Just a few months ago, Disney quietly announced a new character dining location at Hollywood & Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  While “character buffet” may not be the ideal Disney meal, I was pleasantly surprised by the unique food offerings and the incredible character interaction.  

The buffet was filled with food choices that appeal to even the pickiest of eaters.  My personal favorites were the soft pretzel breadsticks, lobster and shrimp macaroni and cheese, the carving station and the array of desserts situated around the chocolate fountain.  I also had to visit the kids station for some of my favorite Disney chicken fingers, corn dog nuggets and tater tots!  

Minnie's Seasonal Dine Buffet 3 Minnie's Seasonal Dine Buffet 2

After our professional family photo with Mickey, the rest of the Fab 5 visited our table for some quick photos while we were eating.  Daisy Duck, Goofy, Donald and Minnie all greeted us and posed for photos dressed in their glamorous Hollywood outfits.  The characters were friendly and took their time at each table.  Donald and Daisy even performed a romantic waltz in the middle of the restaurant!  

Minnie's Seasonal Dine

Also a unique feature of this restaurant is the rotational theme. With each new season, the theme changes.  Winter is Hollywood Silver Screen, Spring is Minnie’s Springtime Dine, Summer is a beach party theme, Fall is Minnie’s Halloween Dine and of course November and December will be the Holiday Dine.  Each season has unique menu items and Characters dressed in costumes that reflect the theme so each season is a truly different experience.   

Minnie’s Seasonal Dine is available for $46.99 per adult and $27.99 per child + tax or the use of 1 table service credit per guest.  Interested guests can also add this meal as a Fantastic Dinner Package.

If you are looking for a convenient character dining experience that is maybe a little quieter than Chef Mickey, give Minnie’s Seasonal Dine a try!

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

Walt Disney World is known for its ‘magical feeling’ that guests experience while visiting the parks. The magic is created in a variety of ways unbeknownst to guests. Many guests refer to their ‘magical experiences’ as getting sprinkled with Pixie Dust.  How is this ‘magical feeling’ created?  Where does the Pixie Dust come from?  What are the secrets of Walt Disney World?

To help answer those questions and a few more, I booked a Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom.  This tour is a five hour walking tour around the Magic Kingdom park which details the creation of the park, hidden secrets and much more.  You’ll need a park ticket and paid reservation for the tour to participate.  This attraction is only for guests 16 years and older.

Our tour started at the front of the park with meeting Walt Disney. We didn’t meet the ‘real’ Walt Disney but we got to listen to the story of how Walt envisioned his dreams while standing next to the iconic statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.

Partner Statue

As we walked down Main Street, our guide explained the details about the writing on the main street buildings.  Who are those people and why were their names painted on the windows?  All of this was explained along with a few more ‘magical’ pieces of information. Many guests have heard rumors about things that occur in the parks after guests leave like the tale of feral cats being released at night to keep the mice away.  These tales of course are not true but the rumor of their being an underground tunnel under Main Street IS TRUE!

Main Street Window

On your tour you will get to travel down to the underground tunnels and see how some of the ‘magic’ is created.  The tunnels are known as ‘utilidors’ (utility corridors) and are comprised of offices, wardrobe department, cafeterias, and salon.  Before a character ever steps foot on main street, they are dressed, groomed and transported to the correct spot of the park using the underground tunnels. The map shows how the tunnels go through and around the entire MK.

Tunnel Map

Jessie on her way back to the tunnels after her meet ‘n’ greet with guests.
Jessie on her way back to the tunnels after her meet ‘n’ greet with guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll also get to walk on to some of the attractions from an insider’s point of few and learn about the details behind the creation of those rides.  Your tour will end with a delicious lunch and you’ll be presented with a special gift only given to those who take the tour.

On your next trip to Disney, take note of where the characters go when they are done greeting guests or how many Disney cast members you see leaving the park by the front gate.  You’ll be surprised with what things you’ll learn.

To book your tour you can contact Me and the Mouse Travel Agent at www.meandthemouse.com.

Roxanne Genovese

Travel Specialist

Many visitors to Florida find that Florida water tastes considerably different than their water at home.  When you first try the water at a fountain or restaurant, you may find that it has an odd taste and sulfur smell.  Florida water is completely safe to ingest but it needs a little something to make it ‘drinkable’.

On our first trip to Disney, my children were young and drinking water was a big part of our daily routine.  I found that by using small flavored packets in our water bottles helped tremendously to drink Florida water.  We used lemonade, Kool-Aid and Crystal lite On the Go packets.  Now there are liquid drops for water bottles.  These packets and containers fit easily in a backpack or your pocket.

Water Flavors

We had purchased our packets prior to our trip and had our children try them.  I made a big deal out of having these special drinks.  Once I figured out which ones they liked, I packed the On the Go packets away for our Disney trip.  While at Disney, I surprised the kids with the ‘special’ drinks again.  It was a little extra magic that made their Disney trip that much more fun.  Who would have thought that flavored drinks could be such a treat!!

We brought empty water bottles into the parks and filled them at fountains, or at restaurants.  By doing this we saved our snack credits for more yummy and delicious treats.  One water bottle at Disney is considered a snack credit on the meal plan or it costs approximately $3 per bottle out of pocket.

Don’t forget your flavoring!!  Heat, humidity and a lot of walking can leave you feeling exhausted and under the weather. Making an effort to stay well hydrated will keep you cool, energized, and ready for your next Disney adventure.

Water Bottles

Roxanne Genovese

Travel Specialist

If you’re visiting Universal Studios in Florida make your way to one of the Harry Potter worlds located in each of the parks to experience the Butterbeer Trifecta.  The trifecta is comprised of a butterbeer drink, froze butterbeer drink and butterbeer ice cream.  Both Hogsmead and Diagon Alley sell at least two of the three butterbeer treats.

Butterbeer comes in three different forms.  One is the traditional cold drink.  Many describe this drink as a butterscotch soda.  It’s a sweet concoction that is refreshing and a simple treat in the middle of your day as you walk through Harry Potter World.

Butterbeer

 

If you need something a little colder, try the frozen butterbeer.  This is a slushy type drink that is sweet and refreshing.  The Fountain of Fair Fortune in Diagon Alley is one of several places where butterbeer is sold.

Frozen Butterbeer

My favorite of the Trifecta is the butterbeer ice cream. Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley is the only place to get the butterbeer ice cream.  The flavor is different from the drink.  It’s similar to salted carmel vanilla  ice cream.  It’s not overly sweet and a great treat in the middle of the day.

Butterbeer Ice Cream

Experiencing the Butterbeer Trifecta will enhance your visit to the Harry Potter Worlds.      Enjoy Butterbeer like Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione did as they sat in the Three Broom Sticks Pub or savor some ice cream as you wait in line for the Escape from Gringott’s rollercoaster.

Roxanne Genovese

Travel Specialist

Many people think a snack credit at Walt Disney World consists of a drink and candy. But they are wrong! There are so many great items that people are missing out on.

Dole Whip Float
If you are unsure of what counts as a snack credit, the menu at the establishment will be labeled. Just look for the snack symbol. It’s a small purple and white “DDP” symbol.

Some of our top favorites are:

  • Funnel cakes
  • Mickey Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Beignets – Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
  • Lefou’s Brew (without the specialty cup) – Gaston’s Tavern, Magic Kingdom
  • Chicken Fried Rice – Anandapur Local Foods Cafes, Animal Kingdom
  • Dole Whip Floats – Magic Kingdom
  • Specialty Cupcakes – Starring Rolls Café, Hollywood Studios
  • Ice Cream Sundae – Main Street Ice Cream Parlor, Magic Kingdom

So as you can see there are many great options! Be sure to go for the high priced items since a snack credit is valued at $5. And at the end of your stay if you still have credits, be sure to stop by the bakery and pack those snacks to go. Then you will have a little bit of Disney even at home!

Mickey Pretzel

Cupcake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lori Steinnerd

Travel Specialist 

Many clients ask us if their children are too young to visit theme parks. Universal Studios Orlando Resort offers unique experiences for preschool children in its theme parks.

Before you plan your trip with your preschooler to the Universal Studios Orlando Resort, it is important that you think about the following points:

Is your child:

  • tall enough to ride the attractions?
  • familiar with the characters and themed experiences at the Universal Resort?
  • adventurous and willing to ride attractions that include motion simulators, 3D films, fast or tall drops, and spinning ride cars?
  • more low key and prefer a playground and/or carnival style attractions?

Your answers to these questions will ultimately help your decision on which parks and attractions to visit at the Universal Studios Orlando Resort.

Universal Studios does contain a preschool friendly area featuring Woody Woodpecker and Curious George with a playground and splash pad. An animal show and character meet and greets (Spongebob, Scooby Doo, etc) are also sure to please.  To those children who are more adventurous and tall enough, Minion Mayhem, Men in Black, Shrek 3D, and The Simpsons attractions will all satisfy their thrills and funny bones!

Islands of Adventure is home to Seuss Landing – a preschool and elementary aged child’s dream ‘island’. Mini roller coaster, a slow moving train, a spinning octopus, and carousel allow little ones to enjoy their time in this thrill-seeking theme park. Character meet and greets (i.e. Marvel Super Heroes) will excite them as well! Depending on height and tolerance, there are also more thrill rides in this theme park to satisfy.

Harry Potter – Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) and Diagon Alley/London (Universal Studios) is amazing to experience at any age. However, if your little one is not familiar with the series, this may not be as exciting as you would hope for them. The dragon at Gringotts can be very frightening (my little one did NOT like him!) to preschoolers as well.

As a parent (and agent) who took her preschooler to Universal Studios Orlando Resort, my BEST advice is this:  Listen to your child. Make the best decision you can for them.  We chose a 1 day Park to Park option in order for her to experience all that was ‘kid friendly’ for her, and still experience both worlds of Harry Potter. At the end of the day – she decided she did not like most of what she had experienced (she is a bit of a scaredy cat), and didn’t want to come back until “i’m a big kid”.  We enjoyed our day, but we will definitely wait until she is older to go back!

While these “big kids” enjoyed Universal and Islands of Adventure – I hope this blog helps you in your decision, and are able to enjoy your time as well!  If you choose to book, we can help you! Contact us when you are ready!

Amy Sowinski 

Travel Specialist

Disney truly captured my heart with the Beach Club Resort! This resort takes on the theme of New England with a Beach type feeling all around. The moment you walk into the amazing lobby of this resort, you will fall in love with the energy, look, smell, and feel that surrounds you. There are so many advantages to staying at this Resort, that it has been deemed my favorite amongst all on Disney property. Take a look at all the resort has to offer its guests!

Beach Club 1

Location
This perk has to be one of my favorites about the resort! You can take a brief 5 minute walk and be at the International Gateway entrance into Epcot (you will see France as you walk up). This is perfect for guests wanting to avoid lines for buses, avoiding heavy crowds when leaving Epcot at night, taking a mid-afternoon break, and saving some precious Disney time! You are also mere minutes away from the fun and entertaining area called The Boardwalk! Here there is great nighttime entertainment, snacks, restaurants, and overall amazing atmosphere. Walking to Hollywood Studios is also an option. It is a longer walk than to Epcot (approximately 15 minutes), but doable for those that want the option.

If you are not looking to walk to Epcot or Hollywood Studios, you can choose to take the boat service they offer. Having these alternate methods to get to and from parks can help avoid the crowds that use the bus system, especially around closing time.

Being this close to so many attractions and other resorts, opens up a whole new world of food and entertainment that some people may not realize exists!

Pool
Stormalong Bay is an amazing 3 acre pool that the Beach and Yacht Club Resorts share. This sand bottom pool is a Disney Property favorite! It has an amazing shipwrecked pirate ship water slide for people of all ages to enjoy. Plus they have a kiddie pool and mini waterslide for the younger kids. There is a beach area with zero entry, whirlpools, a lazy river, and 3 quiet pools to relax and enjoy your time in. An entire day can be spent at this pool if you are looking to get away for relaxation outside the parks!

Rooms
The rooms at the Beach Club are nothing but comfortable! Most rooms will hold up to 5 guests. Rooms generally have 2 queen size beds and a day bed, although combinations of types of beds may vary based on the number of guests staying in the room. The bathrooms have two sinks for convenience with larger number of guests in a room. You can choose between a standard view, Lagoon or Pool View, and Garden or Woods View. Most rooms also offer a full private balcony, although some are smaller balconies.

They offer Club Level Rooms, as well. Some benefits to club level include: evening turndown, access to the club level lounge serving refreshments from 7 AM – 10 PM daily, personalized front desk and guest services, and pre-arrival Walt Disney World Resort itinerary planning.

Beach Club 2

Food
The Beach Club is home to a hidden gem…Cape May Café. During breakfast, you can dine with Minnie, Donald, and Goofy. This makes it easy to start your day right in your own resort with some amazing characters before making your way to the parks. For dinner, the characters are back at the parks meeting and greeting kids, but the food is still reason enough to dine here. With a seafood and more buffet, there is enough variety for everyone in your party, even non-seafood lovers. Reservations are recommended.

Hurricane Hannah’s is located next to Stormalong Bay to enjoy while you swim. You can get burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, pulled pork and even a vegetarian flatbread…not to mention an assortment of alcohol and some mixed drinks for the adults to enjoy while sitting poolside!

Beaches and Cream is another favorite amongst Disney Guests. With classic burgers and fries, sandwiches, and other selections, the thing that draws guests to come back is the assortment of sundaes that are offered….the most talked about being the Kitchen Sink (which serves 4 guests at once)!

Child Care Services
If you are looking to spend an adult night at the Boardwalk, in Disney Springs, or just a night at a park alone, children age 3-12 can go to the Sandcastle Club while you have some adult time. There is plenty for them to do!! They will make crafts, play games, have dinner and snacks, and watch Disney movies …. all while making new friends. Reservations can be made for this service although same day walk ins are an option based on availability.

Other Fun
Did you ever think you could roast marshmallows in Disney? This is also a perk to staying on property! As dusk falls on Disney, a special treat for you and your kids is to enjoy campfire activities right at your resort…then you can stay for a movie under the stars!! At the Beach Club, this is usually located along the water on their beach right outside the back entrance. It is an awesome option if you are looking to stay out of the parks for an evening. For the schedule of movie times check with the Front Desk.

These reasons and more are why the Beach Club is my favorite Resort on property. If you are looking for amazing convenience, unique atmosphere, on-site entertainment, and to be totally immersed into the world of Disney, this is a resort that has it all!

Beach Club 3

 

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist