A huge part of our family’s experience when we visit any Disney destination is enjoying so many amazing restaurants. Good food allows us to relax and simply enjoy the moment together. Great food keeps us coming back!

When we’re back home, we’ll think back on that special something and wish we could have just one bite! For me, the bread pudding at Ohana’s at the Polynesian Village is one of those “aaaaah” foods. Lucky for my family, it’s also pretty easy to make!

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Nancy Wideman
Travel Specialist

Another new transportation service will soon be available to guests visiting the Walt Disney World property…….”Minnie Vans”. This new transportation service is now available for guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Copper Creek Villas and Cabins, and Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge can now go to the front desk at the resort to activate the service for their use. Soon, the service will be available at all Walt Disney World resorts.

Minnie Vans will take you anywhere on Disney property you want to go that is open to the public. Exclusive to “Minnie Vans” is the access to Magic Kingdom. When servicing the Magic Kingdom, guests will be dropped off / picked up at the BUS area, NOT the Ticket and Transportation Center, like all other off-property transfer services. This will provide guests with the short walk to the park entrance without needing to use the monorail or ferryboat service from the Ticket and Transportation.

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Minnie Vans are Chevrolet Traverse mid-sized SUVs that can seat up to 7 or 8 passengers (including the driver) across 3 rows. Each Minnie Van comes equipped with 2 Graco car seats. These car seats are fully adjustable to convert from a car seat into a booster seat, and can be both forward and rear facing.

Minnie Vans will be available through Lyft. When guests open the Lyft app from anywhere in the Walt Disney World Resort the Minnie Van Service is unlocked. The Lyft app will allow guests to request a ride from their smartphone and pay directly through the app. The current price the service is $20 per trip, this includes gratuity. The drivers are all paid employees of Disney. Currently,the hours of operation are 6:30 am until 12:30 am.

Whether you are traveling by monorail, bus, boat or Minnie Van, Disney does recommend allowing up to 90 minutes of travel time to get to dining locations within the Walt Disney World property. The Minnie Van transportation is another great option for arriving for early morning dining reservations, as well as making it easier to travel from resort to resort for dining and shopping.

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

Every summer Disney Cruise Line sails one of its ships to Europe for one of the most special sets of itineraries available. Disney Cruise Line separates their European itineraries into Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries. This summer my family was able to experience the unique 7 night re-positioning cruise that connected these guest experiences. We started in Dover, England and ended in
Barcelona, Spain and it was a vacation we will never forget and recommend to all interested in visiting Europe with their family.

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Visiting Europe on a Disney cruise allows families to visit multiple countries and cultures in a short time while keeping a home base on the ship. The tours offered by Disney’s port adventures team allow for the interests of all ages with varying tour lengths to accommodate your needs.

On our particular cruise, we docked in Le Havre, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Cadiz, Spain with 3 full days at sea. All of these countries were new to our family so we took advantage of the tours to see all we could while we were in port. Le Havre is located in northern France and about a 2 ½ to 3 hour drive from Paris. With a 16 hour stopover, there was plenty of time to take an adventure into Paris and see the main sights of the city. Lisbon’s city tour showed us how important the city and its inhabitants were to navigation of the oceans and the discovery of the new world. Cadiz’s town square, just steps from the dock, allowed us a walking tour of the city that dates from the time of the Phoenicians, about 1100 BC. Another amazing sight was seeing Africa as we sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar late one evening.

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Families of all ages can be found on Disney’s European cruises. If you have young children, exposing them to the historical locations, introducing them to new languages, and giving them a fun time each day is a great introduction to Europe. Tweens and teens will get excited when they recognize places and people that they’ve studied in school and then when they are back on ship the excitement doesn’t stop when the meet up with new friends in Edge and Vibe.

What makes Disney’s cruises so special to experience Europe is the fun, family friendly atmosphere. From the shows, to the on board events, to the age appropriate port adventures, to characters that dress in the native clothing of the ports, you will find everyone young and old enjoying each day of the cruise from morning until night.

Going on a European Disney Cruise Line vacation is one of the most memorable vacations that a family can have. Disney’s European itineraries are available for booking by contacting your Me and the Mouse travel agent.

Michelle Browne – travel specialist

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Loews Portofino Bay Resort is my resort of choice while visiting Universal Studios in Orlando. The beautiful re-creation of the famed seaside resort village of Portofino, Italy truly gives you the feeling of a piece of Italy in Orlando. I have stayed here on several occasions and continue to come back because it is exquisite in every way. The rooms are spacious and luxurious designed with superior quality and make you feel like a V.I.P. while you are a guest. You will feel the grandeur as you enter the lobby.

The service here is impeccable. This upscale resort is worth every penny because it includes complementary Universal Express passes for each guest in your party. The Universal Express pass allows you to skip the lines on many of the popular rides at the Universal Parks, including all of the Harry Potter attractions. You will also receive one hour early entry into the parks allowing you to beat the crowds. Water taxi service is available from this resort which provides easy access to the parks.

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If you are looking for a fun hotel catering to children, try a Despicable Me-themed Kid Suite with a Garden or Bay View. Parents can have privacy in a beautiful master bedroom with a king bed and the kids will have a connecting room with 2 twin beds shaped like Minion missiles.

The grounds and pools are always beautiful and well kept. Portofino Bay offers 3 swimming pools. The Beach pool is a lively pool ideal for families. It has a waterslide and a sandy beach. The Villa pool has a more serene atmosphere. Lastly, the Hillside pool offers more privacy. It is great to be able to return to your resort for some poolside relaxation after spending an active day at the parks. The Mandara Spa promises blissful renewal of both mind and body and offers a variety of spa services and treatments, a complimentary fitness center, and exclusive steam and sauna facilities.

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Each evening at sunset, the Harbor Piazza hosts nightly Italian musical performances, including Opera Singers, which really adds to the ambiance of this magnificent resort. It is a delightful way to end the day.

There are many restaurants onsite at Portofino Bay serving a variety of menus, including Mama Della’s Ristorante, Trattoria del Porto, Sal’s Market Deli and the superb Bice Ristorante. Dining and ambiance at this onsite resort is part of the wonderful experience at staying at a Universal resort.

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This resort holds a special place in my heart because of the incredible memories my family has made there. Loew’s Portofino Bay Resort offers onsite guests the opportunity to enjoy time away to rest, relax and enjoy a little piece of Italy.

Contact your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist to book your next vacation to Universal Studios Orlando!

Traci Perjak
Travel Specialist

The relatively recent Fastpass Plus system is a great mystery to many Disney guests, even those who have been to Walt Disney World before.  Planning your Fastpasses too late, too spread out, or not doing them at all can completely derail your vacation.  Follow these tips to handle your Fastpass Plus reservations with minimal confusion and chaos so that your days in the parks go as smoothly as possible.

1) Stay on Disney property.   If you stay at a Disney resort hotel, you can make your fastpass reservations 60 days prior to your check in date for the duration of your vacation.  For offsite guests, the fastpass window will open up 30 days prior to your vacation and will require you to make fastpass reservations one day at a time.  If Frozen, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Avatar Flight of Passage are on your must-do list, you may be very disappointed if you don’t have a 30-day advantage by staying at a Disney resort hotel.

2)  Make your Fastpass Plus reservations for the mornings and as back to back as possible.  Once you use all three fastpasses, you have the ability to get more that day.  By having morning fastpasses, you are at way more of an advantage to get more throughout the day.  Since you have a one hour time frame for a fastpass reservation, make your reservations close together as possible.

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3) On your third fastpass reservation, get on your mobile app right after you scan your band.  While you wait to get on the ride, you can make great use of your time by immediately getting on your my Disney Experience app and securing your next fastpass.  For some of the less popular rides, you may be able to secure a Fastpass within the hour.

4) Use your Fastpasses on rides, not shows.  Whether you have a fastpass or not, you will still be waiting in the same line and the same amount of time for a show.   If Fantasmic, Rivers of Light, or the Festival of Fantasy Parade are on your must-do list, book a dining package instead.  Your seats will be better and you won’t be burning a fastpass.  Rides and absolutely must-see characters are the best use of your fastpass.

5) Make your Fastpass reservations for the rides that typically have the longest lines.  Do your research and check the wait times on your my Disney Experience app to see what rides have the longest lines.  Not only will you have short wait times for rides with longer lines, but rides with typically shorter wait times most likely have reservations you can make the day of (see tip #3).

Fastpass reservations can definitely be confusing for the Disney beginner, but if you use a Me and the Mouse Specialist, they will tailor your fastpasses to your family’s preferences so don’t forget to contact your agent!

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Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist.

If you traveled to Universal Studios Florida recently you may have noticed some big additions to the property with Volcano Bay and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. You’ve also may have heard of a new thrill ride coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. Here is what you need to know about each of them.

Let’s start right off with the big news about a new thrill ride coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. Universal is billing this a new type of “highly-themed” coaster experience. It will replace the Dragon Challenge coaster and is said to take storytelling on a roller coaster to a new level. Speculation is this may be themed around the new Harry Potter Franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Little information has been given but some believe this will be a fast thrill ride that is well themed like no other coaster in the world. Creating a story and theming a roller coaster is a difficult task due to the nature of the ride but Universal has done a tremendous job with their current 4D Potter rides in bringing both thrills and an incredible sensory element of the movie to the ride. Like many of Universal’s rides this one looks like it will be geared toward thrill seekers which is a common theme from the company as it contrasts what Disney has to offer.

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Next, let’s take a look at the highlights of the recently completed Volcano Bay. This is more than just a water park it’s a theme park with water! Just a short walk from Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal is billing this as a third gate. It has all the great amenities of a water park such as the lazy river, pools, water slides and places to enjoy the sun but it also has some thrill slides that are in line with Universal’s coasters in the other parks. Take a 125 feet plunge down a 70 degree drop through on Ko’kiri Body Plunge or travel down the iconic volcano on Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides where two people stand on trap doors that open plunging the riders down clear interwinding tubes into a pool. The park still has some kinks to work out but Universal is hoping this will put them on the map along side Disney’s two big water parks.

Finally, let’s take a look at the highly anticipated Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. Once entering the building which looks like the actual entrance to The Tonight Show in New York, riders will go through a pre-show hosted by Jimmy and his gang. It’s well done and sets the stage for the simulation ride on the Jimmy’s Tonight Rider. Riders join Jimmy as he travels through the studio, around New York’s big attractions and through some crazy coaster like 3D experiences. If you are a fan of the show, New York or 3D simulation rides you will definitely enjoy this new ride.

On April 6, 2017, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon officially opened at Universal Orlando Resort. Hundreds of fans and Universal characters joined Jimmy Fallon in celebrating the opening with a ticker tape parade and ribbon cutting of epic proportions. The new attraction gives guests the ultimate “Tonight Show” experience and gets them up close and personal with the show’s most hilarious segments before taking off on an action-packed race through New York against Jimmy Fallon himself. More info is available at UniversalOrlando.com. © 2017 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.
On April 6, 2017, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon officially opened at Universal Orlando Resort. Hundreds of fans and Universal characters joined Jimmy Fallon in celebrating the opening with a ticker tape parade and ribbon cutting of epic proportions.
The new attraction gives guests the ultimate “Tonight Show” experience and gets them up close and personal with the show’s most hilarious segments before taking off on an action-packed race through New York against Jimmy Fallon himself. More info is available at UniversalOrlando.com.
© 2017 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist.

 

 

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Run, don’t walk to the Polite Pig at Disney’s Town Center!

My family and I recently tried the Polite Pig for the first time, and I guarantee it will not be our last!!  We were a party of 9 and I wanted to try one of everything, but we did have to leave a few items to try for the next visit!  We placed our order at the counter and then found a seat and a server brought the order to us.  They were then incredibly helpful and made suggestions of their available sauces and they were right!

As you enter the restaurant you are met with an amazing smell of smoked meats and spices!  It was difficult to choose from the expansive menu.  We did order a variety of entrees and sides.  You can even make a meal out of the sides!!!  You have the option of choosing three sides for $15!  They are plentiful and delicious.

We all happily shared the pretzel with beer cheese fondue, the brisket melt(I asked them to substitute the pimento cheese with the beer cheese fondue) and the ribs.  The brisket melt was a knife and fork sandwich, and it was tender and delicious!!  The ribs were well seasoned and tender with the meat falling of the bone.  The kids enjoyed chicken fingers and ribs and the portions were incredibly generous!

Now on to the sides, as I mentioned earlier, they could be a meal in themselves.  We enjoyed the smoked corn(with lime butter and bread crumbs), crispy brussels sprouts, mac n’ cheese, and sweet potato tots!  The Brussels sprouts were one of my favorites with a great seasoned char on the sprouts.  The lime butter added a delicious freshness to the corn.  The mac n’ cheese was good, but not anything special.  The sweet potato tots were my absolute favorite.  Slightly sweet, with the salty taste of the grated Parmesan cheese.  They had a slight crispiness of the exterior with a soft center.  Even my pickiest eater ate these and enjoyed it!!!

There were multiple sauce options at the counter.  The soft drink beverages were self serve, and they had a full bar with both indoor and outdoor seating!!  We were stuffed and unable to try any of the desserts on this trip!

I would recommend you add the Polite Pig to your list the next time you visit Disney Springs!  It will definitely remain at the top of mine!!

 

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Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist.

Have you ever walked into one of the parks at Walt Disney World and wonder who those people were wearing the same outfit taking everyone’s picture?  They are actually photographers that are part of Disney’s PhotoPass.  They will take your pictures at some of the most memorable places and in front of some of the iconic landmarks of Walt Disney World.  Once they take your picture, they will scan your MagicBand or park ticket to automatically link it to your My Disney Experience account.  From there you can browse through all of the pictures that were taken and decide if you’d like to purchase any to download.

Walt Disney World Magic Shots

Instead of paying for individual photos, your best option is to include Disney’s Memory Maker with your vacation package.  The Memory Maker photo package lets you download all of the pictures that were taken by Disney’s PhotoPass photographers for one up front cost.  

Walt Disney World Magic Shots

Now, here’s something special that can happen when a Disney PhotoPass Photographer takes your picture.  It’s called a Magic Shot.  It combines the great photograph of you and your family with some Disney magic!  Before these Magic Shots were sprinkled throughout the parks and were sometimes hard to find.  

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Disney’s now made them easy to find!  By visiting Disney PhotoPass Service Facebook page, and clicking on the Albums tab, there’s a photo album showing each park’s current Magic Shot offerings and where they can be found inside the parks.  It’s always updated and there will be more Magic Shots available during festivals and holidays.  

 

Whether you’d like to have a picture with Stitch, Figment or Sebastian, you’ll now be able to know before you head to the parks if they’re available and where to go to find them!  Magic Shots is certainly a great added feature to the PhotoPass service that you’ll surely not want to miss!

Are you ready to book your next Disney vacation? Contact a Me and the Mouse agent today! All of our agents are highly trained in Disney vacation planning!

Leigh Miller

Travel Specialist

If you are sailing on a Disney Cruise and looking for adult onboard activities, Disney offers tasting events for guests that are at least 21 years old. This is a fun activity that you can experience on select days, generally sea days. I have personally experienced the tastings with a group of friends, but I have also signed up for wine tastings by myself. It is a fun and comfortable environment and a great way to meet other people on your cruise.

Disney Cruise Line Tastings!

Here are a few examples of the types of tastings offered, but they can vary by sailings and the length of the cruise:

 

  • Wines Tasting hosted by a sommelier
  • Beer Tasting
  • Martini and Tequila/Margarita tastings
  • Rum Tasting
  • Cognac Tasting
  • + A variety of other options based on availability

 

Beginning July 13, 2017, you are now able to reserve our tastings online after your booking window opens in the “Onboard Fun” portion of the screen. This is an easy way to start planning your activities prior to leaving home. If the sessions are booked when attempting to schedule them online, you can check with Guest Services after you board and they will direct you the location to see if spots have become available.

Disney Cruise Line Tastings!

Happy sailing and we hope you enjoy your cruise!

If you’re ready to book your next Disney Cruise, contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We’d love to help plan your next voyage, and help you figure out the ins-and-outs of a Disney Cruise!

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

Bon Voyage Breakfast- Trattoria al FornoA relatively new experience, the Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno is a lovely alternative for  character meals.  Meet two of the most adventurous princesses out there – Ariel and Rapunzel! Accompanied by Prince Eric and Flynn Ryder {Eugene for those that know him well}, no less!  Introduced by royal decree – each couple comes to visit tables and bring adventure to every family!  Sometimes, Ariel may ask you to swim with her like her favorite fishy friends in a conga line!

This restaurant boasts a charming, dark-wood, tile-floor, open kitchen concept everyone is sure to love. The dining room is more intimate, and ordering off menu versus a buffet is a wonderful change of pace!  Every menu item is inspired by The Little Mermaid or Tangled.  

Before you start your adventure, each table has a “Bon Voyage Adventure Journal” to fill out. In it, your family will find a place to write down your favorite adventures, your favorite travel companions, and other fun items to commemorate your trip!

Bon Voyage Breakfast- Trattoria al FornoTo start your day, you are given a ‘glass of sunshine’ and an assortment of delicious pastries served in a frying pan {Rapunzel’s weapon of choice}. You can then order your drink of choice {even Mimosas!} and select a fruit cup or parfait.  Both are beautiful and tasty!

Entrées range from eggs to calzones!  Kiddos can enjoy traditional breakfasts if they wish – Mickey Waffles, however, are served as Ariel and Flounder waffles…and they are just as good!  Our family enjoyed a breakfast calzone fit for King Triton, a “tower of pancakes”, and those “Tangled” eggs.  Everything was beautifully served, and tasted delicious. My “Tangled” Eggs were served on top of roasted red potatoes, sun dried tomatoes, and served with bacon. It was scrumptious – Rapunzel would have approved!

Flynn Ryder and Rapunzel visited us first…and of course, Flynn requested a new ‘wanted’ poster.  Then Ariel and Prince Eric came to visit.  I have to admit, Prince Eric was wonderful. He had so much to talk to everyone about and was able to bring most kiddos out of their shell….I guess that’s why Ariel fell in love with him!

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Gluten free and allergy options were available – but it is so very important to make your dining reservations with those needs noted, as well as alerting everyone you encounter of your needs at your dining time. All special dietary needs can be met, however it does take a bit longer to prepare! Also, some dishes do not translate completely to the allergen free option.  Keep that in mind!

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I LOVED this new experience. It’s calm since you are ordering off menu, the characters can be more interactive, and it felt less ‘busy’ than other meals. I would definitely recommend this breakfast on your next Walt Disney World adventure!

Contact a Me and The Mouse Agent today to book your next Disney vacation and to include this fun experience in your next adventure! 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist