Wishes Travel Blog

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

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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

 

 

 

How to Have a Fantastic Cruise Experience: Book with a Boutique Travel Agency

A Traveling Suitcase blog by Noreen 

When my husband and I cruised the Mediterranean a few years ago, I used a large online cruise agency out of New York to book our adventure. I knew which cruise line we wanted based on the itinerary and cruise reviews, and was mostly shopping for the best value, which was why we selected that particular agency.

We got a price we were happy with and the cruise was booked. All documents were in order and several months later, we were off to the Med! While the agency rep did her job, I had to do most of the research on my own regarding port visits or questions about the cruise itself. And trying to connect with my husband, who was in Afghanistan at the time with extremely sketchy internet service and his sometimes inability to open documents I sent, there were times the planning process was frustrating.

The rep sent a link to the Celebrity cruise line home page and some “general” information, but, truth be told, that’s where the assistance ended. Not because she didn’t want to help, but, not surprisingly, she hadn’t taken many cruises herself and wasn’t all that familiar with our port of sail. And being from a huge travel agency, her responsibility was basically booking the cruise. I did my homework, relied heavily on reviews from past cruisers or information provided online by the cruise line. Thankfully, the trip went without a hitch and we had a wonderful time.

A few years ago, while talking with long-time friends, it was suggested we all take a trip together, preferably a cruise. As usual, I was asked to the lead for planning. When all was said and done, we had 15 people interested in cruising to Alaska. But this time, I knew I didn’t want to use a massive travel agency. Instead, I opted for a smaller boutique agency whose dedicated agent – Kristy at Wishes Travel  provided much more personalized attention. And it made all the difference in the world for a spectacularly successful cruise and one very happy group of passengers!

Cruising with a larger group changes everything.  And not hard to figure, there are a lot of factors to consider. Cabin types, cabin locations, beverage packages, dinner seating, shore excursions, and more. And information about the port the ship departs from, such as where to stay and how to get to the port the day of departure.

Several of our group had cruised many times, for others this was their first cruise. There is no “one size fits all” with this many people-all with decidedly different personalities, needs, desires, age ranges, and yes, a few quirks.  And each family with their own set of questions and concerns.

Travel agents can’t provide first-hand experience concerning every corner of the globe or every cruise ship. But an agent that travels often has a deeper appreciation and understanding of what travel entails and the decision processes needed to ensure a happy and successful vacation.  And an agent who has a more personal relationship with her clients is able to garnish welcomed feedback about each cruise or vacation for future planning. And that’s helpful to everyone.

Our group decided on a seven-night cruise to Alaska on Celebrity Infinity departing from Vancouver, British Columbia. We opened a closed-group Facebook page for members adding Kristy from Wishes Travel. Communicating as a group was so much easier when questions with answers and information was available in one place where we could all share.

Because of the number of passengers in our group, Kristy was able to coordinate with a Celebrity representative who specifically worked with group bookings. Not only did we receive excellent competitive prices for the cruise, Kristy was also able to obtain onboard credits for each family.  As a group, we were able to be seated together for dining. The rep could also suggest meeting places on board and the location for the best views when the ship sailed out of Vancouver Harbour.

Though the majestic and breathtaking glaciers and whales we saw in Alaska were the highlight of our trip, as we sailed back to our port of Vancouver on the last day of the cruise, we were invited by the ship’s Captain to join him for a private tour of the bridge. And the Captain loved chatting with four of our group members who just happen to be retired Naval Officers.

Working with a boutique travel agency has a multitude of benefits, but the one that made the difference with all of our travelers was the superb, patient and personalized service we received and the ease of having our questions and concerns answered and addressed quickly.  You just won’t get this with a larger travel agency.

And oh, by the way, we’re planning another group cruise in 2018, this one to the Mediterranean.  And back by popular demand, Kristy and Wishes Travel will once again be working with us to create yet another “magical” experience!

 

 

Character meals – Good food and good company!

“It’s more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like, ‘What about lunch?’”

– Winnie the Pooh

I am obsessed with character meals at Disney!  What could possibly be better than eating wonderful food and having your favorite characters walk right up to your table to interact with your family?  It really is hitting two birds with one stone because, let’s face it, you have to eat so why not see Mickey at the same time!!  There are many character meals that you can choose from at the various resorts and parks, but here are some of our favorites!

Looking for a princess?  There are three different locations that we have dined at for lunch and/or dinner with our favorite tiara-wearing friends.  Located inside Cinderella’s castle in the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella’s Royal Table is an absolute blast!  You meet Cinderella before you even sit down, which always gets the kids super excited.  When you make your way to your table there is a magic wishing star for you to take home and your waiter will hand out wands or swords (based on the child’s preference) to each young prince and princesses for another souvenir!!  This is a sit down restaurant where everyone will order from a menu, but while your food is being prepared, various princesses come to your table to sign autograph books, take pictures, and interact with your family.  The princesses change based on availability in their royal schedules, but before your meal is over, four of them will have stopped by to spread kindness to their royal subjects!

Aukershus Royal Banquet Hall is located in Epcot and also hosts an assortment of your favorite princesses.  Here you will be greeted by Belle and then feast with an appetizer/salad bar and also order your meal from a menu of traditional Norwegian-inspired dishes.  Just like at Cinderella’s Royal Table, the princesses vary but you know that four will stop by your table during your meal and there is also a parade with the princesses that is fun for everyone to join!

At 1900 Park Fare we have enjoyed a generous spread at an all you can eat buffet with Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella.  You begin by taking a picture in the lobby and then all five characters stop by your table to say hello.  The character interactions at this dinner always make for one of our favorite dining adventures of the trip.  You have to experience Cinderella’s stepmother and step sisters for yourself to truly understand how much fun it is!

Time to move on from the princesses and find some other characters!  Our forever favorite with the “Big 5” (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto) is Chef Mickey!  We still love going to the Contemporary and enjoying the buffet while these Disney favorites are walking from table to table.  For us it is always a great way to start our trip because the kids get to see Mickey and Minnie right away; plus, they love the all you can eat dessert bar!  I absolutely adore when they start to play the “celebrate” song and everyone takes their napkins and start waving them above their head.  Such a silly thing to do, but my girls have been doing it since they were babies and it is fun to watch them get more into it every trip!

Crystal Palace is located inside the Magic Kingdom and is another all you can eat buffet with your friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.  Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore are ready to bounce and give hugs to your family while you enjoy an air conditioned break during your day at the Magic Kingdom.  Now I know a buffet can stress people out with characters, but we have found that it is best to watch one character come out and scope out their path because all of the other characters take the same route.  This helps you figure out how much time until a character navigates his way to your table so you can go fill your child’s plate with a third helping of Mickey mac and cheese!!

A recent first was heading to the ‘Ohana Character Breakfast at the Polynesian.  This breakfast was served family style with eggs, breakfast potatoes, fruit, bacon, sausage, and other yummy surprises.  The Stitch juice was absolutely fantastic and even our picky eaters drank it up and kept asking for more!!!  In between bites Mickey, Pluto, Lilo, and Stitch all stop by the table for pictures and signing of autograph books.  There even was a parade for kids to go around with the characters around the restaurant.  Like I said, this was a first but definitely not a last for our family.

There are many more character meals that are offered throughout the parks and resorts, but for right now these are the ones that my girls hold near and dear to their hearts!  Determine what characters your family wants to see and find out if you can book a meal with them, because meeting a character in air conditioning when you are fed is so much more magical than out in the Florida heat with hungry kids!!

Morimoto Asia

Maybe you remember watching Iron Chef “Allez Cuisine!“.  Masaharu Morimoto was always one of my favorites to watch.  His skill in the kitchen made me want to cook and learn all I could about the culinary world.

You can probably also imagine the excitement I felt when it was first announced that he would be opening a restaurant at my favorite vacation destination.  Morimoto Asia opened in the Fall of 2015 but I didn’t have the opportunity to visit until the following year.  Many reviews were poured over in that year and my excitement was growing.

There was only one bad thing about my first trip and I will address it first and foremost.  I say bad only because it directly affected me, my friend Kerry and I were going to be participating in the Wine and Dine 5k the following morning and we didn’t want to overeat.  Yes, I was upset that I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted!  It is a sad reality but it is what it is.  It was going to be my first opportunity to eat here and I was jumping at it!

We arrived at Disney Springs shortly before our ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) and made our way to the restaurant.  The building it’s self is quite striking and even more beautiful at night.  The silver metal building has Japanese characters cut into it with glass walls and pops of red.  While the interior of the restaurant is very sleek and modern, you don’t feel as if you are in a stuffy establishment.  Chandeliers hang from the high ceilings; circular booths line the middle of the space with tables surrounding them.  The bar offers traditional bar stool seating as well as low tables and couches.  The restaurant also offers a sushi bar upstairs and a walk-up window outside.

While the inside of the restaurant is beautiful, we chose to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful November weather since we were having a cold spell back home.  We skipped cocktails based on the early morning we had ahead of us and went straight into our meal.  We each started with sushi rolls.  These were just your basic rolls, nothing too fancy.  I chose Spicy Tuna. Kerry ordered the California Roll.  The rolls were small enough to be bite size and the filling was proportionate to the rice.

 

 

 

 

 

Next I chose the Kakuni Pork Bao Buns and Kerry ordered the Chicken Pad Thai.  The bao buns were soft and chewy and stuffed with braised pork belly.  There were only two in the order, I could have had a dozen of these.  The pork belly was tender with a bit of a sweet flavor that was balanced out by the spicy mayo.  Kerry picked the Chicken Pad Thai.  A sweet tamarind sauce over rice noodles with chicken and vegetables.  We enjoyed the sauce with this dish, it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet, as it added great depth to the entrée.  We did end up sharing this dish based on its size.

Overall, we enjoyed this restaurant and would visit again.  I am interested in trying the sushi bar upstairs and hopefully be lucky enough for it to be when Chef Morimoto himself is visiting!  Have you had the pleasure of dining here?  If so, let us know your thoughts.

Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs – The Landing

Frontera Cocina Review

Happy #foodiefriday Wishes Travelers!
Have you heard? Disney Springs has recently undergone a massive expansion and overhaul. Several new restaurants have been added and luckily, I got to check out one of the newest. Chef Rick Bayless, six-time winner of the James Beard Foundation Award, has offered up a new Mexican treat! Frontera Cocina, located in the Town Center area near the Disney Springs Welcome Center.
The restaurant has a quite modern feel to it. Muted colors lend to a relaxing atmosphere. An open kitchen can be seen in the front of the restaurant. We were quickly seated for our reservation and of course decided to start out with Chips and Salsa. You receive 2 salsas with the chips, a red and green as my daughter calls them. The red is a Smoky Chipotle and the green, an Herby Salsa Verde. Both dips were flavorful and not too spicy. I am not a fan of cilantro on any level and was surprised that I liked the Salsa Verde.
We moved on to our orders, since I am not a fan of cilantro, my server assured me that what I chose did not have any it but they would have been happy to leave it off if requested. I chose the Cochinita Pibil Torta with a side of Queso Anejo Mashed Potatoes, which is quite possibly the best mashed potatoes I have had.
Joe ordered the Carne Asada Tacos which came with black beans, Cotija cheese, more salsa, guacamole (which I happily ate) and corn tortillas. The meat wasn’t overly seasoned and the true flavor of the meat was obvious. The black beans were “refried” which gave them a creamy texture.
Abigail our ever-adventurous eater selected the Quesadillas and substituted the black beans for the rice. They are made with artisan jack cheese and were just your typical cheese quesadillas, I guess they keep it simple for the kiddos!
We did not enjoy any cocktails this trip but the bar has a wide selection of Signature Margaritas that I am willing to go back and try for the sake of our readers!

 

Frontera Cocina

Frontera Cocina can be booked on Disney’s website, the My Disney Experience app or by calling 407-939-3463. Have you been to Frontera Cocina? What was your favorite meal?

Disney Dining Plan….how it worked for us!

What could be more important than a little something to eat?

– Winnie the Pooh

Most of our Disney World vacations are during the summer.  They last about a week and we tend to drive to have our car available for making stops at the grocery store to pick up breakfast foods, lunch items, along with snacks and drinks to keep in the room.  However, we also have taken some long weekend trips that have required us to fly down and board the Magical Express to get to our hotel.  On these trips we have found that the Disney Dining Plan is ideal!

There are a variety of options with the dining plan, but the one that worked best for us included one snack, quick service meal, and sit down meal each day.  This was fantastic because we stopped in and grabbed a snack for breakfast (we are not huge breakfast eaters), found a quick service spot for lunch, and then enjoyed a sit down meal for dinner.

Choosing the dining plan that works best for you and your family goes back to what you want to get out of the trip.  There are a wide variety of places to eat in Disney, and you can easily book a different sit down meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month!  My family prefers to eat on the go (standing in line while waiting to meet a character is the best time to snack on some popcorn or eat a Mickey pretzel) and use our meal time to regroup as to what we want to do next (this makes the quick service a perfect lunch time stop) or wander the buffet while waiting for the princesses to stop by our table.  With the dining plan being prepaid before your vacation, your kids will get a kick out of picking up the check by simply having their magic band scanned by the cashier or waiter.  The dining plan also includes a variety of extras that can be found on the Disney Dining Plans site.

It all goes back to what do you want out of your vacation.  Take the time to talk to your family and decide what is important for your trip!  We would rather have big meals after our day of fun, sun, and adventure, but we know families who prefer to fuel up before the day’s excursion. We do not like a big meal in the middle of the day due to the fatigue factor, but we could understand catching a break from the onslaught of entertainment (and heat). Be sure talk as a family and get on the same page early on to avoid clashes later.

Best wishes!

180 days until your trip? Time to make your dining reservations!

“If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff!”- Ratatouille

Character meal?  Breakfast?  Lunch?  Dinner?  Big meal?  Quick service?  What will make everyone happy?  These are the questions that every family faces when they are 180 days from their arrival to Disney World because it means they can start making dining reservations!  This day is the first of two dates that you need to have your vacation planned out in order to try and get all of the reservations you want to make your stay magical!

Our family prefers the character meals so that we are knocking out two birds with one stone: multiple characters in one spot that come to our table while we are eating means no lines in the parks when it’s hot, humid, and you’re hungry.  To us, this is a time saver and is a fun experience for everyone.  At Chef Mickey, when everyone is waving their napkins in the air (while standing on their chairs if you are in our family), parading with the princesses at Aukerhaus, or watching your husband get hit on by one of the stepsisters at 1900 Park Fare, these meals are always a blast!

It is also nice to have a meal that is not so Disney focused.  A family favorite – for sure my husband’s favorite – is Biergarten located in Germany in Epcot.  Besides the buffet of German cuisine and the liter size mugs of beer, the show is a blast for all.  I will never forget watching my brother participate in the yodeling competition and wondering how in the world he got his voice that high!  They also have dancing and a group chant that has everyone raising their glasses high in the air and toasting to good times and great memories.

Another major concern besides character or non-character meal is time of day.  Does your family want to have a sit down meal for breakfast?  How about in the middle of the day?  Does later in the evening work better?  We have tried every time of day but it changes each trip based on our family’s preferences.  As our girls get older we stay out later and have adjusted our meals to accommodate our late night excursions, but when they were babies/toddlers we were at the first breakfast seating because we had been up since 6:00AM!

What about location?  Are you going to make reservations to eat in one of the parks?  What about eating at your hotel?  Do you want to try out another hotel? Have you checked out the dining at Disney Springs?  There are so many options that it takes time to plan out your vacation.  Be sure to check out https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/ to read about the 360 restaurants and to filter them by price, experience, ratings, etc.  The next few blogs I will be filling you in on some of our family dining favorites that might help you while planning!

I strongly suggest that you start planning a few days before your 180 day countdown because, as someone who is speaking from experience, you may know exactly what you want but might not be able to get the time you are looking for (especially at some of the peak times that fill up fast).  Have your plan along with a backup plan so that you can make sure you can fit in as much as possible during your stay!

Best wishes!

Preserving Memories with Disney’s Memory Maker

A Way to Make your Wishes Come True Blog by Jamie

“They say if you dream a thing more than once, it’s sure to come true.” – Sleeping Beauty

How many of you have dreamed about your Disney vacation?  You can picture it all playing out in your mind: Mickey stands in front of Cinderella’s castle with nobody else in sight (Seriously, where is everybody!?), and your child and Mickey run towards each other ending with them embracing in a slow motion hug. Yes we have all dreamt of this happening, but let’s be honest, our Disney vacations are not Disney promotional commercials!  Sorry to break it to you but few Disney vacations end up picture perfect, but what if you could get the perfect picture?  

This summer I tried the Disney memory maker and will admit that I am upset that I never purchased it before!  Disney PhotoPass photographers are not only with characters but also stationed throughout the parks just waiting to take your picture!! In the past we would have the Disney photographers use their camera to take some pictures but then have them use our personal cameras so we didn’t have an additional cost to purchase their shots.  Let me tell you why this was a mistake that I will not make again!

In the past I have gone online after a vacation to view the pictures the Disney PhotoPass photographers and maybe purchase one of the pictures or use the photos to create a memory book, but it was always so expensive and I loved every shot, which made choosing just one a very hard task!!  Even with the Disney photographers taking the same pictures on my camera they were not the same as the Disney pictures, which always looked so much more clear, crisp, and professional.  

Enter Disney Memory Maker!  For $149.99 I get every single picture that is taken during our vacation. The price goes up to $169.99 if you do not purchase before your vacation and if you have an annual pass the Memory Maker is already included!!

Here is how it works. You purchase the Memory Maker and then anytime you see a Disney PhotoPass photographer, you ask them to take your picture.  When they are finished, you hold out our Magicband, and they scan it to link those pictures directly to your My Disney Experience. An added feature is that when you are riding Seven Dwarfs, Splash Mountain, Expedition Everest, Frozen Ever After, and every other ride that takes your picture, it automatically gets linked to your Magicband. You can view the pictures on your my Disney experience app and then download all of them or select your favorites.  You can also download from the My Disney Experience website or you can order a disc (for an additional cost) with all of your pictures along with a gallery of Disney photos from around the parks, hotels, and various events throughout the year.  

There is an added bonus to Memory Maker and that is magic shots!  Oh my this was a pleasant surprise when we found out about these!!  When your Disney PhotoPass photographer finished taking your picture, ask if they have any special magic shots that they can do. Your photographer presses a button on his or her gear and will ask you to pose in a certain way. You will think that he or she is nuts until you check out your My Disney Experience app later on and see that they had you pointing at Pascal sitting on your sister’s head or holding Tinkerbell in the palm of your hand, or posed you to be in a snow storm with Olaf!  They are priceless and all of our favorite photos to look at when our trip comes to an end.

Do you need another reason as to why to order Memory Maker?  Videos!  Watching a video of your family ride Buzz lightyear, reliving the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, having the trolls from Frozen form a pyramid in front of your family, or Tinkerbell flying over your daughters as they stand in front of the Epcot ball: all of these special touches of the MemoryMaker will keep the Disney Magic flowing when you get home from your vacation. As I said, I wish I would have purchased it when it first came out for our family vacation but now I know how amazing the MemoryMaker is and am telling you so you don’t miss out on all of the special moments you can bring home!  

So you might not have the moment of your child rushing across the an empty Magic Kingdom to meet the character of their dreams like you see in the commercials, but you can bring home the moment of your child meeting that special character and every other magical moment that has a Disney PhotoPass photographer near by!

 

Best Wishes!

Jamie
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