Archive for September 2013

If you have a little girl who is coconuts for Princesses - Where? How? Who? When? What?

Monday, September 16, 2013

If you are traveling with a little girl between the ages of two and eight, it is doubtful you have found a way to avoid the Disney Princesses. Being a huge Disney fan, I embraced the allure of far off places and big dresses early on and my daughter was well versed in all things Princess. She is now six and a half and I know that the timer is ticking on both her belief in their existence ("Mommy, do the Princesses REALLY live at Disney World? Are they just people dressed up?") and her enjoyment of their stories and skirts. Thankfully, Disney has added some pretty terrific Princesses into the mix with stories of independence, strength, and fortitude.

If you DO have a Princess fan traveling with you, it won't take long for you to see that they offer character meals with the Princesses. Getting one of these meals requires some planning and execution.

First things first.

Where can you dine with the Princesses?

Cinderella's Royal Table (CRT)

Dine IN the castle, overlooking Fantasyland. Princesses make appearances at all meals. Breakfast is traditional pre-plated family style, which is sure to fill your bellies for a head start on the park with very little need to stop for a snack before lunch. We like the caramel apple stuffed French toast. I haven't had lunch or dinner there, so can't really comment on those meals. Be advised, there is a scheduled refurbishment for winter 2015.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Located in Norway in the World Showcase at Epcot, this setting offers a similar experience for meeting the Princesses who like CRT, make appearances at all meals. We had dinner here on our trip in January 2014. I was a bit gun shy on introducing our kids to this style of food with an already very big dining distraction. OK, in all honesty, I didn't think the meal would appeal to my husband as much as the CRT meal and pleasing him is sometimes just as important.  The menu is not nearly as untraditional as you are imagining and has the addition of a "Taste of Norway" cold buffet offering traditional Scandinavian cold foods like meats, cheeses, and salads as a starter to your experience. My one criticism is that there is a side area off the main hall which detracts a bit from the experience of the meal if you happen to be seated there, as we were.

For our first trip with the kids, I made an ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) for the Princess Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table the very first morning of our trip about three months BEFORE we even booked airfare. Meals start booking 180 days out and if you have specific things in mind, it behooves you to plan ahead and book early to avoid disappointment. Character meals do require prepayment with a credit card, but can be cancelled if your plans change. For us, a Princess Dining ADR seems to be the final step before we (and I mean I) dive full on into planning and making reservations and you know, general craziness.

Not only will your Princess delight in meeting the characters as she dips her bacon in maple syrup, but there is an added bonus to the Princess meal (beyond the photos with Cindy). Character meals at Magic Kingdom and other parks begin seating well before park opening, usually by an hour.

Check your Extra Magic Hours/EMH! If you are using this as a get ahead strategy, do not choose a day with EMH! You will be sitting down to eat while other guests head to Space Mountain.

If you have early risers (and even if you don't), book a breakfast as early as possible. You will gain early entry to the park, fill your belly while guests gather outside the gates, and as you wipe the corner of your mouth with your Royal napkin the park will open and you will already be beyond Main Street in Fantasyland.

Book those character meals as early as you can and if it is important to you, plan them in such a way that they can assist you in having a smooth and short wait at your first few attractions. Just as important as booking that breakfast is booking it for the right day. I'll show you how to tackle that mountain next time.

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I am your Disney Go To - Who?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I first went to Disney World when I was four years old and my brother was just two. I spent a few months working a popcorn wagon (which I cleaned each night with vinegar and a knife) and serving chocolate covered Mickey Bars during my College Program in Outdoor Foods (ODF forever) at the Magic Kingdom in the fall of 1998. I wore ridiculous costumes (knee high socks with a bow tie and newsie hat, curtain fabric knee length kulots with black socks and a plaid flannel shirt, a skirt with so much crinoline I looked like Galinda from Wicked, you get it) and played in the parks on my days off, stopped for sushi in Japan on my way home with my boy Brandon, listened to the Double Live Garth when Shane drove me home, and ate after hours at IHOP on our way back to Vista Way more times than should be legal (pretty sure I was always the pancake catalyst). I was so overworked at the end of my "program" which conveniently ended just after the busy holiday season that I swore I wouldn't return until I had my own kids. The moment my daughter was born in 2007, my Disney itch started and it wasn't long before I was trying very hard to convince my husband that she would love Disney World. We took her when she was four and her brother was 20 months old, a trip I somehow arranged during an away Boston College football game in Orlando that ended up being a night game that we couldn't attend with small kids. Oops.

This past year I have been asked multiple times to assist others plan their Disney Magic and I always get super smiley and giddy and jump online to look up crowd calendars and help them plan as much as they will allow me to. I would hop into their luggage if they would let me and grab a flag and tour them around in matching t shirts. No one has invited me to do that yet, but I'd be down. Is it worth it to get a Park Hopper? What age is too young? Which character meals? What parks should we go to if we only have two days? Where should we stay? I love all of these questions and more than that, I love watching these friends go off on their magical trip, and I spend the week they are gone trolling the internet for more photos of their wide Disney smiles.

My husband looked at me tonight with TWO requests for my Disney insight in my inbox and remarked how happy I was typing away about potential trip dates and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. It's time to share all that info here. I learned a great deal while I worked there, but a lot of the really helpful info is just under your nose on the web. You just need to learn where to find it and I am here to point you in the right direction. You need a flexible plan to travel with little ones. I LOVE a good plan.

Introducing, Coconuts For Disney; WDW Who, What, Where, When & How

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Disney Defined - What?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

While planning your trip you may come across many acronyms and language specific to WDW that you may need some help interpreting.

General/Planning

AK - Animal Kingdom
BB- Blizzard Beach
CM - Cast Member (employees)
DCL - Disney Cruise Line
DD - Downtown Disney
DDM - Downtown Disney Marketplace
DDWS - Downtown Disney West Side
DDP - Disney Dining Plan
DL - Disneyland
DVC - Disney Vacation Club
EMH - Extra Magic Hour
EP - Epcot
FD- Free Dining (a popular discount often offered in the fall for a rack rate accommodation and free dining)
FDP - Fantasmic Dinner Package
FP - Fast Pass
Guest - that's you, the visitor
HS - Hollywood Studios
LOS - Length of Stay
MCO - Orlando International Airport
ME - Magical Express (transportation from MCO to your Disney Hotel)
MK - Magic Kingdom
MSEP - Main Street Electrical Parade
MYW - Magic Your Way (an addition to your room reservation for park tickets)
PH - Park Hopper (a park ticket that allows admission to multiple parks in a single day)
PS - Priority Seating (there is no "reservation," just a jump to the front of the line
PS&D - Play Stay & Dine (popular discount that combines a rack rate accommodation with child prices for tickets and dining plan)
Rack Rate - a non-discounted room rate
RO- Room Only (as in discount)
TL - Typhoon Lagoon
TTC - Ticket and Transportation Center - the hub of Disney Transportation; bus, monorail, ferry
The World - anything within the confines of Disney Property
WDW - Walt Disney World
WS - World Showcase at Epcot

Accommodations
AKL - Animal Kingdom Lodge
AOA - Art of Animation
ASM - All Star Music or Movies
ASS - All Star Sports
BC - Beach Club
BLT - Bay Lake Towers
BW - Boardwalk
CBR - Caribbean Beach Resort
CR or CONT - Contemporary Resort
CS - Coronado Springs
FW - Fort Wilderness
GF - Grand Floridian
OKW- Old Key West
PC - Pop Century
PO - Port Orleans
Poly - Polynesian
POFQ - Port Orleans French Quarter
POR - Port Orleans Riverside
SD - Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
SSR - Saratoga Springs Resort
WL - Wilderness Lodge
Y & BC - Yacht and Beach Club


Dining
ADR - Advance Dining Reservation
CG - California Grille
CRT - Cinderella's Royal Table
CM's - Chef Mickey's
CP - Crystal Palace
CS - Counter Service (sometimes also QS)
FFC- Flying Fish Café
GG - Garden Grill
H & V - Hollywood and Vine
HDD(R) - Hoop De Doo Review
LTT - Liberty Tree Tavern
WC - Whispering Canyon

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