The 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is right around the corner, starting on August 30, 2018 and going through November 12, 2018. There is always so much to do and see, (not to mention taste!) at this staple Epcot festival. One of my favorite things to do is to check out all the various food booths that circle World Showcase, not only to look for returning favorite dishes (hello Belgium Waffles!) but also to look at what new tidbits are being offered. This year’s new offerings including the Impossible Burger Slider, with wasabi cream and spicy Asian slaw on a sesame seed bun (A vegetarian dish), as well as a New Brunswick Slider, which is a “Pot Roast Style” beef brisket on a potato roll.
In addition to the new food, there’s over some exciting new events being offered, including Sunday Brunch With the Chef. This experience includes a brunch buffet followed by a conversation with some of the most recognized chefs in culinary television. I’m a big fan of both Chef Art Smith and Chef Carla Hall, who will both be a part of this event.
One of the other things I always look forward to at the Food and Wine Festival is checking out the new merchandise, and this year is no exception. I can never resist the trash can shaped salt and pepper shakers that are released each year, and I’m sure I’ll be adding to my collection again with this year’s cute design. Figment is once again the honorary mascot for the Food and Wine Festival, and is being featured on various merchandise including coffee mugs and the exclusive Dooney and Bourke purse.
Salt and Pepper Trash Cans
The bottom of the purse is too cute!
Of course, no visit to the Food and Wine Festival is complete without checking out the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, which has over 30 different acts performing at the America Gardens Theatre. Along with some traditional returning favorites like Sugar Ray and Tiffany, this year has some fun new acts coming to the stage, including 98 Degrees and Vertical Horizon. Don’t forget you can always book an Eat to the Beat Dining Package where you can you can eat at select restaurants and have reserved seatings for the concert being offered that night.
What event are you looking forward to the most at the Food and Wine Festival? Will you be watching for a certain band at Eat to the Beat? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to contact Adventure is Out There Travel for all your Food and Wine booking needs.
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!
As an aside, this resort would be PERFECT for a honeymoon or couples getaway!
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!!
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
Traveling to Disney World with little ones can be the most magical (and exhausting) trip you will ever take! The first time we took our little princess, she was 2.5. At that point, I had only traveled to Disney as a child and as an adult with no children, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into! After asking friends and scouring the internet, I found lots of good tips and tricks. We have now taken Princess L to Disney at 2.5, 3.5, and just two weeks ago for her 5th birthday. Every trip has been different because of her age and interests, but I have used a lot of the same tricks to keep myself sane throughout our trips! So here are my top tricks and tips for traveling with little ones to Walt Disney World!
Schedule around your child’s “magic” time. This is the time of day your child is most agreeable/best behaved. When Princess L was 2.5, her “magic time” was morning. Anywhere between 7am-Noonish, she was almost always in a great mood and the most cooperative. As soon as lunch time would hit, she would turn into a hangry beast and NOTHING was going to happen until she ate something and took a nap! With that in mind, I scheduled the majority of our character meet & greets and fast passes during those hours and planned to head back to our resort at lunch time to get her fed and down for a nap. Once she was well rested, we would take her back to the park and figured anything we got done between then and bedtime was a bonus! It worked out great and we had very minimal meltdowns. We still do this, but our resort time is getting shorter and shorter. She hasn’t taken a regular nap in a couple years, but Disney tired is a special kind of tired! Also, going back to the resort for a break gives your kids a break from all the excitement, which can get overwhelming and lead to more meltdowns!
Ziploc bags & Take n toss sippy cups are your friend! Seriously! We used Ziploc bags for everything like leftover food because Princess L is a grazer (and takes forever to eat), dirty clothes, snacks, etc. We took a gallon Ziploc bag to the park every day with a full change of clothes (shirt, shorts, underwear, socks) just in case. You never know when spills or accidents will happen and this will keep you from having to spend Disney prices on a new outfit! Bonus, the mess can be contained in the Ziploc until you get back to your resort. In 3 trips, we have had to use our change of clothes twice. Once for a potty accident and once because of a spill! Plus it’s easy to just grab the bag and toss under the stroller. We also bring a few take n toss sippy cups. My kid loves chocolate milk, but they are always in a bottle that she can’t really drink out of. Animal Kingdom does not have lids and only paper straws because of the animals, so a sippy cup comes in handy there! They are great on the plane as well. If you don’t want to wash them out, you can throw them out when you’re done. They’re fairly cheap and come in all sorts of Disney prints!
I guarantee you will LOVE and HATE your stroller at Disney! Having a good stroller is key! A cheap umbrella stroller is okay, but you will appreciate something that rolls a lot nicer (and has storage) when you’re pushing around a child (and their gear) all day. We have a City Mini stroller, which we love. If you don’t have a nice stroller, there is really no need to go out and buy one just for vacation. There are several companies that rent strollers out in the Orlando area and they will deliver to your resort. The majority of rented strollers are Baby Jogger City Mini or City Mini doubles. You will see them all over the parks and for good reason! They push easily, fold one-handed, and have a decent storage. There are other options for rented strollers as well, but the Baby Jogger brand in particular is my fave. Bonus, they’re fairly easy to fit on a crowded bus, because they fold almost totally flat.
Yes, there are TONS of things to do at Disney, but I’m talking about waiting in line and waiting for food. Those are the times Princess L struggles with. Not only at Disney, but in our regular life I always have a play pack in my purse. You can find them at Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart, etc. They’re a little Ziploc pack that includes a small coloring book, crayons, and stickers and they’re usually around $1. There are loads of Disney ones as well! I also keep a couple games on my phone that I know she likes but that I don’t let her play often. When the coloring book isn’t going to work and she’s burnt out looking for hidden Mickeys, I whip out my phone with her fave app open. I also bring a few power banks to charge my phone. (There are also fuel rod kiosks at the parks!) Between taking a million pics, looking up fast passes, and letting the kiddo play with my phone, my battery doesn’t last long!
Expect nothing, appreciate everything! Taking a little one to Disney can feel (at times) like walking around with a ticking time bomb! Toddlers can be so unpredictable and you never know what they will like/dislike! Don’t be afraid to switch up plans because your kid just isn’t having it! Maybe s/he is afraid of characters. Don’t force it because that isn’t fun for anyone! There are photopass photographers everywhere, with and without characters. We have our share of pics where Princess L did not cooperate (see the Animal Kingdom picture!) It’s ok! Maybe they just want to ride Carousel of Progress six times in a row. (L’s was Haunted Mansion over and over again!) Maybe they want to watch the ducks swim around the ponds at Epcot for 30 minutes. Flexibility is key and sometimes you just have to roll with it! If you don’t force a hectic schedule, it will make for a happier trip for everyone. And no, you won’t get to see and do everything, but that is ok! I guarantee that your kid won’t remember that they hated Elsa or didn’t get to ride a certain ride. They will remember the little moments like riding on the “Mickey Bus”, eating a dole whip for breakfast, and Mickey waving to them from the parade float!
Not all these tips will work for every family, but hopefully one of two will help your family have a more magical vacation!
This past September, my family spent a weekend at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for a joint celebration of my son’s 16th birthday and my 40th (wow, that hurts to type). When we pulled in on Friday morning, I decided to use Disney’s valet service. Outside of Tables in Wonderland, this would be my first time using Disney’s valet service.
I am that guy that likes to drive myself around Disney property; nothing against Disney transportation, I’m just a control freak!
After we checked in and had a bite for lunch, we called upon the valet to retrieve our car so we could head over to the Magic Kingdom for a few hours before closing out the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While waiting for our vehicle, an attendant asked if we needed any directions or help. Being a Disney Super Dad, I said, “No Thank You.” The attendant then asked where we were headed, and I replied, “Magic Kingdom.” This is when I learned, thanks to another great Cast Member, that once you pay the daily valet fee (currently $25.00) at any of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts, you can also use the valet service at any of the other Deluxe Resorts (on the same date) without having to repay the fee.
Upon hearing this, I immediately felt like a schmuck, after all, I know everything, I’m a Disney Super Dad, remember…
Much to my surprise, we were able to drive into Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa; use valet service, then hop the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom (I’m a simple guy and am easily impressed by the little pleasures, lol).
Now, anyone who’s visited the Magic Kingdom knows that getting from the parking lot to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) then over to the Magic Kingdom, can at times, be a bit arduous; especially if you’re carrying little ones. Well… Here’s your tip of the day: you can utilize valet parking at one of the monorail resorts, and then hop the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.
Now, I must throw out a disclaimer… You are going to have to pass through security to get into any Disney resort; however, security at the monorail resorts can be especially “picky” (especially during peak times). Therefore, you will need a “reason” to be at the resort (i.e. dining reservation, spa appointment, etc.). In our case, we were already staying at a Deluxe Resort and had paid for the valet service, so security let us in. In the past, you could simply say that you wanted to “look around” or “visit” the resort. That is not always a guarantee now…
When using valet parking, it is important to remember that the fee you pay goes to Disney and not the valet attendant; so please, please, please remember to tip the attendant.
Another point to keep in mind, when you pay to park at a Walt Disney World Park, you can use that receipt to avoid paying the parking fee at another park on the same day. This does not apply to valet parking and park hopping. If you paid for valet service at a resort (and you are not a resort guest), you will still need to pay the parking fee at the park.
This post was originally going to be a top ten, but the list ended up being a bit longer than intended. Most of these tips are for cruisers with a limited experience aboard Disney Cruise Line. Hopefully, you find at least one tip helpful.
Choose the right Itinerary. I made a mistake on our first Disney Cruise. At the time, our family consisted of my wife, two-year-old son, and myself. We were nervous about how we would handle a cruise. We were uncertain about how we would react to the ship’s movement and entertainment while onboard. We cruised aboard the Disney Dream for a four-night itinerary. After multiple Disney cruises and an additional family member, I have been able to determine the perfect duration for our family–365 nights! Seriously though, I would not hesitate from taking my family on an extended cruise. We have two young children and I still would not hesitate to take a long cruise. However, my wife and I recently went on a three-night cruise aboard the Disney Magic. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but we both missed our children. We agreed that we would be willing to take another short cruise without our kids, but we could not be away from them any longer than that.
Choose the correct stateroom and location of your stateroom. There are countless websites, blog posts, and videos that can give you an endless amount of detail about staterooms aboard a Disney ship, and I cannot do the topic justice in a brief paragraph. So, please do your homework or work with a good agent that will ask about the people you are travelling with to get a good fit for your stateroom. After selecting a stateroom category, location of your stateroom can be specified. Is quick/easy access to certain venues important? How close would you like to be to elevators and stairs? Are multiple staterooms necessary? Etc.
Princess meets are fantastic. Our family was able to meet Belle, Rapunzel, Snow White, Cinderella, Anna, and Elsa in under an hour! Here is the tip you need to know: You have to get tickets for two separate events at the Port Adventures desk. I went to the desk immediately after we boarded the ship. I obtained tickets for the Princess Meet and Greet and the Anna & Elsa Meet for ideal times for our family. It worked out very well.
*Please Note: Disney just announced scheduling for cruises of 7 nights or longer. Be sure to discuss this with your agent as I am unaware of the details at this time.
Anna and Elsa
Kids’ Clubs offer kids/tweens/teens a wide variety of supervised entertainment. There are multiple kids’ clubs that are divided into age ranges. Beginning at age 3, the service is included in your voyage fare. We took advantage of the services during one of our Palo reservations. Drop-off and pick-up are easy and secure. There can be a line so keep that in mind if you have reservations. Also, be sure to pre-register your children to save time on your vacation.
Andy’s Room theme
Main hub of Oceaneer Club
Pirate Night is bigger than what I expected. On our first cruise, we took Pirate Night for granted. We did not dress up and did not expect the overall theming throughout the ship. Although dressing up is not necessary, it makes the evening a lot more fun. We dress our children up in pirate garb more than ourselves, but my wife and I wear subtle nautical themed clothing. Make sure you arrive to the deck party early to obtain a good viewing area. Fireworks can be viewed from a lot of different areas of the ship.
Know when to book your cruise (or move your placeholder). Generally speaking, cruisers need to book early for popular itineraries and the busy season. By early, I mean immediately when itineraries are announced. This is usually well over a year in advance. This will likely be the best pricing you will be able to get. There are times of the year and less popular itineraries that do not require booking this far in advance, but I still recommend making a reservation as soon as you know your party will be able to take a cruise.
The first Navigator is obtained upon boarding the ship. Each evening, a new Navigator will be delivered to your stateroom for the following day. The Navigator provides detailed information about all areas of the ships and the day’s activities onboard. The Disney Cruise Line smartphone app is even better. It has the information provided on the Navigator, detailed information about the evening’s dining, chat/text feature, etc… And, the app can be downloaded in advance to provide a cool countdown.
Book your next Disney cruise while onboard. The easiest way to get a discount on your next Disney cruise is to book during your cruise. This is something I try to take care of by the end of the second night. On our last cruise, I ended up waiting in line for 45 minutes to book our placeholder because I waited until our last night. The benefits at the time of this post are a 10% off prevailing cruise fare, onboard credit from Disney, and a reduced deposit. You DO NOT have to select a specific cruise in order to do this. For example, I always book a placeholder. The placeholder needs to be used within 24 months from the first night of the current cruise.
Carry-on luggage is very important. Staterooms are not available until early afternoon. On our last cruise, we were able to get into our rooms at 1:30. We boarded the ship around 11:30. So, it is helpful to pack anything you may need during that time in your carry-on. Also, any alcohol is supposed to be brought on the ship via carry-on.
Bring a cup, mug, or tervis. Complimentary beverages are available. However, the cups are relatively small. If you bring your own cup(s), this may save you several trips to the top of the ship!
Skip this if you don’t drink coffee. I enjoy strong coffee mixed with a specific flavored creamer. This creamer is unavailable on the ship. And, the coffee at the drink station is not the best. Bringing my creamer helps me start off the day I normally do and probably most personal tip here. The creamer I drink does come in single-serving sizes, so it was easy to bring aboard. There are very good coffees available at Cove Café.
Bars aboard a Disney ship are underrated. They are very well themed and the servers are amazing. If you are up late, please do yourself a favor and hangout at one of these places. I am NOT advocating drinking alcohol. Other beverages are available and are actually very good.
If feasible, bring a case of water with you. We drove to Port Canaveral for a couple of our cruises. I placed one of our luggage stickers on a case of water. The staff delivered the case of water to our room just as the other pieces of luggage were. I have heard rumors that this is not allowed anymore, but I will continue to do it even after it doesn’t work the first time! Having the water available in the room is very convenient. **Summer 2018 Update** We stayed at Walt Disney World prior to our cruise. We used Amazon Prime Now to get a case of water delivered to our resort. We were able to use DCL transfers, and DCL transferred our case of water with our luggage. The case of water was delivered to our stateroom.
Adults-only restaurants, including Palo and Remy, offer a wonderful dining experience. Make no mistake, I thoroughly enjoy dining in Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden, and other dining rooms. And, I love grabbing food at some of the “quick-service” spots. But, dinner at Palo and Remy or Palo Brunch are special opportunities. And, for the surcharges, I feel they offer an incredible value.
Chocolate souffle at Palo
Tracy and I at Palo
Disney Cruise Line is great at offering activities for every age. If you enjoy an alcoholic drink, I highly recommend trying an alcohol tasting. The event is a great opportunity to try something you have probably not experienced. More importantly, this may be a great opportunity to meet some new people as well. For that reason, I suggest making your reservation for this activity early in your itinerary.
On our first Disney cruise, my wife and I wasted valuable packing space on beach towels and a lifejacket for our son. Lifejackets and towels are provided at the pools and on Castaway Cay. Save your luggage space for the speedo.
If you have the opportunity, reserve a cabana on Castaway Cay. Getting a cabana is nearly impossible for most cruisers as they go quickly. However, they may become available if some cruisers change their mind. So, check occasionally to see if one becomes available.
Getting up early or staying up late will provide you an opportunity to see a sunrise or sunset you will remember forever. This is one of my favorite things to do on any cruise. I am an early riser, so this is an activity I do easily, and I am very happy that I take advantage of this. My favorite place to do this is on the highest deck. I was able to go to the very front of the ship one morning. It is amazing. On our first cruise, my wife and I, by strictly luck, enjoyed a sunset in Palo. Wow!
Fish Extender groups are so much fun! FE groups deserve their own post, so I will try to be as brief as possible for the purpose here. These are groups that exchange gifts with one another via hanging pouch(es) next to their cabin door. There is a sea creature that can hold the pouch(es). People place gifts in the pouches throughout the cruise. This is a HUGE hit with our kids. They are excited to check the FE every time we come back to our stateroom.
Doing laundry is never fun but can be necessary aboard Disney Cruise Line. We book-ended out Disney Cruise with stays at Walt Disney World. We did several loads of laundry aboard the Disney Dream. We were lucky with the location of our stateroom. We had laundry located just steps away from our door. You use your stateroom key to charge the fees for using the washer and dryer. We brought detergent packets and dryer sheets, so we didn’t have to purchase them on the ship. Here is something I found interesting-it was cheaper to do laundry aboard the Dream than doing it at The Polynesian.
Watch the live shows in the Walt Disney Theatre. These stage productions are spectacular. If you want prime seating arrive early. However, most seating offers great views of the stage.
Book your Disney Cruise Line reservation with a travel agent. Travel agents offer obvious services like booking with Disney. In addition, agents will send reminders about making payments and when final payment is due. They also offer insight on current company policies such as documentation requirements or bringing alcohol onboard. Agents can also link multiple reservations if families are travelling together, or agents can link Walt Disney World packages with Disney Cruise Line reservations to provide a seamless experience. Most agents or agencies offer perks as well. Some give gifts and others credit your stateroom account with credit to spend however you like. The best part is most agents charge you NOTHING for their services!
Cruising with Disney is a terrific experience. Disney takes service to another level, and we all know and love their entertainment. Please comment or email me your Disney Cruise Line tips.
Justin Eggenberger, Co-owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC
Last week, I had the opportunity to dine at the newly opened Morimoto Asia located in Walt Disney World. This restaurant is more specifically located in Disney Springs and is a collaboration between Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group. Having been a fan of the show Iron Chef and a foodie by self-proclamation, I was excited to visit! The cuisine promised to borrow from various regions of Asia (more on that in a minute), yum!
My family and I arrived at Disney Springs a little early and meandered to find the restaurant. We had a 4:30pm Advanced Dining Reservation. As we dodged a few raindrops, we quickly came upon a beautiful shining gray and glass building. There was a vertical sign on the side which read “Morimoto Asia” (found it!) and on top of the building, large letters spelling out “Springs Bottling Co.” This sign keeps the building within the theming of this newly remodeled area.
Upon entering, and just in time as the skies opened up, we were greeted by beautiful interior decor. It consisted of glass, silver, and red tones. We were seated quickly, but I couldn’t stop looking up and around at all of the breathtaking decorations. Just stunning. and a little odd in some places. One wall sports very unique black and white photographs of many interesting individuals.
Now for the good stuff. The menu had a little of every kind of
dish from various regions of Asia. Noodles, rice, egg rolls, sushi, sashimi, stir-fry, pad-thai, soups, salads, duck, the list goes on and on. We ordered a few things to share. First up was the Hamachi Tacos. These “tacos” were in what I think are a fried wonton wrapper, with yellow tail tuna, kalamata olives, lime, cilantro, and avocado. Wow! Then we dined on a spicy tuna roll. After this we shared pad thai and the Wok Fry Shrimp.
It was all very tasty. If I had to offer a criticism it would be they small size of the shrimp dish. Three medium shrimp with about a cup of stir fry vegetables didn’t strike me as a good value, though again, it was very delicious and pretty.
After dinner we couldn’t wait for dessert. The majority of their desserts are “for two”. Oh my goodness, I’m so glad we did not forgo dessert. We ordered the MM Parfait. Two chocolate cream puffs, vanilla gelato, nutella, hazelnut chocolate crunch, and sesame mochi (I could have done without the mochi). One of the best desserts I ever had and will get me to return! My son had a Churro Fondue – three mini churros with nutella sauce. Good as well.
Of course I had to check out the restrooms. They stayed within the style of the restaurant and were very modern. The photography on the walls of the restroom was very interesting and may leave you puzzled. I’m still puzzled (I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you can’t contain your curiosity, send me a message on Twitter).
Overall, I found this restaurant to be a welcome addition the renewed Downtown Area, Disney Springs. It is visually beautiful, all of it. The decor and the food. I would definitely return on our next visit, even if it was just for the dessert (oh, the dessert).
Ahh! The surprise Disney World Vacation! Yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.
I have planned two surprise trips for my children. The question I always get asked is. HOW did you do it? Disney requires a lot of planning and it can be a bit tricky, but it is totally worth the extra effort. I mean who does not enjoy seeing a child’s little face when a surprise is revealed? So with that being said, I have a few tips to help you with your surprise Disney World trip.
Be sure to let anyone you tell know that this is a surprise vacation. People love to talk about Disney and the cat can be let out of the bag well before you want it to be. So you may want to limit or selectively chose whom you tell about the trip.
Now as you progress with your reservation there are going to be things you will need or want to discuss with certain members of the traveling group. Like dinner reservations those are going to need to be booked 180 days from the first day you arrive and FastPass+ reservations these should be booked at 60 days before the first day you leave for the trip. Provided you’re staying on Disney property and yes you will want to stay on property.
When possible try to discuss trip details when the children/person is not around. I know this is not always possible so that’s why I included the next tip.
If you should need to discuss the trip while the children/ person is/are around. I highly recommend using a code word for “Disney and Disney World”
When we were planning our trips we used the code word “ceiling fan.” The reason for this is because if my kids hear the word Disney or Disney World they would have started listening to every single world we said. So get together and pick a code word. Remember to stay away from using anything that they will be interested in. Examples kitty, puppy, and any toys things that they may want it could lead to a meltdown especially if you’re dealing with small children. Also, they may end up upset they did not get that item instead of being happy they are going to Disney World.
Avoid using the names of characters when discussing the trip while in the presence of the children/ person these names will draw attention to your conversations and it could send up a hint.
Be careful when you’re working on your computer like on My Disney Experience and booking your air travel. Kids love to try to sneak peaks at what you’re doing and some of them can spot the Disney header from a mile away.
So these are just a few pointers for getting thru the planning process of a surprise Disney World trip. Stay tuned for my next post about how I revealed the trips. As always you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org like me on Facebook” Travel Agent Amanda.” You can also contact any of our other agents at www.adventureisouttheretravel.com . We would all love to help you plan the perfect vacation for your family.
Castaway Cay has an adults-only area! My wife and I have been to Castaway Cay four times over three Disney Cruise Line voyages. (and we have another “double-dip” booked for Summer of 2017.) We have only had an opportunity to visit Serenity Bay one time. We think all adults need to visit this adult-only beach!
First, Castaway Cay is everything that you have heard/read (and possibly a lot more). Castaway Cay is one of our family’s favorite vacation spots. There are a vast amount of amenities only steps away at all times. Furthermore, the Port Adventures available at Castaway Cay offer incredible enhancements and a tremendous value. Castaway Cay itself is, in my opinion, an incredible value for families. Just imagine if Disney could build a resort here…
Getting to Serenity Bay is a little more challenging to get to than the other areas of Castaway Cay, but it is not difficult by any means. The tram picks passengers up near the ship. This tram stop is just past Marge’s Barges. On the map, the tram stop is called Kargo Handling. There are two family beach tram stops. The first is at Scuttle’s Cove. Scuttle’s Cove is basically the Oceaneers Club/Lab of Castaway Cay. Parents may drop off children there similar to dropping them off at the clubs on the ship. The second is Pelican Point. Pelican Point is a stop right in the middle of two very vast family beaches. The two beaches are divided by a protruding land mass that would otherwise be a very large lagoon. However, on this peninsula, is the Heads Up bar. It is a great place to have a beverage and take some great photos. We got off of the tram at Pelican Point to wait for another tram to take us to Serenity Bay. I believe the second tram would go between Pelican Point and Serenity Bay for a majority of the day. The second tram picked us up within five minutes, and the ride to Serenity Bay was brief.
View near Kargo Handling
On Castaway Cay with the family.
Serenity Bay is a wonderful place where adults may relax without the hustle and bustle of family life. The biggest difference I remember is how tranquil the environment is. It felt slow, spacious, and quiet. This is much different than the family beaches which are very busy. Great seating is abundant. It was a short walk for my wife and me to find multiple lounge chairs with an umbrella. Shortly after finding “our spot,” a server came by to check on our needs. The service on Serenity Bay is terrific! Our beverages were delivered quickly and our server checked on us often but not too much.
Having fun with the family
The beach at Serenity Bay looks like what you see on an advertisement for tropical resorts. I am not referring to just the white sand and crystal blue water. Those two features can be found at hundreds of locations. The really cool thing about the ocean at Serenity Bay is how far out one can walk. It tapers similar to most beaches. However, there is a sandbar out a little way which is neat to hang out at. The beach also has two key features that allow adults to stay secluded if they wish. 1. A bar. 2. Serenity Bay BBQ. I really, REALLY like Cookies and Cookies Too, but my experience at the Serenity Bay BBQ was amazing. I do not know if it was timing or luck, but my food was prepared to order which is much different than both Cookies locations. I need to stress that the food is good no matter which location you are eating at on the island. Another advantage that I noticed was there was a little less wildlife around the seating area. If you have eaten at Castaway Cay, you have noticed the birds around the seating areas. There seemed to be significantly less birds there. Float and tube rentals are also available for pickup at The Windsock Hut, located at Serenity Bay.
Serenity Bay is a remarkable, relaxing place for adults to enjoy the tropical ecstasy, Castaway Cay. My wife and I recently went on a Disney cruise without our kids. Being in our low 30’s, numerous friends and family questioned why we would go on Disney Cruise Line if we are not travelling with our children. We have several reasons why Disney Cruise Line offers a wonderful experience for an adults-only experience. Serenity Bay is a dazzling highlight of the experience. Please comment below if you agree or disagree.
Justin Eggenberger, Co-owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC