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?

Things we are looking forward to in the 2017 Beauty and the Beast

cf5fe5b62e26e8efc49fccd8e07beb25_-jiminy-cricket-disney-disney-jiminy-cricket-clipart_236-559Last week we asked… You answered.   The most anticipated thing about upcoming Pandora is The Bioluminescence… Great Pick Helen!!

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

Remember 1991? No probably not… Some of you may not have been born yet 🙂  Beauty and the Beast?    The first animated picture to be nominated for Best Picture at the Acadamy Awards is back.  This time as a ?live-action? hybrid movie.   Again the cast is AMAZING, starring Emma Watson and Luke Evans, with a who’s who in backup roles.   Menken, Ashman, and Rice are back as well in the music department.   This looks to be a blockbuster in the making, not to mention a mashup of nerds everywhere (Hermoine, Obi-Wan, Magneto, Olaf, & P.L Travers)

Rich here:

  1. “Be Our Guest” – There are many things l love about the original. There is something about this Cabaret style number that just makes me smile. From the debonair of Lumiere to the charm of Cogsworth’s little dance, this is complete entertainment.  It has been replayed and recreated again in  Mickey’s Philharmagic.   Not to mention I am a huge Moulin Rouge! fan and cannot wait to hear Ewan Mc Gregor’s version, suggesting to “Try the Grey Stuff 🙂 ” I hope this is just as delicious. 
  2. That the staff has the same spirit that was in the animated movie. Yes, I know there are new characters… GREAT. I am just hoping that all of the Castle Servants retain the charm and character of the animated feature. I am a bit concerned seeing the first trailer and have not seen one since, but I sure am hoping to see something special. 
  3.  That the male leads hold up to the Emma Watson Standard. Let’s face it, Belle Rocks. She is quite the Disney Princess. I am hoping that the men in her life (Gaston& Prince/Beast) can come close to what I am hoping will be another amazing performance by Hermione. I know, I know, the prince had no role in the last movie, and the part he did have, was a letdown. This time I am hoping for more.

Amanda, what say you?

Amanda here:

  1. Emma Watson. Need I say more? Hermione is my favorite Harry Potter character and Emma Watson did an amazing job of bringing her to life. Plus she’s an advocate for women’s rights.  How could I not love her?!? I think she looks magical as Belle in the trailers and I couldn’t have chosen a better Belle.
  2. I love the score from the original Beauty and the Beast and I’m certain that the updated score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice will be just as lovely. I can’t wait to hear new versions of old favorites and I’m hopeful that the new songs will be equally appealing.
  3. One of the most delightful parts of the original film is the household staff. Looking at the cast list, I expect them to steal the show again. How can you go wrong with Emma Thompson – one of my favorite actresses –  as Mrs. Potts? Add Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen as Lumière and Cogsworth and I have high expectations. 

Special Guest Jessica Awotona, How about you?

  1. Emma Watson. I loved her in Harry Potter and I think her casting as Belle was perfect. She’s not only physically like Belle but in real life, she’s a feminist and smart. I think Belle is both of those things as well. I have liked her in the previews that I’ve seen so far and I’m interested to see her singing. Nothing will compare to Paige O’Hara but I want to see how she’s made the character her own. I was eight years old when the animated feature was released in theaters and grew up with Belle as my favorite princess. I loved that she was smart and loved books and even better, she was a brunette!
  2. Experiencing a familiar story in a new way with my daughter. My daughter is four years old and just getting to the age where she’ll sit through an entire movie in the theater. We’ve watched the animated movie a few times and she knows all of the songs by heart so it will be fun to watch the story with fresh eyes.
  3. The magic and the beauty (no pun intended) of the story. The animated movie of Beauty and the Beast was so pretty. The ballroom scene is iconic for its visuals and I am so excited to see what the new movie has in store. Computer animation has come so far in the last 20+ years, they could make anything their imaginations wanted!

Jessica Awotona (@jesscutler) made her first trip to Walt Disney World at the age of 7 and has been a Disney nerd ever since. She even started running to have an excuse to go to Disney even more! She lives in Acworth, GA (a suburb of Atlanta) with her husband, daughter, and three rescue dogs. 

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?