Italiano

With only 5 table service dining options at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Italian being my favorite cuisine, of course I chose Mama Melroses' Ristorante Italiano for my dining option there! This restaurant is located near the Streets of America. We arrived at reservation time and had to sit on benches for 15 minutes before being seated. You can see the kitchen, which was very busy, as you are being seated. The wood fired brick ovens were really neat to see. The ambience is like that of many Walt Disney World restaurants. It is casual and somewhat loud with dim lighting. It is also very themed. The walls have photos of the many stars that have dined at Mama's. We were seated and give menus but it was quite a while before the waiter returned to get our drink orders. We were fine because we weren't in a hurry to get anywhere, but others may be perturbed. We were served hard bread with olive oil and herb dipping sauce to hold us over util we got our meal. It was pretty good. We were at Mama's for dinner. It appeared the lunch and dinner menu were the same. Erin ordered from the child's menu. The kids pick includes an appetizer, entree and dessert. She chose a garden salad, spaghetti and an ice cream sundae. She is a salad eater and said it was great. All the guys had the charred strip steak over Italian roasted potatoes with caramelized onions, aged Balsamic shallot butter and Chiato wine reduction. They each ordered their steaks medium well.
I would have called what they got more of a medium rare. There were portions of it that they couldn't even eat. I had the Carne d Italia flat bread. Basically, this is a flat bread pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, picatta and spicy marinara. This thing was delicious. Not your regular old pizza. I don't eat sausage, so I shared that with Zachary.
Now, on to dessert! Erin had her ice cream sundae with a birthday surprise candle. Paul had the Mama's Panna Cotta which is Tiramisu flavored custard with lady fingers in a cappuccino sauce.
Way too much coffee flavor for me but Paul loved it. Clay chose the chocolate Amarettini cheesecake. It is a chocolate cheese cake with cookie crust, almond cream and Italia Amarettini cookies- another one, not for me.
Zachary had the no sugar added Mascarpone pound cake with limoncello macerated berries and fresh whipped cream. This was my favorite of all the desserts we had here.
I chose the Chocolate Cannoli cake. It was basically a chocolate cake with cannoli filling and topped with a Nutella Ganache with red wine sauce. Now, I love chococlate and this dessert was ok, but I passed it around the table and ate Zachary's pound cake!
All in all we had a decent experience. Other than the slow waiter, delayed seating and under cooked steak, it was fine. It is not a restaurant I would add to my must do list. Mama's does accept the dining plan as a casual dining experience. They do, however, offer a Fantasmic! dining package. This gets you your meal and gives diners priority seating at the Fantasmic! show.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello...Who's Who Wednesday- Contributor Dawn

Well Hiya! 
 My name is Dawn, I am a 35 year old and a total Disney Freak! I have been married to my best friend for 13 years, we have 4 of the the greatest children you could ask for. 
 Aside from being a Stay at home mom, I have my own business on ebay, where I enjoy making jewelry, and providing with my husband for my children, and our many Disney trips. 
 Ever since I was little, I loved all things Disney! I could not wait to go on vacations as a child with my parents, they took my sister and I all over the United states, and even Canada, as silly as it sounds, my favorite place to go was my grandparents house in Florida, my sister and I knew that included a family trip to Disney world!
 In 1997 for health reasons we packed up our house, and made the big move to Florida, the doctor advised Florida, or Arizona, to me Florida was much nicer, and closer to Disney! It is so much fun only being an hour and a half from my second home.
 As a family we have decided to purchase season passes, since we go so much, why not?? My favorite thing in life is all about Making Memories for my children, and what better place to make that happen then Disney? My day starts with going to Magic Kingdom, as we round that corner(now I have rounded that corner over 100 times) , I see the castle, and the tears begin to fall, my kids look,and say, well our day can begin now, mom is crying. There is just something that overtakes you once you step foot on Main Street, you loose all the memories of what is going on at home, and you are a child once again, you take a few steps, you begin by smelling the candy shop, you are welcomed by the band or a mini show going on, you look up and see the balloon handlers with 100 shiny ,sparkling balloons, you walk a little further ,and the smell of the Bakery fills your nostrils, then comes the smell of waffle cones, your senses all go wild, you are about 5 years old again! You don't care what you look like how big or small you are, you are just taken to another world, that is why I love Disney, that feeling is like no other feeling in the world. 

I love riding the rides, I have been on them all! I know what it is like to have a small budget and think you just can not afford to go , I love helping and teaching people how they can make it affordable, and still have a good time. I am a Disney foodie, I love trying new things, new places to eat, the Food and Wine Festival was the best thing ever! 

  We have done so many things at Disney, if you have any questions about the special things that go on, just ask, I have been to them all.We have eaten, and yes, even drank around the world. I have learned so many tips to help people along through all of my experiences, I hope to share, and even learn some new tips from my fellow Disney lovers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who's Who Wednesday: Donald Fauntleroy Duck

Donald Fauntleroy Duck was another famous cartoon creation by Walt Disney Productions. His character was created in 1934 and his attire usually consists of a blue sailor suit and hat. Many times we see Donald with a very short temper and sometimes he's a bit of a bully. In early shorts Mickey and Donald were great friends with no rivalry. Later on, Donald became jealous of Mickey's fame and he wanted to be the star on top. Usually, Mickey never really notices this and always sees Donald as one of his best friends. Donald's first appearance was in The Wise Little Hen on June 9, 1934. This date is now recognized as being Donald's birthday. Since this appearance, he has become a regular in many Mickey Mouse cartoons. In 1937, we meet Donald's love interest, Daisy. A year later we also meet his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. In 1938 polls actually showed that Donald had become more popular than Mickey. He appeared in many shorts about the war including a notable Der Fuchrer's Face, which caused much controversial talk, but ended up winning an Academy Award. Donald is no stranger to being picked on either. Chip n Dale and Humphrey the Bear love to put Donald at the brunt of their mischievous jokes. The voice of Donald is one of the most identifiable cartoon character voices around with his lispy, spitting tone. His voice came from Clarence Nash from 1934-1983, then by Tony Anselmo who continues it today. We see Donald appearing as one of the Fab Five, along with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy. He appears in all Disney parks and is even the main character in more attractions than Mickey, including the Gran Fiesta Tour, starring the Three Caballeros at Epcot in the Mexico Pavilion. Donald has appeared in many comic strips, Disney shows, movies, video games and books. His image is even used as the mascot for the University of Oregon and he was named an honorary alumnus from the college. Donald also got his own orange juice that was introduced by Citrus World in 1940. In 2005, Donald finally received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rafflecopter Contest

I didn't know what Rafflecopter was until a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to figure out how to run a contest for my fans here at A2M. As I started researching I found that Rafflecopter seemed to be the easiest, most user friendly site to do it. Well Rafflecopter is having a contest of their own right now to celebrate their site launch. They are giving away iPad 2s and Kindle Fires. Who doesn't want in on that? I know I'd love it. I have to give them a helping hand, after all, if it weren't for Rafflecopter, Addicted to Mickey wouldn't be running a contest this week! Good luck Rafflecopter and thanks for your assistance and existence!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Monorail and Boat Resorts

There is so much to see while at Walt Disney World that many people miss some of the most subtle touches that add so much to the experience. The theming of the different hotels is definitely one example. If you have a pass that is for fewer days than your visit or simply want a break from moving from attraction to attraction, an afternoon hotel hopping might be for you.

The easiest options if you haven’t hotel hopped before is to look at the resorts that are grouped together. The monorail resorts include the Contemporary, Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. Whether travelling by monorail or by boat, these hotels are easy to check out. It is fun to ride the monorail right into the center of the Contemporary and try to find the five legged goat on the wall. Located inside the Contemporary, Chef Mickey’s is one of the most popular restaurants within WDW for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Polynesian features the ever popular Tonga Toast for those who love to indulge when eating a quick service breakfast or take some time to explore the beaches and shops. The Grand Floridian is a quiet spot to enjoy a cup of tea or listen to some relaxing music.

The Wilderness Lodge is also a fun spot that is easy to hit if you are looking for something different. Be sure to check out the geyser behind the hotel if you head there. It is a quick boat ride from the Magic Kingdom boat dock to the Wilderness Lodge. There are rocking chairs in the back to enjoy the people watching opportunities. The Whispering Canyon Café is another favorite restaurant. Don’t expect a quiet night out for two. It is a fun place to take a family for some great barbecue.

There are many hotels on property and each one has a unique look that makes it memorable. The restaurants and shops match the theme of the resort. There are so many ways to spend time outside of the four theme parks and this is a definite must to appreciate the full Disney experience.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Foodie Friday: Whispering Canyon Cafe

On our first day, during our most recent trip in December 2011, we didn't have much planned, other than our ADR at the Whispering Canyon Cafe. This restaurant is located in the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge. We had spent some of the day at Magic Kingdom and decided to head to the Wilderness Lodge by bus, but you can go by boat. When we got there we checked in and were given a pager. Being the holiday season, the lobby was beautifully decorated and had lots of neat photo opportunities. We didn't have much time to tour, though, our pager was soon buzzing and we headed back to the desk. We were seated quickly at a table near the front. We each ordered our drinks- the kids all had chocolate sheriffs milkshakes, Paul had Barqs rootbeer and I had water. When our waiter, Justice came back with the platter full of drinks he tripped and "spilled" the tray of drinks all over our table! JOKE! It was a tray of fake drinks, but all of us were very surprised. He came back quickly with our real drinks. Now it was time to order our meals. Erin chose the Canyon Skillet with chicken off of the childrens menu. The rest of us all decided to have the Canyon Skillet All-You-Care-to-Enjoy. This includes a huge skillet full of smoked pork ribs, pulled pork, oven roasted chicken, beef brisket, mashed potatoes, cowboy beans, corn on the cob and cornbread. You are also started off with a mixed green salad. When Justice brought out that skillet, our jaws hit the floor! You would not believe how much food was in that skillet. Man was it good, too. All of it, everything in that skillet was delicious. However, they don't bring ketchup to your table, you have to ask for it.
While we were eating all of this delicious food, Paul ran out of rootbeer. When Justice asked if he wanted more, Paul replied, "'Maybe a little'". Well what do you thing he brought back? The tiniest mug of rootbeer I have ever seen!
We had to laugh, especially when it was gone in one gulp. Justice called him Mr.Thirsty and went to get him another one. He returned with a HUGE jar of rootbeer with about 7 straws coming out the top! This place was so much fun. Before dessert, they had pony rides where the children can get stick horses and gallup around the restaurant. Zachary and Erin gave it a try and had a blast. As if we weren't full enough from our meals, we had to get dessert! Paul coudln't even eat his! We all got something different and passed it around. I chose the Kahlua flavored chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling, this is to die for and by far the best dessert I have ever had at Disney!
Clay had the cheesecake with seasonal berries, man those were some huge blackberries on that thing!
Zachary had seasonal berry mousse and said it was really good, lots of berries.
Since we were celebrating Erin's birthday, she got a special treat. Justice came out singing Happy Birthday in his key of XYZ voice and presented her with a special birthday cupcake! It was great.
Now, Whispering Canyon Cafe is not a place to go for a quiet romantic evening. It is a very noisy but fun and exciting establishment that is not to be missed. It will definitely be on our list of places to return to!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who's Who Wednesday: Introducing new writer Heather Mandosa

Hello!  My name is Heather and I am a 35 year old self-confessed Disney freak.  I have been married to my college sweetheart for more than eleven years.  We are parents to two wonderful children.  Zachary is seven and Keira is five.  Both kids have December birthdays within two weeks of Christmas so we are just coming down from the chaos and wonder of the season.  Aside from being a mom, I am the Guidance Content Specialist (Guidance Director) for a school district in a suburb of Boston.   It would not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a Disney nut.  I love all things Disney.  I enjoy talking about the movies, the music, the parks and the history.  I have had the good fortune to be raised in a house where travelling to Disney became something we did quite often.  My parents became DVC members in 1992 which has paved the way to continued family vacations with a new generation.  Now rather than a trip that includes my parents and younger brother and sister, we can be seen at times with close to twenty people at any one time.   In addition to WDW, I have enjoyed several trips to California to visit Disneyland and California Adventure.  We have also had the opportunity to stay at Disney’s Hilton Head property and travel on the Disney cruise.  When I am not planning a trip for someone in my family, I am helping others plan a trip or trying to find a creative way to get my family back to Disney again.   When I am not in the process of planning an upcoming trip, we still have an opportunity to enjoy Disney.  We have Mickey Mouse floor mats in the car, mugs, plates, toys, and a Disney themed Christmas tree.  We have almost every Disney movie on DVD and keep our VHS players for the few movies we have in that format.   Halloweens in our house have also had a major touch of Disney.  For my son’s first Halloween he was Roo from Winnie the Pooh.  We took him to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party with friends that year where he was able to crawl through the honey pots in the Hundred Acre Wood play area.  When he was two he was Eeyore.  When my daughter came along they were Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.  Since then she has been Aurora, Snow White and this year she was Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  My son was so inspired by the Maelstrom in the Norway pavilion of Epcot that he was a Viking.  He actually won first place for the first grade at the Halloween dance.   I love talking about my experiences at WDW and Disneyland and love to hear about other people who have had the opportunity to go.  I look forward to the opportunity to share some ideas and suggestions.  I also hope to learn something new for the next time that I have the opportunity to travel to Florida or California or possibly to a resort outside of the United States at some point.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Money Minded Mickey: The Disney Box

Over the years, I have noticed that one of my biggest expenses when preparing to go to Disney World is all of the "little" things that I have to run out at the last minute to buy like snacks, matching T-shirts, sunglasses, hats or other small essentials that I only think about when I am packing, or even worse yet, when I get to Disney. The way that I have found to help ease this last minute expense is my "Disney World Box". All that you need for this is a large tote and a packing list of everything that you will need for your trip. Each year, I add to my packing list because I realize that I needed something that I did not bring. To compile my list, I printed every Disney packing list that I could find, then compiled them into one list that was everything that my family would need to bring. I adjust it as needed. I keep my Disney box in my closet year round. Throughout the year, I buy things on my list as I see them or while they are on sale. I also put things that can be used for several trips back into the box as soon as we return from Disney, such as some hats, sunglasses, jackets, and bags. It does take for thought, but it is much cheaper to buy Disney costumes right after Halloween or bathing suites and shorts on clearance before the winter. I have also found that some of the things are very hard to find at certain times of the year. Trying to find shorts in November is sometimes next to impossible. As I come across the things that I need, I buy them and put them in the box. As your trip gets closer, you will see that you will have a lot of things that you need already purchased. You can also use this idea if you plan on bringing souvenirs with you instead of buying them in the parks, toys and things for the children on the way to and from Disney and even snacks and drinks. Make sure that you check the expiration date on the drinks and snacks. It will cost money, not save it, if you have to throw stuff out and replace it before your trip because it has expired. By doing this, I am able to spread out my expenses over a longer period of time and I am able to take advantage of seasonal sales that don't last long. When I travel to Disney, every dollar counts and by using my Disney box, it helps me to have more money to spend on vacation, not preparing for it. This article was written by Addicted to Mickey contributor Kelly Jenkins.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Foodie Friday: Our Quick Service Meals

Food options are plentiful at Walt Disney World. Everywhere you turn there is a quick service spot, a table service restaurant or a snack cart of goodies. We choose the regular dining plan which offers one snack, one quick service and one table service meal per day per person. For more info on that, check out my earlier post on the breakdown of meal plan options. We use our quick service option in a couple of different ways. If we are not in a hurry to get to the park that morning, we will use it for breakfast, usually at our resorts food court style establishment. On our December trip, our choice was Riverside Mill at Port Orleans Riverside. The breakfast options are almost limitless. The standard is an entree and a drink. We had choices of a Bounty Breakfast, which included eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and a mini Mickey waffle; made to order omelets, pancakes or French toast plates. If we were in a hurry, we grabbed a morning snack from the resort like a chocolate filled croissant, warm cinnamon roll or a big chocolate muffin and headed to the bus.
When we had a snack option for breakfast, we did our quick service for lunch. A quick service lunch includes your entree, a drink and dessert choice. Our first QS lunch was Pinocchios Village Haus in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. I chose the meatball sub sandwich and fries. It was great, even better than Subway. The meatballs were well seasoned and it was dripping with sauce. Plenty of food to share with someone if you aren't on the meal plan and are saving money. Paul and Clay had the Chicken Parmesan with pasta. Both said it was great and plenty of food. Zachary had a pepperoni pizza and Erin had the child's cheese pizza. Both agreed that they have had better pizza, but it was okay. For dessert we all chose the chocolate cake. One day we ate at the ABC Commissary at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Commissary Lane. This place has plenty of seating at tables and chairs. Here, Erin chose the child's chicken nuggets and fries. She said they were plain old chicken nuggetts but that the fries were tasty. Zachary had a fish and chips platter. This is battered fried fish, served with fries. He said the fish was a little greasy but tasted great. The rest if us chose the cheeseburger with fries. It is a 1/3 lb burger, with all the trimmings and topped with a jumbo fried shrimp. Yummy. For dessert here we all chose the chocolate mousse. It was very rich and none of us could finish it.
Our other option for a quick service meal was also in our food court at the Riverside Mill, but not for breakfast. We had to use this option when one of our table service reservations got screwed up. It was fine though because the food was good. Paul chose the BBQ Chipotle burger. Man that sucker was huge! It was a 1/3 lb black angus burger topped with trimmings, sauces and three big onion rings. It is also served with fries. The boys ordered fish baskets and pizza. Zachary said the fish was food but tasted the same as the ABC Commissary fish. Erin had the child's spaghetti and I chose the baked ziti, both were great but nothing extra-ordinary. Our dessert options here come from the bakery selection. They offered everything from red velvet cake, carrot cake and cheesecake to popsicles, ice cream bowls or apples with caramel dip.
It's hard to get into the quick service meals when you know you have a table service to look forward to later on. It seems that many of them taste the same from place to place. They aren't blan, but they just aren't spectacular. Next week is when I get excited. I will be going in to detail about each of our table service meals. See ya then!