We just traveled 4 hours up north with our 4 kids (ages 1,3,5, and 8) for a long holiday.  The drive got me thinking about the 20 plus hour drive we have coming up when we take our kids to Disney this fall!  This will be a first for our family, as we have always flown in the past.  Aside from wondering how I will keep them entertained for that long, in the car, without losing my mind (that is another post all together) I wondered how I could keep our family of 6 fed without having to resort to fast food or having to spend a lot our “Disney fun” money.

I “try” to feed my kids more on the healthy side of things but I have found when we travel I need to loosen my idea of what I consider good for my family as there are many chicken nuggets, chicken strips, and burgers on the road (and of course the kids LOVE THEM…who doesn’t really)!  So one thing I will be doing is packing a cooler of pre-made healthy snacks.  There are many great recipes on Pinterest for healthy and yummy snacks.  Some of our kid’s favorites include:

  1. Peanut Butter and Banana Oat Breakfast cookies with Carob Chocolate Chips http://watching-what-i-eat.blogspot.com/2012/06/peanut-butter-banana-oat-breakfast.html
  2. Homemade Trail Mix I prefer to skip the pre-made trail mix and make my own. Incorporate your favorite nuts and dried fruits, such as unsalted peanuts, cashews, walnuts, or sunflower seeds mixed with dried apples, pineapple, cherries, apricots, raisins, whole grain cereals, and what is trail mix without some M&Ms???
  3. Easter Egg Snack Time This one is more for fun and you can choose what to put inside http://craftingandcreativity.blogspot.com/2012/03/easter-egg-snack-time.html
  4. Fruit Squeeze pouches I love these things mostly, because I have a child that has an aversion to all things fruit and vegetable, BUT he can’t get enough of these!  Another positive is they are so well contained there isn’t much mess factor involved.  http://www.gogosqueez.com/

So with having 6 people in our family I try to find both family and budget friendly restaurants.  On our trip up north we stopped at Applebee’s we were able to get yummy meals for all 6 of us for $22 (normally $41 but we went on a kids eat for $.99 night (plus we used their curbside dining so we were able to grab our food and get back on the road)!  There are many restaurants that offer deals where kids eat free or for a reduced price on certain days of the week or times of the day.  Here is a list of some that I found:

Multiple Days of the week

Cici’s Pizza  Kids 3 and under eat free from the Cici’s Pizza buffet everyday! Older kids eat free at specific dining locations on other nights of the week.  Make sure to check with your location!

Culver’s  Kids 12 and under receive a free custard with the purchase of a kids meal.

Denny’s  On select nights kids ages 10 and younger eat free at Denny’s from 4pm to 10pm.  There is a limit of 2 free kid’s entrees per one regularly purchased adult entrée

Fuddruckers  From 4pm to 9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays at Fuddruckers kids 12 and under can eat from the kids menu for $0.99.  Not all locations offer this deal so be sure to call ahead to verify if your location does!

Golden Corral  From 5pm to 9pm on Monday’s at Golden Corral kids 10 and under eat free. This is limited to 2 kids per 1 adult. Not all locations offer this deal so be sure to call ahead to verify your location offers this! Kids 3 and under eat free every day!

IHOP  From 4pm to 8pm everyday kids eat free at IHOP if they are 12 and under. Kids can get 1 free kids’ menu item per adult entrée purchased. The drink is not included. This deal seems to vary widely based on location it is best to call your location before visiting!

Jason’s Deli  All day on Sundays kids eat free at Jason’s Deli at some locations and on Mondays at others. Call your local Jason’s Deli before you visit.

McAlister’s Deli All day kids’ meals for $0.99 at select locations.

O’Charley’s  Kids eat free Monday – Friday at select locations.

Piccadilly  Kids 6 and under eat for free at Piccadilly Monday through Saturday.

Pizza Hut  Kids eat free 3 and under at Pizza Hut every day on the lunch buffet. Some locations kids younger than three can eat free at Pizza Hut’s dinner buffet as well.

Shoney’s  Kids eat free at Shoney’s every day if they are 4 or younger. An adult entrée purchase is required.

Monday Deal’s

Fuddruckers From 4-9 kids 12 and under can order from the kids’ meal menu for $0.99. Locations and participation may vary.

Red Robin Kids 10 and under eat free. Check with locations on details of the deal.

TGIFriday’s Kids eat free, though offers vary by location. Call ahead or check with server for specific details.

Which Wich Superior Sandwiches Kidswich meals are $0.99 with the purchase of a 7″ small Wich. Kidswich meals include a Wich, treat, and drink. Valid for children ages 12 years and under at participating locations.

Tuesday’s Deals

Applebees Kids eat for .99 Make sure to check with location on promotion details as I have found they are not consistent between all Applebee’s.

Backyard Burger  From 4pm-close kids eat free at Backyard Burger on Tuesday and Thursday! For each adult combo purchased, you get a free kids’ meal.

Bennigan’s  At Bennigan’s kids eat free on Tuesdays. One adult entrée is required.

Black-eyed Pea  After 5pm on Tuesdays, kids 12 and under receive a free kids’ meal with every adult entrée purchased at Black-eyed Pea.

Bob Evans Free Kids’ Meal with every Adult meal purchased after 4pm.

Chevy’s Fresh Mex  All day at Chevy’s Fresh Mex, kids eat free on Tuesdays. You must  purchase a regular price entrée and then kids will eat free. This is good for dine in only and check the website because some of the locations are opting out of the kids eat free program.

Chick-fil-A  At participating locations, kids can eat a free kids’ meal at Chil-fil-A on Tuesdays for Family Fun Night from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. There is a limit of 1 free kid’s meal per adult combo meal purchased.

Fazoli’s  5pm to 8pm on Tuesdays kids eat for .99 (12 and under) from the kids’ menu. The kids’ menu at Fazoli’s includes pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza, fettuccine alfredo, meat lasagna and spaghetti with either marinara sauce, meat sauce or meatballs.

Friendly’s  Kids eat free on Tuesdays at Friendly’s. Big kid meals are discounted on Tuesday’s as well.

Fuddruckers  From 4-9 kids 12 and under can order from the kids’ meal menu for $0.99. Locations and participation may vary.

Golden Corral Kids 3 and under can eat for just $1.99.

Lonestar Steakhouse  Tuesdays at Lonestar Steakhouse, kids 12 and under can eat free. This is limited to 2 children per each adult entrée purchased and is dine-in only.

Perkins Restaurant and Bakery  Kids eat free at Perkins all day on Tuesdays

Ponderosa Steakhouse From 4pm to close on Tuesdays, kids eat free at Ponderosa Steakhouse.

Texas Roadhouse On Tuesdays (may be Mondays at some locations), kids 12 and under eat free at Texas Roadhouse.

TGIFriday’s Kids eat free, though offers vary by location. Call ahead or check with server for specific details.

Tony Roma’s  Kids 12 and under eat free at Tony Roma’s on Tuesdays.

Uno Chicago Grill Get 1 free kids meal or gluten-free pizza with the purchase of an adult entrée.

Wednesday Deal’s

Buffalo Wild Wings  From 5-8pm Wednesdays, kids 12 and under eat for $1.99 from the kids’ menu at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Carrow’s Restaurant  Kids 10 and under eat for free every Wednesday and Thursday at Carrow’s Restaurant. There is a limit of 1 kids’ meal per each adult entrée purchased.

Damon’s Grill  At Damon’s Grill on Thursdays kids 12 and under can get a free kids’ meal. 1 free kids’ meal per adult entrée purchased.

Firehouse Subs  From 4-9pm on Wednesdays and Sundays kids 12 and under get to eat free. One free kids’ meal comes with each adult purchase.

Qdoba Mexican Grill  Kids eat free at Qdoba Mexican Grills only on Wednesdays at some locations and only on Sundays at some locations. Check with your local location to see which day of the week kids eat free at  Qdoba’s.

Rainforest Cafe  Kids can eat for $1.99 on Wednesday evenings at Rainforest Cafe.

Which Wich Superior Sandwiches Kidswich meals are $0.99 with the purchase of a 7″ small Wich. Kidswich meals include a Wich, treat, and drink. Valid for children ages 12 years and under at participating locations.

Thursday Deal’s

Backyard Burger  From 4pm-close kids eat free at Backyard Burger on Thursday and Tuesday!. For each adult combo purchased, you get a free kids meal.

Old Country Buffet Two kids’ buffets for $0.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location. Offer also available at participating HomeTown Buffet and Country Buffet locations.

Ryan’s Two kids’ buffets for $0.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location.

Saturday Deal’s

Steak n’ Shake  On Saturdays and Sundays kids can eat free at Steak n’ Shake. You get one kids’ combo for free with a purchase of an adult entrée of $9 (excluding drink or shake) or more. This is valid for dine in only.

Sunday’s Deal’s

The Claddagh Irish Pub  All day on Sunday kids eat free at The Claddagh Irish Pub. Purchase of an adult entrée is required but you can get up to 2 free kids meals with that.

Hooters  Kids eat free at Hooters all day long on Sundays.

Mel’s Diner  Kids that are 12 and under get 1 free kids’ meal for each adult meal purchased at Mel’s Diner on Sundays.

Qdoba Mexican Grill Kids eat free at Qdoba Mexican Grills only on Sundays at some locations and only on Wednesdays at some locations. Check with your local location to see which day of the week kids eat free at your Qdoba’s.

Souper! Salad!  On Sundays kids 4 and under at free and kids 5-12 for $2.49 at Souper Salad. For each adult purchase you can get 2 free kids meals.

Steak n’ Shake  On Sundays and Saturdays kids can eat free at Steak n’ Shake. You get one kids’ combo for free with a purchase of an adult entrée of $9 (excluding drink or shake) or more. This is valid for dine in only.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe  Kids eat free all day at Tropical Smoothie cafe on Sundays at participating locations.

I am looking forward to our upcoming Disney vacation with much anticipation although, I really wish there was a teleporting device in existence and we could bypass the 20 hour drive.  Never the less I am excited to try eating at some of these restaurants that offer such great specials for families.

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist

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What in the world is an Aurasma photo op? You know at Disney when you see a landmark or a cool backdrop and you think, I have to get my picture here!? Well if it has an “Aurusma” icon by it…use your smart phone or tablet. If you use your smart phone to take the photo using the Aurasma photo App, the photo springs to life.

 Here are a couple of examples from Star Wars Weekends 2014.

 1. If you were waiting in line at Darth’s Mall, you would see photo booth sceneries setup. If you used your Aurasma App on your phone to take the photo, extremely realistic digital Star Wars characters would enter the photo and stand by your party members and would interact and pose with the group. It really helped pass the time.

 2. If you took a photo of the Star Wars Weekends logo using Aurasma, the icon would spring to life and it appeared as though Mickey was in the midst of a galactic battle. To see what I am talking about download the app and then visit: http://www.aurasma.com/campaigns/#/disney-world-star-wars-weekends

Take a photo of the icon and see what happens!

 

Because of the success of the program during Star Wars Weekends, you can now experience this cutting edge technology at “Frozen Summer Fun.” Download the App and the go to the following link:

http://www.aurasma.com/campaigns/disney-frozen-summer-fun/

Scan the photo of the guide map on the webpage and see this interactive frozen experience for yourself!!!

 To see an Aurasma demonstration, view the following Youtube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvA6fmfbCps

 Aurasma2

 

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Looking for a little more sparkle in your Walt Disney World vacation?  The Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party is sure to make your evening at Magic Kingdom extra sweet!  This magical celebration includes a tempting array of desserts, seasonal fruits and cheeses.  Sparkling cider, hot chocolate, signature lemonades, coffee and tea are also available to enjoy as you sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

 

This deliciously, special ticketed event takes place at the covered patio of the Tommorowland Terrace, which allows an unobstructed view of Wishes Nighttime Spectacular!  fireworks show above Cinderella’s Castle.  An extra touch of pixie dust occurs when Tinkerbell flies over the patio as she descends from the top of Cinderella’s Castle.

 

What you need to know:

  • The nightly celebration begins one hour before the start of Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.
  • Advance reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit.
  • Magic Kingdom park admission is also required and is not included in the price of the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party
  • The Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party costs $79 for adults and $47 for children ages 3 to 9.
  • Prepayment is required at time of reservation.  Cancellations can be made 24 hours in advance.
  • It is highly recommended that Guests check the fireworks schedule again upon arrival at Magic Kingdom park.
  • After reconfirming the fireworks showtime, please arrive at Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant for check-in 60 minutes prior.
  • Event Party Identification—issued at check-in—is required when participating in the Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace.

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Plaza Garden Viewing is now also available for guests.  Garden viewing costs around $59 for adults and $35 for children ages 3 to 9.   As showtime nears, Cast Members will escort you to a prime location in the Plaza Garden for priority viewing of the nighttime fireworks spectacular. Please note that this is a standing room only viewing location for those that have booked the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing.

 

What you need to know:

  • Advance reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit.
  • Please note that fireworks are not guaranteed as part of this experience.
  • It is highly recommended that Guests check the fireworks schedule again upon arrival at Magic Kingdom park.
  • After reconfirming the fireworks showtime, please arrive at Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant for check-in 75 minutes prior.
  • Event Party Identification—issued at check-in—is required when participating in the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing.

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If your wanting to add this special, sweet treat to your next Walt Disney World vacation, let your Me and The Mouse Travel Agent know as soon as possible.   With a very limited number of seats, this event does book up quickly.  A recent Me and The Mouse client shared this with her travel specialist.

 

“The Tomorrowland Dessert Buffet was wonderful!  We will definitely be doing that every time we go back!  It was just so nice to have a not crowded place to go and sit and enjoy the fireworks, eat yummy desserts and relax at the end of a long day.  We all really loved it.  It was the best possible view!”

 

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

“You had better eat your veggies if you want dessert!”

Looking for a delicious meal and a memorable experience, then book a dining reservation at 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.   Dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance and are highly recommended.   If your “Aunt” is busy in the kitchen getting things ready, you may get to spend time in “Dad’s TV Room”  for a little bit watching classics television shows like Father Knows Best and the original Mickey Mouse Club.  When it’s time for dinner, don’t be surprised if one of your “cousins” yells that it’s time to eat!!!IMG_4124

When it’s dinner time, get ready to step back into mom’s kitchen in the 1950’s.  For a special treat, you’re allowed to watch TV at the dinner table today!   While dining around the Formica dinner table, enjoy black-and-white television clips from popular prime-time shows circa 1955.   Dad’s Grilled Pork Chops, Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken, Mom’s Old-fashioned Pot Roast and Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie are just a few of comfort foods you will find on the menu at 50’s Prime Time Cafe.  Using your manners, no elbows on the table and finishing your vegetables are a must at this dining room table!!!IMG_4112

After dinner, you can browse the dessert menu by peering into an old-school viewfinder toy!

Finish your plate, as you will want to make room for Dad’s Brownie Sundae or Boston Creme Pie Parfait.   50’s Prime Time Cafe is an interactive and entertaining dining experience that your family will remember as one of their favorite moments while visiting Hollywood Studios.

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

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Would you like to treat your little prince or princess to a stay in a truly royal location?  The Royal Guest Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside Resort are your answer!  

With hidden treasures from several of the Disney princesses you’ll be in awe at the details included here.  The story goes that when Tiana became a Disney princess she was greeted with open arms by the other princesses.  They each brought her gifts to help welcome her own guests to her “home resort”.    For example, you’ll want to take a close look at the shower curtain to see some reminders of Ariel from the Little Mermaid.  Your little ones will love finding the secrets that are all over these rooms.

Another fun surprise for visitors is revealed each night as you get ready for a comfortable night’s sleep.  The idea of going to sleep isn’t usually at the top of a child’s wish list but in these rooms you’ll have something fun to return to.  After a fantastic day in the parks you’ll enjoy turning off the lights and activating the fiber optic fireworks in each of the head boards.  You’ll drift off to the magic that you’ll only find at Disney!IMAG0004

Don’t be fooled, these rooms are not just for princesses.  The color scheme and portraits are geared towards both boys and girls as well as young and more mature alike.  The rooms include two queen size beds, a mini fridge, a dividing curtain between the sinks and sleeping area (great for leaving on a night light).  The resort itself is beautifully manicured and is an easy 7-10 minute walk to the sister-property Port Orleans French Quarter.  Be sure to stop by the River Roost Lounge to see a free live show featuring YeHaa Bob in the evening (check with the front desk for times schedule).

blue-fairy-wish-book

Walt Disney World is all about dreaming and making wishes come true for children of all ages, so it’s no surprise that there are hidden treasures of magic throughout Walt Disney World.  One hidden gem is Magic Kingdom’s secret Wishing Book.

Tucked deep inside the Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland, you will find the Blue Fairy’s Wishing Book. (Look for the soft blue glow of The Blue Fairy window,  which is just to the left as you enter the main dining room on the first floor)   This hidden touch of magic is not well known, but offers an extra special wish experience for Disney guest who are visiting the Magic Kingdom. This moment of magic features Jiminy Cricket himself and, of course, the Blue Fairy, who will do her best to grant your wish.

Here is what you need to know:

  • Come prepared.   You will need to bring your own pen or Sharpie.

  • Approach the Wish Book and write down your wish on the right hand page.

  • Place your hands on top of your wish and say the magic words “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.”

Tip: For a little extra magic, ask a Cast Member nearby in Pinocchio Village Haus to oversee your wish and a little extra pixie dust may come your way!

If you’re looking for one more magical, memorable moment with your family, stop by Pinnochio’s Village Haus and make a wish and do what dreamers do.

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

souvenir

Leaving Walt Disney World for home is hard to do but you can always bring home a piece of Disney with you.  Families are always ask just how much to budget for souvenirs on Disney vacation. Happily, Disney souvenirs can range from absolutely free, to thousands of dollars so anyone’s budget can be worked into your vacation.  For a fun and free souvenir be sure to stop by Animation Academy at Hollywood Studios to learn how to draw one of your favorite Disney characters to bring home and show off in your home. For those wishing to splurge on their vacation mementos, framed artwork or custom jewelry will allow you to bring some of the magic to adorn your walls or yourself. Determine what dollar your family is most comfortable with for souvenir shopping and stick with it. If you wish to purchase something in addition to your general souvenirs that can count towards a Christmas or birthday present, consider expanding your budget to include future gifts. With so many choices through the parks and resorts, it is very easy to overspend and by making everyone aware of their limits, they can make the best choices with wise guidance.

Some of the most popular Disney souvenirs are Mickey Mouse Ears, t-shirts, and toys but there are so many more options that bring home some of that Disney magic. For those that want to have mementos around their home, check out Disney’s kitchen items – a spatula with Mickey’s hand on the end or maybe an ice cube tray in the shape of Mickey ears. For more unique ideas, look in the shops in Epcot’s World Showcase. World Showcase has a lot of subtle souvenirs that allow you to remember your vacation without shouting Disney to those that see them. Fashionistas may wish to look at the name brand purses that are exclusive to the Disney parks and music lovers may consider purchasing CDs of music from around the parks.

When you see that perfect Disney souvenir, purchase it right away. With thousands of people in the park each day, the stock may sell out and not be replenished immediately. It takes away from time enjoying the parks when you have to walk around to all the stores looking for the right size of a t-shirt you saw earlier in the day and didn’t buy immediately. When you purchase it, be sure to ask the cast member at the register to have the item sent back to your resort so that you don’t need to carry it around all day. If it’s your last day at the parks, have the cast member send your package to the front of the parks to be picked up at the end of your day.

An absolute favorite souvenir for many families is the Memory Maker package. With digital downloads of the photos from your vacation, this is one souvenir you can look at again and again in the years to come and remember all the fun you had as a family. Simply ask your travel agent to add Memory Maker to your vacation package at least 3 days before you leave for maximum savings.

If you get home and you find that you left something at Disney that you can’t live without, don’t fret. Disney merchandise has a toll free number and email address where many items can be mail ordered. To reach Disney merchandise call 877-560-6477 or email merchandise.guest.services@disneyparks.com.

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

Blizzard Beach

When the crowds and heat at Disney’s theme parks frustrate and exhaust you, take a break and relax in a winter wonderland. This water park is home to some of the greatest water slides in the country with one of the most creative themes Disney has done to date. Built around the idea of a rare Florida snowfall, residents try to turn the area into a ski resort. Since the snow in Central Florida didn’t stay long, all of the melting created the water fun of Blizzard Beach. 

One of the most unique aspects of Blizzard Beach is the ski lift that takes you to the top of Mount Gushmore. Once you’re there, you can enjoy the slides without having to climb flight after flight of stairs while carrying a huge raft. The biggest slide at the top of Mount Gushmore is the Summit Plummit, dropping only the bravest more than 12 stories down a chute of water at speeds that can reach up to 60mph. For more mild thrills, guests can grab a tube or a mat for Runoff Rapids, the Tobaggan Races and the Downhill Double Dipper. For some serious family fun, try Teamboat Springs. This river raft ride can accommodate a whole family of six for an unforgettable experience!    

For your small swimmers,  there are two kids-only areas. Tike’s Peak and Ski Patrol can provide an entire day of fun for little ones 4′ and under with slides, wading pools, interactive water play areas and water obstacle courses.   

Blizzard Beach has a wide variety of American cuisine counter service restaurants eligible for the Disney Dining Plan quick service and snack credits. Make sure while you are here that you check out the mini donuts stand. The mini donuts served with chocolate, vanilla, and raspberry dipping sauce are my absolute favorite snack at Blizzard Beach. The only downfall to those delicious mini donuts are knowing that you’re eating them while wearing your bathing suit! 

Tips to get the most out of your Blizzard Beach experience: 

Bring your own beach towel! You can always rent a towel there for $2, but try not to forget your own.  Feel free to bring from your resort.

Rent a locker if you have any valuables in the park with you. Small lockers are $13/day and larger lockers are $15/day.  

Wear bathing suits without rivets.  

It’s completely safe to wear your Magic Band while you are in the water and if you have Memory Maker, make sure you get those photos added to your band! 

One-day admission to the water parks is $54 plus tax, but if you’re looking for a better deal add the “Waterpark Fun and More” option to your base ticket for an upgrade price of $63.90 per ticket.  This upgrade will allow you to enter the water parks as many times as you have days on your Disney World tickets.  For example, a 7-day ticket will give you 7 entrances to a combination of Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon and Disney Quest. You can go for a half day or visit the water parks on your days “off” from the theme parks.  

For any Disney fan, the theming of Blizzard Beach is completely impressive and enjoyable. Add in the variety of slides and water play areas, grab some mini donuts and you are sure to have a wonderful Disney day! 

Julie Stewart 

Travel Specialist