Contact Megan when you are ready to start planning your next dream Disney vacation, and receive her complimentary concierge services!

Located in the heart of Africa is quick service restaurant, The Mara! OK, so you don’t need to travel that far to enjoy the amazing food this restaurant has to offer…although the scenery within its proximity is reminiscent of African lands. This restaurant is easily located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort.

What makes this hidden gem stand out the most? The taste of course! The Mara is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Your breakfast offerings can range from the traditional fare (like bacon, eggs, and waffles) or you can be adventurous and try something beyond what you’re accustomed to. The bounty platter and Bobotie platter both offer Pap and Chakalaka as part of the meal. I also have never had a breakfast flatbread before, but it sounds amazing with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and cheddar. A perfect twist on traditional breakfast foods.

Lunch and dinner options, again, will offer the traditional foods we can find anywhere (burgers, chicken nuggets, and Caesar salads)…but what about their unique offerings? African Potjie (African stew), Braai Chicken Flatbread, or a Chef’s choice hand carved sandwich with Kool Slaai are just some offerings you will not find traditionally in other areas of Disney World. You may also enjoy a hearty meal like the oak-fired rotisserie chicken dinner that I loved or a filling mixed tomato flatbread if you are less adventurous but still looking for a lot of flavor. Lunch and dinner also offer the ‘soup of the moment’….can I just say, wow! The offerings of soup change daily, which allows you the opportunity to try something new and bold on various visits. I had the chicken corn chowder and it did not disappoint. Daily they offer the amazing butternut squash soup, a staple that is loved by those who frequent the location.

Do not forget dessert! There are a variety to choose from, like zebra cupcakes, Oreo cheesecake, and even Pina Colada cupcakes, but they’re most famously known for their zebra domes. If you are gluten free, there is no need to worry, because at special request, they will make these well-known domes for you to enjoy as well. They are so good, you do not even notice the difference!

Being that this location is in a Disney Resort, you won’t find a Disney bus that will take you from your resort directly here. Simply take a bus from any of the parks to Animal Kingdom Lodge and ensure you exit at Jambo House (not Kidani Village). From the lobby, go to the right and down the stairs and outside to the covered walkway to get there.

This dining location is hands down one of my favorites on property! From the theming inside of the wetlands and grasslands of the reserve to being able to make a 5-minute walk to the outside viewing area of the savanna, stopping here for a bite to eat and relaxing scenery afterward is my idea of a perfect evening in Disney World.

The Mara Menu

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

 

With the continued hype of Jurassic Park movies, it’s no doubt that the T-Rex restaurant in Disney Springs is still as popular as ever!  This dinosaur themed restaurant is sure to excite the kids in your group and equally satisfy the taste buds of the adults.   

Open for lunch and dinner, T-Rex is a table service dining location with an extensive menu.  As simple as burgers and fries, to seafood and steaks, to salads and pastas, there is something for everyone!  The kids also have some of the most extensive menu options I’ve seen.

As you check in at the podium, you will not miss the 15 foot T-Rex proudly on display as you get ready for an exciting dinner.  To your left you will see the beginning of the themed rooms throughout the restaurant, a room and bar with giant octopus tentacles overhead and a fish tank as the back drop.  As you continue to walk though, other themed areas including a color-changing ice cavern and a fern forest with giant wasps will not go unnoticed.  To keep you completely immersed, every 20 minutes the entire restaurant comes alive as a meteor shower gets every prehistoric creature to react.

Such a variety of food will have you second guessing what to try this visit.  You may want to consider splitting with someone so you can try a couple of different tastes they have to offer.  From the Mega Mes-O-Bones ribs to the Prehistoric Pasta with Chicken, the portion size will not leave you feeling hungry.  There is also a variety of prehistoric drink options to enjoy as you dine, from a glass of wine to a Candy Apple Cotton-tini, there is a drink for satisfy all.  You do not want to skip dessert either!  My favorite (which is made to feed up to four guests), is the Chocolate Extinction.  With some fudge cake, ice cream, caramel and bits of Butterfinger crumbs, this dessert had me eating my husband’s portion as well….do not miss this!!

As you exit, stop at their Dino-Store to check out unique merchandise the kids will love. They are sure to find a great souvenir to bring home.  If they like Build-A-Bear, they will love the chance to Build-A-Dino as a way to remember this fun dining experience.  If you want to skip the shopping experience, at least check out the Paleo Zone, a hands-on experience where the kids will enjoy digging for hidden dinosaur fossils.  They can also pan for treasure in Discovery Creek or check out the interactive displays to learn about “the time before time”.

This location does take reservations starting at 180 days from your trip.  It can be quite the popular spot, so make sure you have your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist add this as one of your choices for dining during your stay.  I personally love to put it on our radar for an Animal Kingdom park day…it really ties in our day in the park and extends it to the evening hours!

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

 

 

It’s finally here! You’ve been waiting in line for the last 50 minutes to meet the man himself, Mickey Mouse! Your 4-year-old has been talking about this moment since the trip countdown started. You have your phone ready to video the reaction on her face and then you realize…you only have 3% left of battery life.

Now what? Hopefully you at least purchased the Memory Maker package to capture the still shots of the moment, but you really were looking forward to watching her videoed reaction with her grandparents when you returned home.

What went wrong? You had the phone fully charged before leaving your room, you took a few pictures walking into the park, took a short video of the morning show and afternoon parade, posted pictures to Facebook while waiting in line and reorganized some of your FastPasses on the My Disney Experience app. All of these things can cause the battery life to fall…fast.

The resolution is simple, pack a portable phone charger before you go. There are many out there, so you may need to research which one will work best for you.

If you are already there and forgot to get one before leaving, Disney still has your needs covered. Throughout the parks and the resorts, they have FuelRod stations. There are some very positive things about these FuelRod chargers:

  • You can purchase them on property if you underestimated your need to have a portable charger.
  • If you use the FuelRod charger in the park and you drain it, you can easily swap it out at another station for a fully charged one at no cost.
  • If you choose to keep the same one, it is fully rechargeable with a USB adapter.
  • They come with an adapter plug for both an Android and iPhone.

If you know you will benefit from the ease of swapping dead chargers for fully recharged ones, you may want to consider purchasing a FuelRod before you travel. In Disney, the FuelRods currently sell for $30 each. Online, these chargers start at $20 (with a $5 delivery charge **pricing may vary at some locations). So, if you wanted to get a couple for the guests in your group, you are paying $45 versus $60 in the park. It is a great option to save some money.

Although we would all love to be able to put our phones away on vacation, the functionality of a phone is ideal depending on your needs. Whether you want to capture candid photos, videos, vlog, or use the My Disney Experience app while there, a phone’s functions are a necessity to fulfill those needs. It is best to be prepared from the start to alleviate any stress something as simple as a dead phone could cause.

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

 

Walk-mans, Big Wheels, giant Mickey phones, 8-tracks….these things are imbedded in pop culture and their symbolism of the decades they represent will forever bring us back to those times in our lives. Disney’s Pop Century Resort celebrates iconic memorabilia from the 1950s to 1990s by making them the focal point of this fan favorite resort!

Pop’s appeal is without question its cleanliness, affordability, style of rooms, bus service, proximity to Art of Animation, and fun culture surrounding each turn.

Rooms

Rooms are currently undergoing refurbishment. The updates make its functionality something families desire while sharing limited space on vacation. Walking into an updated room, you’ll see a small table, two chairs, coffee maker, mini fridge, spacious dresser and counterspace with a large flat screen TV hanging above and a lot of USB ports to charge electronic devices.

You’ll also see ONE queen size bed. But wait…pull down the handle near the table to reveal another queen size bed. Being able to fold it up daily, increases the room’s floor space and makes it easier to move comfortably in a smaller area.

The bathroom updates are the biggest seller for me. The sliding door between the sink/dressing area and the beds is a bonus for guests needing privacy while family relaxes and others get ready. There’s a small open closet, plenty of cubby space for toiletries, a large brightly lit mirror, large single sink, and an added side makeup mirror.

The shower area is separated via a pocket door. Inside you’ll find a glass shower door and two shower heads. Wonderful and contemporary updates!

Resort Amenities

There’s a single bus stop area at Pop with individual lines for each park. The buses are not shared which makes its transit a definite perk!

Three available pools give each guest the chance to get some needed R&R during their stay. Perfectly spaced out, you don’t have to travel far to get your feet wet. The Hippy Dippy Pool (main pool 1960s) is the focal point behind Classic Hall. With flower shaped water jets, games with cast members, and the Petals Pool Bar, this is the most interactive. It’s also where Movie Under the Stars is enjoyed on select nights. The other two (Bowling Pool – 1950s and Computer Pool-1990s) have decade specific music piping through and a more laid-back feel.

This resort also has an added bonus that many others do not…two quick service food options. Don’t be confused…everything POP is Pop’s on-site food location, but many guests love taking the 10-minute walk across Generation Gap Bridge to the Art of Animation Resort to dine at Landscape of Flavors!

Staying here is like a walk down memory lane. Remembering the happy moments in our lives is what Disney was built on. This is why Pop Century Resort is highly talked about in the Disney community!

COMING SOON!

Pop will soon have access to the NEWEST form of transportation on Disney World Property…the gondolas (opening date is TBD). Follow the Me and the Mouse Facebook page for daily announcements to not miss when the news hits!

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

 

Old Key West. Simply put, this charming resort is a hidden gem. As the original Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort, it can sometimes be overlooked because of newer villa resorts Disney has built or expands upon. This is a do not miss resort! All the charm and small community feel you want is wrapped up for you here.

Theming

As the name of the resort would suggest, this resort’s theme takes in the feel of the Florida Keys! You’re surrounded by villas laid out in a sub-division style, great views of water and golf-course fairways, tropical sounds piped through, and a small community feel of the Conch Flats.

Rooms

The rooms at this location can be described in one word…spacious! Although this isn’t the only word I’d use, it was a key factor for me and my extended family.

It offers 4 room types:

1. Deluxe Studio: Sleeps up to 4; kitchenette; 376 sq ft
2. 1 Bedroom Villa: Sleeps up to 5; 942 sq ft**
3. 2 Bedroom Villa: Sleeps up to 9; 2 full bathrooms; 1,333 sq ft**
4. 3 Bedroom Grand Villa: Sleeps up to 12; 4 bathrooms; 2,022 sq ft**

**Full kitchen

That’s A LOT of room to spread out! With combinations of king beds, queen beds, sleeper sofas and sleeper chairs, there’s a cozy place for each guest to rest after a long day in the parks. They all have their own private balcony with views of the fairways, water, or woodland areas (no noisy street views)!

Only three of the 49 buildings have elevator access, so if you prefer the ground floor for ease, have your Me and the Mouse Agent make this request! Elevator buildings are reserved for DVC guests first.

Grounds

Size and Transportation: This resort is large, so walking casually to the lobby may not be something you will do, depending on the location of your building. Bus transportation to the parks and Disney Springs (boat transportation also available) stop at all 5 bus stops on property starting with Peninsular Road and ending at the Hospitality House. **The Disney Springs bus starts at the Hospitality House.

Hospitality House: This is where check-in, Olivia’s Café (table service), Good’s Food to Go (quick service), Gurgling Suitcase (bar), the Sandcastle pool, the boat to Disney Springs, and Conch Flats General Store are located. To get here, internal shuttles loop through OKW’s bus stops or take a park bus (last stop is the Hospitality House).

Pools: The Sandcastle Pool (main pool) is at the Hospitality House. There are also 3 smaller leisure pools located at South Point Road, Miller’s Road, and Old Turtle Pond Road (which has the Turtle Shack Snack Bar with a lot of the same offerings as Good’s Food to Go).

If you’re looking for less of a resort feel and more of a small-town atmosphere, this is the place to stay! The laid-back feeling while staying here can’t be beat. Especially larger families looking for more space, look no further than Old Key West!

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

 

Oh my favorite thing…food on VACA!! What’s even better? Having a meal where you can get a great portion and awesome food for the money (or quick service credit) you are spending. Below is the top 5 based on food quantity and/or quality based on my personal experience along with our agent’s and guest’s favorites!

Captureblogblog 2

Wolfgang

Capture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival begins as the summer crowds dissipate. From August 31st through November 13th , guests visiting Epcot can join in the celebration of food cultures from around the world they otherwise may never be able to experience. Guests can sample extended exotic food and beverages beyond what is typically found in World Showcase.

What to expect

For casual guests simply looking for different and fun food and drinks, along with a little entertainment,
they can enjoy:

  • Booths: With over 35 kiosks to sample new flavors, there is sure to be something for everyone. Throughout World Showcase you’ll see ongoing booths offering delightful eats and beverages from varying cultures! Grab a park map to see all booths offered and make your planfor the food locations you want to visit.

There are booths representing the existing countries in Epcot and many more to peak your taste bud interest. Some additional represented countries include: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland,New Zealand, and Scotland… just to name a few.

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Complete booth list

  •  Eat to the Beat Concert Series: Each night of the festival, scheduled acts perform for your entertainment at the American Gardens Theater. They are scheduled for at least 2 consecutive nights to perform 3 mini concerts per night (5:30 PM, 6:45 PM, and 8:00 PM). Arrive early to reserve your spot, or for reserved seating, consider booking a special dining reservation that includes VIP seating at one of the shows!

Entertainment scheduled this year includes: Baha Men, Plain White T’s, Everclear, Billy Ocean, Hanson, and Boyz II Men…there is just so many!!

Eat to the Beat Performers

**Concerts subject to change/cancel without notice.

Some guests want to expand their experience beyond the booths and want to hear/see food
preparation, mixology, and hear from top chefs. Check out these offerings:

  • Culinary Demonstrations**: Watch a 45-minute demonstration from some of the best gourmets! They’ll share their knowledge and wisdom as they put together a delicious creation.
  •  Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!**: At this hands on lesson, master the art of mixology, explore
    ingredients in cocktails, and learn how to wine pair with certain foods.
  • “What’s Cookin’ With…”**: Gourmet VIPs are in house for this event! On varying dates, a scheduled celebrity chefs will be present and have guests enjoy a plated favorite breakfast of the VIPs choosing while having a food centric discussion.
  • Beverage Seminars**: Sample amazing beer, wine, and spirits at this seminar! Beverage experts will also offer their knowledge!

**These events must be booked in advance and have a separate fee associated with them.

PicMonkey Collage

Crowds
Disney vacationers and Florida locals love the Festival, so expect higher crowds on weekends. Expect lower crowds during the week after World Showcase opens (11 AM).

Dining Plan
Purple DDP symbols next to items on individual booth menus indicate a dining plan snack credit can be used for that item.

Make Epcot a destination this fall for your Disney World trip! You won’t be disappointed as you experience the smells, tastes, sounds and sites of the offerings of the Festival.

Contact your Me and the Mouse Specialist to book any additional offerings!

 

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

Get ready for Universal’s SCARIEST event of the YEAR! 

As summer winds down, fall quickly follows full of fun and its own kind of excitement. Although the end of summer saddens many, it does bring one of the most anticipated holidays for Universal Studios Orlando….Halloween!!  Universal hosts one of THE most frightening, but exciting events! We are so thrilled to talk about Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights!

Halloween Horror Nights - 2017

 

What to Expect:  

The streets of Universal are transformed into the most terrifying location you’ve ever seen. 

  • Experience scare zones throughout the park, but BEWARE!  They’re filled with monsters and maniacs ready frighten you ALL night long.  
  • Walk through brilliantly themed haunted houses!  This year, American Horror Story is making its second-year return and NEW this year is The Shining…beware of room 237!  
  • Stop {and cover your eyes} during shockingly graphic live shows.
  • Also enjoy many of the park’s rides/attractions.  

Halloween Horror Nights - 2017

 

Dates/Event Time:

  • September: 15 – 17, 21 – 24, 29 – 30
  • October: 1, 4 – 8, 11 – 15, 18 – 22, 25 – 31
  • November: 3 – 4
  • Begins @ 6:30 PM {closing times vary}

 

Event Tickets

There’s an array of options to get as much {or little} scare as you desire.  Below are ticket/pricing options to choose the amount of fright you prefer!  

**Pricing is advance purchase prices, per person, & NOT including tax

 

1. Halloween Horror Night Flex Tickets

Is ONE event all you can handle?  Choose the ticket that includes the day of the week you plan to take your chances.      

  • Flex Sunday – Friday:  $77.99
  • Flex Sunday – Saturday:  $85.99

Add On:  Express Pass

  • Get one-time express ride access for a specific event date.  
  • Enjoy a separate queue line with shorter wait times at ALL haunted houses and participating rides/attractions.
  • Pricing/night varies {$79.99 – $129.99}

**Looking to save money on one-day passes?  Save up to $50 on select nights with a Coca-Cola can product when you buy advance tickets!!  

2. Fear Passes

If being scared is your thing, these passes are for you.  They offer amazing savings for multiple nights of terror!

  • Rush of Fear:  Access to the 1st ten nights.
    • $91.99
    • With Express Pass: $299.99
  • Frequent Fear:  Up to 21 nights of Halloween Horror Night admission {Sunday, Wednesday, & Thursday event nights} plus the 1st weekend {September 16 & 17}.
    • $102.99
    • With Express Pass:  $339.99
  • Frequent Fear Plus:   Up to 28 nights of Halloween Horror Night admission {Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday event nights} plus the 1st {September 16 & 17} and last weekend {November 3 & 4}.  
    • $118.99
    • With Express Pass:  $399.99
  • Ultimate Frequent Fear:  Access to all Halloween Horror Night event nights!  
    • $199.99
    • With Express Pass:  $599.99

Halloween Horror Nights - 2017

Know before you go!

This event has so much to look forward to, but like anything, rules and warnings must be heeded.

  • NO masks or costumes allowed!!
  • NO food, drinks, bottles, recordings, flash photography, flashlights, or laser pens allowed in the Haunted Houses.
  • Motorized wheelchairs and ECVs are NOT permitted in any queue, haunted house, or on any ride vehicle.

BE WARNED!  This INTENSE event is NOT recommended for young children under age 13.

Anyone who enjoys the scare that Halloween brings should NOT miss this event!  Contact a Me and the Mouse Travel specialist for further details on planning for the fright of your life! We can’t wait to hear from you!

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

Frozen Ever After Dessert PartyDisney is known for its amazing dessert parties throughout the parks that allow guests great views of the fireworks along with some amazing dessert options. {You can read more about them, here!} The newest dessert party being offered is in Epcot and is one that Frozen fans will absolutely love!

 

The Frozen Ever After Dessert Party will debut on July 17th in Epcot on select evenings.  Guests will be able to enjoy prime seating for the show, some amazing treats, as well as specialty drinks {non-alcoholic and alcohol – ID required}!  Sign me up!

 

But wait….what makes this dessert party even better than some of the others?  

Frozen Ever After Dessert PartyThe fact that after you watch IllumiNations fireworks, you THEN get to ride one of the most coveted rides in all of Disney Worlds Parks today… Frozen Ever After!  

 

This is such an awesome send off to a great night!  While the rest of the guests head out of the park for the evening, you and the dessert party guests are taken to ride the most popular ride in the park.  

 

FastPass

Frozen Ever After has a FastPass offering as part of a tiered system.  Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track are all Tier One attractions, meaning that when you make your FastPass choices, you are limited to choosing ONE of those top attractions as your Tier One FastPass option.  With this dessert party, you give yourself more freedom and can now choose between Soarin’ and Test Track since you have Frozen Ever After already reserved! Yes, we love it!!!

 

Treats Offered

The specialty themed treats offered at this party are plentiful and could vary.  Some dessert may include:  

  • Olaf’s warm double-chocolate s’mores pudding cake
  • Hans’ key lime tarts with red glitter glaze
  • Anna’s blue velvet cupcakes
  • Sven’s fresh fruits and berries
  • Elsa’s warm cottage pudding with salted caramel glaze

 

Beverages Offered

Drink selections may include:

  • “Melted Snow” and other non-alcoholic beverages
  • Summertime cocktails, like margaritas and piña coladas
  • Beer and wine

 

Pricing

Current listed pricing is as follows:   

  • $79 / Adult and Children ages 10 and up
  • $47 / Child (ages 3-9)

 

**Pricing subject to change

 

Book the Party!

  • Onsite Guests:  Book this event as early as 180 days out from your check-in date
  • Offsite Guests:  180 days out from your entry date into Epcot park

 

Special Notes:

  • IllumiNations may be changed or canceled without notice.  If canceled, the dessert portion will be moved to an alternate indoor location.    
  • This is NOT a character meet and greet experience.  Characters from the movie will not be present for meet and greets.  To see Anna and Elsa in Epcot, plan to see them at the Royal Sommerhus in Norway during the posted park hours.
  • Admission into Epcot park is NOT included in the price of the event.  Park admission is required.

 

 

This dessert party is designed to be VERY popular amongst guests!  Make sure you tell your Me and the Mouse travel specialist that you are interested so they can book this party as early as they can for your upcoming trip! Contact us today, HERE!

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist

I mean who doesn’t want to look cute in their vacation pictures?

Denim & Capri Outfit at Disney I don’t know about you, but vacation week is the ONE time of year I can get out of yoga pants and put on clothing outside of spandex.  With busy days working from home and continuously entertaining my 2 boys, I have limited times when putting on something cute is practical.

I also look forward to wearing more stylish clothing on vacation because this is a week I take more pictures with my kids than I do ALL year.  It’s my chance to take candid or Memory Maker photos to replace the older pictures around my house.

Some say, “It’s Disney, I’m going casual, no need for the ‘cute’ factor”.  But why can’t you be practical AND stylish?

~My top style choices~

  • Comfortable lightweight shorts: I love elastic waist shorts in various colors!  Pair them with a solid or patterned top for a fun outfit.  In Disney, we tend to eat more than usual, so having shorts that do not push on your belly is key.
  • Loose fitting tops: With the heat and the amount of food consumed {again}, loose clothing is comfier!  With tighter shirts, you may also deal with unwanted stickiness from Florida heat.   Loose tops are more breathable!
  • Flowy dresses: Flowy dresses in summer are great!  Dress it up or down to wear to the park or dinner.  Again, flowy = breathable and expandable for food consumption.
  • Rompers: Don’t like dresses?  Try a romper!  They’re easy to wear to the parks or dinner for a night.  Material is light and cool and I love that they aren’t tight…all good things, all good things. If you’re concerned about trying a romper, take a look below at this extremely easy & carefree outfit I put together. This makes for easy packing & cute pictures!Wear Cute & Practical Clothes at Disney!
  • Cute shoes: Ok…you may not want my advice on this one.  Because I hate hot/enclosed feet in the summer, I always wear sandals!  The last couple trips, I’ve worn flat strappy sandals with zero support.  I don’t recommend this, but if you’re like me, I’d save them for a nice dinner or night where you plan on doing little walking {because my feet ached!}. I love Clarks sandals for park days which offer great support {just be sure to break them in before you go}.
  • Safety Sweater: Disney restaurants are COLD, which is great in Florida heat, but with less clothing, it’s….brrrr!  I take a limited amount of sweater options since I’m only wearing them at restaurants or on a cool morning/night.  Take a jean jacket {goes with everything} and a black and a white cardigan.  These options are light and easy to throw in a park bag.
  • Capris: I tend to travel in warmer months, so pants/capris are not something I bring a lot of.  I prefer a looser pair of boyfriend capris for days I need something heavier.

Take a Look at Some of My Outfits!


 

These are my top clothing styles for my Disney trips.  The clothing is light and minimal which also makes packing easier!  With a few accessories to tie it together, it’s easy to complete your outfit.

Putting “real” clothes on for this mom of 2 is just ONE of the highlights of my vacation…it’s the little things in life.

Looking for more than just fashion advice? We’d love to help plan your dream Disney or Universal vacation! Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today to help take the stress away from your planning!

 

Megan Thompson

Travel Specialist