Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Travel Plan Tuesday

Last week I did a basic overview of the Disney Dining Plan and what is included in each plan. If you missed it, you can catch up here. This week I am going to talk about how to decide if the dining plan is right for you and if so, which one do you choose?!

First, you must be staying at a Disney resort to be able to take advantage of the Disney dining plan. You are able to add it onto your Magic Your Way Package if you would like. Even though I have not yet used the dining plan (we haven't stayed on property . . yet!) I know that I will use it on our next trip. One great benefit is that you are able to pay for all your meals before you even go on your trip. Wouldn't it be nice to go on vacation and not have to worry about how you are going to pay for things? Another great thing is you don't have to mess with cash (except for tips if you are on the basic dining plan or above) so you don't have to fumble with your wallet each meal. You just give your server or swipe your Key to the World card and you are done!

However, the dining plan is not for everyone. If you are staying in one of the villas or a room with a kitchen or mini-kitchen and plan on saving money by cooking several meals or most meals in your room, the dining plan will probably not be for you. There are plenty of ways to save money on meals while at Disney, which I will talk about more next week.

If you do decide that a dining plan is the way to go, now you must decide which plan to go with. This will depend on what type of meals you like to eat, how you tour the parks and many other things. If you like to go, go, go for your entire vacation and don't like to stop to eat at a sit-down restaurant, then the Quick Service plan is probably for you. This allows you to eat at counter service restaurants, which are basically fast food. You have a large variety of food, but you order and seat yourself. These restaurants are typically much quicker to get in and out of and do not take much time out of your day. This plan can also be good for those with small children who do not like to wait on their food at a restaurant.

If you like to tour a little slower, or just like a little break during your day to sit down, cool off and relax, then the Basic Dining plan is probably best for you. This will allow you a counter service meal, plus a table service meal each day. We like to use the table service either for an early breakfast or a dinner so we can relax at the end of the day. If you are looking to have several character meals, then this would be a great plan as you really get your money's worth from those meals. We like to do at least 1 character breakfast on a trip and for me, that would be worth it!

With the Deluxe Dining plan, you get so much more! There are 3 meals (can be quick service or table service) included in this plan. This would be perfect for those who are real foodies or like to eat 3 meals a day, each day. If you are not planning on having any meals in your room, this would be a great plan as you would have everything taken care of and you wouldn't have to worry about missing a meal or paying OOP for anything. With a small child, this probably wouldn't be best for us, but we are planning an anniversary trip with just my husband and I and we will more than likely use the Deluxe Dining plan. This would give us an opportunity to really slow down and enjoy all the delicious and different menus that Disney World has to offer!

Hopefully now you have been able to decide if a Disney Dining plan is right for you and if so, which one to choose. Next week I will talk about ways to save money on food at Disney World, if you are not utilizing the dining plan.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Five on Friday

Epcot was the subject of last week's Five on Friday. If you missed out on the post, you can catch up here. I hope you are all enjoying these posts as I am having fun writing them!

This week we are going to wrap up the parks and my top five rides/attractions by going to the Magic Kingdom. I think for anyone, it would be hard to choose your top five rides/attractions here. There is just so much to do and see! For me, it's really hard. As many things as there are to do in the Magic Kingdom, there isn't much that we have been able to do or can't do. We don't ride the big thrill rides because I had back surgery last year and my hubby doesn't like them, so that takes out a lot of the top rides for most people.

Here are my top five rides/attractions for the Magic Kingdom:

5. "it's a small world" - Just a classic Disney ride. I know a lot of people think it's boring, but I love riding around in the boat and seeing all the sparkly dolls from around the world. I really enjoy the end and trying to figure out how to say "Goodbye" in all those languages!

4. Dumbo the Flying Elephant - This is another great classic ride - it's so much fun. The only trip I took to Disney World as a child was when I was in 2nd grade and one of the few things I remember from that trip is riding on Dumbo. I loved it and still do!

3. Mickey's PhilharMagic - This 3D show is really cool! On our last trip I didn't know what to expect from it since it was our first time seeing it, but I was happy we did. It's really funny to see what all Donald Duck goes through once he puts on Mickey's sorcerer hat! The special effects are fantastic and I can't wait to see it again!

I love this sign above the doors to Mickey's PhilharMagic! "AutoMagically!"

2. Walt Disney World Railroad - Riding around the Magic Kingdom on this steam powered train is so much fun. It's a nice break if you have a little while to rest and relax. Or if you are wanting to get from one part of the park to another, just hop on and get there quickly! We really enjoy riding the train around at least once a trip!

1. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor - This attraction is so much fun! I love the movie anyways, but this interactive attraction makes me love it even more. From the very beginning where Roz talks to you and you can text your own joke to be used, to the end when Roz kicks you out - it's a blast. I love how they pick one person and make fun of them the whole show and really get the crowd into it!

What is your favorite ride/attraction at the Magic Kingdom? Have you ever been "that guy/girl" on the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor?


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Disney Blog Hop: Star Wars/Star Tours

Welcome to this week's edition of the Disney Blog Hop hosted by Babes in Disneyland! This week the co-host of the blog hop is Days in the Park. I am really enjoying being a part of this hop and want to thank everyone for checking out my blog!

This week's theme is Star Wars/Star Tours. As I did last week I had a really hard time with this week's topic. I am not a big Star Wars fan. I watched the first 3 movies in high school as part of my English class. This is the only time I've ever watched anything Star Wars. It's not that I think it's too "geeky" or "nerdy", actually I remember liking the movies when we watched them in class. I just never watched them again, although I'm certain if I did now I would enjoy it.

I have also have never been on the Star Tours ride in Disney World. The first trip we took, the lines were so long so we didn't go on it and on our last trip, it was closed for refurb so we didn't have a chance. I am definitely looking forward to trying out the new ride on our next trip though!

One thing I think is neat and didn't realize is the Jedi Training that you can sign your kids up for. On our first trip to Disney, my nephew was 5 at the time and loved Star Wars! I wish I would have known about this so we could let him do it - he would have had a blast with it! Actually, for his birthday that year (just 2 months before we went to Disney) he had a Star Wars birthday party. A man at my FIL's job dresses as a Stormtroopers for parties and such, so he came as a surprise to my nephew at his birthday. It was great and he did a wonderful job! My nephew was so excited that a real Stormtroopers had come to his birthday party!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Travel Plan Tuesday

Last week for Travel Plan Tuesday I talked about tickets and packages available for you when trying to plan your Disney World trip. If you missed out on the post, you can check it out here.

We touched lightly on the Dining Plan last week, but this week we are going to get into it a little more. As with everything in Disney, there are many, many options and it can get a little overwhelming. Hopefully this will help you understand it a little bit better.

First let me say that I have not personally used the Dining Plan at Disney yet. We have never stayed on property so we have not had the opportunity, although we do plan on using it for our next trip!

Let's start with the basics, the requirements you have to meet in order to utilize the dining plan:
* You must stay at a Disney resort
* You must purchase a Magic Your Way package, including resort accommodations and park tickets

If you have met each of these requirements and decide to get the Dining Plan added on, you will have several options to choose from:
* Quick Service Dining
* Dining
* Deluxe Dining

Quick Service Dining Plan - For each night of your stay each person in your party (ages 3 and up) will receive 2 Quick Service meals, 2 snacks and 1 resort refillable mug. The quick service meals include 1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only) and 1 non-alcoholic beverage. 

Dining Plan - For each night of your stay each person in your party (ages 3 and up) will receive 1 Table Service Meal, 1 Quick Service Meal and 1 snack. The quick service meal includes 1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only) and 1 non-alcoholic beverage. The Table Service Meal includes 1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only) and 1 non-alcoholic beverage or 1 buffet (where available).

Deluxe Dining Plan - For each night of your stay each person in your party (ages 3 and up) will receive 3 Meals, 2 snacks and 1 resort refillable mug. The meals can be any that you decide - Quick or Table service. The Quick Service meals include 1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only) and 1 non-alcoholic beverage. The Table Service meal includes 1 appetizer (lunch and dinner only), 1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only) and 1 non-alcoholic beverage or 1 full buffet.

Disney Dining Plan logo - look for this to find your snacks!

For any of the Dining plans, the snack credit will be available by noticing the DDP sign at the restaurant/vending cart you are at. There are soo many different snacks to choose from, but here are just a few: frozen ice cream novelty, popcorn scoop, coke, water, single piece of whole fruit. You can check out this article from Delightfully Disney and print off a humongous list of snacks you can get for just a snack credit!

There really is so much more that we could discuss when talking about the Dining plans at Disney. This is just an overview of what is available to you as part of your Magic Your Way Package. Next week I will discuss how to decide if the dining plan is right for you and if it is - which one do you choose!

Have you ever used the Disney Dining Plan? If so, how did you like it?


Monday, May 23, 2011

A vacation to somewhere that's not Disney?

Eating at the American Adventure in Epcot 2011

My husband is wonderful. He is loving and always thinking of others. He is a great husband and father. He really only has one flaw . .  . he isn't obsessed with Disney like I am! (Oh, and he is an Auburn fan - but that is another post for different day!)

Don't get me wrong, he loves our trips and always has a great time when we are at Disney, but he just doesn't see it like I do. I would go to Disney World several times a year, every year and be perfectly fine with that. However, he likes a little bit more variety (even though I tell him there is more than enough variety at Disney World - I mean where else can you say you visited 11 countries in one afternoon?) with our yearly vacations.

Waiting for Fantasmic to start 2011

I have been planning our next trip to Disney since before we went on our last one in March! I love going that time of year, especially since it's our son's birthday, but have been wanting to try out the Fall/Winter season for different reasons. When the free dining came out for this September I tried to talk him into going, but it was just too soon. So we decided to put off our next Disney vacation until the Fall of 2012 - a looooong 1 1/2 years to go!

I love to travel, but we travel close to home - within the next state or two that surrounds us. We haven't been anywhere far off, mostly because my husband does not want to fly, so we drive everywhere. Since our next big trip isn't for over a year, I wanted to go on a "mini-vacation" in the Spring of 2012. I have been racking my brain and searching the internet for a place we could go for a long weekend to placate me until our Disney trip. It's so hard because I want to do something that is different from what we've done before (no Chattanooga, Gatlinburg, Atlanta) but it also has to have plenty of fun things for our son, who will be 4 next March, to do.

If anybody has any suggestions for us, please let me know! We live in central Alabama and are willing to drive about 8 to 10 hours to get to the destination.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Destination Disney {Favorite Time to Visit}

I am so excited to be a part of this blog hop over at Reviews and Reflections! I really enjoy taking part in these hops and "meeting" new people through them! Thanks to Heidi for hosting this one and allowing me to be a part of it!

What is your favorite time of year
to visit Disney and why?

We have been to Disney World the past two years towards the end of March. My son's birthday is on March 25, so we are either there during or right before his birthday when we go. I absolutely love going this time of the year for several reasons!

*Nicholas' birthday! It's so much fun to celebrate a birthday in Disney World. There are so many fantastic surprises they do for you and you get to hear strangers and CM's alike tell you "Happy Birthday" all day long! All of the TS restaurants we ate at had a yummy cupcake delivered to my son - he loved eating a cupcake at breakfast :) One special thing that happened was when we were eating at Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom for lunch. My son and I were sitting there waiting for my hubby to bring the food and the man that was cleaning the tables around us noticed his birthday button. He told him Happy Birthday like everyone and walked away. A few minutes later he came over with a birthday cupcake for my son! I had no idea that they did that at any of the CS restaurants since they hadn't before - it was so sweet of him to do that for my son! Plus, when he noticed that we had another family with us and a little girl (our best friends and she is a year older than Nicholas) he came back with a cupcake for her so she wouldn't feel left out!

Birthday cupcake from Chef Mickey's!

*Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot! Everything is so beautiful and the topiaries they create are amazing! I really enjoy the beautiful rose gardens that they have planted there as well. They are always huge and gorgeous and smell fantastic! If I had the perfect day I would just wander around Epcot taking in all the beauty snacking on yummy things from around the world! If you haven't had a chance to go during this festival - I highly recommend it!

*The weather! The past two years that we have been the weather has just been fantastic! Out of the 14 days that we have gone those years we only had 1 afternoon where it rained on us. Every other day was beautiful sunshine and warm weather. With highs in the 70's and 80's and a light breeze - it was just perfect. Now I'm sure it's not always like this, but we've been lucky so far and hopefully it stays that way!

When is your favorite time to visit Disney World? Is there any other time of year that I need to check out?

Thanks again to Heidi from Reviews and Reflections for hosting the blog hop!


Five on Friday

Last week I told you about my top Five rides/attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios. If you missed out on the post, you can catch up here.

This week we are continuing with rides/attractions but moving on to Epcot! This will only include rides/attractions in Future World - next week I will dive into World Showcase.

5. Innoventions - I think this is something that is often overlooked by others, but we love spending time in these pavilions. With a young child, there is so much for him to learn in these, from how to recycle more and waste less with "Don't Waste It!" and how to save money for something special in "The Great Piggy Bank Adventure". There are many others things to check out and learn more about - it is a must do for our family and a great place to spend some time if it's raining out!

Don't Waste It! in Innoventions East

4. Spaceship Earth - I really enjoyed this on our last trip. It was so neat to see how the written word has progressed throughout time. We especially enjoyed seeing "our future" and being able to email it to ourselves and others at the end of the ride!

3. Living with the Land - On our last trip we did this ride for the first time and I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would! It is a nice break to sit and ride for a little while and has some interesting information to soak up!

2. The Seas with Nemo and Friends - With a toddler along, this is a must see ride for us every time in Epcot. I really enjoy the way the ride moves along and it's always fun to sing along!

1. Soarin' - This is probably at the top of most people's list. I love this ride - it's so much fun to feel like you are floating so high in the air. I really enjoy the special effects that they put into it - like being able to smell the oranges when you go over the groves!

What is your favorite ride/attraction at Epcot?


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Disney Blog Hop: Pirates

Well, since blogger went down I lost my entire post and comments from last week's Disney Blog Hop! I am going to try and re-do the post and get it up soon, but not sure when I will have the time.

This week's theme is Pirates of the Caribbean, fitting in with the release of the 4th movie on Friday.

When I first saw what the theme was I had no idea what to write about. You see I am one of the few people in the world who have not seen ONE of the Pirate movies. We actually do own the first one, but I have never watched it. I know, I know  . . . I am terrible. For some reason I just don't think I would like it so I never got into them.

Also, we've never been on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disney World either. The first trip we took, it was down when we tried to get on it and the second trip, we just didn't have time. I've never really been into pirates (being as that I have 2 sisters and no brothers), but now that I have a son who is 3, that is all about to change!

So instead of writing about the Pirates of the Caribbean, I am going to write about my son and his new found love for pirates :)

When Jake and the Neverland Pirates show came on Disney Junior, my son watched it and loved it! He now watches it every chance he gets. We were able to see the new Disney Junior Live show on our last trip and he loved that they were a part of the show. This has gotten him interested more in pirates. Also, at school this past week they have been watching Peter Pan (in the afternoons) and he is entranced every time I pick him up. He just doesn't want to leave. I think this has started his love for pirates.

Just yesterday morning he put his hand around his eye like a "scote" and said "arghhhhh" - it was so cute! He has been finding anything that can be used as a sword so he can fight like a pirate. He has a great imagination! For our next trip to Disney we are thinking about doing the Pirates League for him so he can get dressed up like a pirate - I think he would really enjoy that!

For those who enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean movies - enjoy the newest installment! Maybe I will eventually get around to watching the first one to see what it's all about :)

If anyone has done the Pirates League - let me know what you thought about it!

Thanks so much to Babes in Disneyland for hosting the Blog Hop! I love being a part of it :)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Travel Plan Tuesday

Last time I talked about where to stay when you visit Disney World. There are so many options to consider! If you missed out, you can read more about it here.

Today we are going to talk about tickets and packages that are offered by Disney World. And in true Disney form, there are so many options to choose from. There truly is something for everyone and every budget available!

Disney has what they call "Magic Your Way" packages. What they include is your base tickets for the parks and your hotel room. This is the basic package that you can get, but there is so much more that you can add on!

When thinking about your park tickets, you can get your base tickets - anywhere from 1 to 10 days - and add a Park Hopper, which allows you to "hop" from one park to another within the same day. This option is great for people who will not have as many days in the park and want to see more, or if you want to take advantage of different restaurants. You can also add the Water Park Fun & More option to your tickets. Adding this allows you access to both water parks, DisneyQuest, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course. This is a fantastic option if you are looking to do more at Disney than just the 4 parks and could be perfect in the warmer months to take advantage of the water parks! The last option when considering tickets is the No Expiration Option. If you choose this option (not available on 1 day tickets) then your tickets will never expire. If you have 10 day no expiration tickets, and you only use 5 days on one trip, the other 5 days will stay on your ticket and still be valid until you use them all up - even if it takes you years to get back!

Once you have your hotel room and your tickets figured out, the next thing to think about is adding the dining plan to your package. This can be a great way to not have to worry about pulling out money each time you eat somewhere and a great way to try new restaurants that you might not normally try! With the dining plan you pay a certain amount depending on the package you choose and the only thing you have to worry about while you are in Disney is tips for Table Service restaurants. I will be going into more detail about the Dining plan next week!

The one thing about Disney is that they truly have a package available for any budget! With so many options to choose from, each family can get there own personalized Disney vacation!!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I have already had a wonderful day. Church was fantastic (as usual) and the children performed some special songs for us and did a great job! We had lunch with my family and it was delicious and we had a fun time. Now I am relaxing at home while my little one naps :)
I hope everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Five on Friday

**Due to the storms and tornado's that have affected Alabama and the south, there was a delay in Five on Friday posts**

I hope you enjoyed the start of my new series! If you missed out on the first Five on Friday post, you can check it out here!

This week I decided to continue with my top favorite rides/attractions, but this time we are moving to Hollywood Studios.

5. Disney Junior - Live on Stage! - This one mostly made the list for my son. He absolutely loved the show! Since they have re-done it and added Jake and the Neverland Pirates, I think it's fantastic. I had almost as much fun clapping and dancing along as my son did. This is something we will continue to see, at least until my little one is too old :(

It's the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Come inside, it's fun inside!

4. Voyage of the Little Mermaid - I really enjoyed this show! We missed out on it last time, but saw it the year before. I always liked The Little Mermaid, so it was neat to see it in a different way.

3. The Great Movie Ride - This was new to us on our last trip and was so much fun! I loved the CM interaction with the ride and really enjoyed seeing all the movie scenes. I think one of my favorite parts was in the line when I got to see the dress worn by Queen Susan from Chronicles of Narnia!

2. Toy Story Midway Mania - I think this is on the top of the list for almost everyone at DHS! It has such a fun queue and the ride is a blast! It's so much fun to see who can get the top score and win the best "prize" :)

1. Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage! - This is my favorite thing to do at Hollywood Studios. I absolutely love the story of Belle and the Beast and this show is fantastic! There is so much going on, colors, dancing, singing - it's a blast! The CM who played Belle did such a great job! I think this is a must-see every time we go there!

Belle reading to the Beast - one of my favorite parts!

I hope you enjoyed my top rides/attractions at DHS. What are your favorites?

Thanks for joining me this week!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

My First Disney Blog Hop: Food!

I am so excited to be a part of the Disney Blog Hop over at Babes in Disneyland! I have been wanting to get in on the action for several weeks now, but things kept coming up. Today is my first time joining in and I was so excited to hear the topic was food!

Now, I don't have a lot of experience with food at Disney yet. The past two trips we've taken we stayed off property, therefore had a full kitchen and put it to good use! However, we did eat out a few times and each of those meals were fantastic!

There is one thing that comes to mind for me when I think about Disney food and it was something we ate on our trip this past March. It was our first time at Whispering Canyon Cafe and I was so excited to see what all the fun was about! Now I know what you are all thinking I'm going to talk about - The Famous Canyon Skillet. But that is not it! We actually didn't try that (even though we wished we had!) so it was something else :)

So yummy!!

The cornbread!! I am a Southern girl through and through, so a good piece of cornbread really sticks out in my mind. I also like things a little on the sweet side, so the cornbread at Whispering Canyon Cafe was perfect for me! Add some of the butter on top of it and it could have been my  meal! It was not too dry and tasted so wonderful to me. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it!!