Wishes Travel Blog

It's so Magical...the perfect place to find a little extra pixie dust for your Wishes Travel Disney Vacation!

Author: Jennifer Huotari (page 1 of 2)

The Polite Pig

On our most recent visit to WDW this summer my husband and I decided to try all new (to us) restaurants!  Tops on our list was Art Smith’s Homecoming and The Polite Pig.  The Polite Pig, located in Disney Springs, is one of the newest restaurants to arrive at Walt Disney World.   A member of Be Polite, LLC this is their first venture into the Disney family.  They are conveniently located at the bottom of the Lime Garage in the new Town Center area.

 

We arrived around 11:30 and parked in the Lime Garage.  As you exit the garage, the escalator puts you out right at their entrance.   We walked in and grabbed a menu to browse before jumping in line to order.  Like most Southern BBQ joints, there are several “comfort foods” on the menu.  Along with a beverage/cocktail menu that includes Florida Craft Beers, Wine, House-made Cocktails and 40 bourbons!

 

 Check out some of their drinks on tap!!

 

Once we made our selections, we hopped in line to order.  We skipped starters so that we could jump right into the good stuff without filling up first.  I ordered the Southern Pig, a sandwich with Fennel-apple Slaw, Tangy Mustard BBQ, Duke’s Mayo, and Smoked Pork.  Joe ordered the Brisket sandwich with Pimento Cheese, Lil’ John’s BBQ, Picked Jalapeños and Crispy Onions.  We then added 3 sides for $15.00, BBQ Cauliflower, Grilled Corn and Mac and Cheese.

After ordering you are given a pager to place on your table and you select your own seat.  We saddled up to a tall table with a view of the kitchen.   You will also find booths, low tables, outside seating and a bar.  If you need a quick charge on your phone, you will find outlets underneath the bar! Our server showed up quickly and was quite friendly and helpful.  Drinks are self -serve and includes all-natural Blue Sky beverages.  The Root Beer and Black Cherry were our favorites.   You will also find a sauce bar with 7 selections sure to please. Not long after getting our drinks, our meals showed up.

 

 

We consider ourselves to be BBQ connoisseurs and tend to be quite picky when it comes to brisket and pulled pork.  I will admit, we were impressed, claiming the brisket to be in high contention with one of our favorite joints!   Sandwiches are served on a buttery toasted bun and piled high with meat and toppings.  A pickle spear accompanies them on the side.  The brisket was fall apart tender with a perfect bark and smoke ring, perfectly cooked with a good mix of lean and moist.  The pulled pork offered a smokey flavor and was piled high and topped with an interesting slaw that even has oranges in it!  Talk about a winning combo!!

 

Onto the sides – or as I call it “my favorite part of the meal”.  YES, after the delicious sandwiches, the sides stole to show!   The winner out of our choices was the BBQ Cauliflower.  The cauliflower is slightly charred then served with a paprika sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds.  If the meat wasn’t so good, I would have this as a meal.  The slight crisp is enhanced by the pumpkin seeds and the added flavor of the paprika sour cream adds a perfect touch.  The corn is grilled which brings out the flavor of the kernels and then topped with lime butter and bread crumbs.  Last but not least, the Mac and Cheese, the creaminess is enhanced by smoked cheddar, cottage cheese and parmesean then topped with breadcrumbs also.  The fat shells fill with cheese making each bite fantastic!

 

When we finished our waitress came by to offer us dessert.  Not ones to normally pass, this day we did. We just could not stop eating our lunch to save room and unfortunately our dessert side was filled to the brim!  They only have 2 desserts here Orange Blossom Honey Cake or Double Layer Chocolate Cake.  I will save room for the Orange Blossom cake next trip.  It looks heavenly!

 

Overall, we give The Polite Pig thumbs up all the way around!  It is a must do for all BBQ lovers and anyone who likes a little originality in their meals!  As mentioned above, The polite Pig is located in Disney Springs.  Their hours are 11am-11pm.  They do not accept reservations.

 

D23 Announcements

D23 is happening this weekend in California and boy are the announcements exciting.  There was so much information coming out it was hard to keep up!  Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, Disney World, Disney Paris, DVC and more!

Disney Cruise Line – In a surprise move, DCL will be introducing 3 new ships instead of 2 with the first one setting sail in 2021. The other 2 ships will follow in 2023.  This will make a total of SEVEN ships in their fleet!  For those of you sailing on the Dream, starting November 6, 2017 a new Beauty and the Beast Show will begin!  A Broadway type show that takes place in one of Maurice’s music boxes will grace the stage with singing, dancing and beautiful sets!


Disneyland – Pixar Pier will be replacing Paradise Pier in Disney California Adventure in 2018.  The opening will coincide with Pixar Fest, a resort wide experience featuring all your favorite Pixar characters.  This celebration will include a brand-new firework show as well as the return of the Pixar Parade.  This will also pave the way for a return of Paint the Night!   Guardians of the Galaxy will be joined by Spider Man and the Avengers in an immersive Super Hero Universe. Starting this fall, a Halloween overlay for Cars Land will be applied and you will be able to celebrate the spooky season with all your favorite Cars!  And is all that wasn’t enough, Fantasmic will be returning.  Slated to return July 17, guests to the convention last night were presented with VIP passes to catch the show starting ASAP!


Walt Disney World – As if an entire new land dedicated to Star Wars wasn’t enough, a new Star Wars themed hotel will completely immerse you into the story.  A trip to this resort will take you to the galaxy for your entire stay.  From the moment you check in until check-out YOU are part of the continuous story!  Think of this resort as a cruise on land.  You will book specific dates here so that you will be immersed in the same story the entire time.  I can’t wait to get more information about this resort!!

                     

 

 

 

 

The Disney Skyliner is being built to connect Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach Resort to Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway of Epcot.  You will ride high above the parks and resorts with spectacular views in this new form of transportation.  Speaking of transportation, an Uber-type service called “Minnie Van” will be coming to the resorts soon as another option to get where you need to be in a timely manner!


Epcot – New Green Mission for Mission Space that will remind you of Soarin will be added soon.  Imagine orbiting the earth as you will be flying around the world from outer space! A New Table Service restaurant will be added near Mission Space promising views will be “out of this world!” And if that wasn’t enough for Future World, Ellen’s Energy Adventure will soon be replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction!  We didn’t get much information on this particular attraction other than it will be an exciting adventure in space travel.  It was confirmed that the France Pavilion will get a Ratatouille ride!! This 4-D ride will shrink the guests down the size of a rat and take an adventure thru Gusteau’s kitchen!  The China Pavilion will be revamping their film using the same seamless technology to create Soarin.  The beloved Circle-Vision will stay in place for the new film.  Filming is happening around China now for this addition.


Magic Kingdom – Tron Roller Coaster is slated to open in 2021 in time for the WDW 50th Anniversary!  This coaster is a fan favorite coming to us from Shanghai Disneyland.  Tron will be in a new area near Space Mountain and will offer riders an exciting ride on lightcycles thru TRON’s high-tech universe.  Main Street will be getting a new theater inspired by Kansas City’s Willis Wood Theater for world-class entertainment.  No word on the type of show that will be staged here.


Hollywood Studios – We do have to announce the Great Movie Ride will be closing August 13 to make way for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.  The ride will transport you thru the screen and you will be immersed in story lines you may see on the Disney Channel’s Mickey Shorts.  Believe it or not, this will be the first Mickey-Themed ride!    We were also told that Toy Story Land will be opening Summer 2018.  Lastly, we now know the official name of the upcoming Star Wars Land!  Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set to open in Hollywood Studios in 2919.  Disneyland’s version will open before Disney World’s but there is no exact date as of now.

  

 


DVC – A brand new DVC resort will be opening named Riviera Resort, they didn’t give too many details on this one but from the maps, it looks as if it will be next to Caribbean Beach Resort and sit near Epcot.  We do know that it will boast a new rooftop restaurant that will have views of both Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks!


Disneyland Paris – Disney’s Hotel New York will receive a full revamp to showcase our favorite Super Heroes!  The Art of Marvel Hotel will include Spider Man, Iron Man and other Avengers.


 

Whew, I think I got it all.  We were teased with the closing line, “there is more to come”.  Hopefully we will get a little more information today before the Expo ends!  Keep up with announcements right here!

 

Cruising to Castaway Cay

A Traveling Suitcase Blog by Noreen Kompanik

Returning from a Disney cruise to the Bahamas to celebrate our grandson’s birthday, I told my family and friends “I would have taken this cruise just to get to Castaway Cay.” Why, you may wonder? Well, I’m more than happy to share.

First of all, anyone who’s sailed on a Disney Cruise will tell you that the entire trip is one fantastic experience. Our ship, the Disney Dream sailed from Ft. Lauderdale on a 3-night Bahamian adventure. Food, service, staterooms were all top notch as always. And for us, having that balcony is important- to feel the warm sun on our faces and the salty breezes blowing through our hair. Because our staterooms were on the same floor as our family, though opposite sides of the boat, we had the pleasure of experiencing both sunrise and sunsets over the Atlantic.

Our first stop was Nassau, a fun port we’ve visited in the past teeming with Bahamian and British flavor and miles of spectacular beaches and stretches of vivid coral reefs perfect for snorkeling.

Excitement however started to build as our ship pulled into Disney’s private island paradise, Castaway Cay (pronounced key). Reserved only for Disney Cruise line guests on Bahamian and Caribbean Cruises, the tropical Cay is located near Great Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas 180 miles east of south Florida. Castaway Cay may not be very big, but, it’s packed with those magical Disney touches, and a heck of a lot to do.

Ships dock right on the island allowing Disney cruisers to disembark directly onto the pier. A short 15-minute walk leads to unbelievable amenities including our first stop, powdery white sandy Castaway Family Beach. Trams are also available for those who need them (or need to get to the beach faster)! Beach towels are provided by cruise line members at the pier so no need to pack those in your suitcase or beach bag.

 

After securing our chairs and umbrellas, the kids scurried to the bay’s turquoise crystalline waters. Snorkeling is available to those wanting to explore the Caribbean’s undersea world in the lagoon just off Castaway Family Beach. Two submerged submarines from Magic Kingdom’s retired 20,000 Leagues under the

Sea attraction add an element of adventure for intrepid snorkelers. And who can resist Pelican Plunge, the 2,400 square-foot floating platform with two bending twisting water slides dropping squealing riders directly into the lagoon itself. A giant “bucket dump” of water brings more anticipation and laughter, and water cannons can be used to shoot unsuspecting targets.

 

Game pavilions near the Family Beach offer a variety of sand and shaded games like volleyball, tetherball, foosball, ping-pong, pool, shuffleboard, basketball, and golf whiffle ball.  Inner tubes, snorkel masks and fins can be rented from Flippers & Floats on the beach to enjoy. Kayaks, paddle boats, paddle boards and Aqua Trikes can also be rented for use in this water wonderland.

For those wishing to get an up-close-and-personal encounter with stingrays, Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure gives you the chance to feed, touch and snorkel with the friendly rays in a private lagoon for an additional fee. Onsite marine specialists provide interesting facts and answer questions about these fascinating sea creatures.

Hammocks are located beachfront and while my husband was clowning around in one with our grandson, that wily, notorious pirate Captain Jack Sparrow snuck up on them, grabbed our camera and starting snapping family photos.

By now our starving gang was more than ready for lunch and what an amazing surprise it was. When we were told Cookie’s on the island would be providing a Beach BBQ lunch, we thought “Cool-hot dogs, baked beans, paper plates, plastic utensils”- a beach picnic. There are actually three BBQ areas on the island, though this and its sister eatery, Cookies Too are more popular.

Yes, diners are seated at picnic tables, but the buffet lunch was a culinary feast. Hot dogs and hamburgers, yes, but a myriad of other delectable food choices like chicken, ribs, seafood, salads, all the fixins’ imaginable are also there. Dessert choices feature a variety of fruits and of course “cookies” and a self-serve ice cream machine with a variety of flavors the kids and big kids all loved. We came hungry, left more than satisfied.

Beach cruisers are available for an additional rental fee but well worth it, so after lunch we took off to explore the rest of the island. Once again, we were delighted by the island’s immense natural beauty. Though Castaway Cay sits on 1,000 acres, only 55 of those are developed. The remainder of the island can be explored along 1.5 miles of bike trails leading to secluded beaches, including an adults-only beach at Serenity Bay and an area of  beach cabanas that can be reserved in advance of the cruise.

A 40-foot observation tower surrounded by the dense flora and fauna of the island provides breathtaking views of the cay and Disney ship docked in the distance. This is one time we were very glad to have brought our cameras with us on the bike trek.

At the end of the day, tired but happy, we stopped for family photos on the way back to the Dream. Because Castaway Cay merchandise isn’t sold on the cruise ship, grandkids chose their souvenir T-shirts and trinkets between two island gift shops with beachy creative names like “By the Seashore” and “She Sells Sea Shells…and everything else.”

As our cruise ship departed the tropical island it occurred to me why the island felt so magical. With the perfect blend of water, sunshine, relaxation, natural surroundings, fun and adventure, it allows families to live for that moment you just can’t put into words.

 

runDisney

“I am on my way
I can go the distance
I don’t care how far
Somehow I’ll be strong
I know every mile
Will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to find where I belong”

Lyrics from “Go the Distance” from the Disney movie Hercules, just one of many Disney songs on my runDisney playlist.

 

I’ve never been a big runner, I’ve done it on and off for years.  I’ve even done a couple of races here and there but they were always “fun with friends” never anything competitive.  A couple of years ago, I decided to pick it back up again.  AND I decided I was going to sign up for the runDisney Princess 5k!  Since I was in no way shape or form yet to be competitive, I decided this was going to be just for fun and a Disney experience I haven’t had yet.

I was online and ready to go the day registration opened.  I had already booked my room at POP Century Resort and I had my Annual Pass.  As soon as I hit submit, I was over the moon excited.  Well, the excitement waned.  It ebbed and flowed and I never really “trained”.  “It’s going to be ok” I kept telling myself.  And you know what?  It was!

runDisney races are comprised of many elements.  They are spaced out over a long weekend in many of their parks.  The 5K starts on Friday with the 10K and Marathons taking place on Saturday and Sunday.  There are also kid’s races on Friday and Saturday.  The Expo starts on Thursday as runners have to pick up packets in person.   The Expo is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex located on Disney property.  When you arrive at the Complex you will see signs directing you to packet pick up and to the exhibit hall.  If there is anything you forgot at home to make your race a success, you will find it here!

I headed down on a Thursday morning for my first Princess Weekend.  We checked into our room and headed for the  Expo.  You have to go to 2 different buildings, The Fieldhouse to pick up your number and the J Center for your t-shirt.  This is also where the Expo is.  Packed with everything from running shoes, shirts, running skirts, headbands, powerbars and more you are sure to find the perfect souvenir to take home. With my packet in hand on Thursday afternoon, we decided to head to Disney Springs for a stroll and back to the resort for a light dinner.  I was concerned about breakfast the following morning as I had to be up so early for the bus.  While having dinner at Everything Pop, I found a Marathon Power pack that contained a bagel, peanut butter, blueberries, raisins, banana and a Special K snack bar.  Perfect!  I was set.  We were back in the room pretty early.  I was terribly concerned I would oversleep and miss the bus plus I wanted to be well rested

.

My alarm was set for 4:00am.  For this 5K it was recommended you be on your bus by 5:00am to make it to your corral on time.  I made my way to the bus stop around 4:45.   There were quite a few people there but we all got on the next bus that arrived.  We were being whisked away to Epcot!  I should inject here that I have a bit of a crowd phobia.  Normally I am fine at Disney, but this was different.  I was alone and didn’t know what to expect.  Running with thousands of my new friends all alone?  Whew, it was a big step for me.

We arrived at Epcot right around 5:30 and I made my way to the party!!  Music, strobe lights, characters and more.  The was so much to see and do!  Again since I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t hop in line to meet the characters.  I know now, that I would have had plenty of time for this and will do it in November for the Wine and Dine 5k!  I danced a little, sang a little, spoke to other runners and admired everyone’s costumes!  Before I knew it, the time to corral up was upon me.  I stayed towards the back, for some space and my sanity, stretching and setting up my run app on my phone. I was getting more and more excited and not to mention brave as I moved up in the corral a little.  Soon it was time for my corral to go off.  I had seen the countdown and fireworks for the others but to be standing there ready to go was so exhilarating.  WE WERE OFF!

 

I was terribly afraid I was going to hold people up, be stuck in a big mob or just freeze.  But it was wonderful.  Everyone was cheering each other on.  Men and women of all ages, and even some kids. There was a lady who survived breast cancer running her first race.  A young lady with her grandmother who was running her 25th race.  A gentleman who had lost 200 pounds running his 2nd race. A group of girlfriends running for their friend who lost her battle and could not be there this time. So many wonderful stories out there, it brought me to tears.  Don’t be afraid to speak to other runners, you just might find some extra inspiration out there!

I had a good pace starting off.  I will say, there are a few tight spots as you make your way backstage at Epcot and it is hard to bob and weave around other runners/walkers.  There were also a few spots I had to walk because of the crowds.  I think if you are at the front of your corral this will not be an issue.  I didn’t stop for character pictures but I did slow down for a few backstage pictures, selfies along the way and got some AMAZING shots of the sun rising over World Showcase.  That’s not something you see everyday!  As you make your way to the finish line, you begin to hear upbeat music pumping thru the parking lot and the cheers from the spectators.  As you round the bend to the finish line you are welcomed by cast members clapping, grandstands along the finishing stretch cheering and congratulating you.  After crossing the finish line, there are many volunteers and cast members passing out medals, drinks and power boxes containing post-race snacks.  There were also tables of fruit and sports drinks to pick up.  The lot is well marked for you to find your bus back to your resort following the race.

 

 

I can admit without a doubt that I am HOOKED!  Disney does a fantastic job providing a fun and safe environment even for solo runners.  From beginning to end, it was an experience I will never forget and one of my favorite things I have ever done on property!  I have since completed a Wine & Dine 5k, the Castaway Cay 5K, a Summer Series and I am currently booked for the 2018 Princess 10k!!!   Dates, registration and any other race information you may need can be found at http://www.rundisney.com/ and don’t forget to contact us at Wishes Travel to book your resort for the race!  See ya at the finish line!

4 Parks 1 Day

4 Parks in One Day?

I’m not going to lie, Disney is BIG!  The parking lots, the parks, the resorts, you name it, Disney makes sure it is big!  Visiting one park can take up and entire day, but with proper planning, is it possible to visit all four parks in one day?  Let’s see! First of all, make sure you grab yourself and anyone else willing to take on this challenge with you a Park Hopper Ticket.  These little beauties will allow you to move from one park to another in the same day.  A long time ago I was anti-park-hopping, now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Second, start with a rough plan.  If you have an entire day, this can be easily done.  But let’s say you have a 8:00 PM ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) like I did.  Still possible?  Keep reading.  You will also need to decide what to do in each park.  My goal was to meet one character, trade pins and ride one ride.  When I thought I had time, I added more. Third, you are going to want to take advantage of EMH (Extra Magic Hours), these are listed daily and change from park to park.  Each day, Disney selects one park to have Morning EMH and one to have Evening EMH, your resort will have a schedule in your room or you can check it out on your My Disney Experience page or app. *

My hubby was playing golf off property this day so I was tackling most of the day solo and was relying on Disney transport. I was taking my “4 Parks in One Day” selfie on the balcony of Animal Kingdom Lodge at 7:20am.   I left early enough to make it to Animal Kingdom before they opened the gates for Morning Extra Magic Hours.  I walked right into A Bug’s Life. I then made my way back to Expedition Everest which I rode twice by waiting in the Single Rider line!  This is my favorite ride in WDW and I could have taken a few more turns but I had so much more to do!  Next up was a meeting with Tarzan, he loved my pin collection.  He thought they were beautiful rocks like the one he had given Jane! I traded 4 pins while in Animal Kingdom and happily made my way to the bus stop to head for Magic Kingdom!

Upon arrival at Magic Kingdom, I noticed Tinker Bell was meeting in Town Hall with only a 10-minute wait, SCORE! I hopped in line and marked my meet and greet off of the list!  I had never been on the Carousel of Progress so I made my way over to Tomorrowland.  I took a spin and had “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” seared into my memory as we got stuck in the Christmas scene for about 20 minutes with it playing over and over.  I had a wonderful conversation about the fall decorations with a group of Cast Members who I also traded pins with.  I stumbled upon the Dapper Dans as I was heading out of the park, I just had to stop and listen!

I decided to take the Monorail over to Epcot, unfortunately we stopped midway as it was having technical difficulties and we sat on the track for about 20 minutes.  The rest of the journey was at about half speed so it cut a little time out of my day.  Not much but enough to make me start to worry. While we were waiting to move, a little girl was admiring my pins and of course I had to give her one.  She was very excited to have her very own pin to start a collection with!  Soon we were on our way and I was HUNGRY by this time.  I would have loved to ride Soarin but that line!  Luckily Test track has a Single Rider Line so I headed over.   After Test Track I grabbed Popcorn and a Coke and chose a spot to people watch.  It is one of my favorite Disney activities!  I got a call from Joe who was on the way back and was going to meet me at Epcot for lunch.  Once he arrived we headed to Sunshine Seasons for a light lunch.  There was a very sweet Cast Member named Amy who was cleaning tables around us who we started chatting with, we traded pins before parting ways. We stopped to meet Mickey, Minnie and Goofy at the Character Spot before leaving.

It was time to head to Hollywood Studios!  Since Joe was with me, we took the car.  This added extra parking lot walking time leaving Epcot and arriving at Hollywood Studios.  As much as I prefer to take our vehicle when at Disney, I found Disney Transport is a better bet for the 4 parks in one-day challenge.   Hollywood Studios was the one park that I messed up in.  I got in 2 rides, Star Tours and Rock N Roller Coaster.  We watched Muppets 3D for the first time. I traded 3 pins and met….  I met….  No One!  As we were walking to the car I realized I didn’t met a character!  It was already after 5, I was tired, Joe was tired.  We both wanted showers and a nap before dinner and needless to say, I kept walking to the car.

So you see, it can be done!  With a little planning, Disney transport and pixie dust I got it all done!  By the end of the day I had almost 20,000 steps on my fitbit!  I have a ton of new pins!  I met so many people including Cast Members and guests I was in line with.  And to top it all off, I got to do something I never tried while on one of our trips.  As I said in the beginning, I use to be anti-park-hopping.  Now that I know just how fun it can be I will never go back!!

*My 4 parks 1 day challenge took place before the Express Transportation option was added.  Combined with your Park Hopper Ticket, this add on will enhance your day by picking you up and dropping you off inside the parks!!

Disney World Cocktails

Not all Disney trips are geared towards the kiddos!  The Epcot festivals are a favorite time to visit Walt Disney World for my husband and I.  From previous blog entries I am sure you know that we like to go without our daughter on occasion.  I don’t mind having a cocktail or two when she is with us while staying at Disney because we don’t have to drive but I still like to remain the responsible mom!  On the other hand, I still do not get out of control when we go alone but I do have my favorite cocktails on property.

Magic Kingdom is the exception to the rule.  Although select restaurants are now offering a limited beer and wine menu, there are no cocktails.   IF we happen to have an Advanced Dining Reservation in the future at one of the locations offering beer and wine, I may have one.

Obviously, my favorite park to grab an “Adult Beverage” would be Epcot.  With 11 countries lining World Showcase and several festivals offering food and beverage kiosks throughout the year it is a no-brainer.  Epcot has 2 main festivals, Flower & Garden during the Spring and Food & Wine during the Fall.  A recent addition, The International Festival of the Arts, will be returning in the winter of 2018.  You can find most everything in Epcot.  Beer, wine, liquor, champagne, cordials and more.  Each country has something that is geared towards the main drink for each country.  Germany, one thinks beer.  Italy, wine.  Japan, sake.

Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs also offer some great locations to grab a cocktail.  Dawa Bar, Drinkwallah, Brown Derby, Peevy’s Polar Pipeline, Jock Lindsey’s and more.

And don’t forget the resorts!  With pool bars, lounges and restaurants you are sure to find a perfect spot to unwind after a day in the parks.

Now, on to a few of my personal favorites:

Epcot – France Pavilion – Kiosk Les Vins des chefs de France– Grand Marnier Slush – This one is a must have it every single trip and I get the large with an extra shot.  The orange flavored slush is combined with Grand Marnier Liqueur (also orange flavored) to create the combination of cool and refreshing for a hot day.

Epcot – Japan Pavilion – Sake Tasting Bar – Tucked away in the back of Mitusukoshi Department Store is a Sake Tasting Bar.  The cast members are knowledgeable in helping you pick a new sake to try.  I never knew there were so many types!  Sparkling, sweet, dry, extra dry, and cloudy sakes fill the menu.  They also offer a monthly special.

Animal Kingdom – Drinkwallah – Frozen Rum and Coke – The unassuming stand dishes out a frozen Captain Morgan and Coke that will make the hottest days seem bearable!  I’ve always been a fan of Captain and Coke but this takes it to a new level!!

Polynesian Resort – Tambu Lounge – Lapu Lapu – This fruity concoction is served in a fresh hollowed out pineapple.  Talk about feeling like you are on the islands!  This one is great to share with friends or have it all for yourself if you are brave enough.  A mix of Myers Dark rum, fruit juices and a topper of Bacardi 151 make up this one.

 

Polynesian Resort – Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – The lines may be long to get in at times but the experience alone is worth it.  Go ahead and go for a specialty drink and purchase the souvenir glass to take home with you!  The Nautilus is one of our favorites and big enough for two.  We often pick our poison just for the souvenir cup.  Keep your eyes peeled, each drink ordered is interactive with the lounge and/or Cast Members!!

 

Resort Pool Bars – Pina CoLAVA – This frozen fruity concoction is just what the vacation doctor ordered for sitting by the pool relaxing.  This drink takes a normal Pina Colada and kicks it up a notch with Bacardi Razz and a raspberry puree swirl.  Perfect for pool side refreshment.

The resorts, restaurants and parks are full of restaurants and lounges with beverages to fit anyone’s needs. Alcohol-free options are also available.  Just remember to drink responsibly, it is Disney and there are lots of kiddos around.  Keep hydrated in the Florida sun and remember Disney transport is there for you or you can always call Uber!

 

 

 

Disney Golf Sunrise 9

Are you an avid golfer? Do you only play a couple times a year?   Ever thought about giving it a swing?    Then Disney is the place for you!  Did you know that there are more than just theme parks and water parks on property?  There are 4 golf courses to choose from.  The Magnolia, Palm, Lake Buena Vista and Oak Trail (a par 36 walking only course).

If you are an early riser, Disney Golf offers a package called the Sunrise 9.  Between 7:00 – 8:30 a.m. daily you can tee off at Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course or choose from the back nine at either Disney’s Lake Buena Vista or Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course.   $35.00 plus tax gets you 9 holes, a breakfast sandwich and a drink before and after your round.  Don’t worry if you don’t have clubs, they also offer rentals.

My husband and daughter selected Oak Trail for the Sunrise 9.  We arrived around 7:00 for our tee time.  We were welcomed at the Club House by the friendly Pro Shop Cast Members, checked in, received our selection of breakfast sandwiches and drinks and headed for the first tee.  We were the first group out for the morning.  The course is short but challenging and it is set up for younger players unlike the others.  150 yard Junior Tees are set up on each hole.  *Oak Trail is the only course on property with this option.

 

While I didn’t play, I was keeping busy keeping score not only of the shots but of the wildlife.  On the back of the scorecard is a list of local inhabitants of the course.   I checked off deer, squirrel, rabbit, heron, hawk and turkey.  It’s a great morning walk with family even if you are not a player.  You are even close enough to the Magic Kingdom to hear the new morning show, Let the Magic Begin.

 

Whether it be a family trip or a guys or even girls trip, Disney has several golf options for everyone!  You can find them online at www.golfwdw.com or call for a tee time 407-WDW-GOLF (939-4659). Your Wishes Travel agent would be happy to help you with these bookings also.

* Disney Golf has recently added the Sunset 9 for those who have a little free time in the evenings.  Sunset 9 is $29.00 plus tax and includes a hot dog and a drink.   Times range from 3:00pm-5:30pm

#disney #waltdisneyworld #golfwdw #disneygolf #wishestravel

Palo ~ Disney Cruise Line

Fine Dining on the High Seas at Disney Cruise Line’s Palo

 

Palo can be found on all four of Disney Cruise Lines ships.  Taking cues from Northern Italian cuisine, you find yourself on a culinary journey to exceed your expectations.  Palo is an “adult only” experience reserved for guests ages 18 and over.   Reservations are highly recommended prior to sailing but you can also check with guest services once onboard to see if there are any openings available.  There is an additional charge for dining at Palo, currently the base cost is $30.00.  You also have the option to add in the wine paring (Esperienca del Vino) for an additional $59.00 per person.

My husband and I booked dinner the evening of our Cayman Island stop on our last cruise.  This was an early day back to the ship and we didn’t feel we would be missing much on board this particular night.  Our daughter was checked into the Oceaneers Club, with her own dinner plans for the evening, and we were off.   Palo is located on the topmost aft deck on each of Disney’s ships.  This location provides stunning views of the ocean if you dine before the sun sets.

When you arrive you are greeted at the check in desk by friendly cast members who lead you to your table.  We were seated at a booth that is on a slight riser so that you still have a gorgeous view of the ocean over the tables located next to the windows.  Just as we got settled and comfortable we were greeted by our server for the evening, Jenny.  Introductions were made and we immediately jumped into discussing our evening.  This was not our first time dining at Palo so we knew the routine.  Jenny let us know of some changes to the menu and then presented us with the most interesting menu of the evening.  The H2O selection.  Yes, you read that correctly, a menu of 20 different waters from around the world.  Jenny was very helpful when it came to selecting a water as the servers all had to attend a water tasting class! We each decided on a different water to sample.  I selected a water from Wales, Tau.   Joe’s selection came from Italy, San Benedetto.  I never knew waters could taste so light and airy.  And such different flavors from each other.  The water that we did not drink that evening was labeled for us to enjoy in the main dining rooms for the rest of the cruise.  We also selected a red wine for the evening that was also stored for us to have later in the cruise.

The first course consists of an antipasti platter.  Jenny rolled the cart to our table and began to assemble our plate.  Roasted red peppers, artichoke, prosciutto, bresaola, marinated olives, and parmesean reggiano.  This is all drizzled with olive oil and aged balsamic.  Three breads are also brought out to accompany the platter.  Grissini sticks, ciabatta rolls and focaccia bread.  I would be happy with just this platter as my meal but I knew there were more delicious selections to come!

It was time to order appetizers, yes after the delicious antipasti platter I was expected to eat even more before dinner was served.  I didn’t mind at all!  We selected the soft potato gnocci that was tossed in a light tomato sauce with kale and what could quite possibly be the best tomatoes I’ve had in 41 years.  They are grown on the side of Vesuvius in Naples, Italy and have a wonderful ashy flavor to them.  I am not a fan of tomatoes in general and I could have enjoyed these the rest of the cruise.  We also ordered the Fritto di Calamari e Gamberi, deep-fried shrimp and calamari, the addition of flash fried basil and preserved lemon was an added experience.  What flavors!

A palate cleansing lemon sorbet was brought out as it was now time to choose our main course.  I found this to be a difficult decision, I wanted something different from our last visit but Joe knew he wanted the lamb again.  The last time we dined here, he said it was the best lamb he had ever tasted.  I finally decided and our orders were placed.  Roasted rosemary-rubbed rack of lamb with roasted carrots, caponata, olive oil potatoes, with rosemary jus on the side for Joe and the grilled prime beef tenderloin with pancetta potato, sautéed spinach with barone chianti wine sauce for me.  Every single thing was perfection.  The lamb and tenderloin were cooked to the temperature we requested.  Each bite melting in your mouth.    We were doing our best to save room for dessert but we just kept eating!  As our daughter says after she tells us she is full, “My dessert side always has room”.

We decided to share a Chocolate Souffle.  You cannot go wrong with this selection.  Hot gooey soufflé broken open by your server with chocolate and vanilla bean sauce poured in.  It is a very rich dessert and we are very glad we decided to share.  It’s the most popular dessert they offer and you will need to request it as you order dinner as it is made to order and takes 40 minutes.  As dinner is ending Jenny brought out one last surprise, a small shot glass of a digestif comprised of frozen Lemoncello and Apple Ice Wine.

While dinner is only $30.00 be prepared to pay extra if you make a wine and/or water selection.  Also remember to tip your server and the sommelier if your request their assistance.  All in all, for $30.00 per person this is an exquisite experience from the moment you step into the restaurant that you should not pass up.   You will feel you have stepped into another world and will not want to come back to reality.

Tiana’s Place

Our family recently took a three-day cruise on the Disney Wonder.  This newly refurbished ship may be small but it packs a big punch!  With the new show, Frozen A Musical Spectacular and new restaurants and lounges we were ready for a brand-new experience. Disney has rotational dining on their ships which means you go from restaurant to restaurant each night of your cruise with your serving staff following along with you.  Even on a 3 day, we felt like the servers had known us for ages.  The service is impeccable!

 

 

 

 

One of our favorite activities was dinner at Tiana’s Place.  I had been anticipating dinner here ever since we booked the cruise!  I had read reviews and seen many pictures.  None of it prepared me for how wonderful it was.  When you walk into Tiana’s, you walk thru a small alley way into the dining room.  Beads, wrought iron balconies and strings of lights welcome you.  The host’s stand and a large wine cabinet stand in the entrance.  

We were lead to our table which unfortunately was behind a post, but we were very close to the stage and we could see bits and pieces.  Luckily the performers moved around a good bit.  Tables are covered with green table cloths with lily pad placemats in the middle of the tables.  The place setting is beautiful!  I would love to have a set for myself.  White dishes with Tiana and Naveen as frogs along the rim of the plate in colors of green, yellow and gold.  Water glasses are in the style of the old Moon and Stars glassware and came in many assorted colors.

 

The main menu has Tiana on the front cover.  The meal is Southern with a strong Cajun influence.  Boudin, Shrimp and Grits, Seafood Pepper Pot, Creole Half Chicken, Cajun Spiced Sea Bass, Buttermilk Beignets and more.

Once you have been seated, your server comes around with Mardi Gras beads for the entire table to start the mood off right.  Glasses are filled and orders start to be placed.  This is when the Crawfish Crooners come out and start the party.  They sang favorites such as “When the Saints Come Marching In”, “Everybody Wants to be a Cat”, “Bear Necessities” and other jazzed up Disney Classics.  Tiana then makes an appearance making her way around to each table.  She does go up to the stage to welcome everyone and sings a couple of songs herself.  As dinner progresses more of a party atmosphere becomes apparent.  The music is more upbeat, guests are clapping along and singing then to top it off, Louis the alligator comes out and dances around the restaurant!

 

As our dessert orders were being taken, our server abruptly left (he did tell us he would be back) because he had to join the Mardi Gras Parade. Tambourines, decorated umbrellas,  I could not believe how many servers were coming thru the doors.  They wrapped around the entire restaurant.  My favorite part was being invited to join in.  All guests are asked to get on their feet and march around the restaurant.  It is such a festive and immersive meal that you almost forget you are on a cruise.  You think you have been transported right to New Orleans and Mardi Gras.

 

Overall, this has been our favorite Disney Cruise Line experience, should you decide to book a cruise, seriously consider the Wonder just for Tiana’s Place!

 

#DCL #DisneyCruiseLine #Wonder #TianasPlace #DisneyDining #Tiana #WishesTravel

Jiko Wine Tasting

My husband and I had the opportunity to experience the Jiko Wine Tasting at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The wine tasting class lasts about an hour and covers wine regions of South Africa.  We arrived about 20 minutes before the tasting started and we were allowed to sit in the lounge area until closer to 3:00.  The tables were already set with the wines and cheeses we would be tasting.  Our sommelier for the evening set the tone as she walked in the door.  She was loud, vibrant and quite funny.  She doesn’t believe in “stuffy” wine tastings and thinks they should be fun and exciting!  I have to admit, it was one of the best wine tastings I have ever attended.

 

We started with a nice light white, Cederberg Bukketraube from Citrusdal Mountain in South Africa.  It was a flora wine with hints of apricot.  We then moved on to the rose DeMorganzon DMZ from the Western Cape of South Africa.  I am normally not a fan of Rose but this one was not too sweet and had a lovely hint of spices in the end.  Our last wine was a red, Black Pearl Cabernet Syrah made in Paarl South Africa.  Plum, pepper and red berries rounded out this delicious red.

 

Each wine was paired with each of the 3 cheeses we were given so that we could see how each paired with the other for comparison.  We were encouraged to call out what meals we thought the wines would pair with and what we each could smell from the wines. We talked about each wine, we laughed and we learned the history of wine making in South Africa.  This is a great option from the parks and for something a bit out of the ordinary

Jiko-A Cooking Place is a Signature Restaurant located in Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jambo House located downstairs from the main lobby.  The restaurant can be reached by elevator or the stairs.  Wine Tastings are offered on Wednesdays at 3:00pm and can be booked like other Advanced Dining Reservations 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-DINE.  At the time we did this class, the cost was $31.25 per person including tax and gratuity (October 2016)  Tastings are small and only seat 12 so it is a good idea to book as soon as you can.  Contact your Wishes Travel Agent for more information or to book!

#wishestravel #animalkingdomlodge #jiko #winetasting #wine #disneyforadults

 

 

 

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