The Oceaneer’s Club onboard the Disney Cruise Line fleet is a special themed area for children (ages 3 -12).  It’s a wonderful place to explore, play, and have fun in a secured area while cruising onboard your Disney Cruise.

We recommend you register your child for Disney’s Oceaneer Club online after booking your cruise, but you can register at the terminal or once onboard your ship as well.  On Embarkation Day, parents are invited to tour the facility, meet the counselors, and learn more about the exciting activities hosted at Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab throughout the cruise.

On your first visit to the club area, your children will be given a MagicBand to use to enter the Oceaneer’s Club. You can decide who is able to check your children in and out of the club area.  On our cruise, my husband, myself, and our 17 year old son were allowed to pick up and drop off our younger two boys.  You will also have a personalized code word to give the counselors before your children are allowed to exit.   Photo images also appear on the computer screen for the counselors to check identities.  Parents may also give older children the option to check themselves in and out of the Oceaneer’s Club.  Counselors will be able to test parents on the Navigator’s app or reach you by your Wave phone that is in your stateroom if any questions or needs would arise.   After touring the Club and seeing the security in place, I felt very comfortable allowing my boys to stay and play in this special themed activity club.

Each Oceaneer’s Club onboard the Disney fleet have special themed areas.  For example, on the Disney Dream, Stars Wars fans sill love to join the Rebel Alliance while they cruise the galaxy on the Millennium Falcon.  Here kids can do Star Wars arts and crafts, watch the large-screen TV, design a starship, and train like a Jedi.  When you sail onboard the Disney Magic, kids will love being a part of the MARVEL’s Avengers Academy.  This to-secret command post of S.H.I.E.L.D. includes Thor’s hammer, Captain America’s shield, and Iron Man’s armor!

Pajama parties with Goofy, making slime in the Oceaneer’s Lab, and playing with Mr. Potato Head and Slinky Dog in Andy’s room, are all part of the fun onboard your Disney Cruise when your kids spend time in the Oceaneer’s Club.  Kids will love making friends and enjoying special themed activities while you enjoy a quiet visit to the Adult Only deck and pool, or visit the Senses Spa for the Rainforest treatment.  A Disney Cruise has something for everyone and your little ones will LOVE having the Oceaneer’s Club as their own special area.

Want to know more about a Disney Cruise and all the entertainment included onboard?  Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist can help answer your questions and help you book and plan an amazing Disney cruise.

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

 

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

 

Innovation and change is a constant throughout Walt Disney World.  The Edison, recently opened at Disney Springs is the bee’s knee’s!  It is surrounded by 3 other recently opened venues as well.  Each with their own unique offerings, but the focus of this review is the largest of the group!

A larger than life clock tower greeted us as we entered the dining area. There was so much to take in as we were seated.  Even the uniforms of the cast members were reminiscent of a 1920’s Speakeasy!  We were greeted quickly once we sat down and our server pointed out interesting areas throughout the venue to enjoy.  There were tables throughout the upper and lower area of the restaurant.  She quickly pointed out that in the evenings, the lower area tables are removed and that area is used for dancing.  Although families are welcome for lunch and early evening to dine, after 10pm, the venue is an adults only location!  Please note, when visiting this location late night, you may be required to pay a cover charge.  A dress code is also followed: Men may wear slacks, jeans or dress shorts, jackets are optional. No ball caps, sleeveless shirts or flip-flops allowed.

Movies from the 1920’s are playing in various locations throughout the venue.  There is a trapeze apparatus hanging from the ceiling and our server shared with us that a performer will use the trapeze multiple times each evening over the weekend.  A live band will fill the restaurant with classic cabaret tunes and even dancers in their classic 1920’s attire will inspire guests to cut a rug!!!  There are several full service bars throughout the venue with 20’ inspired cocktails!

We are always excited to try a new dining location, and that is what drew us to enjoy The Edison on our spontaneous shopping day!  The menu is very succinct, yet intriguing.  I was thankful to have a dining partner who was agreeable to sharing, as I could not decide what to order.  Ultimately, we chose to enjoy the Organic Tomato soup and grilled cheese, as well as the Edison burger  with a side of fries.  The grilled cheese was indulgent and oozing with cheese, with a wonderfully crispy bread.  The burger was a mix of ground sirloin, short rib and brisket meat.  Flavorful and juicy, covered with a delicious cheddar cheese, with an onion ring, bacon and the standard lettuce and tomato.  We requested to have the “special sauce” on the side.  It appeared to be similar to Thousand island dressing.  Despite feeling ravenous when we were seated, we were unable to finish the entrée’s.

My daughter was connecting topics she had learned in school to various details throughout the venue.  Although, this is an in demand adult only location in the evenings, do not hesitate to enjoy this venue with your family into the early evening!  The food was delicious, and if you are an appetizer person, they offer candied bacon and dancing corn dogs. Unfortunately, we were wet blankets and were too full to entertain the idea of ordering dessert.

What are you most excited to experience at The Edison?

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

 

When I’m vacationing at Walt Disney World I like to find time to decompress and escape into some of Disney’s more relaxing activities. For me one of the those ways to enjoy the world class amenities and services that Disney World offers is to spend a few hours on the golf course. I’m sure some of you are now saying you don’t golf or you are a bad golfer. Well, then this blog is for those you know who like to golf and the great news is Mickey doesn’t care how good you are.

I must first say that the courses spread throughout Disney property are fantastic. They offer a way to break from the crowds while taking in some amazing views. The many times I’ve played one of the courses I’ve seen players ranging from great to those who look like they’ve never swung a club before. These are high end courses that welcome all players. For me that is a nice feeling. I can golf with my dad who is far from good but don’t have to worry about looking out of place.

There are four courses to choose from. Palm, Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista and Oak Trail. All four have their benefits. If you want to feel a little more removed from the rest of property try Palm or Magnolia. These two courses are nestled in the trees near the Polynesian Resort and Grand Floridian. They are beautiful, laid out well and offer holes that are fun to play whether you are a long time golfer or newbie. Near Palm and Magnolia is Oak Trail is a par 3 nine hole course. It’s a family friendly course that doesn’t take a long time to play.

Now to my favorite course on property. That is Lake Buena Vista. Located at Saratoga Springs this course offers great views Disney Springs, Old Key West Resort and Port Orleans Resort. Playing this course offers a view of these properties that you can’t see while at the resorts or Disney Springs. You see Disney all around you but feel you are in a separate world. One of my favorite aspects of this course is you get a up-close view of Disney’s Treehouse Villas.

The prices of these courses vary depending on the time but range from $39 and up. For a few hours of amazing scenic views and peace I believe they are well worth it. To get the most from your golf outing I recommend speaking with your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist to see how you can fit in to your schedule and the best time to play.

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

 

 

I must admit when I think of Disneyland I do not think first of fine dining experiences. But Steakhouse 55 has completely changed my mind about high end dining at the Happiest Place on Earth and I hope it changes your mind as well.

Located beside the famous Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel, Steakhouse 55 is a classic old-Hollywood style restaurant with high end service, style, and food. Named after the year that Disneyland opened, the restaurant has a cozy atmosphere filled with rich furnishings and black and white pictures of celebrities from years past enhanced by the dimmed lighting.

Arrive early to your reservation and grab a drink at the Lounge before your table is ready. Steakhouse 55 has many signature cocktails including The French 75 and The Aviation. If you prefer something without alcohol, the restaurant serves Press Pot coffee, supporting sustainable coffee growth, and full-leaf tea with white sugar swizzle sticks.

When you think back on your meal at Steakhouse 55, what you are going to remember is your dining experience and you may even be salivating when you do so! From appetizers, to the main entrée, to dessert, the food is beyond delectable. The highlight of my meal was the 8 oz Filet Mignon accompanied by the Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and the Green Beans with Applewood Smoked Bacon. Coming from Texas I have had great steaks at top restaurants but this might have been the very best steak I have ever had. The Cabernet Demi-Glaze amplified the cut of meat and the chef grilled the steak to perfection. The end of the meal included Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee with fresh raspberries and mint. It was as creamy and rich as what I had imagined and the perfect way to cap off an evening meal.

Children are not forgotten on the menu of Steakhouse 55. From salmon or chicken with pasta, to a hamburger or grilled cheese sandwich, there is something to please your younger family members. Children are welcomed warmly to the restaurant and treated as young gentlemen and ladies. I recommend this location as a wonderful way to introduce fine dining to the next generation.

I cannot thank the servers at my table enough. They were attentive to our needs, courteous, and offered the Disney magic in the classiest way imaginable.

The walk back to my hotel room at the Grand Californian Resort and Spa was just what was needed after a night of yummy. I can’t wait to head back to Disneyland and experience another delicious meal at Steakhouse 55.

If you are ready to enjoy a high end dining experience in a wonderful, classy environment be sure to tell your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist that you would like to include a reservation at Steakhouse 55 on your next Disneyland vacation. Reservations are accepted 60 days in advance and highly recommended.

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

 

 

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

Many guests visiting Walt Disney World have their favorite resorts, or favorite locations, in which they stay and enjoy their time. One of my first trips to WDW was spent at a Good Neighbor Hotel on Hotel Boulevard – close to Disney Springs (then Downtown Disney). Jump forward to December, and my family took a last minute trip to WDW and needed a place to stay. When all on-property resorts were sold out, we looked to Hotel Boulevard/Disney Springs Resort Area hotels first!

We chose to stay at The Doubletree by Hilton at Disney Springs! The Doubletree by Hilton is a short walk or drive to Disney Springs. As an all-suite hotel, you are sure to find accommodations to suit your party!

Rooms are large, with two to three rooms (depending on your suite needs), containing a kitchenette, living area with pull-out couch, and a bedroom that can be separated by sliding doors. Flat screen tv’s, wifi, and complimentary warm cookies await.  The cookies were very yummy after a late night flight!  Room service and a restaurant is also available!

The bedding was comfortable and in-room amenities were perfect for our short stay. With the exception of being able to hear the next room run their shower, while we were in the bathroom, our room was very quiet and made for a great night’s sleep!  While we didn’t get to enjoy the pool, there is a lovely secluded pool area for guests to enjoy.

With a Walt Disney World Concierge desk in the lobby, they are able to assist with any of your theme park needs. Upon check-in, you get a ‘Disney Springs Resort Area Passport’ that contains tons of discounts and perks for Disney Springs. There are also mini maps of the theme parks with highlights of each to get you excited!

While there is no transport from the airport to this resort, if you choose to drive, complimentary parking for all guests is offered with hotel key access. The Doubletree by Hilton also offers bus service to all 4 Theme Parks and both Water Parks, starting 1 hour prior to park opening, to 90 minutes after park closing – running approximately every 30 minutes. It does NOT drop you at the theme park entrance as official Disney busses do, but rather in the bus lot at each park at the Ticket and Transportation Center.

The BEST part of staying at this resort?? NO RESORT FEE!! Many resorts on Hotel Boulevard charge a per night resort fee at check in, and is often not planned for. Not at the DoubleTree!

In my opinion, this hotel would equate a moderate resort on Disney property. The size of the suites are great, but overall stay, as well as the quality of amenities in-room and on-site, made us feel this was a high end moderate resort. Great for larger families, and budget-minded ones.

As you may or may not know, recently Walt Disney World announced some great perks that now can be enjoyed with your stay at a Good Neighbor Hotel located on Hotel Boulevard.  The hotels on Hotel Boulevard have been deemed Official Walt Disney World hotels. Among these perks only available with a Walt Disney World vacation package, you will now enjoy:

  • Syncing of your vacation package to My Disney Experience
  • 60 day FastPass+ reservations, with a valid theme park ticket
  • Extra Magic Hours

These hotels and resorts have always kept to the standards of Walt Disney World, and have provided a great alternative to staying on property – being within walking distance or a short drive to Disney Springs! All offer unique experiences and can now be booked by Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist!  Enjoy the benefits of our services when you allow us to book your vacation package!

*Note, these perks are not extended to those booking on Hotel chain points or who book with the hotels directly. Perks are only available when booked through a Travel Specialist or through Walt Disney World.  

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

 

 

If you are visiting Disney Springs during your trip to Walt Disney World, Bongos Cuban Cafe is an exciting family-friendly dining option located in the middle of all the action.

Owned by the world-renowned entertainer Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, this award-winning restaurant offers a fun, Old Havana style vibe plus authentic Cuban food, music, dancing, and atmosphere. You can choose to join in on the conga line or quietly take in the colorful surroundings from your table.  Just make sure you have some fun!

When you grab a table, start out with a Cuban chicken soup or one of the many different salad options provided. There is a lot of fun appetizers to pick from like the ham croquettes, savory empanadas, and unique stuffed plantain cups. After appetizers, dive into your main course ranging from beef and pork stylings to fantastic steaks. If you love chicken, you are in luck as it can be shredded, breaded, or roasted in pretty much any way you can think of. If you prefer surf over turf, there are a number of seafood selections to satisfy your taste buds.

If you are in a hurry for a quick bite to eat, Bongos also provides a quick service Bongos Express station attached to the outside of the restaurant. The menu here is a little bit different from the offerings of the inside restaurant. The express station does still offer the delicious empanadas and croquettes. Sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads with unique Cuban flair can be ordered here that are not found of the inside menu. In addition, soup and salad is also available if you are feeling less adventurous.

A favorite menu item that my family and I love is the hearty Cuban sandwiches. It is great if you are looking for something quick and easy. These sandwiches are classic Cubans pressed with their award-winning slow roasted pork, topped in addition with ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, and mustard on Cuban Bread served with a crispy load of French fries.  Since these sandwiches are so colossal, my daughter and I have found this to be a great meal to share.  My husband and son’s big appetites may be a bit less willing to share though.  For the smaller appetite, order a Cuban sandwich off the kids menu and enjoy half a hearty sandwich with fries for a great value.

If you are looking to take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan, this would be a great place to use it.  Even if you do not have the Dining Plan, the menu is reasonably affordable for all families.

Need more information or help making a reservation, call your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Traci Perjack

Travel Specialist

 

When you begin planning your next trip to Walt Disney World, what thoughts come to your mind?  Princesses?  Mickey Mouse?  Cinderella’s castle?  Is the newly re-opened Hall of Presidents on your “Must Do” list?  Legacy, history and patriotism is what comes to mind when I think of the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World.  On a recent visit to Magic Kingdom, I had the privilege of enjoying this classic attraction for the first time in over a decade!

Having grown up in Springfield, IL, the hometown of Abraham Lincoln, Presidential history was a constant throughout my education.   Perhaps, it may have caused me to lack the appreciation for the Hall of Presidents.  Over the last 20 years,  I had only visited this attraction less than 5 times.  This attraction has been closed for renovation for nearly a year, and honestly, absence makes the heart grow fonder!

We entered the attraction and were informed that the next show would take place in approximately 20 minutes.  The waiting area rotunda included A carpeted area that had the Great Seal of the United States on the floor.  There were many display cases throughout the waiting area with nostalgic pieces from past Presidents.  What I found incredibly interesting, was how engaged guests of all ages were in visiting all of the displays.  My children asked very interesting questions and even added additional information that they had learned in school.

Once the doors opened to the theater, we anxiously awaited the presentation.   This show included life like animatronic figures of all 45 Presidents of the United states.  The show also included music and video presentation on a 180 degree panoramic screen. Although, we all mentioned after our visit that many historically significant moments were featured, yet done in an entertaining way!!!  It was a major parental win!

Make certain to add Disney’s Hall of Presidents to your “Must Do’s” on your next trip.  Only through the vision of Walt Disney, could historical education and entertainment be seamlessly blended!   I have a new found appreciation for this attraction and I am sure this will be frequently enjoyed by my family!!!

What President are you most excited to see?

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

 

Continuing the success of the Marvel films (and my personal favorite), Guardians of the Galaxy  – Mission: Breakout! is a fantastic thrill ride that has been re-imagined in the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. The Guardians of the Galaxy have been kidnapped and it’s up to you to save them!

Enter the fortress of Taneleer Tivan (otherwise known as the Collector) where he is currently exhibiting some of his finest pieces. Take some time to explore the cases and discover amazing relics – a warlock’s eye, Atlantis artifacts, Loki’s shackles, Figment (from Epcot’s Journey’s Into Imagination with Figment), and Cosmo the Spacedog. The newest possessions on display are none other than the Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, and Drax. You will find yourself in the Collector’s office where Rocket has escaped his cage and is now requiring your assistance to break the remaining Guardians out of the fortress.  The rest of the journey is full of thrills, an “awesome” soundtrack, and quite possibly a lot of uncontrollable giggling!

If you weren’t brave enough to experience this attraction when it was the Tower of Terror, you might want to give this re-imagined attraction a second chance. While the scenes and falls are randomly generated, one thing that has been removed is the thirteen-story drop that was part of Tower of Terror. Instead, guests experience much shorter drops, and the comedy of the Guardians and music from the films will have you laughing and cheering the whole time!

If you are craving more time with the Guardians, be sure to head over to the Guardians of the Galaxy Dance Off! Dance to an “awesome” mix of familiar tunes with Star-Lord, Gamora and Groot!

Other Marvel characters to meet around Disney’s California Adventure include Spider-Man and Captain America! If you’re lucky, you might even spot Black Widow or other Marvel heroes roaming the streets of Hollywood Land!

* You will want to determine your main attraction goal for California Adventure before you enter the park. Mission: Breakout will be a jog to the left into Hollywood Land. CarsLand is straight through from the main entrance. Both attractions have FastPass kiosks (or you can utilize MaxPass on the Disneyland app for a fee) to help accommodate both attractions into your day.

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist