Here is a first look at a Shanghai Disneyland Commercial! What do you think?
You’re probably wondering what I mean by a blind review. Well, here’s the thing. They don’t let adult women hang out in Lilo’s Playhouse. Unless they are staff, of course.
We’ve used an in-room sitter for the last 2 years and she is fantastic. She takes fantastic care of the kids in the hotel and since one of our kids is under three, she’s the best option too. But we’ve heard great things about the various kids clubs around the World, and now that we have a couple of kids old enough to attend, we decided we’d like to try one out while the baby chilled with us in a stroller (read: fell asleep).
My husband and I checked out Simba’s Cubhouse at Animal Kingdom Lodge and we weren’t in love. I’m sure it’s lots of fun, but we decided we’d skip it. Somewhere early in our vacation a stranger told us that Lilo’s Playhouse at the Polynesian was trying something new. You’ve probably heard of the famous Disney Cruise Line Kids Clubs (I know we have—as soon as our little guy turns three you’ll find us on our first cruise).
Those Kids Clubs were the model for Lilo’s Playhouse—they serve dinner, have programming and activities including a luau with a visit from some of the characters.
We decided to give it a shot and made a reservation. We dropped our little bundles of joy off at 4:30. The rate was $55 flat for 4:30pm to 12am, and it includes two snacks and a full dinner. We got a DVC discount too, which was excellent. We knew we’d be collecting the kids around 8 or 9 pm, but it’d be a better deal if they could stay later.
The place looked like the set of a Disney Junior show. There were castle backdrops, a pirate ship, and we couldn’t see any of the kids, although they informed us they were in the middle of a science class. The place is like a colorful cartoon Fort Knox. The kids were chomping at the bit—I filled out about 4 forms per child and then they were finally banded and allowed in. I won’t reveal all the security measures here, but suffice it to say I was sure they’d be released only to my husband or I.
So here is where the blind part comes in. The account I got was in rambling three-year-old language but involved a luau and Chip and Dale and a lot of excited gibberish. At 9:30 or 10pm they pop a movie on (in this case, Monsters University). Our kids wanted to go back the next night. We wanted them to as well.
Any parent looking for a night out or two on their vacation should give this a serious thought. The kids have to be 3 years old and able to use the restroom independently. The staff, facilities, concept are all awesome. I suggest a crazy tip that keeps it affordable: get shorter length tickets for the kids. Get longer tickets for the ‘rents.
Choose resort days on evening extra magic hours days for the family. Put the kids in the Playhouse at the end of the day and go to the parks with the grownups! Everybody wins.
Your sleepy, delighted little people won’t miss you at all, I promise. It’s remarkable how easily parents are replaced by chipmunks.
Emily Honsa Hicks
Shoot Emily Honsa Hicks any questions about her experience at @firstcomeswdw or visit her blog at firstcomeswdw.com!
By Rebecca Toon
Asking whether or not you should go to Disney World during New Year’s is a bit like asking whether or not you should have a child – even if you decide it’s a great idea, you’re likely to have second thoughts when it reaches 12.
The truth of the matter is, what may be the trip of a lifetime for some, could easily be a total nightmare for others. In the end, only you can decide what’s right for you.
For the past 17 years, 11 resorts, 42 visits (and a Partridge in a Pear Tree) I have adamantly believed that nothing, and I mean nothing, would convince me that going to Disney World during New Years was a good idea.
And then Disney announced the closing of the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. And then Disney announced a dinner party IN the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights – but only January 1-3.
And just like that, Disney made a liar out of me.
Having just been to Disney in November (and October) (and August), I promised Jon I’d plan this trip on a tight budget. I didn’t tell him that our Tables in Wonderland card was blacked out, or that we’d be paying 100% mark-up on our chosen “value” resort, Pop Century. I also didn’t tell him the dinner party tickets were $100 each. After all, we were on a budget!
Following a bit of research, we decided to drive to Florida. Well, perhaps that’s not entirely true. We “decided” to drive in the same way the Genie “decided” to grant three wishes to Aladdin– we had no choice. Seriously y’all, for that kind of money, I better be waking up in an actual Stave Church, English Pub, or Aztec Pyramid.
So, armed with Monster energy drinks, monster ballads of the 80’s, and a monster-sized appetite for bad gas station food, we left Connecticut around 1am on the 30th. A mere 20 hours later, we found ourselves crossing under the familiar welcome arch.
In an effort to keep costs down, we had originally planned on staying an hour or so outside of the parks on Wednesday night. We quickly realized every hotel in the area had raised their prices, so after a Hail Mary call to Pop Century (and a fair amount of pixie dust), we secured a room for Wednesday night. They even arranged for us to stay in the same room the entire visit. We checked in, headed straight for the food court (read: bar) and then called it a night.
Coming up in Part II – New Year’s Eve in Disney!
Rebecca is still “sleeping it off” in Connecticut with a Costco-sized bottle of aspirin, her better half, and two miniature adults that insist on calling her mom. She has vowed to never eat gas station food again.
If you’d like to follow her adventures, or sing monster ballad karaoke, you can find her on:
By Chris Malek
As of this blog post, there is less than 2 weeks until Christmas. I mention this not only as a “public service message”, but also find it fitting for a little reflection upon what really is important and what to be truly Thankful for. Please excuse any perceived sappiness from the following list as every intention is, in fact, as heartfelt and sincere as possible…
1. I am Thankful for the continued support from my wife and children. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to share each day with my crew. My wife has tolerated me for over 16 years, and I thank my lucky stars that she hasn’t wised up just yet. My 3 kids don’t really have a choice but to put up with me, but I am Thankful that they are tolerant of their 40 year old father (who often acts 12 and then 60…usually within minutes of each other) and his goofy antics.
2. I am Thankful to have ALL my extended and immediate family within 30 minutes distance of my house. Much like everyone else, we lead incredibly busy lives. It is not possible to be able to connect with everyone as often as I would like (or we used to), but just to know that we are only minutes apart is often just as comforting.
3. I am Thankful that everyone in my family is in relatively good health. My father has been battling one of the most difficult forms of cancer to manage, but true to what I would expect of him, he is not only holding his own but thriving against what would’ve broken a lesser person. My mother is a 25 year cancer survivor as well. (I’d like to think that it’s a family trait to not give up in overwhelming situations, but it also might be that we are just stubborn!)
4. I am Thankful to be able to truthfully say that I enjoy my job. I enjoy the interactions with my staff and customers. Working in customer service can be extremely challenging, and everyday brings something new to the table. Without my staff and the challenge of “getting it right” on a daily basis, frankly I would have a job like everyone else. I have always told my staff, that the moment I no longer enjoy my job is the moment I begin to look for a new one. I am proud to say that after 15+ years, the challenge has not diminished.
5. I am Thankful for the continued support of my friends. This includes not only my friends in Illinois, but to my relatively new friends all across the country. (Thank you to my other ResortLoop.com blog peers and other members of the Disney community)
6. I am Thankful to have the courage to meet the new challenges that lay before me and my family. Adversity can appear quickly and come from unexpected sources. To have the courage to meet and address each challenge is undoubtedly inherited from my parents. To that, I am Thankful.
7. Speaking of challenges and courage…I am Thankful (or will be once a few are under my belt) to have found a couple of like-minded Disney fanatics (shout-out to Peter Pontecorvo and Laura Thiesfeld) and to be able to convince each other to step out of our comfort zones are begin working on a new Disney-based podcast. The first episodes should be out shortly. (More details to come!!)
8. Lastly but not least, I am Thankful for Tim and Bob in allowing me a platform to communicate with all the great Looper listeners. I first started listening to Tim and Bob on episode 6 and have loyally listened to every episode since. Tim and Bob spend an extraordinary amount of time making the show sound professional…but the listener interactions are what makes the show great!!
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!
By Michael Black
As we begin to wrap up another run of EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival, I felt compelled to share some of my feelings about the event. Each year that goes by I become a little more jaded about the festival. I don’t know if I attribute this to the fact that my patience in general is a little lacking from previous years or if it truly is taking a turn for the worse. I would like to take a minute to describe the top 5 reasons I believe to be the cause of my frustration and also explain why none of these reasons matter at all in the grand scheme of things.
If you are heading out to EPCOT Thursday thru Sunday during the Food and Wine Festival you might as well forget about having a carefree stroll around World Showcase. It is a test of endurance just to get through one pavilion, let alone enjoy yourself through the 11 pavilions that World Showcase provides.
Why it doesn’t matter
To complain about crowds at Walt Disney World is ridiculous. There will always be crowds and that is just something that everyone understands. At this time EPCOT really doesn’t have a whole lot to offer and The International Food and Wine Festival breathes new life into the park. I hear people talk about how much they are looking forward to the event, how much fun they had, and I see the evidence of this on social media when I visit the park. The fact that the crowds frustrate me is not important as long as other park guests have no problem with it. Disney can find a way to grab more cash to further any future projects that may be underway. A win/win really. If I don’t like the heat then I just need to stay out of the kitchen.
#2 There are Booths EVERYWHERE
Every year I believe Disney finds a new spot for Food and Wine Booths. This year they took over a space that in previous years was a nice play area for children to relocate the country of “Cheese” and decided to use The Odyssey as a tribute to Craft Beer to name just a few. I feel that these booths take away from the overall feel of World Showcase and ruin a little bit of the “show”, not to mention the fact that it adds to my #1 point in allowing less space for the larger crowds to maneuver.
Why it doesn’t matter
People love these booths! They plunk down tons of cash on a gift card that goes on their wrist so that they can easily spend their money at the next booth. The lines are crazy long at each booth. The lines that I have seen look to need wait times attached to them. Adding more booths is just a matter of adding capacity to shorten all of the other lines. Disney would not add booths without doing everything that they could to ensure that they matched the pavilion in which they were housed and that the impact that they would have on the overall experience would be minimal. Everyone else is ok with the booths, so we will move on.
It would not take long for someone to blow through $50 at these booths and still be hungry. If grocery stores or restaurants outside of Disney were to charge these prices for this small of a portion people would go crazy. Not to mention that we are talking about food in paper cups and trays that you have to eat standing up in the Florida heat. These are not 5-star dining conditions. I once paid almost $6 for a piece of lasagna that took 2 bites to eat.
Why it doesn’t matter
Guest are not paying for the food, they are paying for variety. When you sit down at a restaurant or even order at your favorite drive-thru the menus have been carefully selected to provide value to the customer but also profit for the restauranteur. When you limit the amount of items it is very easy to keep costs down by needing less ingredients, etc. The amount of options that are available for guests to try at the International Food and Wine Festival cause the prices to need to be a bit higher. Not to mention it is a bit more labor intensive to serve smaller portions to a larger amount of people. The biggest reason goes hand in hand with #1 and #2, people will pay it and are excited to do so on a large scale. Disney could more than likely charge even more and guests would pay.
#4 Larger Number of Intoxicated Guests
This past weekend we went to Food and Wine to enjoy the evening and take in the Eat to the Beat concert. As we were struggling to make our way through World Showcase to get to the American Experience Pavilion which is home to the American Garden Theater my 12 year old was run over by an overly intoxicated guest. This man plowed right into my son and as my son stayed upright this man basically bear hugged him so that he (the guest) would not fall over. My 12 year old became the stability for this grown man. This upset my son to the point of tears and angered me and my wife as parents. EPCOT is always a place where there is a large amount of drinking but during The Food and WINE festival it is exponentially worse. You can just smell the alcohol in the air as you walk around.
Why it doesn’t matter
Walt Disney World is thought of as a place that is for children. There is not even alcohol allowed at Magic Kingdom Park except in one restaurant. For this reason adults get a chip on their shoulder and want to know where they can go to have fun and by have fun I guess they mean to drink themselves silly. They are on vacation right? EPCOT has become that place because of the amount of alcohol available there and the fact that EPCOT is not the most kid friendly park so the adults don’t have to feel as guilty partying it up there. Name an event “Food and WINE” and you give guests yet another reason to live it up and not worry about the consequences. I would assume that these guests believe that my family has no business being at EPCOT during the festival and anything that happens would be a result of bad parenting on my part to expose them to that environment. For this reason my frustration doesn’t matter.
EPCOT is not the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd park that I hear mentioned as a Walt Disney World park that parents are excited to take their children. On more than one occasion I have heard parents say that they were skipping EPCOT altogether. I normally would argue with this because I think that there is plenty for children to do at EPCOT, but anyone who attends the International Food and Wine Festival would quickly realize all of their initial fears of the park. This reason is a combination of the previous four and makes the park extremely kid-unfriendly. Large crowds working their way through more confined spaces while intoxicated doesn’t really scream kid-friendly.
Why it doesn’t matter
Kids have so much more at Walt Disney World that is for them. Parents of young children have nothing to complain about because the amount of kid-friendly at Walt Disney World is through the roof. If you have young children you should know better than to even think about going to EPCOT during the International Food and Wine Festival. If you are planning a trip and would like to expose your children to the culture and educational aspects of World Showcase, there are many other times of the year to schedule your trip. Locals such as us really have no argument because we can just stay away until after the festival is over. Let everyone else have their fun. Look at the bright side, maybe there will be less crowds in other parks with that many people waiting in line for their Food and Wine.
There you have it, my 5 reasons why EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival is frustrating and why it doesn’t matter. Many guests may feel the same way I do, but an overwhelming majority of guests do not. For that reason I will deal with the frustrations. If I decide that it is something that I would like to experience and I will, and stay away if not. I am glad that so many people enjoy the festival but the only thing I can say that I enjoy are the concerts. This event is one of the most popular events at Walt Disney World and I am sure that it will continue to be. My opinion of Food and Wine may change as my children grow older and my frame of reference changes. I certainly hope so, because I would love to see what everyone else seems to see.
By Tamara Speidel
Our family recently made a trip to Disney Springs and it was amazing! So many great shops and restaurants . . . we could have spent days just exploring Disney Springs. However, because we made the mistake decision of having our daughter pick where we ate for lunch, this post will focus on a slightly less glamorous, less new establishment, The T-Rex Café. (Don’t get me wrong. We <spoiler alert> actually really enjoyed her pick. I just felt some serious Disney Blogger shame at missing out on the more recently opened places like Jock Lindsey’s, Morimoto Asia, or The Boathouse.)
It probably comes as no surprise to hear that the T-Rex Café has a prehistoric theme. You are immersed into a world of wooly mammoths, dinosaurs, behemoth sea creatures and meteor showers. The theming was fun and the cast members encouraged guests to get up and walk around the restaurant to see all of the various sections. – a tropical forest, a colorful ice cave, or under the sea. We were seated in the sea life section and enjoyed the large jellyfish lights as well as the GIANT octopus that hangs over the bar. Be warned though. A meteor shower occurs every 15 minutes and the dinosaurs in the other sections get very agitated by those meteors. They come alive with every shower, roaring and moving about. The theme alone makes this a “must do” for any dinosaur lover. However, it can be loud and over-stimulating. Definitely NOT the place for a quiet meal!
Usually, if I go to a restaurant with an over-the-top theme, I don’t have high expectations for the food. I must say that I was very surprised by the taste and variety of the food offered at T-Rex.
The Mega Meso-Bones was a full rack of pork ribs, served with a side of waffle fries (it also comes with coleslaw, but we asked for extra fries instead). The ribs were meaty, juicy and tender. The meat fell right off the bone and according to our server, Anthony, the ribs are slow-cooked all day long. The sauce was sweet and maybe a tad bit too salty but we would definitely order these again! My hunch is that the waffle fries came out of a big bag from the freezer. They were just okay . . . I have definitely had better.
We also tried the Layers of the Earth Lasagna. This was a HUGE portion of food!!! It was definitely filling . . . it would probably be best as a dinner entrée rather than lunch. The sauce was creamy and the ingredients were cooked perfectly – nice and moist, excellent texture, a very hearty meal. Again, this is something we would order if we return to T-Rex.
Our final entrée was the Bronto Burger. This burger was quite good! The meat was juicy and better quality than your typical hamburger patty. The combination of pepper jack cheese, guacamole and onion ring really hit the mark! Guess what??? We would order this again too!
Even though we were stuffed, we decided to persevere in the name of research and indulge in a bit of dessert. So, of course we ordered the Chocolate Extinction. This dessert serves at least 4 . . . it is GIANORMOUS!!! The combination of caramel, chocolate and ice cream was perfection! My only complaint is that the whipped cream on top of the ice cream tasted distinctly like frozen Cool Whip. The presentation of this enormous treat certainly adds to the appeal. It is served on a large platter containing a martini shaker with dry ice that billows steam down and around the ice cream and layered cake. (While you can get the martini shaker as a souvenir with certain drinks, it is not a souvenir included in this dessert. Please do not ask me how I found that out. It is embarrassing.)
To be honest, I am glad that we tried this place out. The food was good and the atmosphere was entertaining. The service was decent, with friendly and attentive staff. However, if I had to peg a specific demographic that would most enjoy this restaurant it would unequivocally be 8-year-old boys. And, this is a demographic you will not find in my family. (Before you start getting snarky with me about that gender-biased remark, please note that the girls at our table thoroughly enjoyed the theme too!) The atmosphere was fun, but LOUD. Enduring 4 meteor showers in one hour seemed a bit much . . . While I do not regret eating here, I am looking forward to trying out some of the other dining establishments next time we are in Disney Springs.
By Monica Pinto
TAKING A BITE OUT OF DISNEY:
(Coronado Springs Resort)
I hope you all enjoyed the recipe for the beef marinade from ‘Ohana – yummy! I’ll bet it made you feel like you were back at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort enjoying a fabulous meal. Did you see Resort Loop Bob while you were there?
Today, we’re going over to another resort – Coronado Springs – for the Chimichurri Sauce over at the Maya Grill. I love Coronado Springs and have stayed there four times so far. Maya Grill is a fabulous restaurant – love their steak!
So, if you love Mexican food, I have some good news! Now, you can prepare this delicious addition to favorite Mexican dishes for yourself. Yay!!
So, if you’d like to enjoy this at home (and considering I’ve already scoured the internet to get the recipe for you, that’ll be pretty easy), just throw on your Mickey apron, set your table, grab your ingredients, and delight in a little bit of Disney in your own home.
- 10 oz chopped green onion
- 20 oz chopped green pepper
- 10 oz chopped parsley
- 5 oz minced garlic
- 8 oz olive oil
- 4 oz lime juice
- 1 oz coarse black pepper
- 1 oz salt
Blend all ingredients. Refrigerate until needed.
I hope you enjoyed taking a bite out of Disney right in your own home!
About Monica P.
I am a wife and mother and passionate about Walt Disney World. I love preparing for our Disney trips and am constantly reading up on all things Disney, listening to Disney podcasts, and am a member of various Disney Facebook groups. In addition to my website,www.themouseinourhouse.com, I am also a blogger for The Mouse For Less (www.themouseforless.com).
You can catch me on:
Instagram: The Mouse In Our House
Pinterest: The Mouse In Our House
Come along with me to celebrate and explore all things Disney from my perspective.
* Please note: This recipe was found on various Disney and non-Disney websites, including www.allears.net.
By Vikki Wells
For those of us not lucky enough to live on the Disney World side of the Atlantic, planning a trip to see the Mouse can be a stressful experience, but it really doesn’t need to be, so I thought for my first blog post, I’d give some top tips to those travelling over to WDW from the UK. I’m just going to focus on the package vs non package options for now.
When to book
Us Brits seem to be able to book a lot further in advance than our American friends, sometimes as much as 18 months. If you’re booking a package trip, booking a long way out certainly has its advantages. Some of the travel companies offer very appealing discounts to those booking early, and this can be very attractive. There’s also the obvious advantage of having it all booked, meaning you can just sit back, relax, and wait for your holiday to come around. However, if doing a package isn’t your style, and you’ve got a bit of extra time, doing it yourself can also save you a lot of money. Booking everything yourself can be done from around a year in advance, but you can leave it much later than this.
Booking a package
Most first time visitors to WDW will book a package. We’re going a long way, and this is going to be the holiday of a lifetime right? It’ll probably be the only time you visit right? That being the case, you’ll want to use your trusty travel agent. Booking a package certainly has its advantages. Simply go into a travel agent, or go online, find what you want, and book. This ties everything up in a neat little bow. It means your flights are taken care of (packages usually offer direct flights), your accommodation is sorted, as are your tickets, and car hire, along with any insurance you wish to take out. With Disney packages there can often be the benefit of ‘free dining’, which is offered more to us Brits than our American friends! Free dining is usually only allowed to be booked as part of a package. There’s also the added protection of ABTA if anything goes wrong, and often a rep at the end of a phone if anything happens while you’re away. Another advantage is that you can usually pay in instalments, which makes that massive bill a little easier to take. It’s certainly a popular option, and one most first time visitors will take (myself included). There is certainly a massive amount of options to choose from, especially in terms of your accommodation. Picking it all from a glossy brochure or from an online travel company certainly takes all the worry out of everything.
Not booking a package
As appealing as a package sounds, not booking one can save you an absolute fortune, and can be a lot of fun! It was easy to write the last section in one go, but this one will need breaking up a bit!
One top tip to get started with is to always clear your ‘cookies’ before visiting each website. If you go on the same website multiple times to check prices, you may not get the best price, as it’ll save the last one you were looking at.
Accommodation: This is perhaps my favourite bit. Once you’ve decided whether you’re staying on or off site, the possibilities are endless! While you’re thinking about it, perhaps even consider a split stay. Maybe some time at a Disney resort, then at a Universal resort, and maybe a while in another hotel too! This is where the Internet is your friend. I’d always suggest that if you’re booking yourself, you book directly with the hotel. I’ve heard of people booking popular resorts like Art of Animation with third party companies and their resort has been changed at the last minute, and also, of people getting less desirable rooms. Booking direct also means you can sign up to their mailing lists, taking advantage of any special offers that come out. We’ve booked many times directly with hotels and never had any issues. In fact, for upcoming trips we’ve actually booked with a US agent for our Disney hotel. The reason we’ve done this is that they automatically apply any discounts that come out, and we only need to pay a one-night deposit, with the rest of the balance not payable until we arrive. This means we can change things around, should we need to. Be aware, if you’re staying on Disney property, your Magic Bands will not be delivered to you, you will collect them when you check in. However, you can still customize them.
Flights: flights from the UK to Orlando generally are released 11 months prior to departure, although some can be earlier. A direct flight will always be the easiest way to go, but is usually the most expensive. Consider flying direct into other Florida airports, such as Tampa. This will save you some money. Indirect flights are much cheaper, and often aren’t that difficult to do. Look for flights where you clear American immigration before you get to Orlando. We’ve flown through Toronto a couple of times and it’s brilliant as when you land in Orlando, you are through so much quicker. Don’t be concerned about doing this with young children either. We did it when our children were two and six and it was really easy. The savings really can add up to hundreds of pounds, so it’s well worth considering. The best way to find these flights is start with a flight comparison website, and then go direct to the airlines own website to book.
Transport: if you’re staying on site at Disney, using Magical Express will always be the easiest way to get to and from the airport, and is a free and magical way to begin and end your trip. If you are hiring a car then this is again very easy to do online, direct with the hire companies. Once you’ve booked, be sure to revisit the site regularly, as prices do chance, and you might be able to secure a lower price. If you don’t want to pick a car up from the airport, consider picking it up from the Disney Dolphin. We’ve done this many times and it’s an easy bus ride away from any of the parks, or a pleasant walk or boat ride from Epcot. You can also pick it up from the Disney car care center, where they’ll come and collect you and drop you off if needed.
Park tickets: there are many options with this! The prices of park tickets don’t tend to vary, so buying direct is usually the best way to go. However, some internet companies let you pay tickets in instalments, which can be helpful, so are worth investigating. If you’re going for a long trip, or planning a couple of trips in a year, consider an annual pass – these can get you savings on hotel rooms and all sorts of other things too. We are lucky in the UK though, we have a wide variety of ticket options that just aren’t offered in America.
Insurance: never travel without insurance! Ensure you have medical coverage and appropriate car insurance for your trip. Many bank accounts have travel insurance included, so just check what you need to take with you.
Doing both options
No, I’m not crazy (well maybe a little bit), but you can do a package that isn’t a package! If you book direct with Disney, they’ll often offer you a package that includes hotel, tickets and dining. This can be a great option, especially if you want to take advantage of ‘free dining’. You can then book your flights yourself, and have the reduced cost and flexibility of doing so.
So, I hope this may be of some use to you! I’m planning on writing more UK specific blogs, so if there’s anything you’d particularly like to see, just let me know!
Have a magical day!
This blog is going to be a love letter to villas in general. Really, kitchens. We just returned from a trip to the Beach Club Villas, where we stayed in a one bedroom studio. The rumors are true, they are definitely in need of their scheduled update. But we’d do it all over again, and spend more time in the villa if we could.
“Whatever do you mean?”, I am sure you are asking me. “You just said they needed an update. And you were within an easy walk of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. MORE time in the room? You crackpot!”
Give me a chance to explain. We’re-on property people. We know it’s faster to have a car, but we like to monorail, boat and bus to our hearts content. We have three stroller-aged kids and we enjoy the drink carts scattered around the World Showcase. We also love the Dawa Bar in Animal Kingdom. We take that Magical Express and breathe a happy sigh that says “goodbye, real world—hello adventure!”
Back to the kitchens.
This past trip, we were ready to splurge. I considered the dining plan—we were going to do at least one meal out each day and two most days. After using a handy online calculator I determined it wasn’t conclusively the best choice, especially because as DVC members we can snag a Tables In Wonderland card, which means 20% off of food and alcohol at most of the places we eat. So we skipped that, but for me to consider the Dining Plan means we are planning to EAT!
And we did. Buffets, mostly. Akershus. Cape May. Hollywood & Vine. We did a few blockbuster meals too—Yachtsman and the new Boathouse. Some quick service, which is not our normal style—(OK, so we’ve had the fish and chips in EPCOT England more than one trip) and lobster rolls at Hurricane Hanna’s.
But here is the thing: we felt stuffed. We were so full from dinner we couldn’t enjoy the Moscato Coladas to the fullest extent. And despite walking 10 miles a day (that is not an exaggeration and I can prove it) we did not lose weight. In fact, by the end of the trip my ankles were inexplicably swollen. The last time that happened to me I had a baby a month later.
So for our family, we need a kitchen. We need to have lighter meals available every day for at least two meals a day. We just don’t enjoy eating out that many times—it means we’re not as hungry for those fantastic snacks—the Mickey-shaped Crispy Rice Treats, the Grey Goose Slushies, etc…. which is really where we want to blow the caloric banks.
I want to be clear, the food in WDW is good. VERY good, even. And there are a bunch of places that could even classify as great (Artist Point, Victoria & Alberts, EPCOT England’s Yorkshire Fish & Chips). But eating out sparingly keeps it a treat and keeps your vacation wardrobe from pinching halfway through the trip. And DVC isn’t the only option, although it is a good one—there are full kitchens in the Cabins at Fort Wilderness too. The Family Suites at Art Of Animation have kitchenettes—mini refrigerators with microwaves.
We plan a sequence of meals that incorporate similar ingredients (pasta, chicken, pesto…. then some salsa, some cheese, some tortillas, some ground beef…. Some lettuce…) so next thing you know, we’ve got a grilled chicken salad, chicken wraps, burritos, nachos, pesto chicken pasta… well, you get the picture.
Not up for all that cooking? Try frozen meals. Not kidding. Get some lasagna, pizza, mac n cheese… you can get some really gourmet dishes at Trader Joes and there are now two in the Orlando area. Having home style meals does not have to mean lots of effort on your part. And it means you can stock what you know your kids should—and will—eat.
We spend less too, but that is not what it’s about. It’s about eating what we normally do so we don’t spend half the vacation feeling uncomfortable and slightly ill. And we can guzzle those Tiki drinks at Trader Sams or nosh on the fish and chips…. Like my wise mother always says, hunger is the best condiment.
Give a kitchen a try some trip. Tell me Joffrey’s French Bistro Blend you think. For a day or two, sure, I can survive with just a coffee maker. But for trips any longer than that, I have discovered I don’t want to hightail it to a park most mornings for breakfast AND a pastry basket in Beast’s Castle. I just want a piping hot almond croissant, a fresh plum, maybe some brie and some home-brewed Joffrey’s French Bistro Blend on my balcony…for a DVC’er, thank goodness, that is not too much to ask.
In a recent Resort Loop podcast, Bob and Tim discussed their fears for the future.
As I reflected on the topic, I could only think of one – I feared the end of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights.
Last week, that fear was confirmed, when the Disney Parks Blog released the following statement,
As you plan ahead, we also wanted you to know that this holiday season will mark the finale for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The display of lights has enjoyed a successful run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, going all the way back to when it first appeared on Residential Street.
In order to prepare for some incredible experiences coming to the park, including the recently announced Toy Story Land and a Star Wars-themed land, we will not be able to present The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in the future. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the family of Jennings Osborne for letting us share their family tradition year after year. And thank you to all of you for being part of the spectacle with us. Here’s to making more memories in this, the 20th and final year.”
As the ringing finality of the announcement began to sink in, I realized how truly heartbroken I would be to see this iconic event dim its lights for the final time. From its early beginnings on Residential Street, to its latest iteration on the Streets of America, I have loved this attraction like no other. I remember the first year my family and I saw the lights; cast members handed out holographic snowflake glasses that made each light dance and float like falling snow. Upon leaving the park, I refused to take my glasses off, instead choosing to wear them the entire ride home and for days after – blissfully immersed in the twinkling, whimsical world of Disney magic. The Osborne Lights became an instant tradition with my family.
And I’m not alone.
The outcry has been immediate and widespread – a true maelstrom, if you will. I’ve not seen a Disney decision so universally panned since Mr. Toad took his final wild ride. It’s no surprise, either. The Lights encompassed those ideas and beliefs we hold most dear about Disney. They separated the Disney magic from the Disney money. The delight and awe discovered in those twinkling, dancing lights epitomized the magic and wonder that consummate Disney fans hitch their ‘second star to the right’ solidly behind enroute to Neverland; never wanting to grow up.
Disney World took a hodge-podge of chicken wire and dime-store Christmas lights, and a father’s desire to make his daughter smile, and made it so brilliant you had to wear shades. The Osborne Lights wasn’t about money, or e-tickets, or the latest technology – it was simply about keeping the magic of one man’s dream alive. It was about hot chocolate with marshmallows, snow on residential street, and pretending to shiver in 70° Florida humidity. It was about singing Christmas carols, making memories, and just enjoying the moment. It was about being absorbed by something so vast and bright in scale that you couldn’t help but be swept away. It was a spectacle of simplicity.
Twinkle on, Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, you will be missed.
Rebecca is currently in recovery for OCD (obsessive Christmas decorating). She is enrolled in a 12-step program, but finds all those ‘lords a leaping’ quite distracting. She lives in Connecticut with her better half, seven Christmas trees, and two miniature adults that insist on calling her mom.
If you’d like to follow her adventures, or help her string up the lights, you can find her on: