Tips &Tricks – Chip and Co http://www.chipandco.com Disney Theme Park & Disney Movie News, Disney World & Disneyland Planning Tips, Disney Dining, Reviews and More! Sat, 30 Jul 2016 21:00:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 http://www.chipandco.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/512-icon-54ced060v1_site_icon-32x32.png Tips &Tricks – Chip and Co http://www.chipandco.com 32 32 Liberty Tree Tavern’s Updated Dinner Menu Review http://www.chipandco.com/liberty-tree-taverns-updated-dinner-menu-review-244926/ http://www.chipandco.com/liberty-tree-taverns-updated-dinner-menu-review-244926/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 12:24:01 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=244926 Did you know that Liberty Tree Tavern recently updated their Bill of Fare dinner menu?  While some favorite food offerings have remained unchanged, or undergone some minor changes,  you will find some others are no longer on the dinner menu and new offerings have been added in their place.  Here is my review of Liberty Tree […]

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Liberty Tree

Did you know that Liberty Tree Tavern recently updated their Bill of Fare dinner menu?  While some favorite food offerings have remained unchanged, or undergone some minor changes,  you will find some others are no longer on the dinner menu and new offerings have been added in their place.  Here is my review of Liberty Tree Tavern’s updated dinner menu.

To begin, my server brought me a plate of two dinner rolls, on a triangular stoneware plate with rounded edges, and whipped honey butter in a small stoneware bowl.  The rolls were a bit dry for my taste.  However, the whipped honey butter was a perfect blend of butter and honey that added a slight sweetness, and a little flavor, to the roll.

Next up was the Declaration Salad tossed with house-made Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing in a stoneware bowl.  I was happy that the salad was made with mixed greens, and that the cucumbers still had the outer skin on them, thus adding a bit of crunch to the salad. I should note here that some of the lettuce is iceberg lettuce, of which I am not a fan.  There was also shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, and red onions.  The house-made strawberry vinaigrette dressing was, in my opinion, oily with very little flavor.  I prefer a vinaigrette dressing to have more vinegar and less oil.  There was a bit of sweetness to the dressing but I could not place the flavor of strawberry.

After the salad and rolls were removed, my server brought me the Patriots Platter.  Now this is where the food gets interesting.  The Roasted Turkey, Sliced Tavern Ham, and Pot Roast were the three meats offered and were served on a large triangular stoneware plate.  Also included on the plate were herb stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce.  Gravy was served on the side in its own little silver gravy boat.

The ever-popular Roasted Turkey Breast is still on the menu and has remained unchanged.  I found it to be very flavorful.  I asked my server to check with the chef to let me know what seasoning they put on the turkey. Can you believe that salt and pepper are the only two seasonings added to the turkey?  With all that flavor I expected to hear that there was some secret ingredient added.

The Sliced Tavern Ham, now on the menu, has replaced the Pork Roast that was here before.  The ham was just okay.  I found it to be lacking in flavor and a little dry.  I prefer ham that has a moister, and somewhat saltier, taste.

And now for my personal favorite of the meats; the Pot Roast.  Replacing the Carved Roast Beef, which is no longer on the menu, the Pot Roast is a welcome addition.  As a native of New England, where Pot Roast is a common expectation for Sunday dinner, I was skeptical and thought there was no way this was going to match my mom’s Pot Roast.  Well, sorry mom, but this was the best Pot Roast I have ever eaten.  As soon as I put my fork into the meat it literally came apart.  No knife was needed at all.  As I took my first bite of this melt-in-your-mouth Pot Roast, it caused my taste buds to awaken from the combination of flavors.  The gravy and the seasonings, along with the moistness of the meat, were absolutely delectable.

The herb stuffing was good and had the right mix of moistness and texture.  Personally, I prefer stuffing with cranberries, pecans, celery, and onion.  While I could see and smell the herbs in the stuffing, beyond that it did not carry a lot of flavor.  I imagine that in the colonial days there were not a lot of choices for seasoning foods. This is likely one way for Liberty Tree Tavern to stay true to its theme.

As a person who is not typically a fan of mashed potatoes, I found the potatoes to be pretty good.  They were not over-mashed and had some small chunks of potatoes in there that gave them a nice texture.  I found them to have a good flavor without being salty or too thin.

The seasonal vegetables were fresh-tasting thin green beans.  I found these to be very tasty with a hint of garlic and oil.  They were also cooked exactly to my preference offering a crisp crunch without being too soft and overdone.

And now for the most flavorful offering on the platter; the cranberry sauce.  Made with cranberries, orange, and cinnamon, the cranberry is absolutely delectable.  This combination of flavors are very pleasing to the palate.  From the sweetness of the orange, to the tartness of the cranberry, all combined with a burst of cinnamon is like no other flavor I have ever tasted.

If you enjoy gravy then you are in for a treat.  The gravy arrived in its own little silver gravy boat.  It was good without being too salty or overly heavy.  I sampled the gravy with the Roasted Turkey Breast and the Mashed Potatoes.  I did prefer the Roasted Turkey Breast all on its own without the gravy.  However, I discovered that I enjoyed the taste of the mashed potatoes with the gravy.

Now onto the dessert.  Everyone loves dessert and I am no exception to that rule.  The offering was Johnny Appleseed’s Tart, which is a change from the Johnny Appleseed’s Cake on the previous menu, served with a scoop of Edy’s Vanilla Ice Cream.  I am particularly happy about this change as I do not care for cake.  The tart and ice cream were served on a round stoneware dessert plate. I found the offering to be an excellent mix of sweetness and tartness along with a touch of spice.  The pastry shell of the tart is quite sweet if you eat it by itself and that took me by surprise.  Oh, but there is a reason for this!  Combined with the tartness of the apples and craisins, along with the spice of the cinnamon, this recipe is perfection in the flavor department.

The changes to the Bill of Fare dinner menu have been in place since November 2015.  This is when Liberty Tree Tavern re-opened after completion of a refurbishment.  The quality of the food, along with the historical atmosphere, has remained intact.

If you are looking for a sit-down restaurant to have a nice meal, and relax with good conversation, then Liberty Tree Tavern is a nice option.  Seating is in different rooms, rather than one large open room, which allows you to hear each other talking.  I know one of the struggles I find is that the restaurants at Disney World are often very noisy due to large open spaces.  This is not the case here at Liberty Tree Tavern.  If you are looking for exotic foods then this is not the place for you.  However, if you are trying to find a home-cooked style meal, then Liberty Tree Tavern is sure to fit the bill with their updated Bill of Fare dinner menu.

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What do you think of the changes to the Liberty Tree Tavern Bill of Fare menu?  Please leave your comments in the box below.

 

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Soar High Above Lake Buena Vista on the Characters in Flight Balloon http://www.chipandco.com/soar-high-lake-buena-vista-characters-flight-balloon-244753/ http://www.chipandco.com/soar-high-lake-buena-vista-characters-flight-balloon-244753/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2016 23:00:59 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=244753 Did you know that you can soar high above Lake Buena Vista on the Characters in Flight balloon, located at Disney Springs West Side, for some spectacular views of the Walt Disney World Resort?  You can choose to ride during the day or the night, weather permitting, depending on what your expectations are of the […]

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Characters in Flight

Did you know that you can soar high above Lake Buena Vista on the Characters in Flight balloon, located at Disney Springs West Side, for some spectacular views of the Walt Disney World Resort?  You can choose to ride during the day or the night, weather permitting, depending on what your expectations are of the experience.  Be sure to check for discounted prices and for flight conditions on the day you want to soar.  The views, from 400 feet above Lake Buena Vista, are what this ride is all about.

I chose to soar on Characters in Flight, for the first time ever, on a day that was sunny, with some very light winds, a mostly blue sky, and some lovely cirrus clouds.  If you have any issues with heights, this is exactly the type of day you will want to take part in this experience.  I am not a fan of heights but I challenged myself to soar; and I was very glad that I did.

Prior to lift-off, your Aerophile-certified pilot will instruct you to hold onto the rail that runs along the perimeter.  As you begin to ascend, even with the lightest of winds, you will feel the movement and the sensation of moving upwards.  You will immediately notice the landscape of Disney Springs and the area around Lake Buena Vista.  As you rise a bit higher you will begin to see many familiar Walt Disney World landmarks such as the Tower of Terror, at Hollywood Studios, and Spaceship Earth, at Epcot.  When you reach the maximum soaring height of 400 feet, you can literally see all of Walt Disney World and beyond.  There were quite a few people on my flight so walking all the way around was, unfortunately, not an option.  However, if you soar during a low attendance time, you would be able to move around the entire space.  Either way, you are granted some amazing 360 degree views of the Walt Disney World Resort.

The standard prices are $18 for adults, $12 for children ages 3-9, and children ages 2 and under ride free.  There are many options for obtaining discounted prices as well.  If you fly before 10:00am the price is significantly reduced so be sure to ask when purchasing your tickets.  You may also wish to search online for discounted coupons.  I found my discount on Groupon and was able to soar on Characters in Flight for $10.

Safety is always a first priority at Walt Disney World.  Flights on Characters in Flight will be grounded if winds exceed more than 22 miles per hour, or if there are storms, particularly with lightning, within 10 miles of Disney Springs.  Be sure to check the conditions for flight upon your arrival.  The stronger the winds, the fewer people are allowed to ride on each flight.  The conditions on the day of my flight were near perfect with the lightest wind and no storms nearby.

With all of the new venues at Disney Springs, the landscape has certainly changed this past year.  The Characters in Flight balloon offers an amazing opportunity to see these changes from a fun and interesting vantage point.  I recommend you try soaring at least once.  As for me, I am already planning to soar after dark, sometime in the near future, so I can see the Walt Disney World Resort lit up at night.

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Are you ready to soar on Characters in Flight?  Please leave your comments in the box below.

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Make your own Dole Whip Cake at home! http://www.chipandco.com/make-dole-whip-cake-home-244500/ http://www.chipandco.com/make-dole-whip-cake-home-244500/#respond Sat, 23 Jul 2016 11:30:40 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=244500 Some genius, somewhere, took the iconic Dole Whip dessert that we all know and love and turned it into a cake. I will admit – I was skeptical at first, like “Is that REALLY going to translate well into cake form?” well – the answer is YES. Not only does it translate well, but it’s […]

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Some genius, somewhere, took the iconic Dole Whip dessert that we all know and love and turned it into a cake. I will admit – I was skeptical at first, like “Is that REALLY going to translate well into cake form?” well – the answer is YES. Not only does it translate well, but it’s delicious, too!

Check it out:

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Dole Whip Cake
(Recipe Courtesy of Dole)

Ingredients
1 can (20 oz.) DOLE Crushed Pineapple 1 box (2¬layer) white cake mix
1 cup plus 5 tablespoons all¬purpose flour, divided
1¬ 3/4 cup sugar divided
3/4 plus pinch teaspoon salt, divided
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ¬1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, divided
1¬ 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1 can (6 oz) DOLE Pineapple Juice
1 cup whole milk
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
1/2 cup boiling water
1 box (4 servings) pineapple flavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1¬ 1/4 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray two (9¬inch) round baking pans with cooking spray and line with parchment or wax paper.

Press crushed pineapple through a sieve to drain well, reserving the juice. Juice should measure about 1¬1/3 cups. Set aside. Add pineapple to food processor and process until pureed. Set aside.

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Combine cake mix, 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add egg whites, oil, 1 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, reserved juice, and half of the reserved pineapple puree. Mix with a hand mixer for 2 minutes.

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Divide batter between prepared baking pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Meanwhile, heat pineapple juice to boil and add gelatin. Stir until completely dissolved. Add cold water and stir to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup yogurt and whipped topping until well blended. Cover and chill until set, about 1 hour.

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Combine remaining 5 tablespoons flour, 1 cup sugar, and milk in a small sauce pan. Whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer. Continue to cook and whisk for 3 minutes, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, pinch of salt, and butter one cube at a time, ensuring frosting is smooth. Fold in remaining pineapple puree.

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Spread filling over bottom layer of cake. Top with second layer. Spread frosting over cake. Chill cake for at least an hour before serving.

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It got an enthusiastic seal of approval from my little Mickey lover!

It’s tropical, it’s moist and flavorful, and best of all – its reminiscent of those hot sunny days at Disney – so if you’re looking for the perfect dessert to bring along to a summer cookout or BBQ, or if you’re just looking for a reminder of just how delicious those Dole Whips are – then I suggest you give this recipe a try.

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Is staying off site better than staying at a Disney World Resort Hotel? http://www.chipandco.com/staying-disney-world-resort-hotel-vs-off-property-244321/ http://www.chipandco.com/staying-disney-world-resort-hotel-vs-off-property-244321/#respond Wed, 20 Jul 2016 11:30:59 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=244321 I am normally a huge advocate for staying on property at a Disney Resort Hotel when I visit Walt Disney World – it’s way more convenient and closer to the Magic – but truth be told, sometimes those conveniences/perks of staying on site aren’t exactly free…and now that I have a family of my own, […]

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wdw

I am normally a huge advocate for staying on property at a Disney Resort Hotel when I visit Walt Disney World – it’s way more convenient and closer to the Magic – but truth be told, sometimes those conveniences/perks of staying on site aren’t exactly free…and now that I have a family of my own, I am seriously considering staying off property (GASP! Shocking, I know…)

Read on to discover some of the perks of staying somewhere other than a Disney World-owned Hotel:

More Space: There are a TON of Hotels and Resorts near Walt Disney World, and many of them offer a wide variety of room sizes/styles – from standard rooms, to suites, multi-bedroom apartments, villas – there are so many options to choose from! For example check out this special the Disney Springs Resort hotels are running.  In addition to hotels, there are TONS of vacation houses, condos, and townhomes in the Orlando area that are available for rental through sites like airbnb.com and homeaway.com. Whether you’re traveling to Florida alone or with your kids and husband, or your friends or extended family – there are places of every shape and size out there for you to stay in – many with separate bedrooms/bathrooms so you can have some privacy and a chance to relax (after all, you are on vacation!)

Dining/Diet Flexibility: Walt Disney World offers some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted – and I have been lucky enough to dine in many of their restaurants (and am working on trying out the rest!), and would eat there all the time if I could afford to! The prices overall are not awful, and the service is always amazing, but if you stay off site, you can really save a lot of money on food. If you stay at a place with a kitchen, you can head over to a nearby grocery store (there are plenty in the area!) for whatever you want to cook up – at a much lower cost than buying a similar meal in the Walt Disney Parks or Resorts. You can also do what Chip does and use Garden Grocer. And if you are on a special diet for whatever reason, having your own kitchen and the ability to prepare your own meals would come in VERY handy. Even just purchasing some snack items/drinks at the store to bring along to the Parks can save you and your family a bunch of money (not to mention having snacks on hand can help fend off meltdowns – always a plus in my book!)

COST: This is for real the biggest perk to me – if I can save money on my lodging budget, that means I can allocate those funds elsewhere – more souvenirs, more character meals – or even another day or two at the Parks! Once you step offsite, the prices of hotels/Resorts/rental properties drops dramatically – and there are deals up for grabs every day on sites like Travelocity.com, or hotels.com – you just have to look for them! There are a bunch of hotels within walking distance of Disney, and a bunch more that offer free shuttles to the Disney Parks. Of course, there are places that are too far for walking or don’t offer shuttles, so the best thing to do in that case is rent a car – and even when you factor in the rental cost, gas, and parking at the Parks, you still can have a decent savings over the cost of a WDW Resort. Not to mention – having a car makes it easy to run to the store for more food/diapers/snacks, and it gives you the option of checking out places other than Disney World while in the area.

Bottom line is – if you want the comforts of home while you’re on vacation like privacy, multiple bathrooms, a kitchen/the ability to cook, space to hang out/relax – you just won’t get these on WDW Property without paying an arm and a leg, and staying off property gives you the chance to have all this and more at a much lower price

I have stayed on property at WDW many times – so I know firsthand what I would be missing out on by staying off property: the Magical Express service, Extra Magic Hours, and yes we would lose out on some of that Disney Magic too – but for someone on a tight budget whose kid might be a bit too young to fully appreciate what staying “on property” entails the first time he visits Disney, I have to say, off property is looking more appealing by the day for my family!

What about you – have you stayed off property, or are you strictly a WDW Resort family?

Let us know your experiences in the comment box below.

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Review of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique’s New Location at Disney Springs http://www.chipandco.com/review-bibbidi-bobbidi-boutiques-new-location-disney-springs-243835/ http://www.chipandco.com/review-bibbidi-bobbidi-boutiques-new-location-disney-springs-243835/#respond Tue, 12 Jul 2016 23:00:40 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=243835 This review of a recent visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique was inspired by the absolute magic of the experience. The new location for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is at the back corner of Once Upon a Toy and is adjacent to the children’s splash pad area in the Marketplace section of Disney Springs. From the moment […]

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This review of a recent visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique was inspired by the absolute magic of the experience. The new location for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is at the back corner of Once Upon a Toy and is adjacent to the children’s splash pad area in the Marketplace section of Disney Springs. From the moment you enter the reception area, to the moment you are exiting the building, you are immersed in a magical adventure.  Your Princess will be assigned a Fairy-Godmother-In-Training, they will choose their make-over colors, they will have the opportunity to see the Fairy Godmother herself in the Magical Mirror, and they will have their picture taken in a special photo-room complete with a Cinderella carriage.

As I entered the reception area with my grand-daughter, we were immediately welcomed by a lovely lady holding a star wand.  She directed us to the reception desk where a young woman showed us the package options.  There are packages offered for Princesses and Princes alike.  We decided on the Crown Package with the Color Star hairstyle.  Included in the package was the application of shimmering make-up, face gem, nail polish, Princess sash, Princess cinch bag, and two colorful hair streaks in the colors of my grand-daughter’s choice.  She chose purple and blue.

We were then assigned a Fairy-Godmother-In-Training who told us she is still in training as she is only two-hundred years old. She  guided us along a  butterfly carpeted hallway with light green wainscoting and butterfly wallpaper.  We were placed into a room where we were told to look for Gus-Gus as he had run off with the red ribbon.  There was a seating bench on one side of the room and a large mirror against the wall across from the bench.  As the door closed, the magical mirror came alive and before us was the Fairy Godmother telling us about this special day.  She located her magic wand and asked if we knew the magic words, “Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo.”

As we stepped out of the room the Fairy-Godmother-In-Training took us into the salon area.  There my grand-daughter received the royal treatment.  She had one Fairy-Godmother-In-Training to do her hair and another Fairy-Godmother-In-Training to apply her make-up, nail polish, and face gem.  They then had her hold a clear plastic-handled cover over her face and sprinkled her with fairy sprinkles while reciting a poem about wishes coming true.  She also had a photographer who took pictures throughout the process.

I was taken to a location off the hallway to make the payment.  One thing to note here is that you cannot add a tip to the bill.  If you wish to tip your child’s Fairy-Godmothers-In-Training you must have cash and pay them directly.

When the make-over was complete, the photographer escorted us to a special photo room featuring a Cinderella carriage.  This room is just beautiful and offers a wonderful background for your child to feel like the Princess she truly is.  The photographer took a number of photos, handed me a photo card, and we were then taken back up to the reception area.

While reservations are recommended, we walked in and were given a space right away.  In fact, on this particular day, we were the only family in the salon for the better part of the visit.  I attribute this to the fact that this was the July 4th holiday and most families were likely at the parks.

The experience does not come cheap but the smiles on your child’s face and the boost of confidence you will notice in their demeanor makes the expense worth every penny.  Magical moments with our little ones are fleeting moments in time that help us create lifelong memories.  If you have been considering a booking at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for your child on your next visit to Walt Disney World, I say do it and you will not be disappointed.

Would you like to experience the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique with your little Prince or Princess?  Please leave your comments in the box below.

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Lunch Review of Frontera Cocina in the Disney Springs Town Center http://www.chipandco.com/lunch-review-frontera-cocina-disney-springs-town-center-243829/ http://www.chipandco.com/lunch-review-frontera-cocina-disney-springs-town-center-243829/#respond Mon, 11 Jul 2016 23:00:10 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=243829 A recent visit to Disney Springs Town Center found me looking for something new to try for lunch.  I wanted to find a place to get inside, out of the heat of the day, and relax over a bite to eat. Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Cocina fit the bill perfectly.  This classic Mexican cuisine lunch and […]

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A recent visit to Disney Springs Town Center found me looking for something new to try for lunch.  I wanted to find a place to get inside, out of the heat of the day, and relax over a bite to eat. Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Cocina fit the bill perfectly.  This classic Mexican cuisine lunch and dinner establishment offers great atmosphere, an eclectic menu, and amazing views.

The atmosphere is laid back yet fun. Our waiter was very helpful with the menu.  He introduced himself, made some suggestions, and referred to my grand-daughter as “Princess.”  The dining area offers a wonderful space to sit and relax over a drink and a meal.

The interior color scheme is warm and inviting and features a lovely bronze-colored chandelier in the center of the dining area.  The bar area has subtle lighting with pops of lime green and red coloring.  The open kitchen provides an element of fun and intrigue as you watch the chefs prepare the food.

The menu offerings include starters, soups, salads, tacos, and tortas, as well as some really amazing entrees and sides.  This was lunch and I was not overly hungry.  I decided to go with the Sikil Pak which is considered a starter.  This flavorful pumpkin seed dip with habanero is creamy with a bit of a spicy kick to it.  The texture is similar to hummus.  The dip was served with cucumber, jicama, and warm tortilla chips.  I found this option to be a perfect lunch portion for me and I really enjoyed it.  I would definitely order it again.

The children’s menu is slightly adventurous and since I had my 10-year-old grand-daughter with me I had her look at the menu before we went in to sit down.  The offerings are quesadillas, chicken enchiladas, and chicken tacos.  She decided to go with the chicken tacos with chihuahua cheese.  This meal was served with an awesome plantain rice and grilled zucchini.  She ate both tacos and about 1/2 of the rice.  She tried the zucchini but since it was blackened from grilling, she did not care for it.  The portion was plentiful for her age group.

Seating is located in the main dining area as well as the bar area.  There is also fabulous outdoor patio seating offering fantastic views of the Disney Springs.  Definitely a location I would like to try when the weather is cooler here in central Florida.  If you are fortunate enough to get a table near a window you will enjoy the views of Town Center from the main dining room, or the Disney Springs from the bar dining area.

The popular “Wall of Fame” runs along the walls of the main dining room.  These thin shelves feature hundreds of bottles of liquor, primarily tequila, creating an intriguing focal point and an element of fun during your dining experience.  You will also see top shelf bottles featured above the bar area with subtle lighting.

We were able to get a table right away even though we did not have reservations.  I am sure this will not be as easy to do when the word gets out about the awesome food offerings.  I highly recommend a lunch stop to Frontera Cocina on your next visit to Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort.

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Staying at the Shades of Green Military Resort at Walt Disney World http://www.chipandco.com/staying-shades-green-military-resort-walt-disney-world-242659/ http://www.chipandco.com/staying-shades-green-military-resort-walt-disney-world-242659/#respond Sun, 10 Jul 2016 23:00:49 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=242659 Did you know that the U.S. Armed Forces has a resort at Walt Disney World?   The Shades of Green Military Resort is located between the world-famous Palm and Magnolia golf courses across from the outer bands of the Polynesian Resort.  This resort proved to be an excellent choice on a recent stay to Walt Disney World. From […]

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Shades of Green entrance

Shades of Green entrance

Did you know that the U.S. Armed Forces has a resort at Walt Disney World?   The Shades of Green Military Resort is located between the world-famous Palm and Magnolia golf courses across from the outer bands of the Polynesian Resort.  This resort proved to be an excellent choice on a recent stay to Walt Disney World. From the lobby, the rooms, the family technology center, and the restaurants, to the grounds, the pools, the fitness center and the playground, Shades of Green is comfortable and is a beautiful place to stay on your next visit to the Walt Disney World.

Upon arrival, you must show a military/government ID to the guard at the entrance kiosk.  As you drive along the entrance road you will notice the American flags displayed from all of the light poles along the way.  The front entrance of the resort is absolutely breath-taking with its waterfalls, large rock formations, and small pond. These features highlight the front of the building and the porte-cochere where vehicles can pull in for registration parking and valet parking.  To the left of the building is the parking garage.

As you enter the lobby you will immediately notice the stone fireplace, the lovely seating areas, the exposed wood beams and the glorious chandeliers.  There are fresh flowers on tables and the entire lobby area is very clean.  There is an amazing photo-op, with a life-size mickey mouse statue, at one end of the lobby.  There is a children’s sitting area complete with child-size chairs and a television showing Disney movies.  The reception desk is lovely and the check-in process was quick and easy.  You will be required to show your military/government ID during check-in.  Off the lobby is a beautiful outdoor seating deck, with a large stone fireplace, and a lovely view of  some of the outdoor grounds.

The standard rooms are well-appointed with two queen size beds and a pull-out style sleep sofa. There is a dresser, flat screen television, and a table with two chairs.  Most of the rooms have recently been updated with new flooring, furniture and televisions. Each room has either a patio or a balcony with two chairs and a small table.  I found the beds to be very comfortable and they do provide a good nights sleep. The sleep-sofa is a standard style and fine for children to sleep on.  The bathroom is nice, and larger than most you will find on property, with tiled floors, double sinks and glass-enclosed shower.  Standard rooms offer 480 square feet of space.  Suites vary in size and sleep from four people in the Garden Suite up to fourteen people in the Palm Suite.

There is a Family Technology Center located near the shops and the ticketing desk.  You can purchase military tickets to the Disney Parks and other area attractions at the ticketing desk.  There are tables and chairs, televisions, and computers in the Family Technology Center.  Your children can watch the Disney Channel while you access the computers.

The three restaurants on the grounds of Shades of Green Resort are Evergreens, Manginos, and Garden Gallery.  Evergreens is located by the main pool and offers pub style food for lunch and dinner.  Along with having a bite to eat, you can play a game of pool or enjoy the arcade while relaxing with a drink from the bar.  Manginos is a sit-down restaurant with a full menu.  This location also offers great all-you-can-eat nights for dinner such as New England Clam Bake or Prime Rib.  Prices for the all-you-can-eat nights range from $22 to $30.  Menu items offer appetizers, entrees and desserts.  Garden Gallery is a buffet-style restaurant offering breakfast and dinner.  Adults pay $13.95 for the breakfast buffet and$17.95 for the dinner buffet.  Children ages 5-11 are $5.95 for either meal.  Each night features a fun family night theme such as Carnival or Chef Noah’s Wings.

There is a nice fitness center on-site and the walkways and paths provide a nice area for a walk or a run early in the morning.

If you are looking for a quick grab-and-go option, stop by the Express Cafe located beneath the main lobby where you exit for the Shades of Green bus transportation area.  Here you can pick up a pastry, coffee, sandwich, chips and other quick-serve items.  The busses run about every 20-30 minutes depending on the park you are traveling to. Transportation is provided for all four parks, the two water parks, and Disney Springs.  If you want to travel to Magic Kingdom I highly recommend the walkway from the Shades of Green to the Polynesian where you can catch the resort monorail.  The pathway between the two resorts is paved, easy to walk, and provides some really nice views as well.

The grounds of Shades of Green Resort offer a tranquil setting with lush greenery, stone and wood walkways, ponds, pools, wild turkeys, a wedding gazebo, and a playground.  The resort also borders the world-famous Palm and Magnolia golf courses.  The wood walkways create a path for walking over the ponds.  The ponds have many beautiful fish providing for a peaceful area to sit on one of the benches and take in your surroundings.  The stone walkways move you along the grounds between the ponds, the wedding gazebo, and the buildings.  You will notice the wild turkeys that make themselves at home along the grass between the buildings and one of the walkways.

The wedding gazebo has a brick walkway leading up to the gazebo.  You can purchase a brick for this walkway for $75 with three lines and up to twenty characters per line online at www.shadesofgreen.org/brickorderform.  The beautiful grounds surrounding the gazebo offer a spectacular background for wedding pictures.  Even if you are not there for a wedding, the grounds provide a spectacular background for family pictures and selfies alike.

The main pool area is very inviting.  It offers a good size pool with a water slide, poolside games, and live music on occasion.   If you are unable to find seating in the fenced pool area, there is additional table and chairs outside of the fencing.  This main pool area also offers a really great children’s play area with splash pad, water-dumping bucket, and child-size water slides.  The children’s area has its own fenced area and is separated from the main pool.  You will notice the lovely water wheel feature near the main pool.  This entire area provides some nice photo-ops as well.

Located across from the main pool area is the playground.  Here the children can climb and explore to their heart’s content amongst some large shade trees and a soft padded fall zone surrounding the climbing structure.  There are chairs and a wall surrounding the playground offering places for you to sit while your children play.

Room rates fall under three categories and are based on military rank.  Military personnel on active duty, Veterans who are retired or disabled, Department of Defense Civilians, Widows/Widowers, and Medal of Honor recipients qualify.  For a complete list of eligibility and rates go to www.shadesofgreen.org.

I have been to Walt Disney World Resort many times and this recent stay at Shades of Green Resort was definitely the most restful visit I have ever had.  From the room size and the grounds, to the views and the amenities, Shades of Green is a very comfortable place to stay.  While there is plenty to do at this resort, the tranquil surroundings provide for some much-needed rest and relaxation.  The first time I stayed at this resort was many years ago when my husband was on leave from an overseas tour of duty.  A lot has changed at the resort as it has doubled in size since that first trip.  The key factors that have remained the same are that this resort continues to offer a location where you can get away from it all, spend quality time with your family, and head to the Walt Disney World Parks to be in the midst of the action.  I strongly recommend a stay here if you qualify.

What do you think of Shades of Green Resort?  Please leave your comments in the box below.

 

Shades of Green entrance Shades of Green Registration desk Childrens reception area Shades of Green 20150523_134006 Patio with a view Shades of Green Shades of Green Room Shades of Green room Shades of Green bathroom Lobby Stone Fireplace Shades of Green Mickey Photo Op 20160612_120718 Lobby Shadesof Green Stairwell to busses Seating area Shades of Green Overlook Shades of Green Exchange Shop Family Technology Center Family Technology Center Wall display at ticketing desk Waterfall between Lobby and Transportation area Shades of Green Bus Schedule Exit To Shades of Green Transporation Shades of Green Bus Evergreens Sign Evergreens Bar Arcade at Evergreens Pool Tables at Evergreens Manginos Garden Gallery Manginos and Garden Gallery offerings Menu Display Shades of Green Water Wheel Shades of Green Playground Shades of Green 20160612_123318 Wild Turkeys Shades of Green Wild Turkeys Shades of Green 20160612_141618 Brick walkway to Gazebo Main Pool Shades of Green Childrens Splash Area Grounds Shades of Green Walkway towards Poly 20160612_143536 Polynesian walkway towards Shades of Green From Shades of Green to Polynesian Walkway Live Music at Main Pool FB_IMG_1467634430860 20150523_155102_HDR 20160612_114905

 

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Disney World Resorts – Tons To Do, All In One Place! http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-resorts-tons-one-place-231244/ http://www.chipandco.com/disney-world-resorts-tons-one-place-231244/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 23:00:33 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=231244 Don’t be so quick to rush off to the Disney World theme Parks every day of your Disney vacation – spend some time at your WDW Resort– there’s tons to do! Personally, my family and I like to designate one day as a “Non-Park Day” – we sleep in, relax, and enjoy all that is […]

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Don’t be so quick to rush off to the Disney World theme Parks every day of your Disney vacation – spend some time at your WDW Resort– there’s tons to do! Personally, my family and I like to designate one day as a “Non-Park Day” – we sleep in, relax, and enjoy all that is available to us right outside our Resort Room door!

Swimming: Every WDW Resort has multiple pools – most have a “main” pool, where you’ll find plenty of seating, a fountain or slide or something similar for the kids, a baby pool, and of course plenty of swimming space as this tends to be the largest pool at the Resort. There are usually a few other smaller pools scattered around the Resort grounds, which tend to be quieter and more laid back

Shopping: Many of the same souvenirs you see in the Parks can be purchased right at your Resort’s gift shop. Calling it a gift shop makes it seem like a small little place – when in reality most of them are huge and carry a huge variety of items – from jewelry and apparel to tech accessories, pins, toys, plush, and some necessities too – like first aid items, medicine, wine/liquor (hey, some people consider those vacation necessities!), etc. Why not shop close to home instead of buying stuff at the Parks and then having to carry it around all day? I prefer shopping at the Resort – less crowded, and a great selection!

Dining: Every Disney Resort has at least 1 place to eat right on property (many have more than 1!), and these are no simple “grab-n-go” packaged food places either. We are talking fresh, unique, delicious food – much of which you would never be able to find at the Parks. From pizza, to plenty of kids meals, to sushi and gelato, to every class of bottled beverage – they carry it all – so if you’re planning on eating all your meals at the Parks, you might want to re-think that strategy, and plan to check out what’s on site at your Resort

Playing: Playgrounds and play areas are a part of all the Walt Disney World Resorts, so if you’re looking for a way to entertain your little ones (and yourself!), head out for a leisurely walk around the Resort – you’ll find the aforementioned playgrounds and play areas, and you may discover even more cool stuff – like hammocks, statues, walking trails, and more! Some Resorts even rent out bikes, canoes, peddle boats and other watercrafts – which means playtime for the adults, too!

Moral of the story is – don’t underestimate your WDW Resort, and take advantage of all they have to offer (which is a lot – trust me!)

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What’s Included on a Disney Cruise http://www.chipandco.com/whats-included-disney-cruise-243474/ http://www.chipandco.com/whats-included-disney-cruise-243474/#respond Mon, 04 Jul 2016 12:08:28 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=243474 Expect Something More. Embark on an award-winning vacation experience unlike any other, where what’s included in the price of your cruise may surprise you. Discover what sets DIsney Cruise Line apart during a one-of-a-kind voyage that features outstanding dining, world-class entertainment, spacious accommodations and legendary service. Come onboard and be a part of the magic and […]

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Expect Something More.

Embark on an award-winning vacation experience unlike any other, where what’s included in the price of your cruise may surprise you. Discover what sets DIsney Cruise Line apart during a one-of-a-kind voyage that features outstanding dining, world-class entertainment, spacious accommodations and legendary service. Come onboard and be a part of the magic and fun that only Disney can provide.

Entertainment

Behold Broadway-caliber musicals and fireworks at sea, celebrate at deck parties and watch new Disney movies in 3D. Family-friendly activities and experiences include:Extravagant live shows and entertainment every night of your cruise

  • Unique deck parties starring favorite Disney Characters
  • Immersive kids clubs for every age with specially trained counselors and the longest complimentary hours at sea
  • Adults-only nightclubs and lounges
  • Themed dance parties, trivia, mixers and karaoke
  • Character meet-and-greets at designated onboard destinations
  • Fun-filled activities for every age—sun-up to well after sundown
  • First-run and classic Disney movies out on deck or in state-of-the-art theater spaces
  • Live music throughout the ship

View Disney Cruise Line Entertainment

Dining

Savor a wide variety of dining options sure to satisfy even the pickiest of palates, thanks to fresh, expertly prepared dishes available 24 hours a day. Dining options include:Three lavishly themed Main Dining restaurants

  • A charming casual buffet
  • Convenient quick-service dining
  • 24-hour room service
  • Complimentary soda, tea and coffee on deck and in the dining rooms
  • All-you-care-to-enjoy soft-serve ice cream
  • Late-night snacks in the adult nightclubs and lounges
  • Kids clubs dining

View Disney Cruise Line Dining

Staterooms

Whether it’s a cozy retreat or an extravagant suite, staterooms are designed with your family in mind—boasting innovative comforts and modern features you won’t find elsewhere. Standard amenities include:

  • Split bathrooms (in most staterooms) and privacy curtains that make getting ready easier for everyone
  • In-stateroom, H20 Plus-branded spa, bath and shower toiletries
  • Ample storage space, including room underneath the bed for tucking away luggage
  • A refrigerator
  • A hairdryer
  • Television and in-room movies
  • Attentive housekeeping services twice a day—including turndown service

Learn more about Disney Cruise Line Staterooms

Pools & Recreation

Splash it up in freshwater pools, aqua play areas and waterslides, or stay shipshape while out at sea thanks to onboard recreational centers. Onboard destinations include:

  • Mickey’s Pool or AquaLab, where kids can soak up some soggy fun—home to a sparkling pool, a winding waterslide and wading pools
  • Goofy’s Pool or Donald’s Pool, designed for families looking to participate in splash-tastic activities together
  • Quiet Cove Pool, for Guests 18 years of age and older in search of a more serene swimming environment
  • Wild water coasters—AquaDuck or AquaDunk—that propel thrill seekers on an exhilarating journey through an acrylic tube over the side of the ship to an unforgettable splashdown
  • Fanciful water play areas and splash pads for little ones 3 years of age and under
  • Satellite Falls, a relaxing adults-only splash pool with a cascading rain curtain on the Disney Fantasy
  • A fully-equipped fitness center, home to weight machines, cardiovascular equipment and numerous exercise classes
  • An open-air sports deck featuring basketball courts, virtual sports simulators and, on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, miniature golf

View Disney Cruise Line Pools

Castaway Cay

A port of call on many Bahamian and Caribbean itineraries, Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island paradise reserved for Disney Cruise Line Guests. Offerings include:A buffet-style barbecue lunch

  • Coffee, tea and soda
  • All-you-care-to-eat ice cream
  • Beaches, including a family beach and adult-only beach
  • Beach chairs, umbrellas and hammocks
  • Beach towels
  • Island entertainment
  • Clubs for kids and teens
  • Hiking trails
  • Beach sports
  • Yoga classes
  • A splash zone
  • Pelican Plunge waterslide
  • Tram transportation
  • Castaway Cay 5K with finisher medal

Learn more about Disney’s Castaway Cay

The Disney Difference

Disney’s signature service, attention to detail and rich storytelling are some of the reasons why Disney cruises are voted among the best at sea.Legendary Service

Disney Crew Members are available 24 hours a day to make your vacation as captivating and carefree as possible. From the moment you arrive, you’re greeted by the smiles of Crew Members known worldwide for their personalized service and commitment to exceeding your expectations.

Immersive Storytelling

Every cruise offers a different kind of magic for pirates, princesses and parents alike. The moment you step aboard your Disney ship, you’ll find yourself part of a story that only Disney could create. Lavish Art Deco furnishings mingle alongside subtle nods to classic and contemporary Disney characters. Original paintings, statues and woodwork paying homage to the golden age of ocean liners envelop you in a radiant ambiance that is both rich and distinctive. And wondrous themed venues—including youth clubs, restaurants and nightclubs—carry you to faraway places where memory and magic come together.

Special Offerings

Chart a course for more magic as you celebrate the holidays and share in special day-long celebrations on select Disney cruises. Celebrate seasonal events—Halloween and the Winter Holidays—at sea during Disney Holiday Cruises, and delight in unique meet-and-greets, entertainment and dining during Special Days at Sea—including the FrozenDeck Party and Star Wars Day at Sea. Learn more about Holiday Cruises and Special Days at Sea.

Rotational Dining

Experience the star treatment as you enjoy Disney’s one-of-a-kind Rotational Dining for dinner, in which you along with your personal wait staff “rotate” to one of 3 wondrously themed restaurants nightly, ensuring you enjoy a delicious meal expertly prepared to your liking in a unique setting.

Disney Cruise Line Navigator App

When you download this official onboard app for your mobile device—you can quickly and easily dive into what’s happening on your entire cruise, including activity locations and times, Main Dining restaurant menus, deck plans, ports of call information and much more. You can also save favorite activities and even text others while onboard!

Split Bathrooms

Staterooms aboard all Disney ships include plenty of space, ample storage and divided bathrooms with a separate sink and toilet in one area and a shower and extra sink in the other—a cruise industry first—that lets several people wash up at the same time.

Guests with Disabilities

Stay in comfortable staterooms and enjoy a full range of services, facilities and amenities on every Disney ship. Our dedicated team of caring Crew Members will do their best to accommodate your every need. In addition, almost all Guest areas onboard—including theaters, restaurants and shops—are accessible to all Guests. Learn more about the onboard services and facilities available to Guests with disabilities.

Special Diets

Low-sodium, kosher and certain other special, diet-restricted meals may be available during your cruise. Simply indicate your dietary requests or allergies when you book your vacation—and let your waiter know before each meal—and we’ll do our best accommodate your dining requirements.

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Top 5 reasons to stay “On Site” at Walt Disney World http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-reasons-stay-site-walt-disney-world-243132/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-5-reasons-stay-site-walt-disney-world-243132/#respond Mon, 27 Jun 2016 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=243132 I have always been a big fan of staying at Walt Disney World’s on site Resorts – for MANY reasons. If you’re planning a WDW trip and you aren’t sure if you want to stay on site or off site, maybe these Top 5 reasons to stay “On Site” at Walt Disney World will help sway […]

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I have always been a big fan of staying at Walt Disney World’s on site Resorts – for MANY reasons. If you’re planning a WDW trip and you aren’t sure if you want to stay on site or off site, maybe these Top 5 reasons to stay “On Site” at Walt Disney World will help sway you:

Magical Express: Disney provides free shuttle service from the Orlando airport to all WDW Resort Hotels – and they will even grab your luggage from baggage claim for you and bring it to your room! Return service is also provided, and they can help with checking bags when you are headed back home, too. In my opinion, this is one of the best perks of staying at a WDW Resort – as it eliminates the following questions: “should we rent a car? How will we get to the hotel? Where is baggage claim? Where are our bags?, etc – you get the idea. It just is one less thing to have to worry about, plus you get to start the “Disney experience” early – at the airport, when you reach the Magical Express desk and there’s a smiling Disney cast member waiting to greet you – you can let out a sigh of relief and let the Mouse take it from there!

Top Notch Service: I mentioned that smiling cast member who greets you at the Magical Express – well – that’s just the beginning. WDW Resort employees are amazing – polite, efficient, knowledgeable, and they will really go above and beyond to make sure your stay is as magical as possible. They are always there with a smile and a helping hand, and it honestly might seem like this is impossible – you’re probably thinking “can people be THAT helpful/happy all the time?” and the answer is YES – they can, and they are. They can answer almost any question you have, and if they don’t know the answer – they will make sure they find you the person that does. The smiles on their faces really make a difference in helping you feel relaxed and happy – which you should be, since you’re on vacation (you deserve it!)

Resort Food RULES: Each WDW Resort has on-site dining available, and we aren’t talking just some lame continental breakfast either. Freshly prepared hot meals using only the best ingredients is what you will find at these dining spots. All Resorts have some sort of “Quick Dining” location – where you can grab both fresh and pre-packaged snacks/meals, and many Resorts also offer a variety of sit down restaurants too – seafood, steak, sushi, burgers & sandwiches, pasta – there’s something for everyone, and the beauty of it is that you don’t even have to leave your hotel to get it

Extra Magic Hours: Each day, one of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks opens one hour early or remains open up to 2 hours after regular closing time – and the best part is, only people who stay at WDW Resort Hotels are allowed to take advantage of these extra park hours. So that means shorter lines and fewer crowds for you early birds (or night owls), and the chance to experience more rides (some twice or more in a row if you’re lucky!) and attractions. I have also gotten some pretty amazing pictures of Cinderella’s Castle thanks to Extra Magic Hours – it’s a great perk that’s definitely worth waking up early for

Being IN The Magic: There’s nothing quite like waking up and knowing that you’re IN WALT DISNEY WORLD – it’s just such a unique experience, and staying at a WDW hotel makes it just that much more special and magical! There’s transportation available at all WDW Resorts to all of the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs – most is bus transportation, but there are also boats and monorails at select Resorts. Some Resorts are even close enough that you can walk right to the Parks – can’t get much closer to the Mouse than that!

Hopefully these perks have helped convince you that staying at a Disney World Resort Hotel is the way to go – because who doesn’t want to make their vacation even better by staying right in the middle of all the action? I know I do!

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Top 4 Tips for Meeting your favorite Disney Characters at Walt Disney World http://www.chipandco.com/top-4-tips-for-meeting-your-favorite-disney-characters-at-walt-disney-world-240141/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-4-tips-for-meeting-your-favorite-disney-characters-at-walt-disney-world-240141/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:44:13 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=240141 One of the best things about traveling to Walt Disney World is that you can get the chance to rub elbows with some of the most famous characters ever – we’re talking Mickey & Minnie, Anna & Elsa, and so many more, too! Character meet and greets are a super important part of each day […]

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One of the best things about traveling to Walt Disney World is that you can get the chance to rub elbows with some of the most famous characters ever – we’re talking Mickey & Minnie, Anna & Elsa, and so many more, too! Character meet and greets are a super important part of each day my family spends at the Disney Parks – and I’m betting they will be for you, too! It can be overwhelming, not knowing where the characters might be or how your little one can get to meet their all-time favorites, but you needn’t worry – help is here!

Here’s our Top 4 Tips for Meeting your favorite Disney Characters at Walt Disney World:

Technology Is Your Friend: Let’s be real – you use your smartphone all the time anyways, you’ll have it out a lot to take pictures while you’re in Disney, so you might as well use it to help you meet characters, right? You’ll want to download the My Disney Experience app well in advance of your trip, so you have time to get used to it and play around with its features – and one of the best features of the app is the Character locater – just click on the “Characters” tab from the main screen and up comes an alphabetical list of characters and the times/places that you can meet up with them. As if that isn’t amazing enough, you can even sort by location so you can view the Characters for the Parks you’re currently at, or plan ahead for the day too!

Character Meals Are A MUST: For those of you who are unfamiliar with Character Dining, let me school you real quick – it’s basically a meal where you get to meet anywhere from 3-5 characters all in one place – and the best part is – they come to YOU! That’s right, pretty much all character meals (with the exception of Mickey’s Backyard BBQ), follow the same pattern – where the characters circulate from table to table, and for most places it takes about and hour and a half to get to see all the characters. Word of warning if you’re new to character dining: these restaurants can be loud and crowded – but you shouldn’t let that deter you from planning to eat at these places – as they can be truly amazing experiences! Character meals allow you to be treated like royalty and meet all the Disney Princesses, or join the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto) at Mickey’s place – Chef Mickey’s. So if nothing else, you’re getting a chance to meet multiple characters in one place, while enjoying a delicious meal – and that’s what we call vacation multitasking at its finest!

The Waiting Game: Even if you come armed with a strategy and have a list and plan out when and where you’re going to meet up with your “must see” characters, be warned – it may not go totally as planned. You might miss a character due to a delay at another ride, or you might end up still waiting an hour in line to see a character (even if you planned ahead!). So the best planning advice I can give you is to plan on doing some standing around and waiting – take that chance to practice patience, and make sure you bring along some snacks/drinks, and maybe a few new little toys or books to occupy your kids (or you!) while you inch forward towards the main attraction – whoever it may be! And remember – it will all be worth it when you see your little one’s face light up when they see Mickey for the first time (trust me!)

Be Prepared: I swear, the main reason the lines to meet characters move so slowly is because people are not ready when it finally is their turn – and there’s nothing more frustrating than watching someone fumble with their camera and waste everyone’s time even more when they should have already been ready to go. So – don’t be that guy. BE PREPARED – Have your camera ready with the right settings and the lens cap off (or have your smartphone’s camera open and ready to fire away), Have your autograph book open and your pen uncapped. Ask your kids what they want to say when it’s their turn and practice it with them if needed. All of this might sound a bit silly, or even like it should be common sense – but believe me it is NOT – so save everyone (and yourselves!) some time and practice good character etiquette to help keep the line moving and reduce the wait times for everyone else

Back in the day (and we are talking the early 90’s here), my family traveled to Disney World every spring – and my dad was our planning guru. He was truly a master of character meet and greets – he knew where they would be, and made sure I got to see every character I could. His method? Well, he always made sure to grab the most updated park maps/schedules as soon as we arrived, and he made sure to study up on them so he could have an idea of what to expect, and if all else failed, he asked a Cast Member, and that advice still rings true today – the staff at Walt Disney World can answer pretty much any question you might have, and they always do so with a smile!

Meeting up with your favorite characters doesn’t have to be hard, and if you follow my tips above, you’ll be sure to have some amazing character interactions on your next trip to Walt Disney World!

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2017 Walt Disney World Vacation Packages are now Available to Book http://www.chipandco.com/2017-walt-disney-world-vacation-packages-now-available-book-242775/ http://www.chipandco.com/2017-walt-disney-world-vacation-packages-now-available-book-242775/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=242775 Walt Disney World has released vacation packages and pricing for 2017 travel dates. Reservations can be made up to 499 days in advance so guests wishing to travel in November and December will still need to wait a bit longer before they’re able to book. Consider booking your next Disney vacation with a Disney Travel Agent […]

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Walt Disney World has released vacation packages and pricing for 2017 travel dates. Reservations can be made up to 499 days in advance so guests wishing to travel in November and December will still need to wait a bit longer before they’re able to book.

Consider booking your next Disney vacation with a Disney Travel Agent that specializes in Disney travel. It costs the same whether you choose to book on your own or through an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner such as MickeyTravels. In addition to first-hand knowledge of the Disney Parks, guests will enjoy the following FREE planning services:

  • Detailed Trip Itinerary
  • Discount Monitoring to Help Save you Time & Money
  • Updated Park Hours
  • Schedule of Fireworks, Parades and Shows
  • Assistance with FastPass+ Selections
  • Assistance with Advance Dining Reservations
  • Magical Express Transportation
  • Extra Pixie Dust to Help make your Vacation Magical!

Perhaps the biggest benefit to utilizing a Disney  Travel Agent is that you will have only one point of contact throughout the planning process. Rather than call Disney and wait on hold for the next agent, reach out to your own personal travel agent for a quick response. This especially comes in handy on the days special offers are released.  Why spend the morning waiting on hold for hours when your Travel Agent can do it for you?

Walt Disney World is constantly changing and it can often be difficult for guests to keep on top of it all. Since MickeyTravels only books Disney Destinations, our agents are very knowledgeable about recent updates and any future developments. Trust your Disney vacation to a Disney Travel Agent who specializes in “Making Magic One Vacation at a Time…”

Click here for recent updates to the 2017 Disney Dining Plans.

Thinking of a Walt Disney World vacation in 2017 but not sure where to begin?  Contact lbourget@mickeytravels.com or visit my Facebook page here to request a FREE travel quote.  My goal is to make your Disney experience as magical and stress free as possible! 

 

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Choosing The Best Disney World Value Resort For Your Family http://www.chipandco.com/choosing-best-disney-world-value-resort-family-242217/ http://www.chipandco.com/choosing-best-disney-world-value-resort-family-242217/#respond Sun, 19 Jun 2016 12:23:03 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=242217 When it comes to picking a Walt Disney World Resort, the choices can be a bit overwhelming – as there are more than a dozen amazing on site hotels to choose from! Over the years, I have been lucky enough to stay at many of them, and while I love them ALL, I have to […]

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When it comes to picking a Walt Disney World Resort, the choices can be a bit overwhelming – as there are more than a dozen amazing on site hotels to choose from! Over the years, I have been lucky enough to stay at many of them, and while I love them ALL, I have to say, for my family, the Value Resorts make the most sense for our needs.

If you’re trying to figure out what Resort is right for you, then you will want to read on for the lowdown on the WDW Value Resorts:

“What does “Value Resort” Mean?” – Well, as the name implies, these are the cheapest Hotel rooms on Walt Disney World Property – there are 5 of them total, with prices ranging from $100-$200 a night (lower prices during “non-peak” times, and during holidays/weekends the rates would be higher). The rooms are on the smaller side, and have either two double or one king bed. One slight drawback to this “Value” category is that the hotels themselves are the furthest from the Disney Parks. They are still on Disney World property, but it takes a bit longer to get to the Parks than a more expensive hotel would (as the more expensive ones are closer, naturally). Overall, the Value Resorts are perfect for you if you plan on using your hotel as just a place to sleep, and are a great way to save some money, too!

Similarities: There are some things that all WDW Value Resorts have in common – they are all HUGE – which means that while it may be easier to book a room here than at smaller Resorts, it also means the buses, food court, and Resort itself might feed crowded at times, and it also means that your room might be a 10 minute or more walk to the bus stops/food/lobby (of course, Disney lets you pay more to book a “Preferred” room closer to the main pool/lobby should you choose to do so). All Value Resorts have multiple pools, with a pool bar adjacent to the “main” pool. When it comes to dining, you’ll find a “food court” like eatery at all Value Resorts, where different stations offer different types of food (Italian pasta/pizzas, salads/sandwiches, ice cream/gelato, etc) and are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and well into the evening, too). They all offer bus transportation to all the Disney Parks and Disney Springs – and Disney is really good about sending extra buses right away if there are long lines to board

Themes: The main difference between each of the Value Resorts is that each of them has their own unique theme, which is carried on throughout the lobby, rooms, pools, and hotel grounds. There’s All-Star Movies (think giant movie reels), All-Star Sports (giant footballs), and All-Star Music (giant saxaphones and trumpets), and then there is Pop Century (An ode to “pop culture” over the last several decades – giant hippie flowers and Rubik’s Cubes), and last but not least – The Art Of Animation Resort which is themed after some of Disney’s best animated movies (Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Cars). As you might have been able to guess, these are NOT subtle themes – as the décor is BIG, BRIGHT and LOUD – it’s really a hit with the little ones!

Room For More: Speaking of little ones, if you are thinking that a standard size hotel room would NOT be enough space for you and your family to spread out, then you might want to think of booking a family suite instead. They sleep up to 6, and offer a separate bedroom, pull out sofa beds, 2 bathrooms, and a kitchenette. There are some at the All Star Music Resort, and a whole bunch more at the Art of Animation Resort. Prices are a bit more for these, running around $200-$300 a night (again, depending on what time of year you go). The price may be higher, but the extra space and ability to prepare simple meals (breakfast before you head to the parks, for example) makes it a much better choice for many families (not to mention – 2 bathrooms is a LOT more convenient than the whole family sharing just one!)

My family has really enjoyed staying at all the WDW Value Resorts – overall, the service has been amazing, and while they may not offer as many amenities as the Moderate or Deluxe hotels, we believe that the lower price is worth that trade off, and hopefully this helped convince you to check out the Value Resorts for your next trip, too!

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Stay Cool at Disney with the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad http://www.chipandco.com/stay-cool-disney-frogg-toggs-chilly-pad-242638/ http://www.chipandco.com/stay-cool-disney-frogg-toggs-chilly-pad-242638/#respond Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:00:03 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=242638 There is no denying that Walt Disney World in the summer months can be a very hot experience, but there are ways to help cool off in the summer heat! One of my favorite and affordable tricks is cooling towels, like the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pads. Being a Florida native, I sometimes like to think […]

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There is no denying that Walt Disney World in the summer months can be a very hot experience, but there are ways to help cool off in the summer heat! One of my favorite and affordable tricks is cooling towels, like the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pads.

Being a Florida native, I sometimes like to think I don’t need tips and tricks, I’m used to this heat! I’m stubborn, but when braving the heat at last year’s 24 Hour Disney event a friend of mine gave me a few of these Frogg Toggs. Now I won’t travel to the Parks during the summer months with out them! Frogg Toggs Chilly Pads are a cooling towel that will keep you cool for hours. This towel can absorb eight times its weight in water providing longer evaporation times than conventional towels. An internal polyester mesh reinforcing material allows it to dry you off, while it cools you down. Simply moisten the towel, wring out excess, and it starts working immediately.

I actually like to use these more than the misting fans, because they are a lot more portable. I don’t have to struggle to find a place for it when I hope on Big Thunder Mountain, and they are affordable enough to get one for everyone so there’s no fighting over them.

These are great for all kinds of other summer activities as well, so you’ll get more use out of them than just Disney.  They also come in a wide variety of colors! You can get yours with Amazon Prime free shipping here!

What are your favorite tricks for surviving the summer heat at Walt Disney World?

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Pixar’s Finding Dory Movie Review http://www.chipandco.com/pixars-finding-dory-movie-review-242298/ http://www.chipandco.com/pixars-finding-dory-movie-review-242298/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:00:19 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=242298 I have always been a movie buff. And being a movie buff, I love to talk about movies–not only my general likes and dislikes of the films I see, but I like to dissect them, looking at the different layers and try to really understand the story and character decisions. Whenever I go see a […]

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I have always been a movie buff. And being a movie buff, I love to talk about movies–not only my general likes and dislikes of the films I see, but I like to dissect them, looking at the different layers and try to really understand the story and character decisions. Whenever I go see a movie, what I look forward to the most is discussing them afterward with friends and family.

I have to admit, Finding Dory” has been one of the toughest movies ever for me to review.

“Finding Nemo” is one of my absolute Pixar films, and with having a thirteen year lapse between the first and the sequel, I had no idea what to expect. Off the bat, I realized the story couldn’t be predictable, because if it was an easy story to think up, it would have been made years sooner. Realizing this, I set some pretty high expectations, wanting a story that was intricate, unexpected, yet still seemed to fit naturally with the film’s established characters and settings. I was afraid that my excitement mixed with my expectations would set me up to not feel satisfied with the film.

The sequel picks up a year after “Finding Nemo” takes place, with Dory having the revelation that she has a family somewhere. The only problem is Dory doesn’t remember where they are. Because of Dory’s short term memory loss, she needs Marlin to help her on her journey, to assure she doesn’t get lost in the big blue. Throughout the film, she continues to have snippets of memories that reveal more about her storied past, all the while making new friends, taking risks, and breaking out of her comfort zone.

I was able to have the pleasure of seeing an early screening of “Finding Dory” at the Walt Disney Studio Lot in Burbank about a week ago, and having had several days to process the film, I still haven’t been able to stop talking about it each day, and has been on the forefront of my mind. It was definitely unforgettable.

The reason why this film has proved difficult for me to review, is because it is hard to put “Finding Dory” into words. The story was beyond what I expected, and had many signature Pixar moments of tear-jerking emotion. But unlike the format of many Pixar films where the movie opens with emotion, climaxes with adventure, and ends with happily ever after, this film toggled between all three of these things.

With Dory having short term memory loss, and is in general a very optimistic fish, she bounces back fairly quickly from a negative emotion or event. The audience is taken on a roller coaster of emotions, which really works to reveal the layers of Dory’s character that we never even knew we were there. The story is told in a way that we experience Dory’s life in the same fun, chaotic, and sometimes uncomfortable way she lives moment-to-moment.

A movie centered around the happy-go-lucky Dory could have easily been a slapstick, goofy adventure. It was shocking yet refreshing to see Pixar make bold moves by really dissecting every aspect about Dory, and learning more about this character than meets the surface. It’s overall message will really resonate with all of us, and our internal struggles and emotions we often push aside and don’t tackle head on in our own lives.

Where many films are either on opposite ends of the spectrum, being low in stakes and light in the storytelling and character development, or drawing on a plot too long or in too much serious, this film somehow finds the perfect balance. This is very telling of the level of story telling at Pixar studios, and how their films aren’t just “cartoons” but cinematic films that hold their own. They accomplished the perfect balance of fun, emotion, character development, adventure, and telling a story relevant to our modern time.

Although emotionally deep, kids will be able to grasp the general concept of everything going on, so I would say any age could go see it. With all honesty, this has quickly become my all-time favorite Pixar film, and I can’t recommend it enough to go see.

“Finding Dory” will be released nationwide June 17th.

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Top Disney World Souvenirs For Kids http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-world-souvenirs-kids-234796/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-world-souvenirs-kids-234796/#respond Tue, 14 Jun 2016 12:10:11 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=234796 The struggle is real – to find the kids a souvenir that they like, you like, and isn’t absurdly expensive can seem near impossible, and add in that it ideally should be something they can actually get some practical use out of – well, forget it, right? WRONG! If you plan ahead and look around, […]

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The struggle is real – to find the kids a souvenir that they like, you like, and isn’t absurdly expensive can seem near impossible, and add in that it ideally should be something they can actually get some practical use out of – well, forget it, right? WRONG! If you plan ahead and look around, you’ll see that there are plenty of great, useful things you can purchase for your kids at Walt Disney World.

So read on for my top picks for Disney World Souvenirs for kids:

Pens/Pencils: The classic Mickey head shaped pen is a great small, inexpensive souvenir that they can bring back to school with them, and they come in tons of styles (and pencil versions too!). Disney also makes sets of nicer pens/pencils, as well as packs of colored pencils, crayons, markers, etc – perfect for your little artist. Another good choice to go along with those is a notebook/journal or Disney coloring book – I always loved having a journal to write/sketch in, and well – you’re NEVER too old to color, in my opinion!

Dining/Dinnerware: Every kid has to eat, right? So serve up those chicken nuggets and mac and cheese at home in style – with a Disney cute bowl or plate. Even my son (who is only 18 months old!) recognizes when one of his favorite characters is on his dinner plate or cup, so these are good for kids of all ages. A reusable water bottle is also a really useful souvenir – and the Parks offer them in a variety of styles/characters.

Deck Of Cards/Board Game: Normally anything that falls into the “toy” category is tricky when it comes to the question of “will they actually USE it at home?” – but there are a few toys that might actually get some use by the kids, and the adults too! Disney has several different styles of decks of cards for sale (including awesome haunted mansion themed ones, and star wars ones too!), and they sell some great Disney themed games too – like Tower of Terror Jenga, Haunted Mansion life, Disney Candyland, Muppets Yahtzee, assorted jigsaw puzzles, and more. I personally LOVE a good family game night – so these are all things that me and my family would get a ton of use out of.

A Bag: No matter what age, there’s always plenty of STUFF that kids need when you take them places – so why not buy them their very own Disney backpack or suitcase? There are tons of options to choose from, and they will get such a thrill out of having something as adult as their very own suitcase! And backpacks come in handy all the time – school, camp, weekend at Grandma’s – the possibilities are endless, and it’s definitely something they will get a lot of use out of.

There are some souvenirs I tend to steer the kids away from – including glow sticks/light up toys, those fans that you fill with water and can mist yourself with (cool when you’re in Florida, but not so useful at home), large stuffed animals, small ones are ok, and costume/dress up items – as they tend to be VERY expensive at the Parks, and if they want them badly enough, you can usually find them online for cheaper.

Hopefully you find this list helpful and keep these suggestions in the back of your mind when heading to Walt Disney World – they can help you save precious suitcase space, and money too!

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Tips & Tricks for Traveling To Disney World with Toddlers http://www.chipandco.com/tips-tricks-traveling-disney-world-toddlers-240386/ http://www.chipandco.com/tips-tricks-traveling-disney-world-toddlers-240386/#respond Sat, 11 Jun 2016 11:53:40 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=240386 As all you parents out there know, life with toddlers is a unique experience (interpret that however you like…). They are amazing and learning different things every day, and there is no stage in life quite like it. Toddlers love experiencing new things and places, so what better way to introduce them to new things […]

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As all you parents out there know, life with toddlers is a unique experience (interpret that however you like…). They are amazing and learning different things every day, and there is no stage in life quite like it. Toddlers love experiencing new things and places, so what better way to introduce them to new things than with a trip to Walt Disney World!!

Here are some tips to help you plan for that magical trip with your little one: Walt Disney World “Do’s and Don’t’s” when traveling with toddlers:

DO:

Involve Them In The Planning: They may not understand it all, and will think when you say “We’re going to Disney!” that means right now even if its months away, but toddlers retain more than we think. Let them help make decisions, but break it down in toddler friendly terms, like “do you want to eat breakfast with Winnie The Pooh, or with Mickey Mouse?”, and “Do you want to go see the animals on the first day, or the Castle?” – thank and praise them for their input, and then when you get to Disney, remind them that they chose this meal/park/ride – they will love getting to make “big people” decisions!

Prepare Them: Show them pictures and videos of the rides/parks and explain to them how it all works – The Parks, the lines, the rides, the characters, etc. Especially the characters – try and get them some character interaction (like at a local theme park perhaps?) before you head to Disney, so you can get an idea of how they might react. If that’s not possible, just show them videos of other kids their age meeting and hugging and getting excited to meet their favorite characters

Pack Smart: Make sure you have plenty of snacks, drinks, and toys for the plane ride, ride lines, bus/boat rides – basically, be prepared for all the time you will spend waiting with lots of toddler-friendly distractions. New little toys/books can be bought cheaply at the dollar store – think things like bubbles, matchbox cars, coloring books, stickers, etc – these are all very useful in helping to prevent toddler meltdowns. Make sure you also back an extra change of clothes (or 2!) for your little one when you head off to the Parks, plus all the standard necessities like sunscreen, hats/hoodies/sunglasses, water bottles, extra wipes and kleenex, etc

DON’T:

Stray TOO Far From Your Toddler’s Regular Schedule: Obviously you’re on vacation, and in a new place, so you can’t expect to always stay 100% on schedule when it comes to naps or meals, but do the best you can to keep meals/snacks around the same time, and while you might not really get a chance to “nap” while touring the Parks, you can definitely make “quiet time” a reality – find a shady spot to spread out with your toddler, and bring a few books and their stuff animal or blanket, and encourage them to lay down in their stroller/on your lap for a bit, and if they nap, great, and if not – at least they got to unwind for a bit. If you’re able to leave the Parks somewhat easily (like if you’re staying on-site at a WDW Resort), then you can head back to your hotel for quiet time/naptime/pool time after lunch, and then be refreshed and ready to head back out to the Parks for dinner!

Do Too Much: On your little one’s first trip to WDW you want them to be able to see and do as much as possible, so it’s easy to try and overplan or to try and squeeze in just one last ride before lunch – and that’s where things can get dicey. Keep a close eye on your toddler – notice when they seem to be dragging, and assess the situation – maybe they just need to be carried for a bit, or maybe a break is in order – take LOTS of breaks – for snacks, drinks, or just to sit down for a few minutes. Your toddler is probably on sensory overload – so any chance you can take to do nothing while at WDW is a plus, gives them a chance to recharge, and the frequent breaks will keep you from overwhelming them

Expect Everything To Go As Planned: No matter how much you prepare for your WDW trip – the reality is that nothing with a toddler ever goes exactly as you plan it – and that’s ok! My best advice is to have a plan, but to be willing to be spontaneous too – it’s ok if you don’t ride every ride or meet every character, and if your toddler likes the train the best and wants to ride it 8 times – then do it! That’s how you make the best memories sometimes, by throwing the plan out the window and letting fate decide your day!

What about you have you traveled to WDW with toddlers? What are your best tips and tricks for making the most out of your vacation with them?

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Enjoy Dessert and a Nightcap at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs http://www.chipandco.com/enjoy-dessert-nightcap-amorettes-patisserie-disney-springs-240477/ http://www.chipandco.com/enjoy-dessert-nightcap-amorettes-patisserie-disney-springs-240477/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2016 23:00:52 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=240477 Do you enjoy a sweet treat along with a nightcap to wind down at the end of a long day?  If you answered yes then Amorette’s Patisserie, owned and operated by Disney, and located in the Disney Springs Town Center, is the place for you.  Amorette’s means “little loves” and this superior shop certainly puts […]

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Do you enjoy a sweet treat along with a nightcap to wind down at the end of a long day?  If you answered yes then Amorette’s Patisserie, owned and operated by Disney, and located in the Disney Springs Town Center, is the place for you.  Amorette’s means “little loves” and this superior shop certainly puts a lot of love into the design and flavor of their pastries.  The same can be said for the alcoholic, non-alcoholic, hot, and cold drinks offered at this establishment.  Amorette’s Patisserie also offers gluten-free and vegetarian menu options.

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The pastry choices are unique and, depending on your palette, the offerings are absolutely mouth-watering.  For a light, melt-in-your mouth option try the “Dancing with Pavlova.”  This meringue crisp contains a raspberry pate de fruit jelly and chantilly for a delightful combination of flavors.  If you are a chocolate lover, try the “Avant Garde.”  This chocolate mousse is made with chocolate chiffon cake and chocolate crumble offering a rich, yet light, chocolate treat .  For those adventurous types, try the “Sunrise Tokyo Bay.”  This yuzu chiffon cake is made with green tea crumble, yuzu jam, and mandarin creating an amazing burst of tartness and sweetness at the same time.  If you enjoy cheesecake then you must try the “49th and Broadway.”  This version of New York Cheesecake contains lemon curd, blueberries, and chantilly for an incredible mixture of flavor and texture.  The “Reflections in Memphis” offers a combination of peanut butter mousse, banana pate de fruit jelly, chiffon cake, and carmelized bacon pieces for a taste that is reminscent of a visit to Memphis, TN.  Amorette’s calls their strawberry tart “Strawberry Fields of O. C.”  and combines lemon curd with strawberry mousse and basil sugar for a merger of flavors you will want to savor.  Their “Palais Garnier” is a traditional opera cake containing almond cake with coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache.  The “Viennesse Waltz” is a classic sacher torte with chocolate almond financier cake, chantilly, and apricot jam.

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Did you know that Key Lime Pie is the official pie for the state of Florida?  Amorette’s Patisserie has appropriately named their key lime tart the “Sunset on Mile Marker 0.”  In case you might be interested, Mile Marker 0 is located at the end of US 1 in Key West, Florida.  This popular landmark signifies the end of US 1, which begins in the upper part of Maine, and is the southernmost point of the United States.  “Sunset on Mile Marker 0” is a key lime tart that is made with chantilly and baked meringue offering a smooth balance to the acidity of the lime.

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If you enjoy an eclair, like I do, then you may want to try one of Amorette’s Patisserie Eclairs.  They offer four types: Pistachio, Lemon Meringue, Raspberry, and Caramel Coffee.  My personal favorite is the Pistachio Eclair made with a lovely pistachio cream and a pastry that is so light and airy that it just melts away in your mouth.  I had the distinct pleasure of having one of the pastry chefs show me how they create the decorative topping for the eclairs.  They begin by painting white chocolate onto a special paper coated with colored cocoa butter.  After the chocolate has cooled and hardened they remove the white chocolate plaque from the paper to be placed on the top of the eclair.  If you have a question, just ask.  The team members were more than happy to explain, and show me, how they make these edible toppings.

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You have many options for ordering your nightcap as well.  From beautiful champagnes and sparkling wines, to coffees, hot chocolates, and lovely cold milk, there is something here for everyone.  I absolutely loved the “Iron Horse Fairytale Celebration Cuvee.”  After all what better reason to celebrate a Fairy Tale is there than a visit to Disney World?  If you enjoy coffee, the guests in this establishment, that I spoke with, raved about the quality and flavor of the coffee they were drinking.  There is cold milk, popular amongst the youngsters and those who really just prefer to follow a sweet treat with a glass of cold milk.  I believe that the most popular beverage is going to be, hands-down, the Amorette’s Hot Chocolate Ganache.  This is not your typical hot chocolate.  It is delectable hot chocolate with chantilly and shaved dark chocolate meant to linger over for a time.  You may want to find a table and enjoy your wonderful treats.  If you do not have time to stay, you can place your order and have it delivered to your Disney Resort.

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Are you celebrating something during your visit?  Amorette’s Patisserie has specialty cakes that you can order.  Whether it is Amorette’s 10 layer Signature Cake, Mickey Mouse Cake, Minnie Mouse Cake, or Goofy Cake, you will be thrilled with the finished product.  You can pre-order your cake by calling 407-934-3500 at least 72 hours in advance.  Once your cake is ready, it will be packaged in a beautiful boutique-style Amorette’s signature hat box.  The presentation is quite beautiful.

Which pastry and nightcap will you choose?  Please leave your comments in the box below.  Bon Appetit!

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Blu-Ray Review – Disney’s Zootopia http://www.chipandco.com/blu-ray-review-disneys-zootopia-240562/ http://www.chipandco.com/blu-ray-review-disneys-zootopia-240562/#respond Tue, 07 Jun 2016 17:00:08 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=240562 “Zootopia” has been an incredible success critically and financially, having just crossed the $1 billion threshold on June 5th, making it the second highest grossing Walt Disney Animation Studios film of all time! Disney definitely nailed it with this film, and created a Blu-Ray of bonus features worthy of how incredible this movie is! Often […]

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Zootopia” has been an incredible success critically and financially, having just crossed the $1 billion threshold on June 5th, making it the second highest grossing Walt Disney Animation Studios film of all time! Disney definitely nailed it with this film, and created a Blu-Ray of bonus features worthy of how incredible this movie is!

Often times, it seems that the Blu-Ray of a film can be pretty lack-luster in its bonus feature offering, and not really give us the in-depth behind the scenes looks at the making-of that fans crave. I was pleasantly surprised, however, not only with how in-depth these bonus features were, but also incredibly entertaining! Let’s take a look at each one:

  • Zoology: The Roundtables – This is a series of interviews with the directors, costumers, and other crew members who discuss the exciting moments (and the challenges) of making this film. It felt really personable, and like a fun conversation with the crew rather than documentary-style talking heads, which I enjoyed. They talk about fun challenges, such as figuring out how to tailor clothes to various types of animals, and the progression of the movie’s characters as the film moved along in development.
  • The Origin of an Animal Tale – I felt this was a unique bonus feature, talking about how there was a change of the film’s main character fairly late in the game. I feel like we often don’t hear about why major changes sometimes happen during the development of a film, so it was interesting to hear how they felt such creative shifts can benefit a story so dramatically.
  • Research: A True-Life Adventure – This bonus feature was so fun to watch! We watched the documentation of the animators doing their research on the character’s real-life animal counterparts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and in Africa. It was incredible to watch how they’re “true-life adventures” were interpreted onto the screen with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Z.P.D. Forensic Files – This bonus feature focuses on all the Easter eggs hidden in the movie. They couldn’t show all of them, as there were way too many to list! But they showed some pretty interesting ones that would have been near impossible to notice otherwise!
  • Scoretopia – Documentation on the making of the film’s score, which was composed by Michael Giacchino. You get to see the use of dozens of instruments with tribal flairs, which I hadn’t noticed prior to watching this feature. Having seen the movie again after watching the bonus features, it really created a new love and appreciation for the dedication and passion behind the film’s score.
  • Deleted Characters – A discussion with the directors about some characters that were storyboarded, but ulitmately eliminated from the final film. Since I can’t get enough of “Zootopia”, I loved getting a little extra of the film by getting a taste of some more hilarious and intriguing characters within the world of Zootopia.
  • Deleted Scenes – Many of these are more like alternate versions of scenes already in the film, as opposed to full on deleted scenes. Some of the deleted scenes were actually quite funny, and I loved that the deleted scenes felt lengthy and like actual scenes. I feel like many bonus features on Blu-Rays are more like short, scene transitions. I especially enjoyed the deleted scene entitled “Detective Work”, where we get to see how small animals like Judy cope with technology more suited for larger animals.
  • “Try Everything” Music Video – The music video is Shakira‘s “Try Everything” with clips of the film cut together throughout the video. I keep playing it over and over again, not only because it’s an uplifting and catchy song, but because my toddler can’t stop dancing to it!

Overall, I would highly recommend getting the Blu-Ray of Zootopia, or purchase on Disney Movies Anywhere when it becomes available June 7th! The bonus features have a lot of substance, fun, and give fans a very satisfying behind-the-scenes look of the film.

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Top Disney Souvenir Picks For Adults http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-souvenir-picks-adults-236946/ http://www.chipandco.com/top-disney-souvenir-picks-adults-236946/#comments Mon, 06 Jun 2016 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.chipandco.com/?p=236946 We we all know how awesome vacation souvenirs are when you’re a kid, but who says adults can’t bring home some awesome Disney keepsakes too? Read on for my top Disney souvenir picks for adults: Tech Accessories: Disney World shops and stores offer tons of great iphone and android phone cases/covers, and you now have the […]

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We we all know how awesome vacation souvenirs are when you’re a kid, but who says adults can’t bring home some awesome Disney keepsakes too? Read on for my top Disney souvenir picks for adults:

  • Tech Accessories: Disney World shops and stores offer tons of great iphone and android phone cases/covers, and you now have the ability to personalize these too – with the Create your own phone case kiosks coming to the Parks this Spring!
  • Bags/Totes/Purses: We all need to carry our stuff from place to place, so why not do it in style? One of the benefits of being an adult is that you can sometimes splurge a bit more on some nicer things – like a Disney Dooney and Bourke or Vera Bradley perhaps? They come in a variety of sizes, styles and patterns, and while the price tag might seem a bit steep for some of the bigger bags – it’s a small price to pay for something so classic! Guys aren’t left out of this category either – there are some really nicely made bags and other items in the Twenty Eight & Main Collection that are perfect for the man in your life
  • Kitchenware: I have to admit, this is a personal favorite of mine – and any time I enter a store at one of the Disney Parks, I am immediately scanning the shelves to find the home goods and kitchenware. It’s a weakness of mine – and I partly blame Disney for making SO MANY perfect yet practical things! Oven mitts, serving spoons/spatulas, plates, silverware, cups, bowls, mugs (I cannot say no to a cute Disney Mug), even aprons – they sell all this and more, and these could not be more amazingly useful – we all need spatulas right? So why not make it a DISNEY spatula!
  • Jewelry/watches: There is a HUGE selection of jewelry and watches available at various spots throughout the Disney Parks – there’s the Crislu collection which features Mickey in a variety of rings/necklaces/earrings and bracelets, Disney Pandora charms, Disney Alex & Ani bracelets, and SOOO much more. There’s a lot available for a reasonable price too, like really cute earrings and necklaces for under $20, and they also sell tons of diamond and gold items featuring Mickey and Pals, too
  • Personalized Souvenirs: There are a lot of spots around the Parks that will engrave/personalize various items – things like wine glasses/mugs and other drinkware, wooden and glass picture frames, leather accessories like bracelets or keychains, Christmas ornaments, and of course the iconic Mickey Ears – something no one should be without (no matter their age!). What better way to commemorate an amazing Disney vacation than with a personalized souvenir? We got an engraved photo frame last time we were at WDW, and put our picture from 1900 Park Fare in it

I LOVE buying Disney souvenirs as an adult – but I have to admit that my favorite one of ALL time is trip photos – all the pictures I take at Disney are super special to me, and I love displaying them and reliving the great times and memories captured in the pictures. But I want to know what you think – what’s YOUR favorite Disney “adult” souvenir?

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