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Pop Century Refurbished Rooms

Many families consider a particular Disney World Resort their “Home Resort”. My family has stayed in various hotels and we always come back to Pop Century and it has become our “Home”. Why do we choose Pop? First off, it’s the first hotel we stayed in on our first trip so we are a little sentimental. Second, we like the cost of a value hotel.

The biggest draw back at Pop for years had been that the rooms only had double beds. WELL NO MORE!! Pop Century is refurbishing their rooms and the double beds are being replaced by QUEEN BEDS! When you enter a two queen room you will see one queen bed and a table and chairs. This table is actually part of the murphy bed.

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Once you fold down the murphy bed, you have 2 queen beds!

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On each side of the beds are small nightstands with usb and regular outlets. There are also lights above each bed.

I love the flooring change! My mother has always harped on carpet cleanliness in hotels and it rubbed off on me. Now the rooms have a wood-like floor. I love not having to worry about having shoes or socks on when roaming around the room. It quiets that mom voice in my head.

Below the new BIGGER TV is another strip including usb and normal outlets and a dresser. Inside the doors of the dresser is a small safe. I love the number of outlets available. With 4 people trying to charge all their electronics/phones, the more outlets the better. I used to pack a power strip to make sure we had enough outlets. That is no longer needed.

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On the right of the dresser and tv area is a small shelf area with a refrigerator on the bottom. There is also a small coffee maker in the room as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018-02-24 14.16.29One of the biggest improvements in the room is the bathroom. In the past the bathroom was separated from the main area by a curtain. Now, it’s a barn type door that you can slide into place so everyone can have some privacy.  They have also added more shelving to hold your bathroom items.

The bathroom area also includes a small closet and also the ironing board. Inside the brown doors you will find the iron and a blow dryer.

The toilet/shower area is separated from the sink area by another sliding door. The new shower/tub has glass doors which stops those ever present puddles that we had with the shower curtain. One downfall for those of us who loved to bring home the soaps and shampoos at the end of each trip is the new shower gel, shampoo and conditioner dispenser.

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The best part of the new bathroom is the new double shower head! My son wants the same shower head in our home bathroom. You can adjust it to use just one of the heads or both. It felt great after a day walking the parks.

Next time you want to save some money, but still enjoy the perks of staying on Disney World property, check out Pop Century.

Contact your AIOT Adventure Planner to book your next Disney trip!

Magical Holidays Offer

Enjoy  a 4-night stay in a standard room at a select Disney’s All-Star Resort and 4-day Magic Your Way base tickets for just $2,125!

(Sample package price is valid for a family of 4 for stays most Sunday through Thursday nights from October 8 through December 13, 2018.)

The holiday season is a great time  to take a family vacation at Walt Disney World Resort. As a family, you can explore exciting classic, new and limited-time experiences across all 4 theme parks including – Sunset Season’s Greetings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, the classic Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – and still be among the first to visit the all-new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Contact one of our Adventure Planners  now through  December 24, 2018!

What To Do When Your Disney Cruise is Rainy

 

So you booked your dream cruise to the Caribbean? That’s great!

You and your travel agent have researched and planned to make your cruise the best.

Your online check in is complete and you have awesome excursions booked.

You’re looking forward to the couple of sea days and time to soak in the sun.

As you’re getting ready to board, you check the weather one last time before you shut off your phone to disconnect and have fun with your family.

Oh no!  The weather forecast has changed and rain is now predicted for most days.  You immediately think “our cruise is ruined!  What a bust!”

Stop.  You’ll still have an awesome time!  There is a ton to do!  Here are just some available activities.

-Roam the ship and check out the beautiful details.  How many Hidden Mickeys can you find?

-Meet some characters!  Check out your daily Navigator for meeting time and locations (though the surprise meeting is exciting too!).  There are some ticketed character events as well such as Anna and Elsa.  Stop at guest services if you weren’t able to grab a ticket to meet them when you did your online check in.

-See a movie.  The movie theater is awesome and shows the new Disney releases (of course!).  Don’t forget to buy your refillable popcorn bucket on day one (refill it for only $1.50 the entire cruise!)

-Send the kids to their respective youth clubs (adults can visit during open house hours). The clubs are a sight to see and have so many activities available. The youth staff is top notch and will keep the youngsters busy for hours.

-Read a book on the verandah.  Order a snack from room service and enjoy the sound of the sea and view.

-Don’t have a verandah? Stop back in the room and check out all the movies available on demand on your TV.

-On the Dream or Fantasy, play a round of Midship Detective Agency.  A scavenger hunt across the ship.

-Also on Dream and Fantasy, book some time in the sports simulator.  Sports include: golf, basketball, football, hockey, and more).  This is an extra cost.

-Shop! In true Disney style, there is a huge amount of merchandise available (including a Tiffany store on Fantasy!).

-Send the 13-17-year olds to Chill Spa.  Several services are available just for the teens.

-See the nightly show.  Shows vary from ship to ship.  All are amazing and some Broadway style (Aladdin is my favorite so far!).

-Join a trivia or bingo game! Check your Navigator for location and time.

-Head to Cove Café to have a coffee and pastry treat.

 

A Few For the Adults

-Buy a Rainforest Room pass.  A less costly option than spa services.  There are two hot tubs, multiple saunas, fund showers with different temperatures and scents, and AMAZING heated tile loungers.

-Book brunch at Palo on a sea day.  Palo is an adults only restaurant.  Start with a mimosa and your server will guide you through the rest.  Palo is one of the best dining experiences I have ever had.

-Once you have brunch at Palo, you’ll want to have dinner too.  The sommelier will help you with your wine selection and your server will attend to your every dinner need.  A wonderful Italian dinner.  A very relaxed and unhurried experience.  Don’t forget to save room for the Palo chocolate soufflé!

-Attend a mixology class

-Attend a wine or beer tasting

 

 

These are just a few of the many, many activities available on the Disney Cruise Line ships.  Some have an extra charge; but lots are already included.

See?  The rain isn’t going to ruin your vacation.  The rain gives you the opportunity to try lots of new activities that you may not have had time for in the past.  A cruise is about the journey, not just the destinations.

Epcot Food & Wine Fest and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Since it is time for Epcot’s Food & Wine Fest, I thought it was a perfect time to write about our 2016 Fest experience.  My husband and I went to the Fest during the last weekend of the festival.  It was a last minute decision because we had already had a vacation in 2016 (see blog about Alaska) and we had not planned to go to the festival in the same year as our Alaskan cruise.

My husband is somewhat of a foodie, and the festival is something he had expressed a desire to experience “some day”.  Once the decision was made to go, I was able to snag a Pirate room at the Caribbean Beach Resort.  We thought the decor was fun!

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We purchased the dining plan, so we made our first night’s dinner at Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge, featuring an African flavor.  We arrived early so that we would be able to enjoy the decor of the Lodge and go outside to view the animals housed on the grounds.  The food was excellent at Boma.

After dinner, we went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  The tickets are an additional expense, but I am a Christmas nut and I was very much looking forward to the party.  Main Street U.S.A. was all decked out for Christmas with lights, wreaths, music, and it even ‘snowed’!  We went on a few rides, enjoyed the free hot chocolate and cookies, shopped a bit and then watched the parade.  The Disney characters were all dressed up for Christmas.  The music, the lights, the smells……oh, how I loved it!

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The following day we went to the Food & Wine Fest.  I had done a little research and knew that we could use our quick service for some of the food (one quick service will get you 3 samples of food but must be used at the same booth).  I figured that we both could pick up food at different booths and share.  The booths all have a menu posted by them so it is easy to see what they each serve.  Below are photos of one of the booths and a sample of food.  I took many photos of booths and food and, looking through them, I wish I was back there!

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During our trip, we enjoyed Mickey’s Party at the Magic Kingdom at night, two days at Epcot’s Food & Wine Fest, one day at the Magic Kingdom, and one day at Animal Kingdom.  For a last minute trip, we were able to do all the things we wanted and even a few things we didn’t expect to do!  We had a few fast passes but, when we did not have fast passes, we were still able to ride other rides without too long of a wait, with just a few exceptions.  Since we did not have any little ones with us, if we chose to do a long wait, it was do-able.

Three tips:  1) instead if purchasing a dining plan, a quick service plan would do; 2) I would not recommend going on the last weekend of the festival.  It got extremely crowded, especially after 4 o’clock or so; and 3) I recommend doing research before you go to find out which booths serve what foods so you can make a daily food plan.

If anyone was considering the Food and Wine Fest and/or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I would definitely encourage them to do so!

Claudia Eggenberger

 

 

A Stay at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, we decided to finalize our “stay at every resort” challenge and booked a stay at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. After countless trips, and visits to the resort, how have we never stayed here? Well, I have a guess, and it may be because we are from New England and felt like the theming would be the same as where we live, so why not stay somewhere where the décor is different. But that was just silly. This picturesque seaside resort has just risen to the top of my favorites list!

Yacht Club is one of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts. It is located behind Epcot on the Boardwalk. It connects to Disney’s Beach Club Resort in more ways than one. You can walk from one resort to the other, as they are literally connected. They share a pool (more on that later), Ship Shape fitness center, restaurants, and a fabulous location.

The décor of the resort upon entering is more formal than its sister Beach Club, which I liked!  You can see this in the dark wood furniture, chandeliers, and brass accents. It was a nice change to find a lobby that was quiet with not

much of the “hussle-bussle” we have seen in other resorts. The exterior of the resort has a gray and white clapboard appearance with a meticulously cared for lawn.

The rooms at the Yacht Club are currently undergoing a beautiful modern refurbishment! Upon entering the room I was surprised to see the changes already!  The location of our room was at the end of one hallway. The walk from the lobby was lengthy, and one elevator was turned off due to construction. But there was a door to a staircase which put us on the Boardwalk quickly! It may be worthwhile to request a room closer to the lobby, but we enjoy the extra steps so it was no bother to us.

Restaurants at the resort are great too. When I was there in July, there was a bit of construction going on behind cleverly placed walls. What’s happening behind them is the creation of a new lobby lounge and the new Ale & Compass Restaurant, which will replace the former Captain’s Grille. This new gastro-pub style restaurant will present a New England-inspired menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The plans for the cozy lighthouse-inspired décor look really cool.

Other restaurants and lounges include the Marketplace at Ale & Compass for a quick bite to eat, Yachtsman Steakhouse, Crew’s Cup Lounge, Beaches ‘n Cream Soda Shop (you gotta order the No Way Jose, you’ll thank me), andCape May Café (which has a great character breakfast). There are even more but we didn’t visit them this trip.

One afternoon we abandoned Epcot and had fun in the pool .  Storm-a-Long Bay is often considered the “best” pool at a Disney resort, for many reasons. Most prominently is its sand bottom! Yes! when you get in the pool, you are walking on sand! Weird at first, but then it seems really neat. There is also a lazy river and amazing pirate-ship slide! Now, I don’t do water slides, but I did this one and loved it! Because of its popularity, cast members do check magic bands to ensure you are staying at Yacht Club or Beach Club and give you a bracelet granting access for the day.

Another great feature of this resort is its location. You can quickly walk to Epcot, a little bit longer walk to Hollywood Studios, or you can take a short boat ride!

My family and I just loved this resort. The beautiful décor, quiet ambience, super cool pool, variety of restaurants, and location to the parks makes it the perfect choice.  We will be staying here again on our next trip!

-Bekka C

As an aside, this resort would be PERFECT for a honeymoon or couples getaway!

Food and Wine 2017 Bucket List

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Good morning all you Disney fans out there. It’s an exciting time of year as Food and Wine  menus have been released.   Those above pictures are just some of the offerings that Epcot’s International Food and Wine festival have to offer.

I can understand how planning for food and wine can be so stressful but my wife and I have made into a game. This will be our fifth food and wine festival that we have attended.  There are a ton of resources out on the web that will help you plan your food and wine trip. Our favorite website that we frequent is allinwdw.com, Bob who runs the website along with Doug and Dennis from wdwmainstreetpodcast.com our true foodies just like my wife and me.

So in the spirit of food and wine my wife and I has each created our food and wine 2017 bucket list. Here they are,  let the stretchy pants  be warned. We will be back “HOME” Sept 22 – Oct 1 and attending the festival at least 5 days out of our trip. I will be tweeting @evanmethuen and doing facebook live from Epcot during the festival.

Disney Food & Wine List:

Melissa’s List 42 items strong 

Active eats:
◦ Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions

Africa:
◦ Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket with Mint Raita

Australia:
◦ Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion and Snap Peas
◦ Lamington: Yellow Cake Dipped in Chocolate and Shredded Coconut

Belgium:
◦ Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes

Brazil:
◦ Escondidinho de Carne – “Little Hidden One”: Layered Meat Pie with Mashed Yucca
◦ Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread

Canada:
◦ Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup served with a Pretzel Roll
◦ “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce (GF)

Cheese studio:
◦ Braised Beef “Stroganoff” with Tiny Egg Noodles, Wild Mushroom, and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce

China:
◦ Chicken Potstickers

Chocolate Studio:
◦ Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel

Coastal Eats:
◦ Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette

Craft Beers:
◦ Zesty Cheeseburger and Cheddar Cheese Macaroni Handwich

Earth Eats:
◦ Ricotta and Zucchini Ravioli with Rustic Tomato Sauce
◦ Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, and Feta Cheese
◦ Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle

Farm Fresh:
◦ Crispy Chicken with Griddled Cornbread and Red Eye Gravy

Flavors from Fire:
◦ Piggy Wings: Roasted Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds
◦ Smoked Corned Beef with Warm Crispy Potatoes, Pickled Onions and Blonde Ale Beer Fondue featuring BelGioioso Romano and America Grana Cheeses

France:
◦ Boeuf Bourguignon, Purée de Pommes de Terre: Cabernet Sauvignon Braised Beef with Mashed Potatoes

Germany:
◦ Schinkennudeln: Pasta Gratin with Ham and cheese
◦ Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce

Greece:
◦ Loaded Greek “Nachos”: Pita Chips, Meatless Sausage Crumbles, and Vegan Tzatziki
◦ Spanakopita
◦ Bougatsa: Warm Phyllo Dough Strudel with Sweet Vanilla Custard, Lemon Honey Syrup and Cinnamon

Hawaii:
◦ Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour DOLE® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise
◦ Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Toasted Macadamia Nuts

Hops & Barley:
◦ Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast
◦ Freshly Baked Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing

Ireland:
◦ Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread
◦ Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard

Islands of Caribbean:
◦ Quesito: Puff Pastry with Sweetened Cream Cheese and Guava Sauce

Italy:
◦ Absolut Penne: Vodka Sauce with Shrimp
◦ Cannoli al Cioccolato: Chocolate-covered Cannoli filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate and Candied Fruit

Mexico:
◦ Rib Eye Taco: Marinated Rib Eye, Roasted Chipotle Sauce and Grilled Scallions on a Corn Tortilla

Morocco:
◦ Chocolate Baklava: Rolled Phyllo Dough with Toasted Almonds and Dark Chocolate Sauce

New Zealand:
◦ Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs*
◦ Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Purée

Patagonia:
◦ Beef Empanada
◦ Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée (GF)

Thailand:
◦ Marinated Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Stir-fried Vegetables

Evan’s List

I have 57 items I would like to try this year.  I am more of an adventurous eater than my wife, that’s my nice way of saying I LOVE FOOD

Active Eats – NEW!
• Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers, and Green Onions
• Roasted Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri (GF)

Africa
• Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin Tips with Onions, Jalapeños, Tomato, and Pap (GF)

Australia
• Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion, and Snap Peas (GF)
• Grilled Lamb T-Bone with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies (GF)
• Lamington: Yellow Cake Dipped in Chocolate and Shredded Coconut

Belgium
• Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes

Brazil
• Escondidinho de Carne – “Little Hidden One”: Layered Meat Pie with Mashed Yucca (GF)
• Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Tomato, and Onions (GF)
• Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread (GF)

Canada
• Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup served with a Pretzel Roll
• “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce (GF)

The Cheese Studio, Hosted by Boursin® Cheese – NEW!
• Braised Beef “Stroganoff” with Tiny Egg Noodles, Wild Mushroom, and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce
• Savory Caramelized Onion Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Tart with Cold Arugula Salad and Aged Balsamic

China
• Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce
• Spicy Chicken Bao Bun
• Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles
• Chicken Potstickers

Coastal Eats – NEW!
• Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Lemongrass Cream
• Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette
• Seared Scallops with Roasted Corn and Butterbean Succotash and Chili-Chipotle Butter Sauce

Flavors from Fire – NEW!
• Piggy Wings: Roasted Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds
• Smoked Corned Beef with Warm Crispy Potatoes, Pickled Onions, and Blonde Ale Beer Fondue featuring BelGioioso Romano and America Grana Cheeses
• Sweet Pancake with Spicy Chipotle Chicken Sausage, Onion Jam, and Maple Butter Syrup
• Chocolate Picante: Dark Chocolate Mousse with Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, and Raspberry Dust

France
• Boeuf Bourguignon, Purée de Pommes de Terre: Cabernet Sauvignon Braised Beef with Mashed Potatoes
• Crème Brûlée à la Confiture de Framboises: Crème Brûlée with Housemade Rasberry Jam (GF)

Greece
• Loaded Greek “Nachos”: Pita Chips, Meatless Sausage Crumbles, and Vegan Tzatziki
• Taste of Greece: Stuffed Grape Leaves with Lemon Dill Sauce, Grilled Octopus, and Feta Cheese Dip with Warm Pita
• Spanakopita

Hawai’i
• Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour DOLE® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise
• Grilled Tuna Tataki with Seaweed Salad and Pickled Cucumbers and Wasabi Cream
• Teriyaki-glazed SPAM® Hash with Potatoes, Peppers and Onions and Spicy Mayonnaise

Hops & Barley
• Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast

Islands of the Caribbean
• Jamaican Beef Patty with Mango Salsa
• Mojo Pork with Black Beans, Cilantro Rice, and Pickled Red Onions (GF)
• Quesito: Puff Pastry with Sweetened Cream Cheese and Guava Sauce

Italy
• Crispy Calamari with Spicy Pomodoro Sauce
• Costoletta di Agnello alla Marchigiana: Braised T-Bone Lamp Chops and Potatoes with Vidalia Onions, Thyme, Bay Leaf and Lamb Jus
• Absolut Penne: Vodka Sauce with Shrimp
• Cannoli al Cioccolato: Chocolate-covered Cannoli filled with Sweet Ricotta, Chocolate, and Candied Fruit

Mexico
• Rib Eye Taco: Marinated Rib Eye, Roasted Chipotle Sauce, and Grilled Scallions on a Corn Tortilla
• Tequila Chipotle Shrimp: Served on a Black Bean Huarache garnished with Red and Green Cabbage, Queso Fresco, and Crema Mexicana

Morocco
• Kefta Pocket: Seasoned Ground Beef in a Pita Pocket
• Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions, and Tzatziki Sauce
• Chocolate Baklava: Rolled Phyllo Dough with Toasted Almonds and Dark Chocolate Sauce

New Zealand
• Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney
• Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs
• Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Purée

Patagonia
• Beef Empanada
• Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée (GF)

Spain
• Charcuterie in a Cone with a selection of imported Spanish Meats, Cheeses, Olives and an Herb Vinaigrette
• Traditional Spanish Paella with Shrimp, Mussels, Chicken, and Crispy Chorizo (GF)
• Seafood Salad with Shrimp, Bay Scallops, and Mussels, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar, and Smoked Paprika (GF)

Thailand
• Marinated Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Stir-fried Vegetables
• Seared Shrimp and Scallop Cake with Cold Noodle Salad
• Red Hot Spicy Thai Curry Beef with Steamed Rice

Fabulous Breakfast!

Breakfast. Is it the most important meal of the day? Is it your favorite meal of the day? Breakfast in Walt Disney World can be the FUNNEST meal of the day!

I love getting up and out the door in the morning at WDW. There are endless breakfast options to get your day started. Here are some ideas and some “don’t miss” suggestions!

For little ones (and not little ones!) character breakfasts are a lot of fun. My son’s favorite is Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Napkins swinging and hands clapping are the highlights. The buffet is standard offering much the same fare as you will find all around the resort – mickey waffles, eggs, fruits, brownies :)! But a great time with Mickey, Minnie and friends.

One of my favorite character breakfasts is “Play n’ Dine” at Hollywood Studies at Hollywood & Vine. Dine with popular Disney Junior friends Handy Manny, Doc McStuffins, Jake, and a few others. The buffet is always a winner with additions like bread pudding, cheesy potato hash, and custom egg station.

 

Another interesting and off-beat character breakfast is at Garden Grill in Epcot’s “The Land” pavilion. You will meet Mickey and friends who are wearing adorable farmer outfits! Breakfast is somewhat unique! Many come here to dine on Chip’s Sticky Bun Bake. Mickey waffles, chocolate sauce, and a variety of salsas made from plants grown at The Land round out the experience! My son was very excited that the restaurant rotates and you get to see different sights as you dine.

My last comment on character breakfasts is at the Crystal Palace in  Magic Kingdom. Our Hundred Acre Woods friends make the rounds while you dine. The buffet is similar to others, but one unique breakfast item is the Puffed French Toast found on the children’s buffet station. This reminds me of my childhood and is a must!

The best breakfast on property in my opinion can be found at the Polynesian Resort’s Kona Cafe! I appreciate their menu items being different from the typical breakfast. Many come here for Tonga Toast (very big French Toast stuffed with a lot of yumminess). French Press Kona Coffee and Macadamia Nut Pancakes for the win!  A runner up is The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The offer organic coffee, chicken sausage, sweet potato pancakes, key lime eggs benedict, and more. They feature full menu and buffet options!

Throughout Walt Disney World and resort food courts, you will find various cinnamon rolls (don’t miss Gaston’s Tavern!), mickey waffles, and standard breakfast offerings.

 

In recent visits we have gotten to really like Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. When you walk in you are greeted by a beautiful display of french bakery items. I go for the Florentine quiche and a mimosa. I don’t recommend ordering a cappuccino as it is from a pre-made machine, not made fresh.

It can be a little bit of a scavenger hunt if you are looking to stay healthy at breakfast. Here are a few tips! Buffets will usually have hard boiled eggs, fruit, oatmeal, and  yogurt. You will find whole-grain croissants as well- don’t be fooled, they are butter city!! Some buffets have an egg station and they always whip up egg whites for me. Starbucks has a spinach and egg white wrap that I often grab in the parks as well. Food courts have cereal, sometimes protein drinks in their cooler, yogurt, and fruit. Table service restaurants are great at customizing for you. I have seen many with gluten free options as well!

Next time you are in Walt Disney World, let breakfast be the funnest meal of your day!!

-Bekka

 

Disneyland Visit Part 2-First Time in Disneyland and Blue Bayou

In Part 1, I shared information about flying to LAX from Midway and getting to Disneyland via Disney’s contracted shuttle service.  I also introduced the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.  To reiterate some comments about the grounds, the G.C. is impeccable.  There are so many qualities that make it stand above the rest of your hotel options.  I will be revisiting some previously discussed and expanding further.  Enjoy, and if you haven’t read Part 1, you may want to read it before continuing.

The proximity to the parks from the Grand Californian is a feature that some overlook.  The ability to be anywhere in California Adventure or Downtown Disney and return to your room within 10 minutes is a convenient characteristic.  Couple that with travelling with a five and two-year-old and it’s a recipe to enhance everyone’s moods.  I would estimate the time from Disneyland to our room was between 15-20 minutes.  This is similar to staying on the monorail loop at WDW and returning from Magic Kingdom.

We arrived a couple hours before our reservation at Blue Bayou.  We did not waste any time heading over to Disneyland.  We exited the Grand Californian by way of their California Adventure entrance.  This may have been a mistake.  It was our first time in the park, and we found ourselves engrossed with several aspects of the park during our walk.  For example, our walk took us by my wife’s and my favorite attraction, Soarin’.  It was so difficult just walking right by!  Another thing I regret was walking down Buena Vista Street from the park to the main entrance too quickly during our first visit.  I found some of us wanting to stop multiple times.  However, the Grand Californian’s entrance to California Adventure is amazing if timed correctly.  It was BY FAR the quickest/easiest entry into any Disney park we have ever completed.  The Plaza area between the two parks is very simple.  I may have been expecting more, but I feel that Disney could do a bit more here.  The Plaza seemed baron and bland.  I get it.  They want you to move into the parks, but it felt like it was missing something.  Getting into Disneyland was surprisingly quick.  It was mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, so that was probably why it was so fast.

We wanted to take a few pictures on our way to Blue Bayou.

If you are looking for a place to eat in Disneyland, do a little research on Blue Bayou.  You will find that almost all reviews of the restaurant are positive.  You are also going to find that the place is very busy and can fill up quickly.  We arrived to Blue Bayou early.  We asked if we could be seated early, and they accommodated us without any hesitation.  Again, our timing was perfect because there were a lobby full of people waiting when we were done eating.  The atmosphere and theming at Blue Bayou is amazing.  The setting is nighttime in the New Orleans bayou.  Disney did an outstanding job mimicking the theme.  Additionally, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction begins floating through the outer perimeter of Blue Bayou.  Some of the best seats in the restaurant are near this perimeter.  Blue Bayou offers guests Cajun fare.  They have a decent amount of options to choose from.  Here is a link to their dinner menu: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/disneyland/blue-bayou-restaurant/menus/dinner/.  I tried the gumbo and Monte Cristo sandwich.  Both items were delicious.  Below are pictures of the food.

After dinner, we decided to visit a few attractions.  Our two-year-old daughter decided she would rather wait in lines on another day.  Instead, she and mom did a little shopping on Main Street.  That left our five-year-old son and me to experience some of the attractions.  We were already near Pirates of the Caribbean and the wait wasn’t too bad.  He had been to Walt Disney World, but Pirates was down for refurbishment during his visit.  This was his first time on the ride.  It went really well for the most part.  He noticed that the first scene was in the restaurant where he just had eaten.  He got a little scared when it went dark, but, knowing his personality, I knew he would be fine.  He LOVED the first drop!  This kid likes fast and wild rides (unlike his dad), so I was not worried about the drops.  He got a kick out of the scenes.  However, the boats got backed up badly.  We were stuck near the drunk pirate saying, “Here kitty, kitty” for nearly 10 minutes.  It was awful.  I kept trying to have him look at other scenes and talking to him about other things, but we were on the right side of the boat very close to the animatronic.  After the scare on Pirates of the Caribbean, he decided he wanted to go up Tarzan’s tree.  He actually caught me off guard.  By “catching me off guard,” I mean he took off running to the attraction and up the stairs without us discussing it.  Luckily, we were close and, he’s five, so it was relatively easy catching up to him.  The wait for Jingle Cruise was surprisingly low, so I knew we had to ride it.  I think the wait was only around ten minutes.  My son was unimpressed.  I was amused and enjoyed the Christmas overlay which I’ve never seen before.  I took some pictures of the Jingle Cruise, but they turned out terrible.  Next, we headed to Fantasyland.  In Fantasyland, we visited Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and one of our favorites: Peter Pan’s Flight.  As much as I wanted to stay, I knew he would be getting tired soon, so we headed back to the room.  I snapped one of my favorite pictures from the trip on the way out of Disneyland.

Come back to enjoy the rest of our Disneyland trip.

Justin Eggenberger, Co-owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC

justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com                  Twitter @JAEggenberger

Disney Packing Tips

You have your trip booked, dining reservations made, fast passes selected, now it’s time to pack! It can be overwhelming. You may ask yourself, “How much do I pack and what will I need in the parks every day?”

Let’s start with the basics, clothes for everyday and I usually pack an extra set just in case. Now the resorts have laundry area, but who wants to wash clothes on vacation! I learned this the hard way. I didn’t quite pack enough. Disney provides shampoo/conditioner and soaps of course, but; if you have long thick hair like myself you may want to bring your own. The travel sizes from the store work great!

You’re going to get hungry, so be sure to bring snacks! We bring snacks to have at the park and in the room. The room they take up in your luggage leaves space for you to bring home your souvenirs. This will help save a few dollars when you need a little something until your next real meal.

Chargers for whatever electronics you may bring with you. We have phones, laptops and tablets. Another good idea, (a friend suggested a couple years ago) is a power strip for your room. It makes it much easier to plug in a few gadgets at one time. We were able to put the strip up on the table, making it easier to get to as well.

Band-Aids, you will do lots of walking! Your most comfortable shoes can cause blisters with all that walking. They are also handy to have on hand, just in case little ones get boo-boos. It is Florida, so sunscreen is essential especially during the summer. You would not want to be miserable with a sunburn at Disney.

If you are flying and using Magical Express, pack whatever you might need as soon as you get to the resort or airport in your carry on. It will be a few hours before your luggage arrives at your resort room and you will definitely need your magic bands. Magic Bands are needed (or speed things up) to check in to Magical Express at the airport. If you do online check in, you may receive notification before you arrive at your resort that your room is ready. You will be able to go straight to your room and by-pass the lobby and check in.

I have included my typical packing list for a Disney trip. Now on trips where we have matching shirts, I list those individually so I do not forget one. The column “In tote” is my Disney tote, that I keep things together ready to pack for our Disney trips. The items marked with an * are items we put in our carry-ons. You may not need as many items in your carry on, but bored kids on a plane are not fun.

Disney Packing Checklist
In bag In tote In bag In Tote In bag In Tote
Kid #1 Kid#2 Hubby
shirts shirts shirts
shorts shorts shorts
undergarments undergarments flip flops
socks socks undergarments
tennis shoes tennis shoes medication*
flip flops crocs/flip flops razor
nightgown pjs boxers/pj pants
medication
Dwan Misc
shirts disney binder* sunscreen
shorts portable chargers* toothbrushes
tennis shoes tablets* toothpaste
flip flops autograph books* giftcards*
undergarments penny containers* small wallets*
socks back packs wipes for park bags
sleepshirt/shorts fans ibeprophen*
shampoo pennies*
conditioner quarters*
hair stuff magic bands*
brushes/combs magical express info*
hairties snacks for flight*
sunglasses* bandaids
hand sanitizer pens
*put in carry on

Packing for the parks

We always take bags. One, I keep my phone, maps, schedule (yes, I am THAT Disney person!), wet wipes, small wallet with cash and gift cards and a portable phone charger. A portable charger is a great investment. You will have your phone out a lot taking pictures/videos or checking the Disney World app with your fast passes, reservations and maps so batteries tend to die much quicker than usual. The kids “carry” drawstring backpacks with their autograph books, pressed penny change tubes, ponchos (you never know when you will need it in Florida), snacks, and small wearable fans if we travel in summer.

Make a list, start early and add to it as you think of something. Have it handy while you are packing, makes packing for the magic less stressful.