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Fine dining at Disney World is as easy as heading to one of many locations all around the resort where service and dining selections go above and beyond. Recently I was able to experience one of these amazing restaurants and I can tell you that this is a treat that everyone should enjoy.

Seemingly tucked into the corner on the 2nd floor of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon, is one of Disney’s great fine dining experiences – Cítricos. With an old world atmosphere, the American and Mediterranean infused menu served here is perfect for a food connoisseur. This is a restaurant where the service intentionally slows down to allow you to enjoy the moment, savor each course as it comes to you, and allow you to simply be in the moment. In a world where we are continually rushed, this calm time was definitely a refresher to not only the body but also to the soul.   

Tables in the restaurant offer one of many views. With an open kitchen you may watch the chef prepare your selections, overlook the manicured courtyard, or if your dining timing is perfect during the dinner only service, you can get a spectacular view of the Wishes fireworks over in Magic Kingdom. I loved how our dessert was timed with the fireworks and I was entranced by the display through the large scale window located at the far side of the dining room.

With multiple courses to enjoy, our group chose to sample as much as we could manage for an evening. For our first course, we sampled the Seafood Escabèche, a selection of seafood appetizers that were equally delicious. For the main meal, our choices were the Veal Shank and the Berkshire Pork Two Ways. The main courses were filling but not oversized in portion as they left room for dessert without feeling too full. As a chocoholic, the best dessert was the Warm Chocolate-Banana Torte, topped with a chocolate crown and for those wanting something extra refreshing, I recommend the Lemon-Scented Cheesecake.   Cítricos also offers to its patrons plenty of vegetarian selections that are equally delightful.

For groups that would enjoy a higher level of customization in their meal, there is a private chef’s table that seats up to 12 guests located in a private room, near the entry to the restaurant.

Disney’s fine dining experiences require 2 table service credits for those on the dining plan. If you would like a night out with delicious meal and wonderful views, be sure to head to Cítricos. You will not regret this night out in one of Disney’s fine dining restaurants.

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist 

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Each day, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a small number of families are selected from the guests to be a part of Mickey’s Jungle Jammin’ Parade. But what’s it really like to be a family that is selected? It is the most magical, amazing, memorable time a Disney guest can have!

A few years ago, my family was enjoying a reunion at Walt Disney World and having great fun eating at Donald’s Safari Breakfast at Tucker House in Animal Kingdom. While interacting with various characters coming around to our tables, my sweet sister-in-law was approached by a cast member in a casual conversation. Her picture perfect smile and the joyful nature of our family caught the cast member’s eye. At the end of the conversation, the cast member invited our family to participate in Mickey’s Jungle Jammin’ Parade! What an honor!

A few hours later, eight members of our family met our new Disney friend in Africa to get ready for the parade. We were taken behind the scenes, donned our new safari vests and hats and then we walked towards the parade lineup of floats and cast members. We kept walking past all the floats we could see and finally we got to the one we would be riding in. It wasn’t just any float – we were going to be on Mickey’s float himself! As you can imagine, we were in awe!

Before we knew it, the parade was about to begin and our float started moving. The contagious excitement hit us as soon as the crowds appeared and started waving to us. You can’t help but grin and wave the entire time you are on the float. Cameras are flashing, videos are being taken and everyone is dancing to the music as you drive by – it’s a rush of adrenaline that carries you the rest of the day.

At the end of the parade we were singing the theme song that we listened to all parade long and I may have been found dancing around the park. It was definitely the best Disney experience I have ever had! I still look back at the photos we have from that trip and smile every time I see them.

Next time you are at Animal Kingdom, take the time to watch my most favorite Disney parade of all and be sure to wave to the families chosen that day to part of the magic. Mickey’s Jungle Jammin’ Parade appears daily in Africa, Discovery Island, and Asia.

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

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Do you have a favorite ride from your Disney vacation?  Visit the parks during a special time of year?  Celebrating a special milestone while on vacation?  All of the memories can be celebrated and come home with you with a Disney Trading Pin!

 
Disney Pin Trading was started in 1999 and has been an interactive and fun way to

collect the perfect souvenir to treasure from your Disney vacation.

 
How do you start?  You need an authentic Disney trading pin.  These can be purchased throughout the park stores and Trading Pin posts, resort gift shops and Downtown Disney stores.  You can find starter sets with 4 pins and a lanyard at most of these locations for $24.95.  Disney trading pins range from $5.95 up to $12.95 on average.  Lanyards come in all colors, themes and patterns.  These start at $8.95 and up.
 
Cast members throughout Disney World and Disneyland, as well as on the Disney Cruise lines, have lanyards or small trading purses with their pins on display.  When your child spots the perfect pin on a Cast Member, they can ask to trade by giving one of their pins for that perfect pin.  You will also find pin books and/or pin boards at all the resort locations.  Some resorts have special trading times or events that your family can participate in too.  
 
My children enjoyed trading pins on our recent stay at Disney’s Art of Animation resort.  During a special trading event, they were able to trade for a mystery pin from the pin board inside the resort’s gift shop, the Ink and Paint Shop.  They loved the surprise of getting an unknown pin.  If it wasn’t a favorite, then they had another one to trade. If they loved it, it went on their lanyard for “keeps”
 
You will get extra special attention from the characters when they see that you have one of their pins.  My two oldest boys decided early on to only collect Pluto and Chip and Dale Pins.  
 
Whether you loved to ride Space Mountain, met Cinderella for the first time, attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party, or celebrated your 1st Disney vacation- all these magical memories can be represented by the trading pin you collected on your trip to Disney!

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

 

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Whether you are a short distance or long distance runner, being a part of a runDisney race is an experience like no other! Even if you have never run a mile before in your life, striving for and reaching a goal of participating in a runDisney race is one that you will never regret.

At all runDisney races enjoying the experience comes first. Runners are there to finish the distance and have fun while doing so.  You know this is true when head to the race surrounded by many people dressed up as princesses, monsters, and villains. People of all shapes and sizes, from the young to the old become your comrades on your path – from the fireworks that you begin with to the confetti on the ground as you finish. Picture Mickey himself giving you a high-five for accomplishing what many only dream about!

Signing up for a runDisney race begins many months in advance. This is great because you commit to the race and in turn have plenty of time to train, even if it’s your very first race. runDisney caters to runners of all distances – from kids’ races and 5Ks to half marathons and full marathons, plus challenges that combine multiple distances. Don’t delay on signing up as races fill quickly. runDisney even provides a training schedule by Jeff Galloway for the longer distances to be sure you get the appropriate training to finish strong and within the very reasonable time limits.

As a first time runDisney participant this year, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon was a great introduction to the world of half marathons and runDisney races. From the moment of stepping onto the grounds of the ESPN Wide World of Sport Complex and seeing the welcome signs excitement started to build. Disney is great at efficiency and the packet pickup went very smoothly for all. Next came attending the race expo. Every item on a runner’s wish list can be found at the expo –t-shirts, race belts, medal holders, and even the runDisney official running shoes!

The weekend culminates with the race itself.  runDisney matches the excitement you find at any of the Disney parks. Fireworks mark the start of the race for each corral and the entertainment as you run along the course gives a party atmosphere all the way through. With photo opportunities with Disney characters, people lined up along the course to cheer you on, not to mention running through the parks with nobody else there it is such a treat for each runner. You’ll find yourself at various times singing along to the songs and dancing your way through one of the most memorable times of your life!

The pride of accomplishment is a high like no other at the end of a race. Give yourself a few days to recover and you’ll be wondering when the next runDisney sign up is happening! runDisney’s motto is “every mile is magic”. Try a runDisney race yourself and experience that magic as you make your dreams come true!

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

Florida Road SignCan’t decide which resort to visit? Here’s some information, which might help you determine what fits your family’s travel style and budget!

The Disneyland Resort (DLR) is Walt’s original theme park. It opened its gates to children, young and old, in 1955. It currently occupies approximately 510 acres. The DLR will celebrate its 60th Anniversary in 2015!

Walt Disney World (WDW) opened its doors in late 1971 with the help of Walt’s brother Roy who continued Walt’s dream after his passing in 1966. The entire WDW resort spans over 30,000 acres (about 47 square miles, with most of that land undeveloped), including resorts and theme parks.california road sign

Number of Theme Parks
DLR = 2    Disneyland (DL) and Disney’s California Adventure (CA) are in easy walking distance from each other and the DLR hotels.
WDW = 4    The Magic Kingdom (MK), Epcot (EP), Hollywood Studios (HS), and the Animal Kingdom (AK) are spread throughout WDW and require walking, monorail, boat, or shuttle to get to and from parks and resorts.

Additional Entertainment*
DLR – Downtown Disney (shopping, movies, restaurants, and entertainment), resort pools, a spa, and a Children’s Activity Center.
WDW – Downtown Disney (shopping, movies, restaurants, Cirque du Soleil, and more), 2 waterparks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), shopping, pools, miniature golf, golf courses, bike rental, boat rental, fishing, archery, pony rides, movies under the stars, spas, and 5 Children’s Activity Centers.

* Additional entertainment and amenities require a stay at one of the many Disney resorts on-property.

Number of Attractions
DLR – 52 (DL), 31 (CA)
WDW – 40 (MK), 31 (EP), 20 (AK), and 13 (HS)

Attractions Unique to California or Florida
California’s DLR has CarsLand, Toontown, Sulley to the Rescue, Alice in Wonderland, and a great thrill ride – Indiana Jones’ Adventure. Although WDW also has “It’s a Small World,” the exterior of the attraction at Disneyland, especially during Christmastime, is something to see!
Florida’s WDW has Mission: Space and Test Track by Chevrolet, both great thrill rides. WDW also has Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which is a free interactive game you can play at the Magic Kingdom.

Shows and Parades Unique to California or Florida
Both resorts have an amazing amount of entertainment, which includes special events around holidays.
California has the additions of Disney Junior – Live on Stage!, Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular, and Mickey and the Magical Map.
Florida has the American Idol Experience, Beauty and the Beast Live On Stage, Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial, Finding Nemo – The Musical, and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!

Resorts and Accommodations
DLR includes 3 on-site Disney resorts (1 Value, 1 Moderate, and 1 Deluxe), as well as 39 Good Neighbor Hotels.
WDW has over 25 on-site resorts (5 Value, 5 Moderate, 9 Deluxe, and 9 Deluxe Villas).

Dining
DLR has over 85 restaurants and quick-service locations, including character dining (5), family/buffet (2) and Signature dining (3).
WDW has over 275 restaurants and quick-service dining options throughout the resort, including dinner shows (3), character dining (14), family/buffet (18), and Signature dining (19).

Ticket Prices (as of November 2013)
DLR: A 1 Day Park Hopper ticket for an adult is $92, $86 for kids 3-9.
WDW: A 1 Day Park Hopper ticket for an adult is $154, $148 for kids 3-9.
The longer you play, the more you save!

If you like to Go-Go-Go!, or if you enjoy soaking up every amenity at the resort and taking advantage of quiet time poolside, Walt Disney World offers an immense amount of entertainment, attractions, and pampering. Plan no less than 3 days at the parks, but we recommend 6 days to be able to see everything you want and still be able to take a few breathers.

If you love your theme parks but also enjoy a more laid back approach to your experience, the Disneyland Resort is done magnificently on a much smaller scale. In less crowded seasons, you can see everything in the 2 parks in 2 days. In heavier seasons, we recommend 3 days to be sure to get everything in!

Of course, if you’re not a huge theme park person to begin with and would prefer to simply relax, why not try a Disney cruise or a visit to Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii?!

 

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

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If you’re anything like me, part of your Disney World Vacation involves looking for an extra cute, can’t-live-without souvenir either for yourself or someone you love. I try not to buy anything on my first day at the parks, but what’s a girl to do when she knows it might not be there when she comes back?

Keeping track of and carrying around all your purchases made in a day can be quite tiresome and frustrating. Kids love to have their beloved purchases with them at all times but that means more things you have to make sure don’t end up in the lost and found area. Once again, Disney has made it easy for shoppers and for that I’m extremely thankful. Enter in Disney’s package delivery service.  Disney offers multiple, convenient choices for package delivery and almost all of them are free!

The first option for package delivery is for those that want immediate gratification but really don’t want to carry their items around each day.  Upon checking out with your items, simply let the cast member know that you want your purchases held during the day and delivered to the specially designated area at the park, located near the front entrance. It’s an easy and free service but it will take a few hours for your items to get to the proper location. When it’s time to leave, stop by the pickup area and your package will be there waiting for you!

If you are willing to wait until the next afternoon, packages can also be picked up at your Disney resort, at no additional charge to you. In addition to your basic information, you will need to give the cast member your resort and room number at check-out. While the items won’t be delivered directly to your room, they will be located near or in the gift shop and generally you will not need to wait in any lines to pick your items up. Deliveries to your resort can be made from any of the parks and most shops in Downtown Disney. Be sure not to use this service on the day before you check-out as your package may not arrive in time.

For those of you that have large purchases and don’t have room to bring them home with you, your best option might be to have Disney mail your packages to your home. Disney uses FedEx and UPS for their deliveries and will pass the extra charge on to you. Just imagine how it feels to see a box from Disney sitting on your doorstop!

Shopping is definitely made easier thanks to Disney’s package delivery service. So with that ease and convenience, I wish you some happy Disney shopping!

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

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Picture this: You’re in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, enjoying your fantastic Disney vacation planned by Me and The Mouse Travel.  The sun is shining, the fastpass tickets are flowing, you’ve seen all the characters on your favorites list.  And then it happens… your little ones face turns from all smiles to that oh so familiar look.  You hear, “Mommy, I’m hungry!”  You look at your watch and realize that your lunch reservations aren’t for another hour so what do you do?!?  Head off in search of a healthy snack.  But where?  Don’t worry, I’ve’ve compiled a list of healthy snack options found at Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line. 

 If you’re near Adventureland, you can stop by Aloha Isle to enjoy fresh cut pineapple on a skewer.  Closer to Liberty Square?  You can find  vegetable cups, fresh fruit, and even a baked potato!  Also, Liberty Square’s Sleepy Hollow has soy milk.  Or head over to Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies for a fruit smoothie made with no-fat ice cream.

Spending the day at Animal Kingdom? Harambe Fruit Market has fruit cups, bananas, apples and oranges.  There are also fruit carts that offer many healthy selections.

 If you’re in Hollywood Studios check out Anaheim Produce located on Sunset Boulevard.  Here you can purchase carrot sticks or whole fruit including apples, bananas and oranges.  Grapes and mixed fruits are also available.  One very nice option available here is a “Power Pack”.  This is a nice child’s size lunch or an adult snack.  Some include string cheese, yogurt, sliced apples, whole grain goldfish crackers and a drink (milk, juice or water).  While others have veggies and dip instead of fruit and usually a sweet treat such as chocolate drizzled marshmallows or a cookie.  They’ve been sighted at various locations throughout this park like: Fairfax Faire, Pizza Planet, Starring Rolls, ABC Commissary, Studio Catering and Rosie’s All American Fare.  These are also available at most Disneyland eateries.

 A fruit cup can be purchased in Downtown Disney at Marketplace Snacks across from The Ghirardelli Shop.  Or you could head over to Wolfgang Puck Express to get a frozen yogurt.

 In Epcot you can find fresh fruit cups or a garden salad at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway.  Lotus Blossom Café located next to 9 Dragons has fruit smoothies available as well.  If you are looking for healthy snacks in Future World, I recommend trying a bowl of soup from Sunshine Seasons Food Court, located in the Lands (same location as “Soarin’”76bab2a9a698c617eb59a6255f067f9f

 Many of the resorts offer healthy snack options.  Here are just a few of the many items that you can find:

  • Yogurt parfaits at Port Orleans Riverside (POR).
  • Maji Pool Bar in Animal Kingdom Lodge offers several fruit and veggie options. 
  • The Mara, also at Animal Kingdom Lodge, has smoothies
  • Art of Animation Resort offers several flavors of smoothies at Landscape of Flavors
  • Hurricane Hannah’s Grill at the Beach Club Resort offers whole fruits
  • Belle Vue Lounge at the Boardwalk Resort has whole fruits
  • Apple slices, Celery and Carrot Sticks and Strawberry Smoothies are on the menu at Meadow Snack Bar in Fort Wilderness Resort Cabins.

On Disney Cruise Lines there are many healthy snacking options.  You can order Fruit and Cheese platters in room at no charge.  And fresh fruit is available for snacking on deck 9 or deck 11 (depending upon the ship) just to name a few.

 

Christmas On Main Street

What happens when you combine the most magical time of year with the most magical place on earth? You get Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party held every year at the Magic Kingdom!

Entering Mickey’s Party, is one of the most spectacular sights to behold. With snow falling all around you, garlands hanging down Main Street USA, Christmas music filling the air, and Cinderella’s Castle aglow in over 200,000 lights you will feel like you really have walked into a winter wonderland fairytale.

While the party officially starts at 7pm, you may enter the Magic Kingdom at 4pm with your specially designated ticket. Be sure to do so and take in as many of the regular park activities as you can before the party begins! Then it’s time for the wonder of your inner child to shine.

Mickey’s Christmas Party features some of the most unique opportunities for character greets you can find all year long. Characters are dressed up in their holiday finery and special appearances are made by Snow White’s seven dwarfs, Captain Jack Sparrow, the princes accompanying their princesses and of course, one can’t forget a visit with Santa Claus!

One of the most enjoyable shows can be seen on the stage in front of Cinderella’s castle. If you time your night just right, you can get a front row view of Celebrate the Season by waiting just a bit after the Holiday Wishes fireworks show. While everyone else clears the area, move towards the front of the castle for picture perfect sights of Mickey and his friends celebrating the season in song and dance. Don’t know what to do next? The second showing of Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will take place just behind you only a few minutes later and you can easily shift to get a front row view of the parade. From Mickey and Minnie dressed up in their holiday finest, to Santa Claus on his sleigh, and all the wonderful characters in between, this parade will be remembered forever!

A Tomorrowland Christmas Party is another delightful show filled with song and dance you won’t want to miss. Featuring Hailey Comet, experience an intergalactic party with Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and Stitch, and see if Stitch can find Santa before time runs out. Arrive a few minutes early for this show and your child could be picked helping the crowd during some old fashioned pre-show caroling.

As a final treat Christmas treat for all, be sure to stop for complimentary hot chocolate and snicker doodles or a healthy alternative, served all around Magic Kingdom. Then work off the extra treats with a dance party at Cosmic Ray’s or at Woody’s Happy Harvest Roundup.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party only runs on certain nights during the Christmas season and is a separate ticketed event. Be sure to contact your Me and the Mouse Travel agent to experience this once in a lifetime must-do event!

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

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Looking for that extra “Magic” moment with your princess?  An hour spent with your own personal Fairy Godmother at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique may be that extra touch of pixie dust you’re looking for during your next trip to Walt Disney World.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is an opportunity to let your inner princess shine as your child is pampered by Fairy Godmother’s own personal apprentices.  Packages range from $59 for the Crown Package (Hairstyling, Shimmering make-up & face gem, Princess sash & tote, nail polish)  to $194 for The Castle Package  (which includes hair, make-up, sash, nail polish, complete costume and accessories of your choice, and photos).  Guests must be between the ages of 3 and 12 to participate in this magical makeover.wdw20132443318960_6850654306

Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance and are highly recommended.  Princess transformations occur at both the Downtown Disney location and inside Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom, so you will want to know which location you prefer.    As a Me and the Mouse client, we are happy to make these reservations for you.  We  LOVE to plan a magical makeover of pampering with your personal fairy godmother, followed by a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table, Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare or Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. with your child’s favorite princess.

Meeting with your fairy godmother to prepare for your appearances with Disney Royalty is a magical moment for your little ones won’t forget.  And, you can be certain that the memory of your child meeting her favorite Disney Princess for the first time is one that you will both treasure for a lifetime.    

 Tressa Krippel

Disney Specialist

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DCL dining

Cruises are known around the world for spectacular food choices but Disney Cruise Line takes it a step beyond and adds some of their pixie dust magic to make dining on any of their ships a special event every night!

Disney has so many great aspects to their dining but one of the things that make cruising with Disney so special is their rotational dining service. With 3 main dining rooms on board each ship, passengers rotate through each of them to experience the unique atmospheres, cuisines, and entertainment. Not only do you rotate through the main restaurants, your servers also rotate with you, allowing them to get to know you and your preferences. Take the time to get to know your servers too – they have some amazing stories they can share that will captivate you and your children.

 Animator’s Palate is the only main restaurant that appears on all four of Disney’s cruise ships. It’s not just a restaurant but a stage for a captivating show that you are immersed in. When you enter the room, everything you can imagine that would be in an artist’s studio is there. As the meal progresses, the room comes to life and color surrounds you. The newest of the ships have screens with character interaction and some ships even incorporate your personal art and give it life right in front of your eyes! The finale is spectacular to behold, but no spoilers – you’ll need to book a sailing to find out what makes it so magical!

For families seated at the second dining service, Disney offers Dine and Play for the children. This feature allows children to receive their meal quickly and then be whisked away to the various children’s programs, escorted by Disney’s youth staff. The adults are then left to dine leisurely on their own while their children are having a blast.

Adults that want a private meal, without any children, have the option of eating at Palo’s or Remy’s – adult only restaurants available for an additional upcharge. These upscale restaurants are the time to indulge in sumptuous cuisine and enjoy the high-class atmosphere as you take in the spectacular ocean views. Reservations for these restaurants go quickly but fortunately can be reserved before you even board your ship.

All of Disney’s cruise ships have snacks and meals available around the clock included in your cruising experience. During the day, the pool deck has multiple choices for quick bites to satisfy any craving, including those with an ice cream weakness. Also available is the free 24-hour soda station but we recommend you along your own refillable cup for larger servings. Buffets are open for breakfast and lunch and are filled with amazing high quality selections including unlimited seafood, sushi, and made to order selections. For anyone who gets middle of the night cravings, room service is just a call away and is also included in your cruise package. If you do call room service, be sure to order one of their cookies – they are perfect for any sweet tooth!

Enjoy your Disney Cruise dining experience but beware, you may need to work out when you get home after partaking of such amazing food!

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist