Trip Canceled? Reschedule!

We all have things that interfere with our lives. From job concerns and workloads to family events and issues, or even financial surprises that cause us to put everything else aside in order to deal with those issues. Well my friends that sums up my lack of blog post recently, and I’m going to break from the “Planning A Disney Vacation” series to talk about issues that get in the way from you taking your well deserved vacation time.

(Photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/Nuthawut Somsuk)

Back in April about a week before I co-hosted an online event with my Sandals Resorts business development manager I suffered a work related injury at my other job that pays my bills (my job as a travel agent earns the money I use to continue my destination training). I had tore the meniscus on both sides on my knee, and with the use of a brace I was able to continue working till I could be seen by a specialist. I would use time in the morning before reporting to work to write my blog posts. With a couple exceptions I was managing a routine that got my posts out twice a week. After getting approved for surgery that I had on July 21st, I’ve been at home recovering. The problem is that at home my routine is gone except for the ugliness of my body waking me up at 5am.

One of my first blogs of The Everyday Traveler I wrote about setting and taking your vacation time. The picture I included in that post was of my personal calendar and the vacation week I had requested. Life got in the way, and I have had to reschedule the plans I had made for that week. Notice I said reschedule and not cancel. Yes I’m out of work for my recovery and nothing would have necessarily prevented me from going forward with my plans, hindsight is a wonderful thing but not being able to predict the future is my reality. My surgery wasn’t the only issue, I was also in the process of refinancing and due to another problem the closing has been delayed. So I had financial constraints that also played a part in rescheduling my vacation.

I made the decision to reschedule prior to my surgery so that I could give plenty of notice to my employer thus allowing my to schedule a new week off and also give the opportunity for a co-worker to take my original requested time. Unlike my trip to California last year, this years trip was just going to be up in New Hampshire, Vermont & Maine. A couple days here and there to go bike riding and hiking around the White Mountain’s. Deciding to reschedule as far in advance as I did allowed me to cancel the reservations I had with the various hotels I had reserved without penalty.

The issues I faced this summer were certainly not life changing, but they did pose problems from me being able to take my planned vacation, It happens! I’m not letting those problems stop me from taking time off, I just was able to be flexible in canceling my original plans and rescheduling them now for mid October. The vacation will still involve going to Northern New England with slightly less moving around because of Leaf Peeping Season. For me this works out a little better in avoiding the summer heat and much nicer scenery with the leaves changing color.

The lesson today, don’t let life get in your way! Figure out a way to be flexible and reschedule that time off. Understandably employers may not be as flexible as you’d want them to be with changing vacation dates, so maybe it has to be long weekends for this years with the possibility of taking an earlier vacation or even a longer vacation next year. Or if you can’t travel, plan a staycation. Another shameless plug for travel agents, an agent can work with you to take the hassle out of rescheduling a vacation. Be it rescheduling hotels, flights, and rental cars to filing a claim with the travel insurance provider to get your money back, we are here to do the dirty work for you.

Thank you for sticking with me as I try to get back to a writing routine. If you liked this post, please hit the like button and share with your friends.

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3.8

Thank you for continuing to follow my journey around Walt Disney World and its table service dining venues. We’ve moved to our last theme park Disney’s Hollywood Studios where I should be able to get through all of its locations in todays post.

My Daughter with the Little Einsteins at Hollywood & Vine

I didn’t leave Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the last because it’s the best for table service dining, that honor goes to Epcot. I’m not really sure why I discussed Epcot before the Studios but here we are. There are currently five table service locations in the Studios with a new sixth venue set to open sometime soon in 2022. Also since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has opened there are now more attractions than restaurants within the park. I’m being facetious of course.

Moving clockwise around the park we start Hollywood & Vine. This Character meal location was one of my kids favorites back in the day as it typically had the stars from the Disney Jr. shows. My girls particularly enjoyed the Little Einsteins show, now the venue features Doc McStuffins and Fancy Nancy. The interior is reminiscent of the 40’s & 50’s era dinner. Hollywood & Vine is expected to go back to buffet dining by late August of this year and is currently serving plated family style meals consisting of pastries & your choice of Open-faced Salmon on Toasted Bagels, French Toast, Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs, Cheese Omelet, or Plant based Egg Frittata. Breakfast here will run you $42 plus tax per adult and $27.00 plus tax for the kiddos. Dinner is $55 & $36 plus tax respectively. Dinner menu includes salad, and choice of entrées like Garlic & Black Pepper Beef Tenderloin, Mac & Cheese with Shrimp, Spice-rubbed Pork Loin, Fresh Seared Salmon, and Asparagus and Summer Truffle Risotto. Dinners are also served family style, so best to mix it up with the adults in your group to get a better variety.

Immediately next door is 50’s Prime Time Café, and my best pick for this park. I had long been a hold out for eating here as I had heard the servers will force you eat your vegetables or yell at you for putting your elbows on the table. This was all before I understood the humor of it all. Now it’s one of my don’t miss places to eat. For those of us older folks, the interior will remind you of your grandmothers house, eating a meal on the laminated kitchen table, complete with the fridge and Black-and-White TV. The food here will remind you of eating at Grandma’s too! Pot Roast, Fried Chicken, Meat Loaf all cooked to perfection and brining you back to your youth, except that you can enjoy an adult beverage with your meal or try the PB&J milkshake (it’s really good). And while its tough with such delicious food and having to eat all your veggies, but if you do manage to save room for dessert there are more choices than just being able to flip a coin for, so I recommend sharing. There’s Dad’s Favorite Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layered Cake, Traditional Warm Apple Crisp, Lemon Meringue Pie, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, and a Grasshopper Bar. See what I mean!

Continuing past Echo Lake and Star Tours you’ll find another 50’s style venue the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Just outside the entrance to the restaurant you’ll see what looks like a 50’s convertible coupe. That my friends is your table setting once you get inside. Almost like how roller coasters have the test car to see if you fit, well it’s not a bad idea to try this out to assure your comfort before going in, as this is the exact seating. A party of six adults will be in three rows facing forward. Why you ask? Again, it’s in the name. All the “cars” once inside are set facing a giant Drive-In screen playing Black-and-White clips from the 50’s favorites. Lunch or Dinner, the menu is the same and it’s all A la Carte. I’ll usually go with either the Fried Pickles or Spinach and Artichoke Dip for my starter. Plenty of burger choices, chicken salad sandwich, and pasta options to choose from. Milkshakes to wash it down with, and a traditional Hot Fudge Sundae for dessert, along with a few other tempting choices. It tends to be a bit noisy in here and having to turn around or shout to the people sitting in the first row from the third. It’s also dark, but then you should expect that being a Drive-In setting.

Hiding in the back corner of Muppet Square you’ll eventually find Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. With the open rafter ceiling and string lights the appearance is a little outdoorsy, and a very casual atmosphere. It’s prices are typical for a Disney dining venue and the food is “good”. I would suggest either the Crispy Calamari or the Caesar Salad for you appetizer, and any of the Mama’s Italian Pastas. You can get it plain or with Shrimp or Chicken. My second pick would be the Oven-baked Chicken Alla Parmigiana. Runner up is the Charred Strip Steak. For dessert I’m a Tiramisú lover, but there are also other Italian favorites like Mini Cannolis, Cheesecakes & Tarts, or just a simple box of Mama’s Cookie’s to go.

Although not open yet, Roundup Rodeo BBQ would be next going clockwise. Soon to open in you guessed it, Toy Story Land, it will be located to the right entering the land from Hollywood Blvd. It’s said it will serve barbecue, and I have no clue as to how people figured that out! Kidding of course.

Which brings us to the last venue within Disney’s Hollywood Studios The Hollywood Brown Derby. Themed and designed to look just like the original restaurant on Vine St. in Hollywood, CA it features the famous caricatures on the walls. And you can’t visit the Brown Derby without getting its signature Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake! This is a Signature dining location with the prices to match the exclusivity, but the meals are worth every penny! You can get Escargot, Shrimp Cocktail, Sea Scallops, or Roasted Tomato Cream Soup with Lump Crab for appetizers. The Cobb Salad entree that you can add either Shrimp or Chicken to, Braised Short Ribs, Filet Mignon, or Shrimp and Scallops Newburg. Some of the desserts include Baked Alaska, Chocolate-Coconut Cake, and one of my favorites Crème Brûlée!

Honestly I didn’t think that I would go into such detail about the dining venues especially where I only glossed over the Resorts, it just kinda happened. The positive take is that we might be at installment 43 instead of only 11. I promise #12 will get back to the generalities of Disney Vacation Planning and what you should do next. Please remember to like and share my blog and feel free to ask any questions in the comment section or reach out to me personally where we can talk about your next Disney Vacation.

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3.7

Sorry for the delay in my blog posts, life got in the way. That said, I know I can get through the last 3 table service locations in Epcot in this post! And I want to thank you for joining me on this journey “around the world”. After concluding Epcot it’s on to Hollywood Studios for the last of our table service dining series.

Maple Crème Brûlée, Le Cellier

As you continue around World Showcase from the UK Pavilion, there’s an alleyway of sorts that brings you to the World ShowPlace pavilion. This area is now used mainly as group space for special functions, but during the Food and Wine Festival its used for additional food and beverage offerings typically around a theme. In this area they will also have a DJ and dance area for the kids, at other times of the day food or themed seminars are presented. The theming when I was there in August of 2020 was Fall Flavors. There were a lot of apple based food items and beverages.

Just beyond the alleyway is the Canada Pavilion. In here you will find the signature dining restaurant Le Cellier Steakhouse. This tucked away location has a very dark interior and low lighting. The food is good, but pricey. After the air conditioning has cooled you down from a humid Florida day, having a bowl of the Cheddar Cheese Soup may actually be possible and recommended. Of course being at a steakhouse you won’t want to miss out on the filet mignon! It’s never easy when the food is amazing, but try to save room for dessert because the Maple Crème Brûlée is to die for!

Finally out of World Showcase and back in the old Future World to The Land Pavilion now known as the World Nature Neighborhood. Inside and down one level from the main entrance is a restaurant that gives you a continuously changing view. The Garden Grill is a restaurant in the round that takes about an hour to make one rotation. This is another family style all-you-care-to-enjoy with Chip & Dale as your hosts, and Minnie, Mickey, and Pluto stopping by your table for pictures and autographs. For your meal they’ll bring out portions of turkey breast with stuffing, grilled beef, chimichurri, ribs, mashed potatoes. Also served are salads and vegetables grown right in the greenhouses within The Land Pavilion. As an honorable mention and while not a table service location, it is worth a visit to the Sunshine Seasons located across from both of the ride attractions on the first floor. This food court layout offers the best variety for a family of picky eaters.

And our last table service restaurant in Epcot, also in the World Nature neighborhood in the Seas Pavilion is the Coral Reef Restaurant. If you guessed they serve seafood here, you’d be correct! You just don’t get to look in the aquarium first to pick the fish or lobster you want. One whole wall of the restaurant is the 5.7 million-gallon salt water aquarium with over 4000 creatures from over 60 species, and sometimes you get to see some divers who like to interact with the diners of the restaurant. You can start off with some Shrimp Cocktail or New England Clam Chowder, then move on to Seared Mahi Mahi, Orange-Glazed Salmon, or Shrimp and Grits. For the land lover there is Cajun Chicken Pasta, Slow-roasted Prime Rib, or Grilled Vegetable Skewer with Impossible Kefta. When the Disney Dining Plan was offered, this was a great value, paying cash it’s $24-$36 per entree.

There you have it and after missing a week posting I finally made it through the table service locations of Epcot. As I mentioned we will now move on to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the next edition of Planning A Disney Vacation. Please remember to Like and Share, also to leave me a comment about which of the restaurants we’ve covered so far that you’d be looking forward to trying.

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3.6

BREAKING NEWS: Since my last post, Disney has just announce the return dates of characters to some of the venues I covered in previous posts. Winnie the Pooh and Friends will be returning to The Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom on September 20, 2022. Lilo and Stitch will return to ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort for breakfast starting September 27, 2022. And Minnie Mouse and Friends will return to Cape May Café at Disney’s Beach Club Resort for breakfast starting October 4, 2022.

Amy & Sarah with Donald at Chef Mickey’s (January, 2009)

Hello my friends, I should have realized that talking about Disney & Food was going to go so long, but this is why I chose to tackle such an important topic. Not to mention that planning a Disney vacation is not just as simple as getting flights, hotel & tickets. On todays post we continue working our way around Epcot starting in Morocco.

Sadly Restaurant Marrakesh has not reopened since the pandemic and with rumors of the Morocco Pavilion being refurbished in the future I can only hope that it is brought back. Besides offering authentic Moroccan cuisine, it also featured belly dancers that would bring guests young & old up to dance with them. The second venue located across the promenade on the banks of World Showcase lagoon is Spice Road Table. Unfortunately Spice Road Table has more of a lounge feel than a restaurant though there is a dining room for table service dining. But the menu selection is focused more as appetizers. The items offered are served with a Mediterranean flare. Some of the must try’s include the House-made Hummus Fries and the Spice Road Table Sampler with Lamb Kafka, Spiced Chicken, and Tiropitakia.

Next up in World Showcase is the France Pavilion. For some of the best crêpes outside of France you’ll want to stop in at La Crêperie de Paris. While the menu selection can be ordered Al la Carte, they do offer a Prix Fixe Menu for $34.95 ($14.00 for kids) that is the better deal. With the Prix Fixe Menu you get Soup or Salad, your choice of 1 of 6 different Galette (Buckwheat Crêpes), beverage (including Hard Cider), and your choice of 1 of 5 different dessert Crêpes. They do also have a walk-up window for the dessert Crêpes if you want to dine elsewhere. Speaking of elsewhere, next up is Chefs De France a wonderful Bistro featuring a limited menu of fine German cuisine. Just seeing if you’re paying attention 😉 I’ve eaten here quite a few times and really never have been disappointed. It’s always tough, but you have to leave room for dessert especially the Crème Brûlée. Chefs De France also offers a fixed price meal giving you an appetizer, entree, dessert, with your choice of wine or non-alcoholic beverage. Last and currently not open is Monsieur Paul (Formerly Bistro de Paris). This signature dining location is the place to go for an elegant-yet-relaxed French dining experience where you can enjoy the sophisticated offerings paired with amazing French wines.

At the United Kingdom Pavilion on the promenade overlooking World Showcase lagoon is the Rose & Crown Dining Room. This very popular spot is a great place to grab a pint at the pub or enjoy some Bangers and Mash in the dining room. Some of my don’t miss items include the Scotch Egg (Deep fried hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage with mustard sauce), Shepard’s Pie or the Fish and Chips (Which you can also get outside at a quick service window). If you have room for dessert there are only two offerings the Sticky Toffee Pudding & the English Trifle, I say get one of each to share with the table.

We are down to the last three table service locations and I’ll talk about them on the next installment. Until then, thank you for reading and please like and share my Blog page with your friends and family. Also as a reminder if you would like to try out any of the restaurants I’ve mentioned for a yet to be planned Disney Vacation, please reach out to me (call, text, email) as I’d love to help you plan an amazing trip and it all starts with a no cost, no obligation quote. Visit our website for more information.

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3.5

I hope all of my United States readers had a safe & great 4th of July weekend. Part 3.4 left off in Epcot at the China Pavilion, today we start with Germany and a wonderful buffet.

Via Napoli Ristorante E Pizzeria ovens, phot credit: Disney Parks

The Biergarten Restaurant in the Germany Pavilion offers a great meal and hourly entertainment. As far as buffets in Disney goes, its reasonably priced at $46 plus tax for adults, $25 plus tax for kids. With Seasonal salads, Traditional German Sausages and meats, Rotisserie Chicken, and you can’t forget the Sauerkraut. They also offer an assortment of German beers to wash it all down with. While it can be a little loud with the oompah band playing, it’s still a fun place to eat. The included desserts are good, but I would still go next door to Karamell-Küche and pick up a fresh bag of Caramel Popcorn!

We now move to Italy with two table service locations. The original restaurant here is Tutto Italia Ristorante. The last time I ate here it went under the name of Ristorante Alfredo, and of course I had the Alfredo. Seeing that I normally visit in late August when you are dealing with 90 degree temps and matching humidity eating a heavy meal like that isn’t really the best combination. But I will say it was beyond delicious. Sadly the reviews lately have not supported what was once a great meal. Based on that instead of going through the menu, I’ll just suggest you go next door to Via Napoli Ristorante E Pizzeria for the best in-park pizza. Here I really enjoyed the Calamari Fritti, and if it wasn’t for all the wonderful pizzas the Cesarean salad with Chicken made for a meal in itself. You can’t go wrong with any of the wood fired pizzas.

Sadly the America Pavilion is only represented by a counter service location the Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue. The Barbecue is delicious and on the way to Japan, stop at the Funnel Cake building for dessert. I prefer just the plain funnel cake with powdered sugar, but the one with the fruit & ice cream is hard to pass up.

Which bring us to our last stop for todays post the Japan Pavilion. Japan boasts 3 table service location although one of them has not currently reopened yet. It’s fine dining location Takuni-Tei has remained closed since the Pandemic park closures and featured authentic Japanese dining. It was not an inexpensive location to eat at with some main courses that were over $100 each. For a little more family friendly prices there is Tokyo Dining. This is the place to go for some of the freshest Sushi and Tempura dishes. I love a fresh Sushi Roll and I have a hard time passing up a stop here on any of my trips. The last place to eat in Japan and another location that I’ve been to many times is Teppan Edo. You are on vacation, you are in Epcot, you got a great reservation time of 8pm, and you get your meal Habbaci style cooked right in front of you – its a win win win win situation in my book! A great location for families with the “show” and food is consistently good. From the onion volcano to trying to catch the zucchini in your mouth, you can’t go wrong with a reservation at Teppan Edo. Oh, and the 8pm reservation gets you out in time to step outside on the 2nd floor deck to watch the fireworks.

We are getting into the home stretch with the Epcot dining locations, hopefully I can finish this up in two more installments. Please remember to like and share this with your friends and family. In the comments let me know which Epcot restaurants you’ve been to and which ones are your “must dos”. Till next time, Thank you for reading!

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3.4

There are two ways I can look at writing about the table service options at Epcot, excited talking about some of the best meals on property or with dread that there are so many. I’m pretty sure I can keep this on the positive side. There are 19 table service locations (3 of which are still currently closed at the time of this post) and each one offers something unique and different. For me it’s like being able to eat around the world in just one park.

Walking past the Italy Pavilion in Epcots World Showcase (2020)

If you are not as familiar with Epcot, it used to be divided into two sections Future World & World Showcase. World Showcase is still there and is where you can eat (or drink as some like to do) around the world. Future World is currently undergoing a transition to “neighborhoods” by taking its original area of the park and dividing it into 3 new neighborhoods, consisting of: World Nature, World Celebration, and World Discovery. Because of the pandemic, the project has been taking much longer than Disney officials and guests would have hoped, but I’m sure once completed will simply look amazing. And let’s face it, anything will look better than construction walls.

As you enter the park and going clockwise the first and newest table service location is Space 220 Restaurant. This fixed price menu restaurant is going to offer you one of the most unique views that only just over 600 human beings have seen in person, Space! How does Disney do it? Disney Magic of course, and a lot of help from your imagination. You start by taking an elevator 220 miles up to a space station where you will sit in a tiered dining area with “windows” giving you the most spectacular view of earth. While the early reports of the food have been great I have to warn you that the price of $79 plus tax per adult over 10 ($29 plus tax for kids) I feel you are paying more for the “show” than the meal.

Continuing, our next stop is the Mexico Pavilion with two table service offerings and both serving delicious Mexican food & beverages. Out on the World Showcase promenade is La Hacienda De San Angel. This beautiful restaurant sits on the edge of World Showcase Lagoon so if you can snag a coveted reservation around 8pm you will be treated to the Harmonious show after dinner. You really can’t go wrong with any of the offerings here, though I’m partial to either Osso Buco a la Mexicana (Braised Short Ribs with whipped Boniato) or the Alambre de Res (Seared Tenderloin). Although it’s never easy, save room for dessert with the family sharing Chocolate “Fiesta” Pyramid, just as the name suggests its a Chocolate Pyramid filled with Mexican Chocolate Mousse served with ice cream.

Across the promenade in the Mexico Pavilion itself is the San Angel Inn Restaurante. Inside the pavilion is a bit dark and can be very loud with all the park guests, but the setting of the restaurant is towards the back of the pavilion where the Grand Fiesta Tour departs and you overlook the boats as they go by. My picks for here include the Tacos de Ribeye or the Enchiladas de Pollo (Tortillas filled with Chipotle Chicken). For dessert you have to try the Sweet Corn Ice Cream! Oh and I almost forgot the both San Angel Inn and La Hacienda have some of the best Tequila beverages on property.

Moving on and not currently open as of this posting in the Norway Pavilion is Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. This Disney Princess character dining location serves as Scandinavian style buffet with an assortment for everyone especially the kids.

Next up in the China Pavilion is Nine Dragons Restaurant. I hate to admit, this is only restaurant in Epcot that I have yet to try and I love Asian cuisine. TouringPlans.com readers give this location an 82% approval rating but ranked 75th out of 97 at Walt Disney World. From the TouringPlans.com review: “Stick to the appetizers and put the chili oil on everything. It’s made in-house and should be sold as a souvenir.” Looking at the menu I would probably try the Spicy Mala Happy Family (Beef, Chicken, Shrimp & Vegetables) or the Kowloon Spare Ribs, washing it down with the South Sea Breeze (Coconut Rum, Grenadine, Pineapple & Orange Juice).

I knew I was’t going to be able to get through all of Epcot in one post, and I’m already a day late in getting this out. With that said part 3.5 will start in Germany. Please remember to Like and share my blog post to your friends and family.

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3.3

In my last post we finished up with the table service restaurants of the Magic Kingdom and today I’m going to talk about the locations in Animal Kingdom. Seeing as that there are only 3, todays post will be a little shorter and keep the parts specific to a particular park.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Tree Of Life

Mixing things up a bit I want to start with a counter service location that because of the limited table service choices rivals them for best meals in the park and that is Flame Tree Barbecue. From the beautiful tropical surroundings of the seating area to some of the best BBQ favorites like smoked chicken, ribs and pulled pork. One of my favorites is the mac & cheese with pulled pork – delicious! For the adults, try the Mandarin orange vodka lemonade.

Tusker House located in the Africa section features as you would guess African inspired meals in addition to some Indian items as well. This restaurant is a character dining location with Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy. The food is great and much like the offerings at Animal Kingdom Lodge, they are flavorful without being overly spicy. You’ll find mainstay items like roasted pork, beef, and chicken. But try the seafood stew & spiced tofu.

Hiding behind Pizzafari on Discovery Island is Tiffins. For starters I would go with the charred octopus or the corn and sweet potato soup. Some of the entrees here include whole-fried sustainable fish, surf and turf, butter chicken and one of my favorites the Tamarind- braised short ribs. The surf and turf is a close second with South African Braai-spiced beef tenderloin & seared scallops. if you happen to arrive early to your dinning reservation spot next door to the Nomad Lounge for a tasty cold adult beverage.

The last table service option in Animal Kingdom is Yak & Yeti. This restaurant is located in the Asia section of the park and offers as you might imagine Asian cuisine. Don’t let the name fool you, Yak & Yeti is actually ranked as the fourth highest rated restaurant in Walt Disney World according to Touringplans.com surveys. What should you try, well I would start with either the Pork Pot Stickers or the Firecracker Shrimp. If you want to keep your entrée light go for one of the Chop Chop salads with either chicken or shrimp. The Malaysian Seafood Curry was amazing as was the Korean Beef. Every item, though I haven’t had the chance to try, looks delicious! For dessert I’d recommend the Fried Wantons or the Mango Pie.

One other note about Yak & Yeti is that they also have a counter service window if you were not able to get reservations for inside and the food is just as good. I’m going to keep this post short today so that in my next post we’ll cover Hollywood Studios. Broken record time, please remember to like and share my blog with your friends and comment below on some of your favorites.

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3.2

In my previous post I covered a bunch of the resort dining locations. Today we are going to move into the parks themselves and no better park to start with but the Magic Kingdom. There are 7 table service locations and many more quick service and snack locations to choose from.

The Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom. Photo credit: AllEars.net

The most iconic dining location in the Magic Kingdom is Cinderella’s Royal Table, located in Cinderella’s Castle. Sadly that’s all that it’s got going for it. It’s a very expensive meal because of the location and demand, but not for its quality of food or selection. I’ve eaten here 4 or 5 times and it was much better early on, my most recent experience was interrupted by one of my kids melting down to where in my respect of others we had to leave. The castmembers were very nice and understanding and even told us to try and visit another time during our trip and they would get us a table. Please understand that that reservations sell out within a few days of them becoming available and getting a walk up is near impossible. Calmer children on our second attempt and a much better time was had. My feeling is that it’s a try it once for yourself and make the call if you eat there again.

Two other locations that I’ve tried and are part of my once and done list are Tony’s Town Square Restaurant & The Plaza Restaurant. Tony’s theming is based around Lady and The Tramp serves mainly Italian, but unfortunately Tony’s doesn’t rate well with guests. The Plaza has some tasty sandwiches, and being one of the original dining locations in the Magic Kingdom it doesn’t have much seating. Again they were okay, but not somewhere that I will go out of my way to eat at. Liberty Tree Tavern in liberty Square is a place I enjoy and somewhere that I will revisit every few years. It’s a all you care to eat location with Thanksgiving fixing with the addition of pot roast and carved beef. The biggest problem for me is that I usually go in August and to have a big filling meal like that when it’s still in the upper 80’s at night will do me in!

A two newer restaurant locations are the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd Skipper Canteen and Be Our Guest Restaurant. Skipper Canteen offers a variety of menu items featuring meals inspired by African, Asian, and Latin flavors. You can’t go wrong with any of their signature cocktails and desserts. Be Our Guest is popular with the kids as being the “smaller” castle to eat with decor right out of the movie Beauty And The Beast. It’s not easy to get reservations here, but if you do snag one, the dining format is a pre-fixed menu for one rather hefty price tag – $62 plus tax for lunch or dinner! Unfortunately signature cocktails are not included in the price.

The last sit down location is my personal favorite The Crystal Palace. This buffet dining is all you care to enjoy with Victorian theming. Hopefully soon Whinny the Pooh, Tigger & Piglet will return, but for now it remains a non-character location. Guest satisfaction here has dropped without the characters being available and I tend to agree. For me it’s the atmosphere and the food. With a fixed price of $39 plus tax for the variety of the buffet including refillable non-alcoholic beverages I tend to get my moneys worth eating here.

On the next blog we’ll head over to Animal Kingdom. As always please like and share my blog with your friends on social media and also comment with some of your favorite park dining locations!

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3.1

I was going to title this 3.5, but honestly with the number of dining locations at Walt Disney World I’m not sure how many parts I’m going to need to make this. We left off starting to mention some of the resort dining locations and with over 157 places to get food and 57 table service locations in just the resort hotels, I’m not going to mention them all.

The Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop

Highlighting some of the fan favorites I had already mentioned Bomas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House), there is also Jiko – The Cooking Place. Please keep in mind that neither Bomas or Jikos have what some might worry to be spicy food, but more that the meals served are flavorful African inspired choices. Another flavorful meal next door at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kadani Village is Sanaa. The must try appetizer is the Indian-style Bread Service. I’ve been to all three of these restaurants and again not spicy but very flavorful meals that are worth a try.

While the value resorts don’t have table service dining they do have food courts with several meal choices. Your standard fare will be Hamburgers, Chicken & Pizza, you will also find options for those wanting Vegan or Gluten Free. Which brings me to the point that all Disney dining locations take guests allergies very seriously and will go out of their way to make sure you get a safe and tasty meal.

On my last trip to Walt Disney World I stayed at Disney’s Riviera Resort, I unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to eat at its highly touted Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera. Looking at the menu I would have gone with either the Tomahawk veal chops or the Lobster fettuccine. Another hidden gem is at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Even though the Cuban Sandwiches are currently off the menu, you can still get the Shrimp Fritters and the Slow-cooked Prime Rib or the Southernmost Buttermilk Chicken.

Just a quick monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has a couple of places that I love to visit. First is going for breakfast at Kona Café and you must try the Tonga Toast. For dinner just around the corner is ‘Ohana. This family style meal is all you care to enjoy with fried pork dumplings, honey-glazed chicken wings, teriyaki beef, roasted chicken & peel-and-eat shrimp. ‘Ohana also serves breakfast. One note from reviews online is that the service here is very quick to the point of feeling rushed, but it still gets high marks for the food quality.

I can’t leave the resort dining locations without mentioning two fan favorites. Both have a western theme, and one I’ll say is the dinner with a show and the other is a show with dinner. Have I confused you yet? Do you know which ones I’m talking about? At Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the Whispering Canyon Cafe off to the left of the magnificent lobby. Another family style all you care to enjoy meal with all the fixings. Four skillet offerings are available and if you happen to go with a family of four or with friends, each one should get a different skillet and everyone share. In addition to the all you can eat are the bottomless milkshakes! (You may have to ask if these are still available as I was not able to see them listed on the menu). While you are asking for things, ask your server for some ketchup and a large glass of water!

A short stroll along a wooded pathway or a quick boat ride to The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort in Pioneer Hall is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review (reopening June 23, 2022). Up until Walt Disney World closed in 2020, this was the longest running show and families have come back year after year to see it. Now reopening after being dark for over two years, they are promising it will be the same knee slapping foot stomping show. This is another all you care to enjoy meal with BBQ Ribs, Fried Chicken, corn, and cornbread. Save room for the Strawberry Shortcake dessert!

In my next post I’ll cover some of the park dining locations, but I need to leave you with this great resort dessert location at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and that is Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. They do offer some great burgers and sandwiches, but most people come here for the ice cream. If you really want to go all out, get the Kitchen Sink. Just as the name implies it has everything and is even served in a sink shaped bowl! For $35 it does serve four so get your spoons ready and put this on your list of places to try.

Please let me know some of your favorite Disney Resort dining locations and also like and share this post with your friends. I have to go and get something to eat now!

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Planning A Disney Vacation, Part 3

Who doesn’t enjoy a good meal? Some of the best dining options in the world are located within 43 square miles just southwest of Orlando, FL. Yes I’m talking about the Walt Disney World Resort. Just how good is the dining? Well it’s home to the only AAA 5-Diamond Restaurants in the Orlando area! I realize that not everyone is looking for a AAA 5-Diamond while on vacation and neither am I, but there are over 200 places to get food! With that many locations I would hope that there will be something for everyone to satisfy their hunger.

Mickey Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookie at Walt Disney World

For most Disney regulars there are two locations on property that they would tell people to go for some of the best dining: Epcot & Disney Springs (formally Downtown Disney). Disney Springs has restaurants for every palate and budget. It also has restaurants owned by some world famous chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Art Smith, Masaharu Morimoto, and José Andrés. And while maybe not world famous Walt Disney World does have their own chefs that could give any Food Channel chef a run for their money.

Just like not needing to eat at a 5-Diamond location or a place with a well known chef there are some great place for grabbing something on the go. Let’s start with the 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck on the West Side of Disney Springs. Maybe pizza is your speed, how about an artisanal pizza cooked to perfection in 180 seconds! No lie, they do that at Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza (and they are delicious!). One of my other go to’s is Earl of Sandwich, try the Full Montagu or the Holiday Turkey. I would often stop here on my way to the airport and pick up sandwiches for my flight home.

Maybe something themed for the kids, no problem! Disney Springs has either The Rainforest Cafe or T-REX. What about desserts? They got you covered with places like Salt & Straw, Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop, The Ganachery, and Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew just to name a few. There is Splitsville Dining Room where you can work off dinner by bowling a frame or two, or maybe watch some Irish Step dancing at Raglan Road Irish Pub.

All the great locations to make your mouth water and I haven’t even mentioned any place outside of Disney Springs yet. So let’s move to the Resort Hotel locations. That’s right, some of the greatest venues are located in the lobby of your hotel. The Crown Jewels are Victoria & Albert (the 5-Diamond award winner) located in Disney’s Grand Floridian. Across Seven Seas Lagoon on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is one of my favorites California Grill. Great sushi, over 1600 bottles of wine, and the best views of the fireworks over Magic Kingdom and they’ll even pipe in the music.

You’ll also figure out that I have a lot of favorites and next up over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is Boma – Flavors of Africa. In my opinion the best buffet on property. Visiting Bomas right after it opened, our server gave the best suggestion to start with the soups with just a small portion of each then do the same with the salads, finally moving to the main dishes. The hard part is only taking a sample portion because everything looks so good but force yourself so you can get a taste of everything. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert, two words: Zebra Domes!

My intention with this blog is to be a quick read with pertinent information for my readers. That being said, I’m going to continue this part on the next edition. Please remember to like and share this with your friends and let me know some of your favorite meals at Disney.

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