Showing posts with label grown up fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grown up fun. Show all posts

The Edison at Disney Springs

If you've visited Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort in recent years, you have noticed the addition of more great restaurants and stores making this a top destination for visitors to Orlando. The Edison is no exception to the reputation for delicious food and a fun atmosphere.  My visit in October 2018 was a Saturday lunch reservation with one of my good friends who moved to Orlando a few years prior.  The outside presents as an industrial throwback and welcomes guests with a patio and ample outdoor seating.  It's located in The Landing of Disney Springs near some other favorites such as Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' and Morimoto Asia.

Upon entering the restaurant, the industrial theming from the outside continues.  A large clock greets customers while you check in and wait for your table.  We were seated promptly at our reservation time and found the restaurant only partially full on a Saturday afternoon at 1:00.  With the expansion of dining options in Disney Springs, availability for many of them can be found, especially if you can be flexible with days or times. On our way to the table, we walked past several recreations of inventions from the past.  There are also many casual seating options in the restaurant such as oversized chairs and couches.  The vibe inside the restaurant reminds of The Great Gatsby and a throwback to the 1920s. It's a multi-level restaurant as well which adds to the visual interest. I have seen events advertised here featuring jazz music on select evenings - this looks like a fabulous place to enjoy an evening out at Disney Springs!  While you probably wouldn't be bringing the kids out too late, it's worth noting that this does turn into an adult only (over 21) venue after 10PM.

Industry means comfort inside of The Edison
When we were seated at our table, we found ourselves faced with an impossible choice of what to eat.  The lunch menu features a wide variety of favorites including burgers, sandwiches, seafood, and an assortment of soups and salads. I ended up opting for The Edison Burger while my friend decided to give the Fish Tacos a try.  The presentation and taste were both great on the fish tacos.  My friend shared that the Mahi-Mahi was cooked perfectly and the tastes were bold and flavorful.  I'm really glad I chose The Edison Burger too.  After a few days of trying to eat healthy while working, I went all out on my final meal in Disney. The burger was topped with cheddar cheese, crispy onions, bacon, special sauce and french fries on the side - this was close to heaven on a plate!  I regret not giving the Clothesline Candied Bacon a try after seeing this served as an appetizer to the table next to us.  It features an assortment of bacon literally hanging on a cute little table sized clothesline. There's always next time, right?!?

How great does this burger look?
So what were my overall thoughts on The Edison?  I'd definitely recommend it to friends and family looking for good food and a casual, fun environment.  It's certainly a family friendly spot for lunch or dinner.  Guests can expect pricing in line with most non-signature table service restaurants in Disney with main dishes ranging between roughly $15 and $30.  With so many great places to eat in Disney Springs and throughout the Walt Disney World Resort it's truly becoming harder and harder to make decisions when planning your advanced dining reservations.  Featuring a menu that I would describe as classic American fare, this is one place where the whole family will be able to find choices to suit them.  Bon appetite, friends!

Top Tips for Visiting Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival

Chef Remy said "If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff." With that in mind, there is plenty of good stuff to be found at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - an annual hit at the Walt Disney World Resort.  With so much to see and do, it's easy to get overwhelmed at an event of these delicious proportions.  After a recent visit, I've compiled a list of my "top tips" to make the most of your experience tasting around the world.

Visit on a Weekday - Unlike special ticketed events, the festival runs during Epcot's normal operating hours.  Friday nights and weekends tend to be more crowded since these are times locals will  most likely be able to visit.  You can also visit throughout the day and may find midday and early afternoon park times to be less popular.

Buy a Gift Card - It's easy to get carried away with food and beverage purchases as you bounce booth to booth.  Buying a gift card ahead of time with the budget you are comfortable spending will make sure you don't wake up to sticker shock on your room charges in the morning! Epcot has special gift cards on a bracelet that you can purchase on site, but I like buying my gift cards at home before traveling.  You can save 5% buying your gift cards at Target when you use your Red Card.  You know what that means - more money to taste the world!

Hydrate with Free Water - Yes, that's right - something is free in Disney!  You can get free cups of ice water at any quick service dining location.  It's a great way to stay hydrated and save money, both of which are important when you consider the array of drinks available during your international journey.  Cast members at these locations are happy to provide you with the cup of water and often asked me if I would like more than one with each visit.

Make a Plan - Before you begin your culinary cabaret, plan to visit the Festival Center first to get oriented to the festival and the booths.  There is too much to taste it all, so pick out your favorites.  Better yet, the Food & Wine Festival is my favorite time to recommend using a Park Hopper ticket.  Skip planning a meal and hop over to Epcot for lunch or dinner to check several items off of your festival passport, then visit again the next day to try even more!

Have Fun - The spirit of the Food & Wine Festival is to try new things, so dive in with both feet and enjoy!  Visiting with friends and family will allow you to taste even more goodies if you split the items you order.  Whether you are enjoying the flavors of Hawaii, New Zealand, Mexico, or Italy - just to name a few - your taste buds will enjoy their journey around the world just as much as you will!

So that's it, five quick tips to make the most of your visit to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  I hope you have fun planning a delicious visit!  Bon Appetite!

Signature South African Dining at Jiko

Located inside of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge at the Walt Disney World Resort is a restaurant that is home to delicious South African flavors, Jiko - The Cooking Place.  I love trying each of the signature dining experiences within Walt Disney World as each offers a combination of service, atmosphere, food, and drink that is second-to-none.  Jiko has been on my wish list for a while and on our most recent trip we were able to join friends of ours from the Orlando area for a date night out while the kids stayed back at the hotel with grandma and grandpa.

Atmosphere
Jiko is situated on the lower level of Jambo House at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge; directly across from Boma.  The decor could best be described as "elegant casual" in my opinion.  The dining room was a comfortable mix of tables and booths featuring bright colors and beautiful art that is meant to symbolize the natural beauty of Africa.  Our dinner was after dark, but during the day, there are large windows that have a view of one of the savannas.  There is a small bar area near the hostess station where we were able to relax and have a pre-dinner cocktail before being seated.  The restaurant does have a dress code which requests "resort casual" attire.



Food and Drink
We found the menu to feature a lot of variety and delicious flavors.  The dinner service began with bread and we ordered a chicken flatbread appetizer.  During the appetizers, my husband ordered one of the South African wine flights to taste a variety of what the restaurant had to offer.  The pairing was reasonably priced and was smooth and delicious.  For our entrees, everyone sampled something different.  I opted to follow one of our waiter's recommendations and try the Oak-grilled Filet Mignon while Dan went with the Maize-crusted Halibut.  The filet was cooked perfectly, but I have to say that I enjoyed the flavors of the halibut a bit better.  For dessert, we once again took the waiter's recommendation and went with the Malva Pudding.  It was the perfect end to the evening!  Everything was wonderful and we can't wait to go back again!





Overall Impressions
I was really impressed with Jiko.  It definitely ranks above Artist Point in both food and atmosphere in my opinion.  When I compare it to California Grill, I think it's right on par with food, but California Grill does hold an edge with the breathtaking views overlooking Cinderella Castle in Disney's Magic Kingdom.  I would look forward to returning to Jiko in the future and trying more of their diverse and delicious menu!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Tomorrowland

When you enter Magic Kingdom, breeze down Main Street U.S.A., and turn right at the hub, you'll enter a land that is out of this world.  Tomorrowland seeks to take you "to infinity and beyond" with rides and attractions themed around outer space and the future that is yet to be discovered.  Here are my top 5 experiences you don't want to miss when passing through Tomorrowland.

Welcome to Tomorrowland!
5. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club - I think this attraction is an example of what makes a Walt Disney World vacation great.  You take a great Disney movie and add a bit of imagineering magic to create a magical experience the whole family will enjoy.  We all learned in Monsters, Inc. that laughter is more powerful than screams, so here at the Comedy Club you get to see some of your favorite monsters filling their laughter quotas.  The best part - you can be part of the show!  Guests can text jokes prior to the show beginning and monsters will frequently interact with visitors while throughout the show.  You can typically walk up to the theatre and not have to wait more than one show (15 minutes) to get in.

4. Carousel of Progress - Call me sentimental, but I had to put this on here.  This is a classic Walt Disney World attraction that is often overlooked.  In fact, it is so unpopular that back before they did away with paper FastPasses, this would commonly be an attraction that would pop out as a "bonus" ticket.  As you are seated in the theatre, you travel through time to see how life was lived and what we predict the future will bring.  I love these attractions where you get to see how people envisioned life in the 2000s back in the 1980s!  Bonus - you get to sit down and take a break from the Florida heat in this ride that is never crowded!

3. Incredibles Super Dance Party - The Incredibles are the only superheroes Disney can showcase this side of the Mississippi River so it's no surprise these guys (and gals!) and so popular among guests in Florida.  The dance party in Tomorrrowland gives you an informal way to meet up with Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, and Frozone as you whip and nae nae your way to a good time.  The party takes place each night and doesn't require any kind of line or ticket to join!

Even Baby Caleb is trying to get in on the fun!
2. Space Mountain - Here is another classic Magic Kingdom ride.  This indoor roller coaster, which takes place entirely in the dark, has been delighting guests since 1975 and a version of the ride is in every Disney park around the world.  The coaster itself is fairly simple, but it's the darkness and flashing lights that make it so thrilling.  This is definitely a ride to consider a FastPass+ reservation for as waits often build to an hour or better at peak times.

1. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin - I was torn between Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear for my top Tomorrowland pick, but ultimately I went with Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin because it's fun the whole family can enjoy - free of those pesky height requirements!  With little ones, we like to see what all four of us can do together.  The arcade game-like atmosphere of this game entertains everyone in the family from 1 to 100.  Once you depart Star Command, you'll join Buzz Lightyear as he tries to defeat Zurg in the ultimate battle.  Shoot your laser gun to collect points and see who can rack up the highest score in your family!

Tomorrowland is certainly a place where your imagination can soar to new heights!

A Beginner's Guide to Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival

When we decided to plan our first visit to Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival in 2015, I was at a rare loss of Disney knowledge.  This was probably one of the few things that I previously had zero experience with when it comes to Walt Disney World and I found myself scouring the Internet for answers.  In an effort to help those of you that might also be planning your first visit to the Food & Wine Festival, I've assembled some of my biggest "ah-ha" lessons learned.

1.  Be prepared to drop serious money in Epcot - The Food & Wine Festival is held within Epcot's World Showcase and houses over 20 kiosks of food and beverage bliss.  On top of your admission to Epcot, be prepared to pay between $3.50 and roughly $8.50 per taste of food or drink with flights being even more expensive.  Tasting your way around the world won't be cheap, so be prepared if you want to enjoy a wide variety of selections from the festival.  There is some good news though.  If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, most selections at the kiosks can be redeemed through snack credits and since Disney usually offers free dining during the fall months when the festival is going on, this is a great idea.


2.  Minimize dining reservations on festival days - The portion sizes of both food and drink are decent considering the money you pay.  By the time that you taste filling beverages and taste a variety of food, you probably won't be hungry for much of a meal.  Definitely avoid buffet dining which will carry a heavy price tag.  If you want to reserve a table service meal to experience a particular restaurant or secure good viewing for an evening show, make sure it is one that you can order off the menu so you can stick to lighter fare if you're not overly hungry.  You would also be fine to minimize your total overall Disney budget by skipping meals on these days.

3.  Grab a Festival Passport and make a plan - The first stop on the first day your at the festival should be the Festival Center where you can pick up a passport which will have all of the food and drink options listed at each kiosk.  If you go out into the festival chaos without a plan, it would be like trying to plan a road trip without GPS or a map.  With so many options, resign yourself to the fact that you won't be able to do it all (unless you live close by and make trips throughout the festival and have hit the Mega Millions jackpot - in either case, I'd be jealous!).  Pick your priorities to taste first and then you can always sample more if you get the chance.

4.  Buy a Park Hopper ticket - I'm not always a fan of the Park Hopper on my Disney vacations because we tend to be fine picking one park and staying there for a day which saves us money.  However, during the Food & Wine Festival, I think a Park Hopper ticket is a good option.  Spending a whole day at Epcot tasting is exhausting and filling.  The Food & Wine festival is the perfect venue to visit for half of a day and come back to several times during your trip.


5.  Bring your Chase card - Chase is (or at least has been) the official sponsor of the Food & Wine Festival and brings proud fanatics the Disney Rewards Credit Card.  If you have a Chase card, whether it is Disney themed or not, there is a Chase lounge located inside the American Adventure pavilion with free sodas and water, air conditioned seating, and some limited amounts of wrist bands for reserved seating for the Eat to the Beat Concerts and Illuminations viewing.  We visited the Food & Wine Festival twice.  Our Thursday afternoon visit found the Chase lounge to be relaxing and slow paced, but on our Sunday visit to Epcot, we didn't even attempt to enter the Chase lounge as a long line had gathered waiting to get in.  Since crowds vary day to day, this may or may not be a good place to "relax" during the festival, but it's worthwhile to carry your Chase card with you just in case!
Inside the Chase Lounge

6.  This isn't your typical Wine Fest - My husband is a true fan of wine who likes to learn about the wine that he tastes.  If you're like him, be prepared that when you taste at the kiosks, your wine is simply being poured by Disney cast members who really have no knowledge about the wine, grapes, region, winery, etc.  I'll admit - he was disappointed to be tasting some fabulous wines without being able to learn anything about them.  If you are looking for a more "educational" experience, similar to what you get a local or regional wine festivals where people can talk to you about the wine you are tasting, book a seminar.  They typically only run about $15 in cost and several are held each day.  However, they are very popular and almost always sell out well in advance of the festival itself.  Keep track of when the seminar schedule is released on Walt Disney World's website to book early.  And, if you have a Disney Rewards Credit Card from Chase, you get a few days advanced booking before it opens to the general public.

A picture perfect day at Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival
Hopefully, these tips will be helpful to those of you visiting Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival!  I hope to be back sometime again within the next few years and would love hearing some of your favorite tips as well.  Bon appetite! 

Fantasy Comes to Life in the Festival of Fantasy Parade

One of the long standing jokes at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is, "what time is the 3 o'clock parade?"  Well, you'll want to be sure to be lining the sidewalks before 3 o'clock each day to catch the daily showing of the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  I can't believe it has taken me until November 2015 to catch this gem which debuted March 9, 2014, but with midday nap times necessary when traveling with my little guys, it wasn't until our adult getaway for Wine & Dine Half-Marathon Weekend that we had the chance to see what all of the excitement was about.

I had read previously that this may be the best parade that Walt Disney World has ever imagineered and I would have to agree!  Here are 5 things to love about the Festival of Fantasy parade!


1.  Modern Characters Meet Classic Friends - This parade has a little something for everyone!  Young children who haven't had a chance to appreciate all of the classics will delight in seeing Anna and Elsa, Merida, and Rapunzel while also getting acquainted with classic characters.


2.  Imagineering at it's Finest - Walt Disney World is known for being on the cutting edge of creativity, but this parade takes it to the next level.  I mean, c'mon.  . .a fire breathing dragon that is this cool?  Where else would you see something like this besides Disney?


3.  Crowd Interaction - The Disney cast members that walk along the parade route and the characters that join them enjoy getting up close and personal with the crowd.  You feel like you are part of the show and the magic truly comes to life for little ones!  The parade has a street performance feel and flair about it which is both fun and engaging.


4.  The Costumes - You won't find a parade with more colorful and intricate costumes.  Details on some of our favorite characters are spot on while the supporting cast members don beautiful designs as well!


5.  Premier Viewing with FastPass Plus - Guests can use one of their three FastPass Plus allotments to experience the parade from the Flag Pole Viewing Area on Main Street U.S.A.  This means that you don't have to worry about grabbing a great sidewalk spot up to an hour ahead of time.  Instead, enjoy all that Magic Kingdom has to offer and then walk into your reserved viewing spot just minutes before the parade begins - a guaranteed great view!  We didn't use this for the Festival of Fantasy parade, but have experienced this same viewing location with FP+ for the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Check the times guide or your My Disney Experience app for more information regarding this entertaining parade!

Artist Point - Pacific Northwest Cuisine in WDW

Artist Point Menu
There are many things I enjoy about a Walt Disney World vacation, but one of the best parts in my opinion is trying out all of the delicious restaurants on property.  Did you know that more than 125 restaurants can be found across theme parks and resort hotel properties?  With choices ranging from quick service sandwiches to fine dining with some of the best chefs in the nation, there truly is something for everyone.  When my husband and I have the chance for some adult time on our vacation, we always enjoy trying out one of the signature dining locations.  Our most recent trip to Walt Disney World was for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend and we went sans kids.  We visited Artist Point, located inside Disney's Wilderness Lodge, for a late dinner with another couple.  I will give a little disclaimer before starting this review.  We had a very long and unseasonably warm 13 hour day in the parks and had a 9PM dinner reservation.  I think I was more tired than I was hungry which may have impacted some of my overall opinions of the experience.  

The location and decor of the restaurant were comfortable, but not as awe inspiring as some other signature restaurants.  There were large windows overlooking the outdoor area of the hotel while the interior featured soft lighting and beautiful murals depicting life in the Pacific Northwest. It was a pretty restaurant, but didn't compare to California Grill's breathtaking views of Magic Kingdom and the Wishes fireworks show.  

A view across the restuarant
One of several murals throughout the dining area
Our waiter made a few recommendations for the table including the Smoked Portobello Bisque.  The soup was smooth and tasty - it turned out to be my favorite item of the evening!  For my entree, I opted to go with the salmon.  Maybe I was expecting to much of a "wow" dish since we were in a restaurant that should specialize in salmon, but I wasn't overly impressed.  I felt like it lacked seasoning and flavor that could have really enhanced the dish.  In my opinion, the winner of the entree category was the Aged Buffalo Strip Loin that my friend Craig ordered.  When it came time for dessert, I was too tired to keep eating so I passed, but my husband ordered the fruit cobbler and our friends split the fresh donuts.  Both looked tasty!  Throughout the meal, the restaurant staff was able to offer wine pairings that complemented each course - something very important for my husband!

Smoked Portobello Bisque - YUMMY!  A must try!
Cedar Plank Salmon
Overall, I would go back to Artist Point again if I was staying at Wilderness Lodge, but I wouldn't go out of my way to resort hop to make it there.  There are a number of other choices that are just as good or better to check out while in Walt Disney World that are also more convenient to the parks, such as California Grill or The Hollywood Brown Derby.  

What's your favorite signature dining experience in Walt Disney World?

Behind the Magic at the New Amsterdam Theatre

As part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road event in New York City, we were treated to a backstage tour of the New Amsterdam theatre.  Currently, the New Amsterdam Theatre, located on 7th Avenue and 42nd Street, is home to Disney’s Broadway hit, Aladdin.  While the show is relatively new to Broadway, the New Amsterdam theatre has a rich history and Disney has a tradition on Broadway that spans more than two decades.

We learned how they make miniature stages to plan out scenery and character placement.
The theatre itself was built in 1903 in the Art Nouveau style.  I’m not an architect or an artist, but I can say that it’s beautiful.  To give you an idea of the opulence and beauty inside the theater, it cost more than a million dollars to build back at the turn of the 20th century - think about how much that was back then!  Inside the theatre soft, muted colors and natural theming abound.  The theatre is also curvilinear meaning that you will rarely find a straight line inside.  While the theatre's history on Broadway has both its ups and downs, Disney has worked with the City of New York to restore this gem and keep it a treasured landmark of Old Broadway. 

Our tour guide shared lots of details about each Disney on Broadway show.
Enough of the history – let’s get to the fun stuff!  Disney on Broadway offers a Behind the Magic Tour of the theatre to groups of 10 or more.  We were treated to this unique and entertaining tour as part of our day.  The highlight of the tour (for me at least) was visiting the prop room.  Not only did we get the chance to see Broadway props and costumes from hits like Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King, but we also got to try them on and play with them.  Fun fact – the lioness headdress that I’m wearing below costs $7,000! 

The prop room was nothing short of amazing!

A big part of what I love about Disney is they know how to tap into the kid in all of us.  While I haven’t had the chance to see a Disney production on Broadway before, I now have a new appreciation for the work of the Disney team to bring magic to life each and every night.  I hope to be back soon for a night out on the town!

Disney Bounding - Show your #DisneySide!

Disney Bounding is a term that even some of the more experienced Disney travelers don't know.  This is all about fashion and brining a little #DisneySide to your day without looking like you're a cartoon character.

The idea behind Disney Bounding is to dress in outfits that are "inspired" by a Disney character.  One quick search on Pinterest will give you lots of great ideas.  I've started to compile some of my favorites on a Pinterest board to keep an eye out for pieces as I shop.

I made my first attempt at Disney Bounding this past Monday for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road in New York City.  Here I am with Mickey. . .can you tell which character I'm going for??


If you guessed Belle, you'd be correct!  She is one of my favorite Disney princesses and the one I probably relate to the most.  This look is the classic small town Belle.  I have her signature blue dress and paired it a white cardigan.  I also wore black flats (which of course you can't see) to complete a simple Disney Bounding attempt.  The beauty of Disney Bounding is that it's like a little secret among Disney fans.  You wouldn't know that I'm Disney Bounding by the outfit above, unless you knew to look for it.  Periodically working Disney Bounding into your wardrobe is both a fun and fashionable way to share your #DisneySide!  Try it out and enjoy!!

I'm Going On The Road!

The Friday before Memorial Day weekend is generally a reason for celebration.  It signals the start of summer, warmer weather, and the beginning of a holiday weekend to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  The weekend also carries with it cookouts and time with family and friends.  But this year, that particular Friday was sprinkled with a little extra magic.

"Kristi, you just received a pixie dusted email.  What are you going to do know?"

I'm going to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in New York City!


Each year, Disney celebrates bloggers and social media mom influencers with a conference in either Disneyland or Walt Disney World plus a few other one day celebrations known as "On the Road" events.  Invites to each of these are anxiously anticipated and highly coveted!  No one quite knows the magic formula to get invited to one of the conferences as invitees range from novices in the world of social media to some big time bloggers and individuals with thousands of Twitter followers.  This year, by the grace of some Disney magic, I've been invited to attend Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road in New York City.  I couldn't have been more excited to see that little ol' me was invited after just beginning my journey into the world of blogging a little over a year ago.

So what am I hoping to take away from the day?

Disney Surprises! - Everything Disney does is done well!  I can't wait to see the magic and surprises that await us in NYC.  Even though the conference is only 5 hours, I'm sure it will be packed with all of the special Disney touches that only Disney can do.

Learning - I am certainly new to the world of social media and blogging.  While my Twitter, Instagram, and blog following have grown a lot in the past few months, I have a lot to learn to continue my journey in the world of social media!

Meeting Friends - The Disney social media community is so wonderful and supportive.  Between Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook I feel like I've come to know some great ladies (and some Disney Dads too!) who are as passionate about Disney as I am even though we've never met.  Half the fun of yesterday, was celebrating with others invited and planning to say "hi" in the Big Apple!

In the weeks ahead, look for posts as I get ready to attend and then, of course, some follow-up posts on what I learned!  And for those of you on social media, follow the excitement by looking for #DisneySMMC and #Disney OTR on Twitter and Instagram.

Disney for Grown-Ups

When most people think of a vacation at Walt Disney World, the first thoughts that typically come to mind involve the magic and wonder in a young child’s eye.  While those memories with family and children are ones that I will certainly cherish and look forward to continue making for years to come, I’ve also grown quite enchanted by all of the wonderful aspects of Walt Disney World you can enjoy as a “big kid.”  So, whether you are sneaking out for a few hours of mommy and daddy time on your vacation or you plan an amazing grown-up getaway with friends or your significant other, don’t miss out on these tips to make your Disney trip one that you won’t soon forget.

Disney magic isn't just for kids.

   Experience a Disney Signature Restaurant – Disney has some phenomenal dining opportunities that are oftentimes missed by families traveling with young children.  Restaurants like Artist Point, Jiko, and Narcoossee’s feature top chefs, unique entrees, and beautiful settings.  California Grill is another favorite in this category.  Perched on the upper levels of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, California Grill offers fine dining options with a beautiful view overlooking Magic Kingdom.  In fact, if you time your reservation properly, you can even catch one of the best places to watch the nightly Wishes fireworks as they light up the sky above Cinderella’s Castle. 


   Eat, Drink, and See the World – World Showcase that is!  Epcot features wonderful food and beverages from around the world.   The restaurants around World Showcase offer unique and authentic dining experiences for each country.  Some of the restaurants may have dishes that are too adventuresome for the littlest of travelers so this is perfect to explore on an adult getaway.  For my husband and I, no trip to World Showcase is complete without a stop by England’s Rose and Crown Pub for some of the best Bangers and Mash this side of Kensington Palace.  And don’t forget that each country also features authentic beer and wine that you can enjoy as you travel the world.

Dan and I enjoying som adult time at Epcot

   Stay Up Late – Disney Parks after dark can be quite an enjoyable experience.  Smaller crowds and cooler temperatures pair up to create a wonderful evening.  Be sure to take advantage of the nighttime Extra Magic Hours when traveling without kids.  Even though this vacation perk is offered to all Walt Disney World Resort guests, young families aren’t going to be crowding Magic Kingdom at midnight.  Late night hours are the perfect time to enjoy a more leisurely pace and some of your favorite rides.

Riding the carousel at Magic Kingdom after all the kiddies have gone to bed!


   Enjoy Some Down Time – Disney is home to many great amenities hiding on their resort properties that are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of visiting parks.  Take some time to visit the pool or hot tub at your resort, enjoy a spa service at one of the hotels, or take in a round of golf.  When you're not feeling pressured to spend all of your time in the parks entertaining little ones, you may find that the Walt Disney World Resort can be downright relaxing!

Dan loves when I build in relaxation time on our Disney itineraries.
  So the next time someone says that Walt Disney World is just for kids, remember that both the young in age and the young at heart can have a magical vacation at the "happiest place on Earth!"

Romance on the High Seas

When you think of a Disney Cruise Line vacation, a lot of people don't often think of romance.  However, while I love spending quality family time on the cruise, one of my favorite parts of a DCL vacation is having some "adult time" for my husband and I.  In honor of Valentine's Day, here are three quick tips to make your next DCL vacation a bit more romantic.

Tip #1 - Take advantage of the nursery and kids clubs - Kids will LOVE spending time in these bright and colorful areas of the ships where they can play and interact with the amazing Youth Team and some of their favorite characters.  You can enjoy a few guilt-free, child-free hours on board while you know your children are well cared for and having as much fun as you are.  There is a per hour charge for the nursery which is available for children under 3, but the other youth spaces are included in your cruise fare for all children over the age of 3.  The ship has plenty of adult only spaces to explore including pools and nightclubs that are often a lot less crowded then you would expect.

Playing in Andy's Room in the Oceaneer's Club on the Disney Fantasy


Tip #2 - Try out one of the adult only restaurants - Whether it's a brunch or a dinner, be sure to spend at least one meal (or more if you're like us!) at either Remy or Palo.  Palo features delicious Italian cuisine and is available on all four Disney ships while Remy serves French delights and is available on both the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream.  We have had the pleasure of eating at both Remy and Palo on our previous cruises and the food, service, and atmosphere did not disappoint.  Brunches are typically seres on at sea days only while dinner is available each night.  While, these restaurants do require an additional fee, they are a wonderful way to spend some alone time with your significant other.

Enjoying our date night on the Disney Fantasy waiting for dinner at Palo
Tip #3 - Don't forget about Serenity Bay - While on Castaway Cay, Serenity Bay is located on the backside of the island and is the adult only beach.  When we traveled on our last cruise, we spent time on Serenity Bay and were surprised about this hidden gem.  There were hardly any people on this side of island and we enjoyed some quiet time on the beach - along with a few cocktails!  And once again, you don't have to worry about the kids.  Scuttle's Cove is available on Castaway Cay for kids 3 and over to have fun with attractions and games just for them while you sneak in a little romantic time!

A view down the beach of Serenity Bay!
What's you favorite way to get romantic on a Disney Cruise??

Remy Champagne Brunch Review


When Dan and I traveled on the Disney Dream last April for our adult getaway to celebrate my 30th birthday, one of the "splurges" I was pretty insistent in experiencing was the Champagne Brunch at Remy.  Remy is one of two adult-only restaurants on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.  While Palo is known for Northern Italian cuisine, Remy is inspired by the Disney movie Ratatouille and serves primarily French dishes.  The Champagne Brunch was a $50 up charge per person and only included your initial taste of champagne.  For a full champagne pairing, there was an additional $25 charge per person.  I opted for the full experience, while Dan (not being a big champagne fan), worked with the sommelier to create a wine pairing for his brunch menu.

The champagne brunch is only offered on "at sea" days on the cruise ships which means that on our four day cruise there was only one serving of this unique experience.  Upon entering Remy, guests are escorted as a group to the wine room where you are surrounded by beautiful bottles of wine with Disney / Pixar labels - many of which signed by John Lasseter.  In this room, guests are given their first taste of champagne and meet with the chef who explains the menu for the brunch and then the sommelier reviews the champagne pairings for the morning.

Menu from April 2014
Guests then make their way to their tables and the dining extravaganza begins.  I always think that I should take pictures of each course AFTER I have finished my meal.  That is certainly true at a restaurant like Remy.  You are truly dining on a work of art - both from a taste and visual point of view.  I did however, remember to take a picture of the menu.  All I can say about each course is WOW!  I'm not shy when it comes to food, so the unfamiliar menu didn't scare me off at all.  Dan, however, is another story,  He was worried about so many "fancy" and "unusual" dishes on the menu, but he gave them a go and enjoyed them as well.

If you are sailing on the Dream or Fantasy, I would recommend trying Remy at least once.  I think Palo is more universally appealing to all taste palates (and is definitely cheaper), but Remy is something to experience.  Recently, the Disney Parks Blog released information about new dining experiences at Remy that may also interest you on your next Disney Cruise Line vacation!  Bon Appetite!

California Grill

Tonight I'm going to tell you about one of my favorite dinners of all time - on or off Disney property. I'll start by saying that this review is from our trip in April 2011 so it is several years old at this point. Since we visited in 2011, California Grill has also gone through a refurbishment.  As you will quickly see in my review, I loved every minute of our night there and feel confident that you would have just as great of an experience today.

Location - California Grill is located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort.  The Contemporary is located on the monorail just outside of Magic Kingdom.  One of the biggest perks of this location is the viewing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  Each night as Wishes begins, the lights are dimmed, music is piped in to match the show as it would be seen in the park, and the magic begins.  There are windows all around the restaurant providing a spectacular view of the fireworks.

The view of Cinderella's Castle from our table.


Food - This is top-notch, gourmet dining at it's best in Disney World.  We happened to be traveling to Disney with our good friends Craig and Ali who we have shared many delicious meals with over the years.  The four of us went into the evening knowing that we wanted to experience everything the chef had to offer at California Grill.  For this reason, we enjoyed several rounds of cocktails, an appetizer course, a sushi course, a soup and salad course, an entree course, and a dessert - yeah, you're right for thinking it. . .it's A LOT of food.  Everything was wonderfully amazing and we felt like we should be rolled out of the restaurant.  Two of my favorites from the night were the goat cheese ravioli and the California Roll (the first time I ever tried sushi!).  I was excited to see both of these are still on the menu years later.

Overall Experience - A+++
This was the best dinner I ever had at WDW.  We spent over 4 hours in the restaurant and over $500 between the 4 of us - certainly not fast or cheap.  I'm someone who is willing to pay for great food and a great experience and you'll find both here at California Grill.  While kids are welcome in the restaurant, I wouldn't see myself taking little ones until they were about 10 or so and could easily sit through the meal and enjoy the experience too.  If you haven't yet checked out California Grill, make sure to visit on your next trip to Disney!

Senses Spa on DCL

During our most recent cruise on the Disney Dream, Dan and I took the time (and the money!) to pamper ourselves with a visit to Senses Spa.  My mom purchased a massage as my 30th birthday present and we decided to upgrade it to a couples massage for Dan and I to enjoy together.  We booked the massage for 4PM on the embarkation day.  Like other activities and experiences, these can be booked in advance of your cruise or you can take your chances to see what is available once you get on board.  In our minds, this was going to be the perfect way to start a dream vacation.




The spa is beautiful and well-maintained.  When we entered, we were checked in and escorted back to the locker rooms.  Once we were changed into our spa robes, we waited in a comfy room with water and were given a clipboard to fill out medical information that would be relevant for a massage therapist to know.  Our massage began right on time with two great therapists.

The hour was wonderfully relaxing!  We happened to be in the massage rooms as we sailed away from Florida so the view at first was just of the port but opened up to the waterways as we moved away from the coast.  This is hard to enjoy though honestly because your head is usually down and / or eyes closed throughout the massage.  The best part of the massage came at the end when they offered us a deal to come back for another massage.  They reduced the normal rate to $99 per person to return over our 4 days on the ship.  We took advantage of this offer and booked a Cabana Massage on Castaway Cay.  That was an even more amazing experience.  The cabanas are located on the adult-only part of Castaway Cay known as Serenity Bay.  This is a very quiet and serene part of the island.  Once you are situated on the table, they open up the large windows and you can hear all the wonderful sounds of island life surrounding you and feel the gentle, warm breeze.



In addition, we were also celebrating Dan's birthday while on the cruise so I bought him a men's shave package in the spa.  He enjoyed the experience and the price didn't seem as outrageous as some of the other spa services.  The one thing to be warned about with any spa service is that they will try to sell you very expensive spa products at the end of your appointment.  Each of our therapists though were very gracious and offered no pressure when we refused early on and made it clear we didn't want to hear anymore.

Overall, the spa experience on a Disney Cruise is worth it if you have the money to spare.  It's much more expensive then back on dry land, but is a fun way to indulge in relaxation while on vacation.  The spa also offers a Rainforest Room Pass which is a cheap way to check out the spa if you're just curious to see what the experience is like.  For more information on any of the spa services available, check out the Disney Cruise Line website and you can get prices and services offered on each ship.

Why Disney Cruise Line is a Great Vacation for Adults

"One of these things is not like the other. . ."

That's how Dan and I felt on our Disney cruise in April.  When you find yourself surrounded by families in a cruise terminal, you really do start to question if making a cruise reservation for a 4-night date weekend over Easter break was the right decision.  But I'm here to share with you that Disney cruises are not just for kids and families like one might think!  Below are some of our favorite memories from the trip that we got to enjoy as part of the adult only services and activities.

Dining
While we enjoyed a few dinners in the main dining rotations (especially at Animator's Palate), we opted for several special dining experiences.  We loved Palo when we cruised on the Fantasy in June 2013 so we decided to do it on the Dream as well this time around. Palo did not disappoint once again!  In fact, we loved it so much on the first night we went back later in the cruise for another dinner.  This time we also tried the champagne brunch at Remy , the other adult only restaurant.  (Look for a future Remy review post.) It was fabulous!  The brunch is only offered on "at sea" days so we only got to do this once.  I'm already looking forward to our next cruise though to do it again.  Both of these do have an additional fee.

Quiet Cove Pool
The main pools on the Disney cruise ships are packed with families and kids ALL THE TIME.  It was great to retreat to the adult only pool area.  Here you'll find a nice sized pool, a swim up pool bar, two hot tubs, and a large amount of cushioned comfy seating.  When we weren't eating or in port, this is where you would find us!  Disclaimer on this area - you will SEE kids in this area from time to time passing through.  Since the Deck 11 forward staterooms and elevators are right by this, families will walk through to get to the main pool.  The idea that you're on a Disney ship and could never "see" a kid is a fallacy - but they do a nice job of separating out adult only areas.

Serenity Bay @ Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay has been my favorite port on both of my Disney cruises.  I LOVE this island.  And just like they did on the ship, Disney carved out a piece of paradise here just for adults.  This side of the island is practically deserted!  They have their own bar, lunch area, lagoon, and beach.  It's on the backside of the island so it's a good walk / tram ride away, but well worth it.  They also have spa treatments offered over here which we took part in.  A beautiful view during our couples massage!

View of Serenity Bay during our couples massage.


Rainforest Spa
And speaking of spa treatments, the spa on the cruise ship is fabulous as well.  We did a couples massage on the first day we arrived.  While it was expensive, it was a great way to start vacation.  They then offered us discounts on additional spa services during our trip which is when we booked our couples massage on Castaway Cay.  We decided to indulge since these kinds of "extras" are ones that will most likely be forgone on future kid oriented cruises.


While all of these great adult features of DCL are available whether you sail as a couple or with kids (just as long as you drop them in the kids club first!), don't overlook Disney as a great adult only vacation option when you're looking for first class dining, service, and fun!