With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I find it fitting to talk about the charming little French bakery that adorns Disney Springs. After a long afternoon of shopping, or even for a fun little date, Amorette’s Patisserie provides the perfect setting to tantalize the taste buds.

While sandwiches aren’t the first thing you think about getting at a French bakery, you absolutely should at Amorette’s. They only have three to choose from, but they are some of the most delicious sandwiches! They have Smoked Turkey on Focaccia, Smoked Ham, also on Focaccia, and a Vegetable Croissant. The first two are both delicious, but it is the Vegetable Croissant that steals the show. I am not a vegetarian at all, but I just couldn’t resist after seeing it in person. It comes on a multi-grain croissant with herb cream cheese spread, zucchini, mushrooms, roasted onions and tomatoes, arugula, spinach and red quinoa. Even though it sounds “healthy,” it’s bursting with flavor. Additionally, all three are accompanied by a salad dressed with a fantastic vinaigrette. The sandwiches are truly the perfect opening act for the vast amount of pastries and cakes they offer.

Now, onto why you are reading this… let’s talk pastries and cakes! There are glass cases filled with different types of pastries. From the key lime tart to the New York cheesecake with lemon curd, blueberries, and Chantilly whipped cream, to the Mickey Mousse (no, that wasn’t’ a typo) which is chocolate chiffon cake with both dark chocolate mousse and white chocolate mousse. Not only are these pastries delicious, but each one is intricately designed. They also offer macaroons, Crème Brûlée, chocolate covered strawberries, and even crepes, just to name a few. You can also enjoy these treats with a latte or some bubbly.

Now you remember when I said it would be a good place for a date? At this point you are probably scratching your head as to how a quick service restaurant would be an ideal date spot, or maybe you just assumed I was a cheap date (ask my husband, I am not…lol). But the reason that I said that is because Amorette’s offers a 90-minute cake decorating experience. In it, you will learn the process of cake decorating from design to completion and also learn how to pour glaçage and coat Mickey’s ears, tail, belt, and buttons with edible paint. Drinks, both alcoholic and non, are included and you get to take your cake home with you after the class. Classes are $149 for two people and reservations are required for the cake-decorating class so if it’s something you are interested in, make sure to talk to your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist to get it set up for you.

If you happen to be at Disney Springs, make sure you stop by the quaint little corner spot and I promise you won’t regret it!

Jen Morrison

Travel Specialist

In this month’s blog I’ll be wrapping up creative ways to save for Disney, and with all that Christmas shopping, these tips are sure to come in handy! My first recommendation is using affiliate shopping apps, like Ebates and Ibotta, which give you money back on the purchases you already make by directing you to their sites, before or after your purchase. With Ebates, you head to their website first, and then find the store where you want to shop. It will link you to that store’s website and also tell you what percentage cash back you’ll be getting for that purchase. Once you make your purchase, it will automatically deposit your rebate into your Ebates bank. You’ll then get paid once a quarter via check. Since starting Ebates, I’ve already received $365 back! I’ve been doing it for a year and haven’t found a “catch” yet! Ibotta is a similar concept to Ebates, but it provides rebates on brand-specific groceries at places you normally shop, like Costco, Publix and Walmart. A lot of times they also have rebates for “any item” and general items as well, like milk, bread and fruit, so after a shopping trip, check out the app to see what rebates you can get on your purchases. After you have checked off your qualifying purchase, upload your receipt to Ibotta. Once your purchase is reviewed and accepted, it will show up in your Ibotta bank, which you can then cash out after $20.

The next big way to save is to buy discounted gift cards. Various retailers like Sam’s, Target and even Best Buy have deals that would allow you to purchase Disney gift cards at discounted rates, ranging from 5% off, up to 15% off, depending on the deal. This equals HUGE savings for a cruise or a week-long trip.

Another trick is to check out “used” gift card sites, like Raise. If you haven’t heard of Raise, they basically buy gift cards from customers who do not have a need for that particular gift card brand, at a discounted rate. While Disney gift cards can be hard to come by on these sites, there are thousands of other brands on items you use every day like Starbucks, Home Depot or Marshall’s, which make your dollar stretch a little farther so you can save up for that Disney trip in no time. And as a bonus, Raise is on Ebates so you can get an extra 1% off of your purchase when you start your virtual shopping trip on Ebates. If you are going to try to purchase these types of gift cards, make sure you use sites that have a guarantee, like Raise, which offers a year-long guarantee on their gift cards so you don’t have to worry about what you are buying.

I hope you have found these tips helpful and make sure to keep an eye on the Me and the Mouse Facebook page for additional “tips and tricks” to save for your Disney vacation!

Jen Morrison

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

As a Floridian, fall means enjoying a pumpkin spice latte in 90-degree weather, instead of the normal 95, but luckily, it also means the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT! Now those who know me, know that I love food, especially cheese (so much so that my husband wrote about it in our wedding vows, oy vey!). With that being said, I was really excited to see the return of one of my favorite kiosks, The Cheese Studio, which is hosted by Boursin this year. If you’ve never had Boursin cheese, you are missing out! It’s a creamy cheese that originated in France and it has a consistency similar to, but lighter than cream cheese, that melts in your mouth. Boursin boasts several different varieties, but my absolute favorite is garlic and fine herbs. The kiosk this year has three unique dish offerings utilizing several of the flavors.

The first dish, Braised Beef Stroganoff with Tiny Egg Noodles, Wild Mushroom, and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce, could probably be skipped despite how delicious it sounds. We loved the idea of this one, but the flavors, unfortunately, just come out a little boring, even using the Garlic and Herb Boursin, which I think is hard to do.

The second dish, however, A Cheese Trio: Profiterole topped with Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese and Orange Apricot Jam; Smoked Salmon Pinwheel with Boursin Shallot and Chive Cheese and Everything Seasoning; and Strawberry Macaroon with Boursin Pepper Cheese, is really good! The Smoked Salmon Pinwheel is as expected and quite tasty. But the Profiterole and the Macaroon steal the show. I was hesitant because the sweet and savory combination can be hard to master, but these both are really fun and delicious combinations.

My favorite dish by far though is the Savory Caramelized Onion Boursin Garlic and Fine Herb Cheese Tart with cold Arugula Salad and Aged Balsamic. Let me just start off by saying that the Tart has dethroned the Grilled Lamb with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies (potato chips for the lay person) from Australia as my favorite dish at the Festival, which is saying a lot. Upon first bite, you immediately taste the great flavor and creaminess of the Boursin cheese, then from there, a slightly sweet flavor develops from the caramelized onions, and finally, there is a delicious tartness from the aged balsamic salad. If you are not a super adventurous eater, but want to delve into the spirit of expanding your horizons at the Food and Wine Festival, then this is a great item to start with. We’ve had it several times now and it has consistently been delicious. The other thing that I love about this dish, is that it’s one of the best values for your money ringing in at $4.50 for a very filling serving. I actually suggest sharing it if you want to eat your way around the countries.

Get to EPCOT to try a Tart before it goes away, but feel free to reach out if you have any other questions about the Food and Wine Festival or any food at Disney!

Jen Morrison

Travel Specialist