Walt Disney World is a very magical and the happiest place on earth. Everyone is happy and eager to help. There is a hidden gem of a restaurant that things just aren’t what they appear. The restaurant is Whispering Canyon Café located in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort.

Walking up to the podium, you’re surrounded by headdresses of past Native American chiefs and other relics from past times. The restaurant’s theme has the same motif. It’s an Old Western eatery that has bottomless platters and chuck wagon favorites will please the whole gang.

Breakfast starts with an all you care to enjoy family platter that’s loaded with breakfast meats, eggs, potatoes and buttermilk biscuits. Lunch and dinner also have some finger licking delicious food. For lunch, there’s a very expansive menu to order from and come dinner time, the family platter isn’t to be beat. It has an all you care to enjoy selection of foods such as chicken, sausage, ribs and amazing sides.

If you’re lucky enough to be at Disney over Thanksgiving or Christmas, be sure to check out the special menu at Whispering Canyon Café. Be sure to make your reservations early, as they will fill up quick! Even though the food is spectacular, the hidden secret are the cast members. While these cast members have the same happy and eager to help attitude, they also have a reputation for sassing customers. They like to play along with the customers and get into some shenanigans. There’s also plenty of fun for the kids! They’re encouraged to play with Lincoln Logs, coloring, spirited sing-alongs and even hobby horse races.

Along with the rustic atmosphere, the fantastic food, and the good natured fun of the cast members, this is a restaurant that you don’t want to miss on your next trip. One tip though, be careful when you ask for refills!

Leigh Miller

Travel Specialist

 

We all want to share that special Disney magic with our children, but determining when is the right time to start visiting the Happiest Place on Earth can prove more complicated than a simple visit to meet Mickey Mouse. Here are some tips to help you decide if your child is ready to experience all the magic that the World of Disney has to offer!

When is the right time?

  • Everyone around you will offer differing opinions, but no one knows your child like you do. When determining if your child is ready, there are several things you should factor in:
  • Does your little one require a nap?
  • Do you have a schedule that is hard to stray from without major meltdowns?
  • Does your child have any special requirements that will require extra planning or
    assistance?

You can plan half days for playtime in the park which would accommodate naps back at the resort, or you can take an extended break in the park if the stroller is a comfortable enough spot for a rest. Allow a few extra days to build in rest and pool time to keep everyone happy. Disney can be go, go, go all day, or it can be very relaxed.

Disney is great when addressing special considerations, including allergies, sensory overload, visual and auditory impairments, mobility issues, and more. Working with a travel planner who specializes in Disney can help alleviate your fears and provide you with information to best plan according to your family’s specific needs. Disney designates these agencies as “Authorized Disney Vacation Planners.” Not only can your Me and the Mouse specialist plan anitinerary specific to you, they can reserve strollers, wheelchairs, and scooters, notate allergies on dining reservations, help identify attractions with height or health restrictions, and even map out quiet zones for breaks.

The Experience

It’s important to understand what a visit to a Disney park will be like with a little one:

  • You will go at a slower pace, taking time to simply rest and people watch, maneuvering the crowds with a stroller, and taking breaks for diaper changes and snack times.
  • Much of your attraction experiences will be limited to areas where rides tend to be slower and calmer for younger guests. If a day at Disney isn’t complete without your favorite thrill attractions, perhaps just the big kids should go, or take advantage of the rider swap option which allows the adults to take turns enjoying the larger rides while one adult stays back with the smaller children.
  • Parades will be a highlight for all of you as you watch your children’s expressions! For very young guests, catch the earlier parade, if possible, as it often gets harder to keep them awake and happy the later in the evening you go.
  • The Baby Care Centers will be a blessing. Use them! Each park has a baby care center where you can find a quiet spot to eat, change diapers, use the toddler-sized potties, and nurse your young one. You can also purchase forgotten supplies, like diapers and formula. Read more about the Baby Care Centers here!

Will your toddler remember their visit to the parks? Probably not. Honestly, it really will be for Mom and Dad to experience the magic of Disney with them. You WILL, however, have some amazing photo opportunities when they see their favorite characters, take their first train ride, or fly high on Dumbo!

You know your children. If they can handle a busy day out and about in town, then it’s time to start thinking about that first Disney vacation.

Special note: Admission is free to children under the age of three.

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

Combine Disneyland and Christmas and what do you get? One of the most magical, spectacular, beautiful Christmas experiences that your family can ever enjoy!

Starting with checking into your Disneyland resort hotel, each resort is decked out with boughs of holly and Christmas trees reflecting the resort’s own theme including the sea, the woodlands, and adventure. Stop by the Grand Californian to see a huge gingerbread house version of the hotel and sit by the fire while enjoying some of the most amazing hot chocolate you’ll ever taste at the limited hot chocolate stand located in the lobby.

Disneyland Park welcomes you with a 60 foot tall Christmas tree covered with 2000 ornaments and almost 75,000 lights! During the day the tree is beautiful but when night falls and the tree lights up your breath will be taken away. Rivaling the tree’s lights is Sleeping Beauty’s castle which appears as a shimmering ice castle and stands as a beautiful foreground for Disney’s “Believe… In Holiday Magic”, Disney’s Christmastime fireworks show. Be sure to get there early for the fireworks as Main Street’s best viewing locations fill up well before the start of the show. When the fireworks end, stay in your spot and look up – you will become enthralled to see it’s snowing in California! Disneyland Imagineers have two attraction overlays that are set up during the Christmas season. For both the Halloween and Christmas seasons, the Haunted Mansion celebrates “The Nightmare Before Christmas” with jack-o- lanterns and wreaths, completely transforming the ride. “it’s a small world” is also transformed during the holiday season with celebrations from around the world coming to life in each scene. Be sure to get a FastPass for both of these overlays as the standby lines are quite long.

California Adventure Park headlines the holidays with its Festival of Holidays. Festival of Holidays is inspired by festivals of traditions from around the world and features musicians and dancers, Disney characters, festive food market booths, and a meet and greet with Santa himself! CarsLand is another favorite area of guests with its Christmas decorations and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. Sing along to your favorite Christmas tunes as you swing on the tractor dance floor. At the end of your day in California Adventure Park, be sure to watch World of Color – Season of Light. In World of Color, hundreds of fountains dance to holiday music from around the world while holiday scenes from your favorite Disney and Pixar movies are displayed on the water mist screen.

Christmas holiday celebrations in Disneyland begin early in November and continue through the very beginning of January. Contact your Me and the Mouse Travel agent today to make sure you don’t miss out on making Christmas memories with your family!

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

 

One of the most popular questions I am asked is “Where is the best place to eat at Universal?”  Unlike Disney, Universal’s in-park dining selections are fairly limited and if you are in the mood for something a little better than burgers, chicken fingers and fries, it is really convenient to leave the park and head to CityWalk.  With so many selections for table service restaurants with prices comparable to in-park counter service restaurants, I highly recommend a table service meal at CityWalk as a much-needed break from the parks.  On my last trip, I visited NBC Sports Grill and Brew and it was my absolute favorite meal.

Menu Selections: For a bar and grill, this restaurant had a huge variety of pastas, burgers, steaks and comfort food selections.  My table enjoyed the Chicken Mac and Cheese, Chicken Pot Pie and the Smokehouse Stack Burger.  As much as we each enjoyed our entrees, the star of this meal was the Large Warm Soft Pretzel.  This was the biggest, most buttery, delicious soft pretzel I have ever had.   Aside from food, you can’t miss the brew!  The beer lover in your family will be in heaven with more than 100 beer selections including one beer brewed exclusively for the restaurant.

Service: Next to the pretzel, I think the service was the next best part of the experience.  Our server made the meal so enjoyable with quick beverage refills and timing the appetizer and main menu service extremely well.  She was fast and very efficient, while also friendly and engaging with our table.

Environment:  If you are there to enjoy each other’s company, this may not be the place for you.  However, if you are trying to catch a game or have a sports-lover in your family, this is the dream.  The restaurant boasts 90+ HDTV screens with every sport/match imaginable.  In the bar, you can find glass-top foosball tables if you want to have competitive drinks with friends.  The theming even carries into the bathrooms with more screens and an athletic locker room feel.  You just can’t help but smile in this place!

During my visit, my family and I walked in during prime dinner hours and were able to get a table immediately so reservations are not required.  With prices between $10-$40 per entrée, and just a couple minute walk from the entrance of Universal Studios park, I highly recommend dining at NBC Sports Grill and Brew.  It’s not only a great meal, but it is an incredibly themed experience you are sure to enjoy.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

The trip of a lifetime to the most Magical Place on Earth comes with a price tag, but with some tips and tricks, I can show you some ways to save several hundred dollars with some planning and minimal effort. In this month’s blog, I am going to discuss two credit cards that can save you a lot of money, for Disney and other vacations.

First, a word of caution, I only encourage the use of credit cards if you can use them responsibly. And if you can use them responsibly, then I highly encourage them for the rewards (sorry, Dave Ramsey)! The first recommendation that I will make to maximize your rewards is to put every expense on your credit card and pay it off monthly. I do a monthly budget, so I am not saying spend frivolously here, just buy what you normally buy.

My husband and I got married just last year and had the lofty goal of travelling like crazy before we started a family, so we decided to try and obtain a Southwest Companion Pass by utilizing the Southwest credit card. If you’re not familiar with the Companion Pass program, a Rapid Rewards member who has earned 110,000 points in one year can designate one person to fly with them for free wherever they fly in the year the Pass is earned, plus the following year. There are a few ways to earn it, but I’ll just tell you about the easiest.

Southwest offers up to 60,000 bonus points when you open one of their credit cards and spend between $2000 and $3000 (depending on the offer) in the first few months, putting you halfway to your goal. If you have a small business, you can also apply for the business credit card on the same Rapid Rewards number and go through the same process, getting you within a few thousand points of your goal very quickly. However, it’s not necessary to get both cards. We were able to earn a Companion Pass utilizing only one of the cards. Fair warning that there is an annual fee, but the benefits far outweigh the nominal fee in comparison. We haven’t paid for a single domestic flight this year as I get to fly for free everywhere my husband goes. Additionally, he booked all his flights from our bank of points. This little gem has saved us from buying 14 roundtrip tickets this year! Southwest flies into Orlando and just announced plans to fly to Hawaii in 2018 (hello, Aulani), so you can take one trip with the kids and one without!

In addition, Disney also features a few credit cards that are geared towards helping you save money towards your next Disney vacation, by offering special room rates, discounts on Disney merchandise and dining in the parks, and Disney Reward Dollars. The difference between the two cards is the annual fee; the Premier has a $49 fee and the regular card does not have a fee. The Premier earns you higher rewards, like $200 back after spending a certain amount, as opposed to $50 back on the regular card. In addition, the Premier card earns you 2% back in Disney Rewards Dollars in many categories whereas the Disney Visa only earns you 1% back. I think one of the coolest perks about this card though is the referral bonus. You can refer your friends to sign up for the Disney card, and for each friend who signs up, you can get $50 back, up to $500 per year.

From my point of view, $500 back plus free flights to Orlando puts you that much closer to Club level at the Grand Floridian! Happy saving!

Jen Morrison

Travel Specialist

My husband and I decided to celebrate our birthdays by trying out a new dining experience. Despite our many visits to Walt Disney World, we continue to strive to have as many new experiences as possible!

We entered the restaurant and we felt as if we had been transported to the Pacific Northwest. The ambiance was very warm and comforting. The décor was rustic yet with notable elegance. We were promptly greated by our server and presented with a beautiful leather bound menu! There was also an extensive, award winning, wine list . They offered over 130 wines from the Pacific Northwest wineries!

We began our meal with a selection of artisanal cheeses all from the Pacific Northwest as well. Each cheese came with a delicious seasonal accompaniments. We had marinated pairs and grapes, a fig and nut bar, a fruit mustarda, and fresh honey. The Point Reyes Toma was my favorite. It was very creamy and delicious on its own, but when paired with the fresh honey it was a whole different flavor explosion.

Artist Point is known for using seasonal ingredients for their “farm to fork” menu. The menu offered many incredible offerings. We both ordered the filet mignon, however my husband added the blue cheese enhancement. The biggest debate of the evening was what sides we were going to order with our entrée! We decided on the mashed potatoes and the truffle macaroni and cheese. We made the right choice! The potatoes were light and creamy and there was plenty to share. The truffle macaroni and cheese was one of the best I have ever eaten. The creamy rich cheese sauce, with the perfectly cooked orecchiette pasta with a crunchy crumb topping. The steaks were perfectly cooked to our specifications and simply presented with a large grilled bulb onion! We were unfortunately too full to order dessert, but they were incredibly tempting!!

Our service was impeccable and we truly savored our celebratory dinner!! Artist Point is a Signature dining location and would require 2 dining entitlements per entrée. Guests are asked to adhere to a dress code, but no fear a jacket is not required! The next time you are looking for a unique dining experience, with a fresh seasonal menu, this is your
place to try. Your travel specialist is here to help you find your next delicious dining experience!

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist