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

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

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

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

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

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist

 

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

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

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

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

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

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

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

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

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

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

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

Missy Zolecki

Travel Specialist

 

Tucked away in the World Showcase at EPCOT, guest can enjoy authentic Italian cooking at one of my favorite restaurants…  Via Napoli!  This family-friendly restaurant and pizzeria is not to be missed on your next visit to EPCOT.

Family style the Italian way is felt with the large table that stretches all across the whole width of the dining room.  Via Napoli is a warm, welcoming restaurant where guests can enjoy a culinary tour of Southern Italy with authentic Italian cooking, including hearty pastas, fresh salads and thin-crust pizzas that are perfected in a wood-burning ovens named after the 3 active volcanoes in Italy – Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli.

These mouth-watering pizzas are made with fresh mozzarella cheese, San Marzano tomatoes and real Caputo flour imported from Southern Italy. Water for the dough is even sourced from a spring similar to Italy’s Campania region.

Via Napoli is designed to be reminiscent of the architecture in Florence, Italy.  It features an open kitchen and prep area, where guests can watch pizzas be created.  Our family was sat in the middle of the restaurant at the “family table” with a great view of the ovens.  My children loved watching the chefs toss the dough, build each individual pizza and bake each pizza just under 2 minutes in the volcano ovens nearby. Our pepperoni pizza and baked lasagna were amazing!!

The World Showcase at Epcot is a dining destination for both local families and Guests to Walt Disney World.  If you are looking for a delicious Italian meal and family-friendly atmosphere, then Via Napoli will become a quick family favorite restaurant on your next Walt Disney World vacation!

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

I want to share one of Walt Disney World Resorts “Best Kept Secrets” for a mouthwatering Steak Dinner Introducing: Yachtsman Steakhouse located at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort in the Epcot Resort area.

Yachtsman Steakhouse is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are using the Disney Dining Plan in 2017, you will need to use 1 Table Service Credit for breakfast and lunch and 2 Table Service Credits for dinner. In 2018, the Dining Plan can only be used at Dinner and will take 2 Table Service Credits. Advance Reservations are recommended and can be made 180 before your vacation begins so be sure to contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Agent for assistance with your dining.

This Signature Dining Experience, guests are asked to abide by a dress code. Men may wear khakis, slacks, jeans or dress shorts and collared shirts. Sport coats are optional. Women may wear Capri pants, skirts, dresses, jeans or dress shorts. The following items are not permitted: tank tops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, hats for gentlemen, cut-offs, torn clothing and t-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics.

During our visit, we were impressed with how friendly and helpful everyone was. The high- quality, grain-fed beef is aged in-house. As our gracious hostess seated us, we were able to watch butchers hand cut steaks to perfection and we also checked out the chefs preparing dinner on an oak-fired grill in the open kitchen. We were fortunate to be seated by the window and got to enjoy the view of the Stormalong Bay pool. If you choose to experience this fine dining location – after being seated, be sure to look up so you don’t miss seeing the exquisite and intricate woodwork on the ceiling.

Paul was our waiter and had a warm and welcoming personality. He was very helpful making suggestions to enhance our dining experience and was happy to answer any and all questions we had. We could not have asked for a better dining experience! Paul added his own special “magical” touch to our meal.

My adult children and I each selected the Filet Mignon served with Mashed Potatoes and Cabernet Wine Sauce. My husband chose the New York Strip steak served with Potato Gratin with Peppercorn Brandy Sauce. Each steak was partnered with the perfect sauce and potato choice. I could not resist adding a side of Truffle Macaroni and Cheese and it did not disappoint. I reluctantly shared with my family. It was a “winner” by a unanimous vote. Other tempting choices offered on the menu for starters were French Onion and Lobster Bisque soup. Salad choices include a Caesar Salad and the Yachtsman Wedge Salad.

Appetizer choices included: Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Artisanal Cheeses, Tuna Tartare, and Quick-friend Shrimp and Calamari to name a few.

Steak choices were: Filet Mignon, New York Strip, Prime Rib-Eye Steak, Roast Prime Rib of Beef, Kansas City Strip Steak and a 32 ounce Porterhouse for two people. Additional Entrée selections included: Elk Tenderloin, Live Maine Lobster, Braised Beef Short Ribs, Sea Bass, All Natural Roasted Chicken and Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato-filled Pasta.

In addition to our favorite Truffle Macaroni and Cheese side dish, the Yachtsman’s Twice-baked Potato was very enticing as a side option. Caramelized Onions, Creamed Spinach, Spring Pea Risotto and Sautéed Mushrooms and Sautéed Vegetable Fricassee were also available.

We ended our meal very full, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to try (and share) The Admirals Cake. The Admirals Cake consisted of Valrhona Chocolate Brownie/Sponge Cake Layered Banana’s Foster Jam/Caramel Crisps/Sea Salted Ganache. We just couldn’t stop eating.

Additional dessert choices included: Chocolate Peanut Cake, Lime Semifreddo, Carrot Cake (a no sugar added dessert), Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake, The Yachtsman Sundae (a trio of Gelato), Seasonal Sorbet Trio, and Crème Brulee.

If you are bringing children, don’t worry, you are dining at Disney so children are not forgotten here. Yachtsman offers diverse kid menu options: Grilled Chicken Breast, Baked Fish of the Day, Macaroni and Cheese, Oak-grilled Steak Skewer, and Orecchiette Pasta and Meatballs.

I am excited to share my family’s experience with you and I hope you will consider visiting Yachtsman Steakhouse on your next visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Agent to assist your family with a “magical” dining experience at Yachtsman Steakhouse.

Traci Perjak

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

 

For fans of Disney’s Wreck it Ralph, or anyone with an imagination and a sweet-tooth…you’ll want to explore Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats aboard the Disney Dream! You’ll find this confectionary inside the Cabana’s, with limited hours.

Vanellope’s has a wide array of candies, ice creams, gelatos, and confections, that you’re sure to find something for everyone in your family to enjoy*.  It’s whimsically decorated to resemble “Sugar Rush”, Vanellope’s video game in Wreck it Ralph…complete with Sour Bill, King Candy, and Vanellope herself!

While I could gush about the insane amount of goodies I drooled over this summer while on board the Disney Dream, I want to talk about Vanellope’s specialty items! The menu for Artisan Sundaes is jam-packed full of movie-referenced concoctions for you and your family to enjoy. The BEST part??!!  You can special order ANY of these sundaes AND they will hand-deliver for your dessert any night you choose!  It was so exciting!

We chose the “Vanellope Von Schweetz – Race Car Sundae”, because who doesn’t want a replica of the race car that wins the Grand Prix!?  At $13, it’s quite a steal. Not only is the racecar yours to keep, but you get THREE choices of ice cream OR gelato (in any combination), your choice of FIVE extra toppings, whipped cream and a cherry on top!  For a family of 3, it was the perfect indulgence for all!

Our sweet shop chef not only took our order and dining time/rotation – but also guaranteed she would be the one to create and hand-deliver our dessert at our dinner that evening!  All we had to do was give our receipt to our server at dinner, he would place the call, and VIOLA! At dessert time, here she was!

It’s not just an ordinary sundae. Specially crafted chocolates adorned the sundae, and the awesome touches to replicate Vanellope’s car were so very memorable!  There are many custom sundaes you can order…but this one was the Sugar Rush-iest! 🙂

When you plan your next Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Dream with your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist, consider surprising your little one (or your own sweet tooth) with an awesome confection from Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats!

*Please note: nuts, milk, soy and other allergens are used in the making of most items in Vanellope’s. There may be gluten free options, but one would have to ask while aboard.

 

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist

Have you wondered what it is like to eat with a princess or several princesses? Dining for lunch in Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom is just for you. From the moment you walk in for your reservation to the moment, you leave, they treat you like royalty. When you first walk in downstairs, you are greeting by your host and introduced to Cinderella. She will then pose for pictures with you and your guests.

You are then escorted upstairs to begin your dining experience. When you arrive upstairs, you enter the grand hall of Cinderella’s castle and are shown to your table for a prince or princess. Princesses are given a magic wand, and princes get a magic sword. Each prince or princess is also given a wishing star.

You will feel like royalty through your entire meal as you are greeted by being called my lord and my lady. The food is delicious, some of what I consider the best in all the Disney lands. You start with an appetizer or salad, continue to your main entrée, and then have a special treat for dessert – all included in your price. Some entrée selections include beef tenderloin, shrimp, pork tenderloin and a summer vegetable couscous.

All the while you are eating, princesses are announced and enter the main hall, then come around to great each table and pose for pictures. In addition to princesses, a wish ceremony takes place with the your wishing start and magic wand or sword! Close your eyes and be dazzled!

After all the wishing and personal visits with each princess, when you finish you meal, you may bid adieu. Dining in Cinderella’s Castle has been one of my favorite places to eat in Disney World since my first visit when I was 4, and I have yet to miss a visit since.

Jennifer Lovell

Travel Specialist

If you enjoy the hospitality that Disney offers but want something different and a little more relaxing than visiting a Disney park, our family discovered a hidden Disney gem. Last month, we had the pleasure of staying at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort. The resort sits in two areas of the island.

The actual resort is located in-land adjacent to the Shelter Cove Marina and The Beach House is about 1 ½ miles away on the ocean. The Beach House is where your family can enjoy a day at the beach, an additional pool and a quick service dining location.

We stayed in building #31, which was the furthest location from the main building, but we loved it. We felt like we were tucked away but we biked around the resort and everything was a close walk to get to the pool and quick service dining.

The resort is filled with family fun activities including shuffleboard, cornhole, putting area, bocce ball, paddleboard and kayak tours, fishing and so much more. Each courtyard has their own activity area, so make sure you explore outside of your own area to find everything there is to do. For your swimming pleasure, you will find a pool at the resort and another pool at The Beach House.

We loved the beach, which we found was great for families because the beach had sandbars that created little “pools” of water that made it great for little ones to swim without dealing with the waves of the ocean. You can either bike, drive or take the shuttle from the resort to get to The Beach House.

For your eating pleasure, we were glad we had a villa with a full kitchen since there are not any sit down dining restaurants on the property, but there are plenty of options on the island. There is quick service location on the resort property in addition to the option at The Beach House. Within a short walk, you can find wonderful restaurants at the Shelter Cove Marina, which sits right across the marina from Disney’s resort. We found that biking is the way to get around the island with close to 100 miles of paved bike paths. Since Disney’s Beach House is about 1 ½ miles from the resort, we found biking was the way to go and Disney has plenty of bikes to rent during your stay. All bikes come complete with baskets to carry your beach bag or for a stop at the grocery store, which is nearby.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will go into activities to do around the island and day excursions.

Janene Jaroscak

Travel Specialist

 

Pixar is part of the Disney company that has brought us the technologically advanced movies that we have come to love for the past 20 years including:

  • Cars
  • Toy Story
  • Up
  • Brave
  • The Incredibles
  • Finding Nemo
  • Monsters Inc.
  • Wall-E
  • A Bugs Life
  • Ratatouille

On April 13, 2018 Disneyland in California will become even more “Friendly”, as those lovable Disney Pixar characters come out to celebrate friendship in Pixar Fest! Pixar Fest will feature new entertainment and welcome back a favorite nighttime parade.

Together Forever is a new nighttime spectacular show at Disneyland Park, that is sure to quickly become a must-see favorite! This show celebrates the everlasting friendship of our favorite Pixar pals. Together Forever will feature amazing music, stunning pyrotechnics, a flyover by Buzz Lightyear himself as he goes “to infinity and beyond”, and projections that can be seen throughout these areas of Disneyland Park:

  • Sleeping Beauty Castle
  • It’s a Small World
  • Rivers of America
  • Main Street U.S.A

Paint the Night is a Disneyland favorite that will be returning! This time it will be making its nightly appearance at Disney’s California Adventure theme park. This night-time electric parade boasts 1.5 million LEDs and features many of our favorite Pixar characters as they dance and light up the streets of California Adventure! This is a not to be missed night time parade and I highly recommend looking for your parade viewing location 90 minutes before the start time.

AT D23 EXPO 2017, DISNEY PARKS CHAIRMAN BOB CHAPEK ANNOUNCES PIXAR FEST COMING TO DISNEYLAND RESORT — Starting in 2018, this limited-time offering will include a new fireworks spectacular as well as special characters and entertainment moments.

Pixar Play Parade is another must see parade! With the onset of Pixar Fest the parade will now run down the streets of Disneyland Park! Leading that parade will be the famous Pixar lamp, Luxo! Sunset Showcase Theater located in Disney’s California Adventure will have showings of 2 of Pixar’s shorts:

  • For the Birds
  • Lava (my personal favorite)

Paradise Gardens will come to life with a Pixar themed musical troupe along with a chance to meet your favorite Disney Pixar characters. There will even be opportunities for younger guests to let their creative side shine.

A visit during Pixar Fest is one that will surely not disappoint so many new sights and sounds. If you are interested or have any more questions on this limited time engagement to Disneyland Park, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Beth Rodgers

Travel Specialist