Lunch at Be Our Guest: long wait for average food

04/11/2014 - 9 Responses

We had dinner at the Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest last August and loved it! Since dinner at this restaurant is table service, and lunch is quick service, the two different meal times were bound to be totally different experiences. Naturally, I wanted to try them both. With lunch being “quick service,” you aren’t able to make reservations. You just show up and queue up.

While in line, there's a lovely view of the Beast's castle.

While in line, there’s a lovely view of the Beast’s castle.

We got there around 1:30 and waited about 30 minutes outside, then another 5 minutes or so inside. Finally, we were able to place our order with the cashier and go choose our table. We’d eaten in the gorgeous ballroom previously, so this time opted for the spooky/fun West Wing.

The portrait in the West Wing. I love details like this that are taken right from the movie!

The portrait in the West Wing. I love details like this that are taken right from the movie!

The enchanted rose.

The enchanted rose.

I chose the croque monsieur made with ham and Gruyere. It was okay. One side was nicely (though verging on overly) toasted, but the other side was mushily raw. Sigh.

BOG croque monsieur

Croque monsieur

My husband had the carved turkey sandwich on a baguette. It was okay. The French fries were kind of undercooked. Personally, I’m okay with that, as I like mushy fries.

Turkey on baguette

Turkey on baguette

The absolute best part of the meal was dessert. Cupcakes!

Triple chocolate cupcake and The Master's cupcake (topped with the grey stuff - yum!)

Triple chocolate cupcake and The Master’s cupcake (topped with the grey stuff – yum!)

Would I go back to BOG for lunch? Probably not, unless I was with someone who really wanted to. Would I go back for dinner? Absolutely.

Have you been to Be Our Guest? What was your experience like?

FastPass+ update 4

04/03/2014 - 2 Responses
Our adorable MagicBands. In case you aren't aware of this hot new accessory, it serves as your room key, park ticket, and reservation for dining and attractions. You can also link your credit card to it and pay for stuff in the parks. In theory, you can go to the parks with nothing but the MagicBand on your wrist.

MagicBands: helping you conquer the World one FastPass+ at a time.

Big news in the Disneyverse this week: day guests can now pre-reserve FastPass+ times. In other words, those who visit WDW who are NOT staying at a WDW hotel (like locals and those staying off-site) can now make FastPass+ attraction reservations up to 30 days before they visit. Those staying on WDW property can continue to make their FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days before their trip. (Yay us!!!)

But, even more importantly, there is OFFICIAL WORD that we will (eventually) be able to use more than 3 FastPass+ per day, and use them in multiple parks per day. According to Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs, “We’ve heard from a number of guests that they would like the opportunity to add additional FastPass+ entitlements during their visit, in addition to the three they can plan in advance. So, we’re working on providing them with the ability to add and enjoy additional entitlements on the day of their visit. Once they’ve used the three they’ve booked, we’ll enable them to select another at kiosks in the parks. And once they’ve used the fourth, they can select another, and so on. We also heard that other guests liked the fact that with the FASTPASS service they could use FASTPASS when they park hopped. So we’re working on a service enhancement to add that feature to FastPass+ as well.” See Tom’s full update on the Disney Parks Blog.

I hope they implement these enhancements before our August trip!

The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge: best meal of our trip

03/28/2014 - 4 Responses

We sat on the patio at the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge for lunch one day. The menu looked pretty impressive, but would the food live up to our expectations? I’m happy to report that indeed it did!

First, for the drinks. I’d been planning on a mint gimlet, but it wasn’t on the menu that day, so I went for the Ben Appétit: Nolet’s Silver Gin, X Fusion, lemonade, cucumber slices, and simple syrup. Yum! My husband had the Martini Flight of the Stars. This is supposed to be the Shelby Mayer Martini (Grey Goose and dry vermouth), Honey Darling Martini (Bombay Sapphire Gin and dry vermouth), and the Dorma Nesmond Martini (Ketel One Citroen Vodka, pomegranate liqueur, and cranberry juice). However, he didn’t want the juicy one, so they were happy to let him substitute a Jack Diamond Martini (Maker’s Mark Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters).

Ben Appetit!

Ben Appétit!

We opted for the duck confit tacos and the Derby sliders. They were both so delicious, we wished we had room for more!

HBDL food

Front: duck confit tacos with sweet onion and orange conserve, Taleggio cheese, and leek rings. Back: Wagyu beef slider with cognac-mustard aïoli, smoked Gouda, bacon, and avocado; chorizo slider with chipotle mayo, Manchego, pickles, and crispy onions. OMG!!!

Not only was the meal terrific, but sitting out on the patio allowed us to people-watch and just generally soak up the fun Hollywood Studios atmosphere.

Do you have a favorite Walt Disney World lounge?

New Special Offer for Summer!

03/17/2014 - 2 Responses

Mickey towel beach club

The latest special offer is out – yay! This is a new take on the room discount. Disney is calling it “Save More When You Stay Longer This Summer.” I say, stay longer? Done!

Basically, you save up to 30% when you stay on Walt Disney World property for up to five nights. However, if you stay six nights or longer, the savings are up to 35%. Book a room-and-ticket package and save a little extra.

This new offer is good for arrivals 6/15/14 through 8/28/14. You have to book it by 6/6/14. Some resorts and room types are blacked out. See Disney World’s website for details. If you need a travel agent’s help, check out Fairytale Journeys by Rebecca Kelly. She’s awesome!

Happy planning!

Epcot showdown: croissant doughnut vs. school bread

03/09/2014 - 8 Responses

I’ve been hearing rave reviews about these two sweet treats found at Epcot, and both have been compared to donuts. Since I hadn’t tried either, I decided to do so, and then compare them to each other.

The croissant doughnut can be found at Refreshment Port. It’s fried and covered in a LOT of cinnamon sugar. The inside was a bit chewier than we anticipated (I was expecting croissant-like flakiness), but this was rather pleasing. Overall, a winner.

The croissant doughnut. Tip: skip the coffee here and go get one from Starbucks. We referred to this cuppa as "hot water with a hint of bad coffee flavoring."

The croissant doughnut. Tip: skip the coffee here and go get one from Starbucks. We referred to this cuppa as “hot water with a hint of bad coffee flavoring.”

Head over to the Norway Pavilion’s Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe to get your school bread. This kind of looks like a cream-filled, toasted-coconut-topped donut, but is a bit different. The dough is more like a sweet roll consistency than like that of a donut. The yellow cream filling has a nice, light taste than doesn’t give you that ugh-too-much-frosting feeling. Another winner.

school bread

The school bread and coffee with Bailey’s. It was better than the Refreshment Port coffee, but not as good as Starbucks.

So, which pastry was the champ? For me, it was close, but I’d be more likely to head for another school bread. Despite my frequent pestering for his vote, my husband still hasn’t decided which he prefers. :)

Have you tried them both? Which pastry is your pick?

Castle Plaza Renovations

02/28/2014 - 2 Responses

Disney fandom has been all abuzz with news of the renovations coming to the “hub” between Cinderella Castle and Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. If you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s a brief video from the Disney Parks Blog.

Naturally, this got me to thinking about how the new layout will compare to the current one. So I did a little comparison:

Current plaza area (click to enlarge).

Current plaza area (click to enlarge).

Concept are for new plaza area (click to enlarge).

Concept art for new plaza area (click to enlarge).

I think this is a fantastic idea, especially for big families like ours. If you’ve ever tried to get through the hub area during (or right before or after) a parade or show, you know that the area is jam packed at those times. It can be a real challenge for just two people to stick together while making their way through the crowd, much less keeping a larger group intact. With the expanded walkways that are planned, I’m hoping this will make for easier pedestrian traffic flow. And, since Casey’s Corner is our family’s first-meal-at-Disney tradition, I’m thrilled with the additional seating area for that restaurant.

What are your thoughts on this latest change?

My new favorite place to view Wishes Nighttime Spectacular!

02/19/2014 - Leave a Response

There’s a cute courtyard right outside of Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantasyland. If you don’t mind the loud noise of fireworks, this is a great place to watch Wishes Nighttime Spectacular! Here are a few pics that my husband took:

gastons-fireworks3

Looking up over the Gaston’s Tavern area. (This is actually the roofline of the bathrooms behind the “tavern.”)

Looking back towards the Castle.

Looking back towards the Castle.

gastons-fireworks1

And back toward Gaston’s again.

Making FastPass+ changes pre-trip

02/07/2014 - 4 Responses

I woke up one morning, a few days before our recent trip, with one thing on my mind: I had to rearrange my FastPass+ schedule.

This might not seem like a big deal. But as many of my fellow Disney addicts will understand, pre-planning is vital in order to facilitate the perfect vacation. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot of fun! Fortunately, changing my FP+ schedule was a breeze. First, I went to the Disney World website and logged into My Disney Experience. My plans were listed by day. I clicked on the day I wanted to rearrange and started changing my FP+ reservation times. You have to do this one reservation at a time, rather than changing them all at once. This sounds kind of cumbersome, but it’s really not that bad. I changed the first two FP+ reservations and then decided to document the last one for you.

Here’s a series of screen shots I took to demonstrate the process. Click on each image to enlarge.

My FP+ reservations before changing Space Mountain.

My FP+ reservations before changing Space Mountain.

I clicked on the Space Mountain reservation and this came up:

All I had to do here was click "Modify FastPass+"

All I had to do here was click “Modify FastPass+”

On the next screen, I had to choose either “Change the Experience” or “Change the Time.” I also had to select which people in our party I was changing the reservation for. Then I could click “Next.”

Space Mtn change time

Next up was the “Select New Time” screen. I didn’t see the time I wanted, so I clicked “Show All” under “Available Times.”

Space Mtn select time

After I clicked “Show All,” there was a good long list of available times. I scrolled down to capture this screen shot:

Simply click next to the time you want and hit "Next."

Click beside the desired time and hit “Next.”

Now I simply confirmed the change:

The "New Experiences" looked perfect, so I simply clicked "Done."

The “New Experiences” looked perfect, so I clicked “Done.”

And got a confirmation screen:

This step seemed a little redundant.

This step seemed a little redundant.

This is my updated FastPass+ schedule for that day:

Vacation Perfection!

Vacation Perfection!

After this, I went back to “My Plans,” which shows your daily schedule, including all reservations. I printed that screen to take with me to the park, just in case any glitches arose.

It looks like a lot of steps, especially since you have to repeat the steps for each FastPass+ you want to change. But it actually went a lot more smoothly than I expected, and didn’t take long at all.

Have you experienced FastPass+? How did it work for you?

Spice Road Table: a wonderful new dining option at Epcot

01/30/2014 - Leave a Response

I don’t go to soft openings of new Disney World restaurants. Living in New York, it would be awfully difficult to do so. But our most recent trip just happened to coincide with the soft opening of Spice Road Table, the new eatery at Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion, so we had to try it out. It was fabulous!

What is it about Disney World light fixtures that are just so cool?

What is it about Disney World light fixtures that are just so cool?

The restaurant is located right alongside the World Showcase Lagoon. We ate outdoors, so we had a lovely view of IllumiNations.

IllumiNations from Spice Road Table

IllumiNations from Spice Road Table

The pomegranate mimosa was a delight!

SRT mimosa

As were the Moroccan Merguez sausage and the mussels tagine. They had a nice spiciness to them.

SRT food

On our way out, we took a quick peek at the inside part of the eatery (which is smaller than the outside portion). It had a charming, cozy ambiance and lots of windows for great IllumiNations viewing.

Have you tried Spice Road Table yet? What do you think?

FastPass+ update 3

01/26/2014 - 6 Responses

With paper FastPasses now a thing of the past, it’s time to start using FastPass+ whether you like it or not. I won’t rehash the differences between the old FP system and the new FP+ system (though Touring Plans does a great job of that here). I just want to share my recent FP+ experience with you.

Goodbye, old friends.

Goodbye, old friends.

1. Making FP+ reservations pre-trip: Using My Disney Experience, I was able to do this 60 days before my vacation. This time frame may change as the system is tweaked. For now, only guests staying at a Disney World on-site resort can make their FP+ reservations ahead of time. Everyone else can make them when they arrive at the park, using FP+ kiosks. I was able to make 3 FP+ reservations per day for only one park per day. For some parks (as of this writing, Epcot and Hollywood Studios), there was a “tier” system where I could only choose one “headliner” ride per day.

2. Changing FP+ reservations pre-trip: This was relatively easy, though it did involve some redundant steps. (A more thorough post on this to follow.) It seems like this process could be streamlined. On the upside, I had no trouble getting the ride reservation times that worked best for us.

3. Using FP+ ride reservations: Just touch your MagicBand to the Mickey icon at the FastPass return entrance of the ride, tap it to another Mickey icon once you’re closer to boarding the ride, and you’re good to go. “Tap and go, people, tap and go!” is the new Cast Member mantra. Not the warm fuzziness we expect from CMs, but it did keep the FastPass return line moving swiftly. We only experienced one glitch where the MagicBand reader didn’t recognize our ride reservation. Fortunately, I had printed our FP+ itinerary and kept it in my purse. I simply showed it to the CM, and she let us proceed.

4. Changing FP+ reservations “on the fly”: This is how Disney touts the flexibility of the new system. The one time I tried to change a FP+ reservation on the fly (from the monorail), I was unable to use the My Disney Experience app on my smartphone because the signal kept dropping. So I guess this part of the system needs a little work.

Overall, we liked the new system. It would be nice if you could use more than 3 FP+ reservations per day, use them in more than one park per day, and book more than one headliner ride per day. I won’t miss the days of running around the park collecting paper FastPasses for the family, or of arriving at a park after all of the paper FastPasses for the “good” rides are gone. I really do think that, with some tweaks, this new system will work for us.

What are your thoughts on the new FP+ system?

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