A different take on things

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ” Walt Disney

Our new blog – The D Three Show – has been up and running for over 3 months now and it’s time for a little self-reflection. The goal of this blog is to bring a little more Disney into our daily lives and stimulate some debate on the best and worst of Disney. It was meant to help those thinking of a new way to see things, or to dine, or give an alternate view on how to get things done.  While writing our weekly posts has been fun and has encouraged us to learn more about Disney, we haven’t generated as much discussion or enthusiasm as we had hoped. We want a friendly debate! We want discussion! We want YOUR ideas and contribution!
 
Once again we’re asking for some help from our friends…. What would inspire you to read the blog, answer the weekly poll, and/or start a discussion on our Facebook page? Do we need different topics? What topics are interesting or controversial enough for YOU to have an opinion? Or, better yet, what topics would inspire you to write your favorite three?  How do we make this more interactive? Is the supplemental material that we post on social media throughout the week helpful? Do you read it?
 
 
What do YOU think?
  • Email us @ TheDThreeShow@gmail.com
  • Tweet us @ TheDThreeShow
  • Facebook message us
  • or just leave a comment.  
 We are always interested in your ideas!!
 
Three best things about The D Three Show:
 
  1. Taking time each week to think about Disney and feeling connected to the Disney community.
  2. Having friends write their own 3 best things each week and learning more about them by understanding their favorite Disney things.
  3. Reading other blog posts and articles on similar topics to post supplemental material.
 If you made it this far… Thank you.   For anyone that submits a post idea/blog post/comment, you will get an entry into a drawing for a small prize (based on an upcoming Pixar movie).   
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” – Confucius
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Favorite In Park Character Dining

cf5fe5b62e26e8efc49fccd8e07beb25_-jiminy-cricket-disney-disney-jiminy-cricket-clipart_236-559Last week we asked… You answered.   We would probably not choose to do the dining plan unless it was free. Thank you, Jon N.  for feeding us with this topic! 
There’s a reason ADRs for character meals are so hard to get. Despite the insanely high cost of character dining, it’s a great way to have character interactions. And for parents of younger children, having characters come to your table is a great way to keep the kids entertained while you get time to eat.

Rich here:

  1. Tusker House- Safari Donald is the host at this delicious lunch. The last time I visited there were few people in the restaurant, so we had additional access characters, and unlimited food with no lines. I really like Tusker House’s unique view on character meal food, with things like hummus, couscous and other ‘foreign’ foods. The breakfast is also great, with hash and other non-standard food. All good things, and lesser noise than many of the other dining character options.
  2. Be Our Guest – I will be honest. My last time at BOG I had horrible service. I know this is not standard, and I know that everyone can have a bad day. That being said, there is no better character dining food than Be Our Guest. Sure this is not a buffet, and not a fixed price menu, but the options for lunch and dinner take the character dining experience to a new level. Eating in the castle is special, and any of the rooms offer amazing views and lets you experience the magic. The only let down is the sole character in the house is Beast, I wish Belle was in attendance too!
  3. Garden Grill – Good food, quiet, nice character interactions, and lesser booked option. All these things add up to a great character dining experience. I’m not really sure why this is a lesser known character meal, maybe it is just older, but I still like it. There is a sense of fun in looking out on the boat ride from above, and it is easier to have a magical experience meeting Disney friends. 

Amanda, what say you?

Amanda here: My kids and I have had many memorable character meals over the years. Some of my fondest Disney memories occurred when characters stopped at our table. That nostalgia certainly shades my opinion of which places I love most.

  1. . Garden Grill is my all time favorite character dining experience. I’ve never had a bad meal there. Because of the layout, the character interaction feels very private and it always feels like the characters spend a lot of time with you. I love the menu-free family style dining. It allows my kids to taste foods that they might not order off a menu and the food is fresh and healthy. Plus when my kids were younger, it was nice to not have to make a million trips to the buffet to refill plates.
  2. My next favorite is the Princess dining experience at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. From the pre-meal photo with Belle to the children marching with the Princesses around the dining room, it will put a smile on any princess’ fan’s face. There is a salad bar followed by an entree off the menu. The menu is Norweigan-inspired (which means fish is a good choice!) but my kids have never had a problem finding something to eat.
  3. Just walking into Be Our Guest is a special experience. Beast’s Castle has been magnificently recreated and even with eating a bite, it’s worth a visit. I think the French-themed food is quite tasty and there’s a decent balance between “fancy” French food like the mussels and sautéed shrimp and scallops and more accessible food like the strip steak.

Special Guest Kim Sharoff: How about you:

  1. Crystal Palace – What can I say…I’m an Eeyore gal! Here you get to meet Winnie the Pooh and friends as they celebrate friendship day. The buffet is a standard Disney buffet with lots of choices that should satisfy all.
  2. Garden Grille – this is a great place in EPCOT that serves family style. I’ve been able to get items that were on the menu for kids as an adult. Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale are great at interaction. They tend to roam a little more freely than I’ve seen in other restaurants without a character handler right on top of them. I’ve actually had Chip or Dale (can’t remember which one) sit down with me and take selfies with my camera.
  3. Tusker House – In Animal Kingdom, so the food is more culturally based. I am a picky eater and find it harder to find stuff here that I will eat because of spices. I’m sure I could ask for some special stuff to be made for me but I’ve eaten things from the kid’s area and some other stuff that I know I like (salads, meat, rice). Donald, Daisy, Mickey and Goofy are dressed in their Safari gear and make their way around the restaurant.

 

Kim (@kscharoff) is a Figment lover. She runs Disney as an excuse to go visit her home away from home as many times as possible.

Ok .. now it’s your chance …

  • Who was right?
  • Who was wrong?
  • What is your favorite?

 

Disney Dining Plans Pros & Cons

cf5fe5b62e26e8efc49fccd8e07beb25_-jiminy-cricket-disney-disney-jiminy-cricket-clipart_236-559Last week we asked… You answered.   The best thing to buy from your online grocer is WATER.   Thank you, Holly A. for drenching us with your intellect. 

Now let’s see what we will find this week!

The Disney Dining Plan. Few add-ons to a Disney vacation elicit such passionate and differing opinions. While many in the Disney fan community believe that the Dining Plan has lost its value over the years, others continue to drink the kool-aid.  Your opinion about the DDP may depend on how you like to vacation and eat at Disney. Do you like all aspects of the trip paid up front to eliminate budgeting concerns during the trip? Do you prefer quick-serve meals? Character dining? Signature restaurants? All of these may factor into your opinion of the various Disney Dining Plans.

Rich here:

  1. Cost – Being a DVC member I really have not investigated the different dining options.   I know they exist, but really don’t have the interest in looking at them because of the cost of the dining plan.   I am sure that with the right restaurants it could be beneficial, but I do not have the time or energy to search and spreadsheet and make reservations until I get to a cost savings option.  
  2. Flexibility: I am a planner.   That is what I do. I like to plan my trips to a point, and then once I get into the swing of things, I change and adapt as I go.   I do not plan a table service meal every night, and between hanging with friends, going with the flow, and my new non-commando Disney attitude, I have learned to adjust as I go, I don’t want to be locked into being somewhere at a certain time, all the time.
  3. Budgeting: When it comes to vacation I like to budget.   The more I can prepare for and prepay the happier I will be.   I like the fact that when you go on vacation all your meals will be paid for, and that there will more food available to me than I can possibly eat in a week.

Amanda, what say you?

Amanda here:

  1. Good – Budgeting: If you’re someone who likes to know exactly how much your vacation will cost, the Disney Dining Plan may be a good option. Since you pre-pay for dining before you leave (except for tips for your sit-down meals), you have a pretty clear idea how much your vacation will cost. It also allows you to pay for dining in small increments as you find extra money in your budget so that you can vacation debt-free. I think for people who follow Dave Ramsey or use other, similar, budgeting plans, this may provide peace of mind. No need to calculate the cost of each meal to make sure you’re staying in budget.
  2. Lack of flexibility: Not only does using the Disney Dining Plan force you to plan out sit-down meals in advance, it controls what food you may order at those meals. Counter service meal? You get an entree and non-alcoholic beverage. Sit-down meal? You get an entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage. You prefer to eat 2 appetizers and skip dessert? Nope. Want a salad instead of dessert? Nope. Like to enjoy a nice cold beer with dinner instead of your fountain soda? You can pay for it but you’re wasting the drink component of your pre-paid dining plan. The one time I traveled with “free” dining, I found myself with tons of snack credits left over and lots of unexpected out of pocket expenses when the way I like to eat didn’t match up with the rules….
  3. Character buffets: If the goal of your Disney dining experience is to maximize your character dining experience, the dining plan may be for you. Buffets are outrageously expensive and if you can plan ahead enough to guarantee that most/all sit-down meals are buffets, you may save money. It’s important to look closely at the cost of your planned meals compared to the cost of the dining plan. With 4 children – all of whom will be “Disney adults” by the time of our next trip – buffets are crazy expensive. If we wanted to hit a buffet per day, the Disney dining plan might be the only reasonable way to make that happen. As Disney veterans, I’m not sure that’s a priority for these kids anymore (how many times can we ride Expedition Everest in a row is more their speed nowadays) but I might consider a dining plan if they had pangs of nostalgia.

Special Guest Jon North, What are you cookin’ up?:

Disney dining plans are already hated by most Disney regulars. A search of the typical boards leads to a very consistent theme: you save money by paying out of pocket, it is too much food, and ultimately there is no great reason to do the plan. And that is for the regular plan. While you can find some people who like these plans, once the discussion moves to the Deluxe Plan, there is a very universal no. Being on of the few people to crunch the numbers and determine, correctly, that the Deluxe Plan would save my family money, I thought some positives and negatives would be nice

  1. Save Money. I realize that people say you can’t save money on this plan, but during our last visit, we saved over $300 using the DDP. This happened during the hurricane in October when the park closed down, which means we saved this money while having 12 credits left over (due to restaurants closing and us being unable to use planned credits). There are a lot of small reasons for this, but one trick on the plan is that we could invite friends to dinner, use the plan for the friends, and have them pay us for their dinner (we would give them the dessert or app free so they got something extra as well). This offset the 3 sit-down meals–we only had one sit-down breakfast on the plan. One item that isn’t advertised about the DDP, but is a huge help on the cost side, is that credits are credits. That means the kids’ credits you purchase can be used for adults (see our friends joining us for dinner). Equally important for our 7-year-old, she was allowed to order food from the adult or kids menu on the DDP. If you have kids who like to try different food and get sick of the kid’s food, DDP is a huge money saver as well.
  2. Guilt Free Ordering. While I can sit at home and say I will order whatever I want when I am at Disney, this just isn’t true. The numbers add up fast. As I get through part of the trip and see how much we are spending, I start to look at the price of everything. That includes food, which leads me to make choices based on price, not want. DDP allowed me to ignore this–it didn’t mean we ate the most expensive items, it meant we ordered whatever we wanted without worrying about price. This includes feeling comfortable ordering food you may want to try but aren’t sure if you will like. If you are a foodie or a person who loves trying new food, the DDP helps you try more food, including apps and desserts, without worry about paying for food you may not like. Plus you have so many snack credits you can offset a poor meal with snacks at no extra cost also.
  3. Too Much of Everything: For me specifically, this is too much food and too much rushing. While the dining plan is 3 sit-down meals per trip, our approach included breakfast in the room plus two sit-down meals. This allowed us to incorporate a lot of signature dining into our trip. But a 3-course lunch and a 3-course dinner added up quickly, and there was way more food than needed. My wife hated this more than I did–but I felt comfortable ordering a dessert having 3 bites, and even doing that it was too much food. This means you will be wasting food, eating much smaller portions than served, or overeating for your entire trip. There was also a bit too much scheduling–it got to the point we felt like we were always rushing to get to the next reservation. With the addition of the scheduled FP+ ride model, our entire trip felt like a fight to get to the next thing, and the DDP just made this worse as it was another location we had to drag the kids to. And after a day in the park we didn’t want to go right to dinner, so it was run back to the hotel, shower/change, drag the kids back out to dinner…just made the trip feel rushed.

Jonathan has been to Disney 6 times, 3 times as a kid, once as an adult with no kids, and twice as a parent. With constant pressure from wife and kids for more trips, he is always looking to increase the fun while decreasing the total cost of trips. 

Ok .. now it’s your chance …

  1. Who was right?
  2. Who was wrong?
  3. What is your opinion?

Best Things to Buy From the Online Grocer

cf5fe5b62e26e8efc49fccd8e07beb25_-jiminy-cricket-disney-disney-jiminy-cricket-clipart_236-559Last week we asked… You answered.   The most well-liked princess is Belle.  Thanks again Julie & AMY for helping with a ROYAL challenge. 

Online grocery shopping is a great way to save money at Disney. It is possible to have all of your vacation needs delivered to your resort before you even arrive. The resorts will even keep the cold stuff cold! We have all been guilty of over buying groceries for our vacation so what are some optimal purchases to have?

Rich here:

  1. Water / Gatorade – Florida and California are HOT!! (I know – no duh) Part of the preparation for the heat has to be hydration. Sure – my cargo shorts MAY not be the most fashionable, but I can carry a lot of water in them. One of the best ways to avoid heat stroke is to drink early and drink often (No – not beer). 
  2. Donuts or Pop Tarts – Mornings are magical in a Disney Park. The best way to get going is breakfast to go. I know Richie and I love the Entenmanns donuts. You know – the chocolate covered ones, or the crumbly ones. (and they are available in the Disney Shoppettes if you need more!). When not donuts – Pop Tarts are my backup and my pre-race goto. Quick easy fuel to start the day (with sprinkles). 
  3. Salty Pretzels – Ok – I have had the donuts, I have drank all the water I could get my hands on… now it is time to replenish some of the salt I lost during the day. That is when I turn to my pretzels for salt replacement, and a snack after getting back from the parks. (And they are good with a post park beer too!!)

Amanda, what say you?

Amanda here:

  1. A case of bottled water is probably the single most economical and useful purchase. Instead of paying $2.50 per bottle, you can order a 32 pack of 16.9 oz bottles of water for $10. If you need to drink cold water, you can freeze the bottles and let them thaw throughout the day.
  2. One of the most useful snack foods at Disney is Uncrustables. Ingenious little-frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that are intended to thaw during the day and be eaten at room temperature. They are portable, individually wrapped, and taste good even if they get squished beneath the water bottle. Plus they provide a reasonable combination of protein and carbs to keep you going. (Obviously, these are not so useful if someone in your party has a peanut or gluten allergy.)
  3. The best breakfast food for vacation is definitely Pop Tarts. Nothing is easier when you’re trying to get to rope drop in the morning. Each family member grabs a package and eats them on the way to parks. A great way to have an expensive and quick breakfast every morning.

Special Guest Holly Adams, How about you?:

  1. Water: First off, you need to drink a LOT of water. Sure, you can get free water in any restaurant in the park (or at least anyone that sells fountain drinks), but you have to waste precious park time, a lot of places don’t open until 11 am, and they give it to you in a cup, which isn’t as easy to carry around. Bottled water in the park is almost $3 a pop. And the fountain water often has a nasty taste to it. So, order your water from the grocer, and drink drink drink. We also like to bring flavored water drops – easily packable and helps if someone in your party doesn’t like the taste of plain water. An alternative is to have a reusable water bottle or camel pack, but we liked being able to just toss the bottles in the recycling bin before leaving the park – one less thing to schlep home.
  2. Gallon Ziploc bags: I used these a lot more than expected. I would put the autograph book in it so it didn’t get wet in any of the frequent rainstorms, stashed a change of clothes for the kids (with one in potty training, wet clothing was a concern), and stored wet bathing suits, snacks, random small souvenirs (allllllllll those stickers!) and at the very end of the trip, wrapped up some random leaky toiletries. I used almost an entire box.
  3. Sunscreen, because nothing is worse than a sunburn (except blisters!) If you are going straight to the park on arrival, it might be better to pack this in your go-bag instead. But if you are sticking by the resort on your first day, just order ahead and save baggage space. Because you’re going to need a LOT of sunscreen.

Holly only has three trips to the World under her belt – but she’s an expert planner and obsessive researcher. She is currently plotting how to get back to Disney World before the end of 2017 with zero money in the bank. 

Ok .. now it’s your chance …

  • Who was right?
  • Who was wrong?
  • What is your favorite?