Be Our Guest Dinner Review

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One of the newest and most hard to come by reservations at Disney World is having dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. My family was lucky enough to snag one of these reservations on our last trip. We arrived right around 6:00 and were seated within five minutes of checking in.

Of course the overall theming of this restaurant is one of the best at Disney World due to all of the great elements the Imagineers included such as these “soldiers” in the entry way. Guests are able to dine in one of three dining rooms including the Main Ballroom, the West Wing, and the Rose Gallery. Also, this restaurant is only a table service option at dinner as it serves a quick service breakfast and lunch. With that said both breakfast and lunch are still done by reservation even though they are a quick service option.

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We have dined in the main dining room before, but were very excited this time when we were led to the West Wing and we got our first glimpse of the rose.

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Dining in the West Wing itself was fantastic. Of all of the great elements in this restaurant we feel this room really hits the theme in an unbelievable way. The only consideration is it is quite dark, which of course adds to the mood, but it makes taking pictures quite difficult. Or quite distracting to others due to your flash, however you want to look at it.

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We sat down and were greeted with the creative rose napkins on our table and soon had the bread service in front of us.

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For my meal I ended up selecting the Grilled Strip Steak with Garlic-herb butter and pommes frites for $35.

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I have ordered this entree before and have enjoyed it each time. It has always been cooked well, seasoned well, and the garlic-herb butter gives it an extra nice flavor. It is not a steak on the level of Yachtasman’s Steakhouse at the Yacht Club, but it is still a really good meal. The french fries have also been good each time I’ve had then and I even enjoy the mayonnaise based dipping sauce.

My wife also has a favorite menu item hear that she enjoys, the Pork Chop served with mac ‘n cheese au gratin for $27.

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She absolutely loves this dish. The pork is perfectly tender and the mac ‘n cheese au gratin is excellent. In addition to tasting good the pork chop is a large cut of meat and it is also a good size serving of mac ‘n cheese.

After enjoying our dinner we decided to try a couple of dessert options since they are relatively inexpensive at just $5 each. First we tried the Chocolate Cream Puff filled with chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream.

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This dish was good, although it was fairly plain. Also, the catch to them only costing $5 is that they are pretty small. In addition to the cream puff we also tried The “Grey Stuff” served over chocolate spongecake.

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This was maybe the one part of our meal that we didn’t enjoy very much. Their was just not a lot of flavor to the “Grey Stuff” and the cake was pretty dry. I had heard the “Gray Stuff” had a cream cheese flavor, but what we had tasted basically like whipped cream. All in all though if that was the only negative to our meal we ended up with a good experience.

Overall, we had a great meal and experience at Be Our Guest and the meal is finished off as you get to visit with the Beast before you leave the castle. You can’t beat this experience due to the tasty meal, the fantastic theme and decor, the location inside the Magic Kingdom, and meeting with a Disney hero.

Let us know your thoughts on Be Our Guest by posting below or visiting us on Facebook.

Lysa’s Holiday Trip to Disney World Part 1 – Episode 21

In this week’s episode, for February 12, 2017, Jon and Lysa will be discussing Lysa’s recent trip to Disney World during the holiday season as well as taking your listener questions on Disney travel.

Please send any questions about the show to host@mousedreamsblog.com and visit our website, www.MouseDreamsBlog.com for more information. Also, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MouseDreamsblog and follow us on Twitter @MouseDreamsBlog.

Finally, thanks to our sponsors and friends at Big Dreams Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Visit them at www.bigdreamstravelusa.com to help with your next vacation.

You can submit Disney trip planning questions for us to answer on the show by e-mailing us at podcast@MouseDreamsBlog.com, by tweeting your question to @MouseDreamsBlog on Twitter, or by visiting the listener questions page on our website at www.MouseDreamsBlog.com/podcastquestions. We would love to answer your questions on travel including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line. Have a great week everyone and thanks for listening!

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Crystal Palace Breakfast Review

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The Crystal Palace

Today we will be looking at one of our favorite breakfast spots in all of Disney World, The Crystal Palace inside the Magic Kingdom. This breakfast is always a family favorite for us due to the food, the location, and the great character interactions. We arrived at 10:30 for our dining reservation and were seated just about five minutes after checking in. This is a beautiful building located just off of Main Street USA and within view of Cinderella Castle.

Breakfast is by far our favorite meal at the Crystal Palace and today was no different. We sampled a lot of the traditional breakfast fare at the Crystal Palace and everything was very appetizing. We enjoyed many of the typical breakfast options such as the biscuits and gravy, sausage, bacon, and potato casserole.

Of course one of my favorite dishes here is the breakfast lasagna that includes pancakes, waffles, pound cake, custard, and fruit in one delicious mixture. I will say that the lasagna was a little too soggy on this visit. Typically is sets up very well and is a great dish, but today it was just slightly off.

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Breakfast Lasagna (Top Left of Plate)

Another of our favorites is the puffed french toast, a specialty of the Crystal Palace.

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Puffed French Toast (Right Side of Plate)

It is a great mixture between a fritter and french toast that is dusted with sugar. It is delicious with syrup or honey over the top or just by itself. Unlike the lasagna the puffed french toast was spot on in its preparation on this visit. It was crispy on the outside, had the perfect amount of sugar, and was perfectly cooked on the inside.

I also tried an omelette with ham and cheese, yes I’m boring, and it was good. Not the best omelette I’ve ever had, but certainly much better than just getting the eggs off of the buffet.

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Ham & Cheese Omelette

In addition to the delicious food this meal includes characters. Winnie the Pooh and his friends, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet all make a visit to your table during your meal. We have always had great interactions with the characters when dining here, but I had heard going in they had slowed the characters down some. We did not experience that, but we were eating between 10:45 and 11:15 and the restaurant was only about half full since we were at the tail end of the breakfast period. This is most likely why the characters arrived quickly for us and spent a good deal of time at our table. I can certainly see how if you arrive in the middle of the busy dining time you may wait over an hour to see all of the characters at your table.

Overall, The Crystal Palace is one of our go to breakfast spots at Disney World and this visit did not disappoint. Let us know your thoughts on Crystal Palace by commenting below or visiting us on Facebook.

5 Theme Park Table Service Restaurants that “Shouldn’t Be Missed”

Dining is an experience that many people overlook when thinking of a Disney trip, but it is truly one of the best parts of a Disney World vacation. Some of the most unique dining experiences are those table service restaurants that are located inside the theme parks of the Disney World Resort. The main method that we have used to pick this list of five is first on food experience and then on atmosphere. Above all to make our list the food at the restaurants had to be very high in quality and the atmosphere immersive and unique. It is also important to note that we did not include signature dining restaurants in this list, which means all of these restaurants that we recommend below will only use one table service dining credit when on the Disney Dining Plan. We have also not included any character dining restaurants, as those will be included on their own top five list. Here are five of our favorites theme park table services restaurants and these are ones that we would say “Shouldn’t Be Missed!”

  1. Be Our Guest – From the moment you walk across the bridge to this beautiful castle inside of the Magic Kingdom you are transported into one of the most classic Disney movies of all time, Beauty and the Beast. The Beast’s castle is great to look at from the outside, but is downright stunning once you step inside the restaurant. One unique aspect of this restaurant is the three different dining spaces that you may be seated in. The main ballroom is the largest dining space and is complete with fantastic chandeliers and snow falling outside the window. Guests also may be seated in the West Wing, complete with the rose which loses its petals throughout dinner. The final room is the Rose Gallery, which is complete with the Beauty and the Beast music box in the center of the room. The decor and setting is not the only star of this restaurant the food is equally as impressive. The traditional French Onion Soup is a fantastic appetizer and it is hard to ignore the well cooked New York Strip Steak entree. The Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops entree is another star as it is served inside of a puff pastry with a creamy lobster sauce over the top. To top it all off are the signature desserts of the castle, which includes several cupcake options as well as cream puffs, and be sure to try “The Gray Stuff”. Finally, after dessert you will most likely have the opportunity to meet the host himself, The Beast, in his study before you leave. All in all you will not be disappointed at this fantastic dining opportunity in the Magic Kingdom.
  2. Teppan Edo – As we think at Epcot there are many great table service dining options, but when also factoring in trying to find a unique experience one must mention this fantastic Hibachi style dining experience in the Japan Pavilion of the World Showcase. Teppan Edo is truly a meal that is entertaining and will be enjoyed by every member of the family. The teppanyaki style restaurant is a very unique experience and your personal chefs will always be sure to put on a great show for your family that will include some cool tricks and even some comedy. The ordering experience is slightly different as you are mainly going to choose a meat or vegetable for the chef to prepare for you on the grill right before your eyes. There are some appetizers available and we love the Wafu Ribs, which are cooked on the flat top by the chef as soon as they arrive. When it comes to choosing your main meal they have many options available including filet mignon, chicken, shrimp, or even vegetable options. By this point in your meal the chef is cooking everyone’s entree as well as the noodles and other sides that come with it and before long you are enjoying a fantastic meal in a great location. The desserts are not the star of this restaurant but some of the choices are not to be missed. We enjoy both the Chocolate Ginger Cake and the Green Tea Cheesecake as both are very good despite their unique combinations of flavors.
  3. Biergarten – When it comes to unique experiences they are all around Epcot’s World Showcase, but one of the best is Biergarten in the Germany Pavilion. From the moment you walk in you feel as though you have walked right into a small German village and no detail is missed, including the moon rising into the sky over the housetops. In addition to the fantastic theming Disney takes it a step further and a live band will entertain at various times during dinner and guests are even invited to partake in the entertainment on the dance floor by the stage. Another favorite experience in this restaurant is the great assortment of traditional, German beers that are available from your server. The food is served from a buffet and you will certainly not leave this place hungry when the meal is over. There are a multitude of appetizer type options including salads , soups, various pickles, macaroni salad, and other traditional German dishes such as one of our favorites the Warm German Potato Salad. Then the hot buffet has many other great German dishes including multiple flavors of German sausages and bratwursts, Pork Shank Gratin and Braised Pork Schnitzel. In addition to all of these options there are many dessert options with the Bavarian Cheesecake being the traditional German headliner. When considering the great food, drink, atmosphere, and entertainment Biergarten is a restaurant not to be missed at Disney World.
  4. Sci Fi Diner – One of the most unique dining experiences in all of Disney World is the Sci-Fi Diner at Hollywood Studios. When you walk in you realize you are going to dine somewhere you probably never thought you would, in a car at a drive in movie from years past. The “cars” in the dining room will serve as your table for the evening and you will be entertained by movie flicks on the large “drive-in movie screen” at the front of the room. The food here is certainly not on the level of a fine dining establishment, but it is very good in it’s own right, and is relatively low priced when compared to other table service restaurants. The Chicken Wings appetizer with a Honey-Chipotle BBQ Sauce is particularly good and a great way to start the meal off. We have found the best entrees on this menu are relatively simple, but are done well. The Sci-Fi Specialty Burger, with swiss cheese, pulled pork, and sriracha BBQ sauce is a guest favorite. Other favorites are the BBQ Ribs or the Reuben sandwich. When it comes down to it the food is good and the atmosphere is very unique and entertaining, making this a table service meal that we think you should not miss when going to Disney World.
  5. Via Napoli – When people talk about pizza at Disney World the discussion usually doesn’t have many options for good pizza, but then the discussion probably turns to the one place that has fantastic, authentic, Italian pizza and that is at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. From the moment you walk in the door at Via Napoli you feel as though you are in an Italian Pizzeria complete with the large ovens and open kitchen where you can smell the fantastic pizza’s already being made. We have also found the servers at this restaurant to be among the best and most friendly on Disney property and they will go out of the way to make sure you enjoy your meal. Even though the pizza is the star here there are some noteworthy appetizers that will get your meal off to a great start. Our favorite appetizer is the Arancini, which is fried risotto balls filled with mozzarella and topped with marinara sauce. It is cooked perfectly and a great starter. After this you will be ready for a fantastic pizza from the ovens. Many people are partial to the Quattro Formaggi, which includes four different cheeses. Of course we love many of the other signature “pies” such as the spicy Piccante, but you really cannot go wrong with any of the pizza’s on the menu. If you love pizza, and most people do, this is a place you should not miss when traveling to Disney World.

Please comment below and let us know any questions or thoughts you may have and we will do our best to help you.

Disney News & Listener Questions from 1/29/2017 – Episode 20

In this week’s episode, for January 29, 2017, Jon and Lysa will be discussing news and current events at Disney Destinations around the world as well as taking your listener questions on Disney travel.

Please send any questions about the show to host@mousedreamsblog.com and visit our website, www.MouseDreamsBlog.com for more information. Also, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MouseDreamsblog and follow us on Twitter @MouseDreamsBlog.

Finally, thanks to our sponsors and friends at Big Dreams Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Visit them at www.bigdreamstravelusa.com to help with your next vacation.

You can submit Disney trip planning questions for us to answer on the show by e-mailing us at podcast@MouseDreamsBlog.com, by tweeting your question to @MouseDreamsBlog on Twitter, or by visiting the listener questions page on our website at www.MouseDreamsBlog.com/podcastquestions. We would love to answer your questions on travel including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line. Have a great week everyone and thanks for listening!

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Construction Permits Filed for Possible DVC Area at Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney has made no announcement on this possible rumor yet, but construction permits have been filed to allow for a large expansion project at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. There have been rumors for a few years now about a DVC building or area being built at Caribbean Beach and it now appears as though the idea is at least becoming a little closer to being validated.

The permits say work is going to begin later this year and conclude some time in 2019. The plans include seven new buildings at Caribbean Beach one of which is a large multi story building that resembles the rumors of a DVC wing. Much of the construction appears as though it will take place in what is currently the Barbados section of Caribbean Beach.

Again, none of this has been confirmed by Disney and there is no guarantee this is going to be a DVC expansion. With that said construction plans do tell us that something big is coming to Caribbean Beach Resort in the not to distant future. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more about this project.

5 Signature Restaurants that “Shouldn’t Be Missed” at Disney World

One of the special events that can take a Disney vacation from being a wonderful memory to an unforgettable memory is all of the varied dining experiences you get to take in. Some of the most memorable of those experiences are restaurants that Disney refers to as “Signature Dining Restaurants”. These are the best of the best table service restaurants and have their own category because if you are on the Disney Dining Plan these will cost you two table service dining credits in most circumstances. The main method that we have used to pick this list of five is first on food experience and then on atmosphere. Above all to make our list the food at the restaurants had to be very high in quality and the atmosphere immersive and worthy of fine dining. Both in atmosphere and in food quality most any fine dining restaurant at Disney World will be a wonderful experience, but the five we are highlighting below, in no particular order, are five of our favorites and are ones that we would say “Shouldn’t Be Missed!”

1. Yachtsman’s Steakhouse – This is one of my most favorite restaurants in all of Disney when it comes to recommending a romantic night out. Yachtsman’s Steakhouse is both elegant and casual in a way that only Disney could make work. The restaurant is full of beautiful hard wood decor and one of my favorite characteristics is that you pass the meat trimming room when being taken to your table. When it comes to the food Yachtsman’s certainly does not disappoint. It is one fine dining option at Disney World that I would recommend to someone who is not a particularly adventurous eater. The majority of the entrees on the menu are a specific cut of steak along with some type of side dish such as mashed potatoes, potato gratin, or a twice baked potato. With that said there are also some nice choices of appetizers, entrees, and sides on the menu that are a bit more adventurous. So this restaurant does work nicely if your group is comprised of some adventurous eaters and some non-adventurous eaters. My favorite menu item at the Yachtsman’s Steakhouse is the 16 oz. Prime Rib-Eye Steak, which is served with Brioche, Bone Marrow, and Point Reyes Blue Cheese Cutter. This is actually the picture you see above although some of the accompaniments may be slightly different than what is now on the menu. All in all Yachtsman’s Steakhouse is a restaurant you cannot go wrong with when looking for a signature meal at Disney World. The steaks are always cooked to perfection, you can’t argue with great sides like potatoes au gratin or the delicious truffle macaroni and cheese, and you are just five minutes from a leisurely stroll through Epcot’s World Showcase after dinner.

2. California Grill – California Grill is one of the most notable signature restaurants at Disney World. Located on the top floor the Contemporary Resort, sits a beautiful restaurant with a beautiful view (see the picture above). In addition to the fantastic view, which may be reason enough to dine here, this restaurant just underwent a major refurbishment in 2014 and is now better than ever. The view and setting is maybe the most sought after part of California Grill, but this is food that definitely should not take a back seat. Now, before we get to food this restaurant has an award winning wine menu and is a place wine connoisseurs go regularly when at Disney World. After getting your glass of wine you will want to try a selection from the chef’s fantastic sushi menu. The Dragon Roll, with spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, avocado, and dragon sauce is one of the favorites. Once you finish your sushi the appetizers and entrees just get even more spectacular. From the Bison Striploin to the Braised Lamb Shank to their signature Pork Two Ways dish you cannot go wrong here. After your meal and some fantastic dessert selections, such as a Breakfast cinnamon roll and bacon for dessert, you think the night is over, but it is far from it. Everyone who dines at California Grill is invited to use the outdoor observation deck to take in the sights and the sounds of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom and this includes the nightly fireworks extravaganza Wishes. Even if you dine earlier in the evening you can bring your receipt back at fireworks time and gain access to the observation deck. California Grill certainly has the food and setting deserving of the title of signature dining.

3. Narcoossee’s – This restaurant is big favorite of seasoned Walt Disney World travelers. It is set in a beautiful location by the boat dock at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort with a fantastic view of the Magic Kingdom. This restaurant is both elegant and casual, so make an evening of it and dress up if headed here on a date or enjoy it with the family. It is important to note this restaurant is it’s own building, not attached to the main hotel, but this does give guests a beautiful walk to the restaurant before dinner. The walk into the front doors even lets you walk by a the herb garden used by the restaurant, which just signifies the freshness of the ingredients here. The inside has the feel of an elegant restaurant, but one set at the beach, so the feel is not stuffy at all. Along with the setting the menu offers a great selection of seafood dishes such as the BBQ Shrimp and Grits appetizer, the Maine Lobster Bisque, or any of their seasonal fish dishes which they modify according to the season. If you are not a fan of seafood there are other great options here though such as a great New York Strip Steak with Idaho Cream Potatoes. Narcoossee’s also is known for their fantastic Key Lime Pie, signature of the south Florida area that this restaurant represents. This restaurant is a great option for a fine dining meal in a somewhat casual, beachy setting at Disney World. You definitely cannot go wrong with this land and sea signature restaurant.

4. Le Cellier – Le Cellier is one of the most popular signature dining restaurants at Walt Disney World that is actually inside of a theme park. Sitting in the Canada Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase, Le Cellier is a signature steakhouse serving up great steaks and traditional Canadian dishes. The restaurant is a great escape from being inside of a theme park as you are sent into “The Cellar” of the Canada Pavilion to have a remarkable meal. The restaurant is meant to represent a wine cellar and it does deliver on that feel. Dark woods, low ceilings, and archways make this a very intimate and romantic experience. The first great part of the meal at Le Cellier will be the bread basket, which contains a couple of types of rolls that are nice, but also contains their own pretzel bread which is delicious and certainly the star of the bread service. The pretzel bread is especially delicious when dipped into the signature soup at Le Cellier, the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. It is creamy, cheesey, and has bacon in it, what could be better? The Le Cellier Poutine Fries are also great as an appetizer or as a side dish to share during the main entree. When it comes to your entree the Le Cellier Filet Mignon is not to be missed. It is a fantastic cut of meat and includes a great risotto as well as a tasty truffle butter sauce. All in all, everything on the menu at Le Cellier is tasty, so go and enjoy one of the best meals you could ever find inside of a theme park.

5. Flying Fish Restaurant – The newly re-imagined Flying Fish, located on the Boardwalk between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, is a great option for a fantastic signature meal. The setting is romantic and well-themed to a seaside restaurant that now has a slightly modern feel after the redesign, but the food is the real star. This restaurant is definitely one you will want to hit if you are an adventurous eater, although they certainly have some more traditional options if that is what you are after. The restaurant, as you can probably tell by the name, specializes in serving up some of the best seafood on Disney property, and probably anywhere for that matter. The Corn-Encrusted Wild Gulf Shrimp appetizer is a great way to get yourself into the seafood mood or if you are feeling adventurous give the Kurobuta Pork Belly a try. For the entrees the Flying Fish offers several great items weather you are interested in the surf or the turf! The Ora King New Zealand Salmon with pancetta-laced ivory lentils, kale, and a garden vinaigrette is a great choice from the seafood options. If you are after a meal on the more adventurous side try the fantastic Wagyu Filet Mignon with Okinawan potatoes, foraged mushrooms, rainbow carrots, and Bordelaise sauce or the Bison Strip Loin with ancient grains, salsify, cipollini onions, and a sun-dried tomato choron sauce. All in all the experience at Flying Fish is incredible and you can continue your evening out right next door at the newly opened AbracadaBar, which is a bar in a way that only Disney can create a bar!

Please comment below and let us know any questions or thoughts you may have and we will do our best to help you.

Cape May Cafe Dinner Review

One of our family’s favorite meals when at Walt Disney World is having dinner at Cape May Cafe. It seems as if the vibe of the restaurant fits in so perfectly with what we want in a dinner. The staff is easy going and friendly, and the buffet has always been of high quality when we have dined here. Hopefully this experience would not be any different.

We always like to get an early dinner reservation here, right around 5:00 and this time was no different. The one negative to this restaurant, in our opinion, is that the buffet area can get quite crowded as you get further into the dinner service. There is nothing worse than a buffet of tasty, all-you-can-eat crab legs sitting there, but you cannot get to it because there are so many people. We feel that getting an early reservation helps avoid this as much as possible.

We checked in about five minutes before our 5:00 reservation and were seated promptly at 5:00 PM. One of my favorite parts of this restaurant are the decorative sand castles located throughout the dining area.

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The decor in the restaurant is exactly what you would expect of a restaurant in the Beach Club Resort. The colors are inviting and the sand castles do a great job of putting you in a seafood mood! Soon after sitting down our waitress, Marie, arrived and she was fantastic! She was so helpful with our three year old throughout the meal and spent a lot of time just talking and conversing with us about where we were from and things like that.

Once we got settled I headed up and wasted no time in finding the main event, the crab legs!

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After perusing the first part of the buffet I ended up with a plate of crab, shrimp, and two different types of potatoes.

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One thing that always impresses us about Cape May Cafe is how well done the crab legs are despite being done in a buffet setting. It would be easy to put out sub-par crab legs in this large scale setting, but every time we’ve been here they have been very tasty and well done. In addition to the crab legs I particularly loved a dish on the buffet that was labeled the “Seafood Penne Pasta”. It was fantastic with large chunks of seafood and a nice, cheesy sauce. They also had calamari on the evening that we were there, which is also not a dish you would think of as being very good on a buffet, but it was very tasty. Neither my wife or I just love calamari in general, but we did eat quite a bit of it and definitely enjoyed it.

After we were finished with the buffet we set out to see what desserts were going to catch our eye. The dessert buffet here is made up of many different types of small, bite sized desserts. I ended up with a few different selections.

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None of the dessert selections were particularly memorable, but they were good and since they were included on the buffet we certainly had our share.

As we finished our meal, around 6:00 PM the restaurant was really starting to fill up and this is where we discussed this is definitely a meal you want to get an early dinner reservation. By the time we were leaving their were some pretty long lines just to get down the side of the buffet with the crab legs. All things considered though that is the really the only major complaint of this restaurant. It is a restaurant we highly recommend in terms of the atmosphere and quality of the food. The price tag for this restaurant is a bit high, but considering you get pretty good crab legs it is a restaurant we still tend to frequent when we are at Disney World. The price for adults will range from $47.99 to $51.99 depending on the time of year and the child price will range from $26.10 to $29.99.

Have you been to Cape May Cafe for dinner? If so, give us your thoughts below.

All You Need to Know About Disney World Annual Passes

It’s Trip Planning Tuesday and today we are looking at the benefits of Disney World Annual Passes. One of the most exciting things a Disney fan can possibly do is become an annual pass holder. Having this distinction certainly brings many benefits with it that can help you all throughout Walt Disney World. Below we have a few tips that will help tell you all you need to know about having a Disney World Annual Pass. Keep in mind we are writing this post from the perspective of someone who is not a Florida resident. There are annual passes that are cheaper and available only to Florida residents, but those have some restrictions and blackout dates. Most of the tips below are still valid though on all types of passes.

    1. How Many Days Is it Worth It? – This is the biggest question many people ask. How many days do I need to use my annual pass to make it worthwhile over just purchasing regular park tickets? The annual pass sells for $798 right now including taxes. So let’s just put that into park tickets for two separate trips. First, a 10 day park hopper ticket will cost $499, then let’s say you need tickets for a second trip that is just three days in length, which will cost $368. The total of those two, $867 is well over the amount the annual pass would cost you. Also, keep in mind that Disney Magic Your Way tickets expire 14 days from first use. So, the break even point is generally around 13 days if you include the park hopper option as that will be included with your annual pass.
    2. What Types of Annual Passes are There? – There are two main types of annual passes at Disney World, the platinum annual pass and the premium plus annual pass. Both of these passes work as a park ticket that gets you access for a full year to the 4 major theme parks. The passes also both work as a park hopper pass, meaning you can go into multiple parks on each day. Both passes also offer complimentary parking as well as all of the discounts and perks included with an annual pass purchase. The difference in the two is that the premium plus annual pass also includes admission into the both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon Water parks as well as Disney Quest, the Oak Trail Golf Course, and the Wide World of Sports. The premium annual pass is $80 more than the regular annual pass.
    3. I Heard the Annual Pass Now Includes Photo Downloads. – Yes! Disney increased annual pass price in 2016, but they also added a great new inclusion that pass holders get free, unlimited downloads of any of their Photopass photos for the entire life of their pass. It is as if you have a year long memory maker photo product which includes any photos you and your family have taken in the parks, plus any ride photos.
    4. Does the Annual Pass Get Me Dining Discounts? – The answer is yes! There are quite a few restaurants within Disney World that offer a 10% discount to annual pass holders, and there are a few that offer a higher percentage. It is by no means all restaurants, but there are restaurants at many resorts as well as three of the theme parks, excluding the Magic Kingdom. Keep in mind each year Disney will change and modify the list of restaurants that participates so it is always good to check year in and year out on locations offering a discount.
    5. What is Tables in Wonderland? – By being an annual pass holder (or a Florida Resident) you are eligible to purchase a Tables in Wonderland card. This is a great program if you are a frequent traveler to Disney World as it can save you 20% on most meals in table service locations and even at some quick service locations. The card costs $150 initially for annual pass holders and DVC members and can be purchased at guest relations at any of the parks or Disney Springs. There are two “catches” to a membership, the first one being that gratuity of 18% will automatically be added to any check at a table service restaurant, but that is a pretty standard gratuity now anyways. So, if you plan on spending $750 or more in dining at one of these restaurants in a calendar year you can certainly get your money back pretty quickly. The other “catch” is that the card is blacked out and not available for use on 8 major holiday’s throughout the year. All participating restaurants can be viewed on the Tables in Wonderland website. We will also mention one final perk of Tables in Wonderland is that with the membership in this program you get free valet parking at deluxe resorts when dining at one of the restaurants there.
    6. Are there Any Shopping Discounts? – Many merchandise locations around Disney World offer a 10% discount to annual pass holders. There are some exclusions so you will want to be sure to check the member website, but most of the major shops in each park are included. In addition to merchandise the annual pass also will get you discounts on things such as recreation and spa services as well as miniature golf, and many other special events on Disney property. Be sure and check out the member website once you have your membership to see all of the places you can save money.

 

 
As always, if you have any questions leave us a comment below and we’d love to help you out or hear your thoughts.

Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine Returning to Hollywood Studios

Disney World has announced that they will once again be doing a special dining experience at Hollywood and Vine Restaurant in Hollywood Studios. The event, Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, will return on January 7 and run through March 19. This event, which debuted last year, allows guests to be a part of a special dinner party with Minnie that celebrates Disney movie magic. Guests will get to walk on the red carpet with Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. The normal Hollywood and Vine buffet menu will be present along with some special dishes such as creamy popcorn soup, bacon-wrapped pork loin, honey-bourbon glazed turkey, and lobster & shrimp macaroni.

It is not yet apparent if Disney will bring back the other special dining events at Hollywood and Vine this year. Last year they offered Minnie’s Springtime Dine from March through May, Minnie’s Summertime Dine from June through September, Minnie’s Halloween Dine in September & October, and Minnies Holiday Dine in November and December. We’ll update this post if and when those experiences are announced.