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?

 

Favorite Disney Princess

cf5fe5b62e26e8efc49fccd8e07beb25_-jiminy-cricket-disney-disney-jiminy-cricket-clipart_236-559Last week we asked… You answered.   The most anticipated out of park transportation is Festival of the Lion King.  Thanks again Helen for helping with a beastly topic. 

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

Disney Princesses have brought joy to people since the first Disney Princess, Snow White was introduced in 1937. Everyone looks for different qualities in a Princess which is why there are as many favorites as there are Princesses. Disney Princesses inspire with their kindness, impress with their skill and determination, and stun with their feminine beauty. Who wouldn’t want to be a Disney Princess?

Rich here:  I’m not a big fan of most Disney Princesses and Disney’s presentation of who they are.   There seem to be mixed rules for what a princess is, and who can be one, even in Disney’s own definition.    Elena may be one, I was in the Magic Kingdom for her coronation, but I think low ratings took away her title.   I also think Tiger Lilly should be a princess if Pocahontas is, but I guess Peter Pan needs to start a  petition in her honor. (oh and Mulan shouldn’t be one according to the story) 

  1. I love Belle.   Girls can be smart.  Girls can read.   Girls can stand up for themselves.   Unfortunately, 1/2  of the princesses do not do any of these things. Belle does all this and more. 
  2. Ariel – sure she is a rebel.  Sure she gives up her voice for legs (not sounding like a bad trade … right guys 🙂  ).   She is spunky and smart.  She is continually in search of better.  She is willing to give up her comfort for a better future. 
  3. Pocahontas.   She is kind and wise.  She is independent.   She is magical. She is an American icon.   I appreciate that she is herself, and the first princess to go a way other than to her male counterpart. 

Amanda, what say you?

Amanda here:  My favorite Princesses share qualities that I value – intelligence, spunk, determination.

  1. Not only does Belle live up to her name in looks but she has a beautiful heart as well. Even better, Belle is an avid reader of fantasy novels. It’s easy to imagine her loving the same nerdy books that I do! I love the fact that Belle is happy to be her own person, oblivious to the opinions of the small-minded villagers.
  2. Cheerful optimism in the face of danger defines Anna’s personality. Much like me, Anna plunges into action without much forethought or planning. She defines selfless giving and determination. Add in a bit of hopeless romantic and I’m pretty sure Anna was modeled after me.
  3. I struggled with picking a 3rd favorite with so many great choices: Tiana’s hard work and willpower? Rapunzel’s fearlessness despite her naïveté? Moana’s relentless determination and leadership? But ultimately I settled on a Pixar Princess, Merida. I love her fiery defiance of gender roles. She is stubborn to a fault but ultimately does what is right. I love how competent and strong she is and think she’s a great role model for my daughter (hopefully without turning me into a bear….).

Special Guest Julie Patton! How about you?

  1. Belle is clearly the best princess. She is smart, kind, independent, and doesn’t care what the villagers think of her. Her selfless acts save her father and the beast. And, she loves to read!
  2. Anna. Although not technically a Disney Princess™, she rates way up there for me because she is spunky, funny, full of life and sacrifices herself for her sister. And, when order is restored to Arendelle she is not jumping at the first chance to marry Kristof.
  3. Rapunzel is strong-willed and determined to see the outside world. And she’s still awesome after her signature hair is gone. Plus, she has her own bathrooms at WDW.

Julie’s 9-year-old daughter Amy offered her choices as well!!

  1. Ariel. Because I love to swim, love the water, and love mermaids. 
  2. Pocahontas. Because I love American history and learning about the native American culture.
  3. Moana. Because she is brave and a good role model. And I love her hair.

Julie has been a Disney fan since she was very young and watched “The Wonderful World of Disney” every Sunday evening with her family. She first visited Disneyland in 1978 and Walt Disney World in 1983 and has been back now more times than she can count. She has been known to sing Disney songs very loudly while doing chores, and the Moana soundtrack helped get her through a recent marathon.

(Obviously, Amy is all that, and knows her stuff) 

Ok .. now it’s your chance …

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

Favorite Things About Moana

cf5fe5b62e26e8efc49fccd8e07beb25_-jiminy-cricket-disney-disney-jiminy-cricket-clipart_236-559Last week we asked… You and Dave Koch answered.   The best thing about solo travel is: doin your own thing .

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

Moana – the 250 million dollar musical which tells the tale of a fearless adventurer journeying to save her people.   Featuring Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Ron Clements and John Musker as the direction team, and the music of Lin-Manuel Miranda.  With her home release this week, and Wrestlemania XXXIII this weekend, what else could we think about?

Rich here:

  1. Maui – The Rock – What can I say. One of my favorite WWE wrestlers as one of the most awesome supporting heroes in a Disney movie. He brings it in the charisma department, laying the SmackDown on Tamatoa (One of the worst things about Moana). He entertains with his Tattoos, and with his Chameleon-like abilities. Maui is the Man (ok Demigod). 
  2. HeiHei the Chicken – Gosh this rooster is funny. I am sure at one time Pua was going to have as big a role, on the raft, and in Moana’s quest, but somehow they gave all the good parts to HeiHei. I’m sure many people do not like the rooster that much, I think he is exactly what this movie needed, some comic relief, and a fun character to care about. 
  3. You’re Welcome! – I really like this song. Wow, it is fun. I find myself replying in Maui’s version all the time “You’re Welcome!”. It is by far the best song in the movie (yeah yeah I know I have been told. “How Far I’ll Go” is better but I disagree). Between the catchy jingle, the gateway to rap, and the introduction to the best supporting actor in an animated movie, this song has it all. 

Amanda, what say you?

Amanda here:

  1. With the exception of the annoying “I’m Shiny” song, Moana has one of my favorite soundtracks of any movie. I am a Lin-Manuel Miranda fan so maybe it isn’t surprising that I love the music so much. From “How Far I’ll Go” to “You’re Welcome!” I have these songs stuck in my head.
  2. Another Disney movie with a strong female lead. Moana is a headstrong, independent female character and exactly the type of role model I want for my daughter and my nieces. I love Princess-type movies that aren’t about “getting the man.” Moana isn’t out to impress anyone except by fulfilling her own destiny and it’s great to see her grow into a great leader.
  3. As much as I love the character of Moana, it is The Rock who really steals the show. Maui is such a fun character. A prankster demigod who has, arguably, the catchiest tune of the movie. Watching the relationship between Maui and Moana grow throughout the movie is truly touching. I love how Maui’s tattoos help tell the story in such a clever use of animation within an animated movie.

Special Guest Julie Patton how about you?

  1. It is a great story of bravery and family! I love that Moana relies on her wits and the ocean to save her village and that there is no storyline whatsoever of her finding a prince to marry. What a positive message!
  2. The animation is stunning! This movie has the best representations of hair and water of any computer animated movie I’ve ever seen.
  3. The soundtrack! The songs are singable and stick in your head in a good way. “You’re Welcome” and “Where You Are” are going in my permanent playlists.

Julie has been a Disney fan since she was very young and watched “The Wonderful World of Disney” every Sunday evening with her family. She first visited Disneyland in 1978 and Walt Disney World in 1983 and has been back now more times than she can count. She has been known to sing Disney songs very loudly while doing chores, and the Moana soundtrack helped get her through a recent marathon.

Ok .. now it’s your chance …

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

Favorite Resort Character Dining

cf5fe5b62e26e8efc49fccd8e07beb25_-jiminy-cricket-disney-disney-jiminy-cricket-clipart_236-559Last week we asked… You and Julie Patton answered.   The best thing about Moana was: the soundtrack!

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

Characters. Its one of the reasons to visit a Disney Park or resort. Sure they can be expensive, but there is no better way to meet Mickey or one of his pals in a more relaxed accessible setting, get a photo, and special autograph. Character meals have often been the centerpiece of a Disney Vacation.

Rich here:

  1. Cape May Café – I like Cape May Café any time of the day – the buffet for dinner is awesome but even better is the breakfast buffet because of the addition of the characters. This one is a bit more unique than the others because anyone – including Minnie, Donald and Goofy – can wear a bathing suit. I think it is above many of the others because this is generally quiet and easier to get an ADR than many of the other character locations. In my opinion, it has the same food as other breakfast buffet locations, but I think this one has slightly better quality. With its central location, it has great access to 2 parks in the morning.
  2. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ – There is a lot to like about Fort Wilderness, the openness, the get away from it all, its history, and the great outdoors. I have many great memories of this buffet, from the crazy antics of Chip and Dale to the ribs, corn, and beans (not to mention the open bar), and a full night of entertainment. I’m thinking its about time I went back!
  3. Chef Mickey’s Buffet – I am a big fan of the character interaction, and Chef Mickey’s has it all – all fab 5! I really enjoyed my time as a kid in Chef Mickeys, and have been reluctant to return due to the noise, cleanliness, and mayhem of my last visit mostly the overwhelming noise. 

Amanda, what say you?

Amanda here:

  1. I’m a sucker for the Fab 5 and Chef Mickey is a great place to see them. An easily accessible location for a pre-park breakfast, a mid-day break, or pre-fireworks dinner. The noise can be deafening but the buffet has a wide variety of options and, well, did I mention Fab 5???
  2. It’s off the beaten path but Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is a fun way to escape the madness of the parks and enjoy the outdoors. Fort Wilderness is an easy boat ride from the Magic Kingdom but still feels like it’s a world away when you’re there. There’s plenty of BBQ and no need for kids to sit still. Plus the Fort is a fun place to visit!
  3. Although there are many other good choices, I think dinner at 1900 Park Fare deserves the final spot. The buffet is surprisingly good and the characters are great fun. Where else can you argue with Lady Tremaine and her daughters over who is the step-child in their family? And for non-Princess loving brothers being dragged to Princess events, Prince Charming provides a rare human male presence.

Special Guest Kim Scharoff: How about you?

(*Disclosure – have not done Cape May Cafe for Breakfast) :

  1. Chef Mickey has to be my first cause who doesn’t love the Fab 5! The classic characters are great. Goofy is my favorite of that bunch. The buffet is good with lots of choices. Love the swinging of napkins with the characters.
  2. 1900 Park Fare Breakfast – yes, I need to specify the meal because the characters are different at Breakfast and Dinner. At breakfast, you get Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. The face characters are great because they will interact with you at a different level. The food is at a higher level than other places as well.
  3. 1900 Park Fare Dinner because the characters are great and the food is fantastic. Cinderella and her family make appearances. The stepsisters and stepmother are amazing! A number of choices on the buffet are great and there is something for everyone.

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?