Winging it at WDW

We’re lucky enough to live close to WDW and go very often. There are times that we will put some forethought into what we are going to do on any given day. Usually if we have a large group of us, we’ll at least loosely plan our time out. Usually. Sometimes we just wing it. Just show up to the park and live at the mercy of the crowds.

View from the People Mover

We’ll eat at a quick service if it’s not empty or even table service if we can get a last minute reservation on the My Disney Experience (MDE) app. No line at Hall of Presidents? Sounds good to me. Let’s walk around the Circus Big Top store, it’s so cool how they make the treats right in front of you! No stress – no pressure.

Spaceship Earth

Sure, if you are coming down for just a few days, you are probably not going to wander around aimlessly. If you have little ones, they will not enjoy the window shopping as much as you. Every trip is different but I hope that you have time to just do nothing and enjoy the atmosphere.

Tower of Terror

I feel like I planned and planned and planned even more when my children were young to the point where I didn’t always enjoy it as much as I could have. I just had a timetable to keep to and places to be and fast passes to make. Still when we have guests, we have to plan more, make reservations and check out park hours. I’m ok with that as long as it goes back to the new normal of taking my time.

PD

Epcot’s Germany – Biergarten

Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany

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Welcome to Oktoberfest in Germany! The music is loud and crowd is moving and the beer is on tap and free flowing! The seating is communal, with most tables sitting 8 people. There could be children dancing and running around and cheers ringing out from table to table. This is a fun place! The interior is a small village in the midst of a celebration and you are invited to join in!

Oh and the food? It’s fantastic! It’s not spicy and is more in the comfort food variety. Their macaroni and cheese is heart stoppingly wonderful. Like what Mom would have cooked if she lived on a farm. The soups change regularly but the split pea and creamy chicken are fantastic. There is a meat carving station with roast pork and German meatloaf. The spatzle and roasted potatoes are great with the roasted chicken and pork schnitzel.

The salad area is full of familiar goodies like potato salad and cucumber salad. The pretzel rolls are outstanding! Maybe even as good as the macaroni and cheese, maybe.

The deserts are surprisingly light and of course yummy. The cheesecake triangles are so good but don’t miss out on the apple strudel with vanilla sauce.

You will not walk away hungry and you may pick up some new friends along the way!

We have always been able to make reservations for the same day.

PD

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My Positively Disney Day – Gina

My Positively Disney Day

My day starts like so many others – get up and go to work. I do work at a cool place so that’s nice. I work in HR at Orlando Sanford Airport. The fun comes when I walk out of my office and into the airport itself. I love watching people greeting loved ones and getting excited to visit Mickey! Not that health insurance isn’t fun but going on top of the parking deck and watching planes take off is pretty exciting.

Gina at Work

Around lunch time, I remembered that Rick Springfield was going to be performing at Epcot that night.  I did not want to miss that! I love the Eat to the Beat concerts. By about 3pm, me and some girls from work were getting excited for the night and a little hopped up on caffeine via Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. I won’t lie, we were looking forward to the German Pavilion and some caramel yumminess too.

We ran out of work at 5pm sharp, traveling together to avoid adding to the traffic on I4. We met up with Kim & Steve, my sister and our favorite security guard at WDW. I have to say that. They had saved our favorite seats outside at the American Pavilion. It’s a great spot for people watching and if you are not into the crowds, you can enjoy all the shows from that spot. They had gone early and spent the day in Epcot. Without me. While I was working. No big deal, I hope they enjoyed themselves while I was working.

Kim & Steve - American Pavilion

Rick, as his close friends refer to him, had already performed one show and was in the middle of another. We were able to jam out while eating and spent quality time with Kim & Steve. We went to Germany when the set was done and met the popcorn of my dreams. It was still warm. Good heavens!

Rick Springfield at Epcot

Lisa Judi Gina and our new friend in Germany

By the time we made it back into America, the show was starting. Kim & Steve had nabbed some great center seats. My friends and I were able to stand up in the back and it was actually a nice spot. It was a great time! It was Rick Springfield’s 66th birthday and he put on a fantastic show!

Illuminations

After enjoying Illuminations in Morocco, we went our separate ways. I was lucky that Joe was working at the Grand Floridian that night so I caught a ride home with him. I did get home late and I still had to get up early for work the next day but it was totally worth it! Looking forward to the next show!

Grand Floridian

One of my favorite things about the move down to Florida is that you still have a normal life with work and responsibilities but the fun times get to include Disney! Sure, they don’t have to but it’s a great perk!

Quick Service Part 3 – Pizza Planet, Ghiaradelli’s and Everything POP Dining

Toy Story’s Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios

When you step into Pizza Planet, you are walking into the first Toy Story movie. There are video games, Randy Newman songs, Green Aliens and of course the smell of pizza everywhere. This is a nice place to relax and enjoy a meal. There is plenty of seating on two floors and can be quite busy at peak times.

The menu is limited; personal sized pizzas with a few varied toppings served with a small Caesar salad, antipasto and meatball sub – children’s menu also includes a mini chicken sub. They also offer a few different seasonal cupcakes. They do have gluten free pizza and cookies.

Stop in to feel like part of the Toy Story gang!

Haight AshBerry strawberry, vanilla and blueberry sundae on a table in front of Ghirardelli mural

(Picture from Disneyworld.disney.go.com)

Ghiaradelli’s Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop – located in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney)

Shopping can be exhausting! With so many wonderful options, you can’t help but pick up a little something for every person on your list. Take a load off your feet and treat yourself to a perfect frozen confection!

Ghiaradelli’s has every decadent chocolate that you can imagine! Then you can get started on the ice cream. The options are limitless, from sundaes to shakes to smoothies. They have something to appease every appetite. Who says you can’t have a Treasure Island Warm Brownie Sundae for lunch? I’m not judging! Just return the favor when I indulge in a Sea Salt Caramel Banana Quake Shake for dinner.

They have light options also. I thought I should add that.

Everything POP Shopping and Dining – located at Pop Century Resort

POP Century is a delightfully themed value priced resort. There are different decades represented throughout the main building which houses the front desk, food court and shopping area and buildings along with the pools. The 50’s building with Lady and the Tramp accents have a bowling pin pool that has always been my favorite.

Every POP is the food court that has been recently renovated. From the beautiful flooring to the new artwork, this is a wonderful place for a meal before or after your jaunts into the parks.

For breakfast, you can grab a pastry or sandwich freshly made. Platters are available with any combination of eggs, meats and potatoes. Mickey waffles are always a favorite and especially topped with fruit! If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, we sometimes use a snack credit for a muffin for breakfast.

Lunch and dinner has the normal fare of pizza, macaroni & cheese and chicken nuggets. There are different sandwiches and build your own salads as well as a huge selection of specialty burgers.  Pasta is always a favorite here for our family. There are also some veggie options that are quite yummy.

Deserts are varied and wonderful! From cookies to ice cream, you can’t go wrong. The Tie-Dye cheesecake is probably the best known and is fantastic!

There are toasters and microwaves available. I can’t tell you now many times we’ve brought Pop Tarts for the kids. Microwave popcorn goes great for the movies in the evenings.

Dinner at Garden Grill is the Perfect Thanksgiving Spot!

 

picture from Tripadvisor.com
 
Located inside the Land at EPCOT, Garden Grill is the only rotating restaurant in Disney! Yes, the restaurant rotates! The scenery changes all around you, as you enjoy a delicious meal. One minute you could be looking at murals on the wall(hint: hidden Mickey) and next thing you know is you are experiencing parts of the Living with the Land attraction. It was definitely an awesome new experience to try. 

 

Nice display as you walk up to your table
 
 
This is how the main dish looks, except the serving size is mich bigger. Pic: My Disney Experience
 
The food was delicious. The meal is served family style but it is not your typical servings of chicken, potatoes and salad. At the Garden Grill you start off with a fresh salad, like really fresh because they grow the salad ingredients like right downstairs. You also get some bread and honey butter before the main course. Once you have had you fill of appetizers the main course begins its way out. They bring out two large plates. One plate has a bowl of macaroni and cheese, which is super cheesy and good, and sweet potatoe fries. The largest of the plates has many different meal options for you to mix and match. First there is a delicious serving of turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Next there is a fish of the day (talapia the day I was there) with a jasmine rice and tangy dressing. Lastly there was a large serving of mashed potatoes and beef, which tasted amazing! It was a nice change from your typical family style food. Also, if you run out of something (we needed a couple servings of macaroni and cheese) they bring you as much as you like!

great character meal

Forgot to mention that this is also a character meal where you can meet Farmer Mickey and his pals Pluto, Chip and Dale. They were super interactive and came to our table more than once.

So, if you are planning a trip for Thanksgiving down to Disney give Garden Grill a shot. I think your families would enjoy it!!

Enjoy!!!

PD

Best Friends Pet Care


Planning a Disney vacation is difficult. You spend hours, even days figuring out what you will be doing each day. After all of the plans are in place you stand up to feed the cat and take the dog out for a walk. Now the thought pops in your head: what are we going to do with our pets? Luckily there is a place right on Disney property that can answer that question for you.
You can feel confident that they are in great hands, if it’s for a day or week!

Best Friends Pet Care provides your beloved four legged family member with their own vacation. Your pet is boarded in roomy cages but this is only to sleep. During the day counsellors spend a lot of time with every animal.

Rest assured that your pet will enjoy it’s stay!

PD

Kill Refurb Marry: 2015 Food & Wine Sips and Snacks (Mouse on the Mind)

I’ve been to the 20th Food & Wine Festival about 5 times so far and I’m still sampling my way through it all but this is the list so far.

Kill: America – New England Lobster Roll

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I am from New England and had lived there my whole life before last year and I can tell you that this is not something that a New Englander would make. The roll was great, warm and toasted with butter. The only ingredients in a lobster roll should be: lobster, mayo and maybe shredded lettuce and celery if you are fancy. There should never be diced red pepper anywhere near that dish. Huge disappointment. I’m going to kill this dish because it’s so simple that’s it’s a challenge to mess it up.

Refurb: China – Beijing roasted duck in steamed bun with hoisin sauce

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I feel like the idea is great but it’s dated and needs a change. The taste was pretty good, maybe a little greasy and the bun was just devoid of any flavor. I agree that China should have a duck dish but it’s time to take it up a notch.

Marry: Brazil – Escondidinho de carne

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This is like Brazilian shepherd’s pie. The bottom layer is a mildly spicy sausage and pepper blend and the yucca is like a dense potato with a thick bubbly layer of cheese to top it all off. It’s like comfort food meets pizzazz! The portion that is given is enough for a meal. You just can’t go wrong with this. Perfect!

Honorable Mention: Cheese Studio – Cheese and Wine Pallet

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OMG, it’s cheese and wine and it’s wonderful! Not overly large portions, of course, but enough to figure out what you like. I actually liked a wine made in Harvard, MA, who knew?

I can’t wait to go back for seconds!!!

The Rose & Crown – Epcot’s United Kingdom

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The Rose & Crown

We decided to go to Epcot for the day on Saturday and made a last minute reservation on MDE. With just two people that is never a problem even the day of.

Being a warm day, we chose to eat inside but I have eaten outside with the quick service menu. The restaurant feels like Old English, at least to my New England eyes. There are plates and pictures of Royals throughout. The staff are also imported and simply delightful! We had a young man named David who loves the Disney Life and would love to some day relocate permanently. (He did say that since there are 3 Davids there from Liverpool, to refer to him as the handsome one.)

I went with the Fish and Chips and they have become my new favorite. They are as good as anything in NE. Sorry but even as good as Ye’ Olde English in Woonsocket, RI. You can taste the beer in the batter and the fries are thick and crispy. The portion is generous and you will be full after eating this!

My husband had the Shepherd’s Pie. He devoured every last bite! The lamb was savory and flavorful and the potatoes creamy and delicious. He didn’t speak much so I took that as a huge deal because he doesn’t usually stop speaking! He did manage to finish my Fish and Chips also. He had a beer that was suggested by David and found it was a perfect compliment to the meal.

What I really liked was that you didn’t get that rushed feeling that sometimes happens at the nicer restaurants. This was an enjoyable meal with great atmosphere and a new friend.

PD

My Day Alone in WDW

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My Husband had to work (@Grand Floridian) a short daytime shift on a Saturday. It was only 6 hours so I figured I’d go in with him, spend some time in WDW and meet up with him afterwards. Well I had a blast! What a fun day exploring by myself, at my own speed, doing what I wanted to do. No compromising for me!

I had Joe drop me off at Hollywood Studios. I saw it as a sign to visit the Muppets first because I saw the billboard for the new show in the parking lot. FYI – I loved the new show!!

I started at Muppet Vision 3D and found the key under the mat. Love that pun. I also saw A Net Full of Jello, get it, Annette Funicello! I love the updated movie in the holding area that mentions Constantine from the last Muppet Movie (with Tina Fey). Statler and Waldorf make me giggle – they can’t escape – they are nailed to their seats!

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I crossed over the Streets of America to check on the progress of the lighting for the Osbourne Family Lights. I can’t believe how fast that many lights can go up! I window shopped at Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop from the television show Once Upon A Time. I love seeing the glass slippers and Sorcerer’s Hat! All Magic Comes At A Price!

A quick walk through a very busy Pixar section and I was at One Man’s Dream. For me, this is always a must so I’m pretty sad to see it go. I’m good with change and I’m sure I will love what comes next for Hollywood Studios. It was sad that Walt’s office is gone but nice to say good bye.

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When I left the exhibit, I heard music so I knew that I had to get moving to see Mulch, Sweat and Sheers! I didn’t want to miss a chance since they are ending their fantastic 11 year run on October 11th. They are always a fun time. I could watch the interaction with the audience forever! They Rock! I will miss them, they’ve been such a staple in the park.

I decided to stop at Starbucks, get a refresher and head out.

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I next walked to the Boardwalk. I love the feel of this resort. It’s turn of the (last) century charm and kitsch gets me every time. Yes the clown pool scares the heck out of me up I walk really fast by it. I did a quick walk through pit stop but didn’t explore as much as I normally do.

It’s a great walk with wonderful views. You can see The Yacht Club with it’s lighthouse and the Beach Club with it’s pirate ship across the water. I stopped in at the Bakery but was only window shopping. I wanted to visit Germany (you’ll see why later)!

I entered Epcot through the International Gateway. I love this entrance because it’s never busy. I thought I’d so something crazy and take a left and head into France. I usually take a right into United Kingdom. I went to see Impressions de France. I really enjoy that movie. The music and imagery are stunning. I then kept going on my trek around the world. I stopped briefly to listen to the Voices of Liberty. I missed most of their set unfortunately.

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I was giddy as I stopped in Germany. If you haven’t tried their freshly made and warm Werther’s Popcorn, you haven’t lived! I buy the prepackaged to ship up to my daughter in law, Kristen but have to get a fresh bag for myself. I don’t share.

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My next spot was to visit my favorite guy – Figment! I went to Future World and with a brief stop at Club Cool for some non-Beverly refreshments. I love the pineapple and melon Fantas mixed together! Journey into Imagination with Figment is such a happy ride, it makes me smile and sing each time. I know some people miss the earlier versions. I have seen them on You Tube. I’m just happy with any Figment I can get!

figment

I went to the Land to Sunshine Seasons and had quick meal of a premade sandwich and a yummy cupcake. I relaxed from all my walking and people watched a bit. The stand-by line for Soaring was 75 minutes. I decided to visit Spaceship Earth to thank the Phoenicians! Since I was all about learning at this point, I head over to Ellen’s Energy Adventure. I know it’s dated but I love the ride/show. It’s also a great place to cool down or escape the rain.

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I had FP+ for Illuminations and Joe was almost done with the work day, so I got in line and started getting excited! He had never seen the entire show due to our placement around the World Showcase. It was a perfect ending to both his day working for the Mouse and my adventure alone!

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