The Rose & Crown Dining Room

We’d been to the Rose & Crown Pub several times, but had never been to the dining room portion of this establishment in Epcot’s UK Pavilion. On a whim, and without a reservation, we decided to give it a try. To our surprise, they were able to seat our party of five with very little wait. It was a wonderful meal!

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Rich and I started with adult beverages:

A Black & Tan and an English Rose.

A Black & Tan and an English Rose.

The boys tried everything from the cheese platter to the fish & chips to the English trifle. Here’s what Rich and I shared:

Scotch egg, loaded Yorkshire pudding, bangers & mash, and mushy peas. Delicious!

Scotch egg, loaded Yorkshire pudding, bangers & mash, and mushy peas. Delicious!

Sticky toffee pudding. Yum!

Sticky toffee pudding. Yum!

Our server, Natalie, was fantastic! This turned out to be one of the most enjoyable meals of our trip. We will definitely be back!

Have you been to the Rose & Crown? Do you prefer the pub or the dining room? And how do you feel about mushy peas?

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Disney Must-Do: Soarin’ Around the World

We were so excited to try out the new version of the classic ride Soarin’ that we ended up riding it three times! Soarin’ Around the World takes you on a “hang-glider” ride all over the world – rather than just over California, as in the previous version. The nice thing about the updated ride (other than the fact that there are no longer “fuzzies” all over the screen) is that they kept the same music (though I heard that it was re-recorded for the new ride). Oh, and Patrick Warburton is still your chief flight attendant. Yay!

Here are a few quick shots that my husband took during the ride:

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I thought the new Soarin’ was fantastic, though depending on where you are seated in your hang-glider, your view of some of the monuments may be skewed. This was, admittedly, a bit distracting. I didn’t mind it too much, but it seemed to bother my photographer husband. I guess it all depends on your point of view, so to speak.

Have you experienced Soarin’ and/or Soarin’ Around the World? Which version do you prefer?

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California Grill lounge

We absolutely love the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort, but didn’t have the foresight to make a reservation there for a recent trip. Never fear! They have a lounge! The California Grill Lounge opens daily at 4:30pm. Seating is first come, first served (we got there right at 4:30). The full California Grill menu is available at the lounge.

Non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri in the back (all 3 boys had these), Remy Martin XO cognac, and a Santa Monica cider.

Non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri in the back (all 3 boys had these), Remy Martin XO cognac, and a Santa Monica cider.

The delicious peach salad. This is actually just a half-portion. Rich and I split the salad, and the kitchen was kind enough to plate it separately for us.

The delicious peach salad. This is actually just a half-portion. Rich and I split the salad, and the kitchen was kind enough to plate it separately.

Pork tacos (gluten-free!)

Pork tacos (gluten-free!)

We had so much fun in this lounge! The food, service, and views combine for an experience that absolutely cannot be beat.

Have you tried out the California Grill lounge? What’s your favorite menu item?

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Gluten-free with Chef Mickey!

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This was our first trip to Chef Mickey’s since Cale’s celiac disease diagnosis. I was delightfully surprised by their attention to gluten-free details. First of all, we were given a pamphlet specifying which brunch buffet items were safe for which specific food allergens. (Not that celiac disease is the same as a food allergy, but this resource told us which foods were safe for people who cannot have gluten.)

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Secondly, the chef came out to see if Cale had any questions about the menu. He also offered to bring out anything Cale wanted from the kitchen in order to avoid buffet cross-contamination. We gladly took him up on this! He brought out so much food that our server boxed the leftovers up at the end of the meal. We took it back to our room in Bay Lake Tower (just a short walk from Chef Mickey’s), and ate it later in the trip. It’s wonderful to experience Disney’s attentiveness to special dietary restrictions!

Have you eaten at a Disney buffet with special dietary restrictions? How was your experience?

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DVC Member Lounge

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The DVC Member Lounge at Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion is a great place to rest and recharge. Featuring complimentary coffee, tea, Coke products (via Coca-Cola Freestyle machines), and munchies (packets of chips, cookies, and candy), we found this to be a fabulous spot to wait out a sudden summer downpour.

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Watching the clouds roll in

The lounge is for DVC members and up to five guests. You check in at the Imagination Pavilion’s gift shop, and must present your DVC card and photo ID. They are open from 10am to 6pm daily. If you aren’t a DVC member and would like to experience this exclusive area, go ahead and make friends with one! *waves hand*

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Disney Must-Do: Frozen After Ever

This photo has nothing to do with the ride. I didn't take any pictures of the ride, or its queue area, and needed something to fill this space. You're welcome.

This photo has nothing to do with the ride. I didn’t take any pictures of the ride, or its queue area, and needed something to fill this space. You’re welcome.

I loved Maelstrom in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion. I really, really enjoyed that ride. When it was closed to make way for a Frozen-based ride, I was skeptical, to say the least. But I did have faith in Disney’s Imagineers. And boy, did they ever come through! If you haven’t yet experienced Frozen Ever After, and don’t want any spoilers, I promise not to give anything away. I’ll simply say that I loved this ride every bit as much as Maelstrom (maybe even – gasp! – a bit more). If, like me, you enjoy watching ride videos before experiencing the ride first-hand, let me refer you to Kenny the Pirate. His excellent site has the best Frozen Ever After ride-through video that I’ve seen. Enjoy!

That time we took Olaf on Maelstrom.

That time we took Olaf on Maelstrom.

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!

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For years, I’ve been trying to take my family to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom. Though I kept making plans to go to this special, ticketed event, I was thwarted each time. Finally, it worked out. We went to MNSSHP!!!

Ursula, King Triton, Prince/Prince Eric mash-up, "coral," and Sebastian!

Ursula, King Triton, Prince/Prince Eric mash-up, “coral,” and Sebastian!

We loved wearing costumes into the park, sampling the special food and entertainment, going on rides with no wait whatsoever, trick-or-treating in the Magic Kingdom, and picking up a few collectibles. Though we could have entered as early as 4pm using our party tickets, we spent the bulk of the day at Epcot, went back to our room to change into costume, and arrived at the Magic Kingdom just before the party’s official start time of 7pm. We stayed past the official end time of midnight!

Here are a few highlights from our evening at MNSSHP:

This was a PhotoPass "magic shot" at the park entrance. It has an accompanying video. So cool!

This was a PhotoPass “magic shot” at the park entrance. It has an accompanying video. So cool!

It was fun to see the Magic Kingdom decked out for Halloween!

It was fun to see the Magic Kingdom decked out for Halloween!

Candy corn ice cream

Candy corn ice cream

Visiting Ariel in her grotto

Visiting Ariel in her grotto!

Under the Sea!

Under the Sea!

HalloWishes!

HalloWishes!

The parade!

The parade!

Haunted Mansion!

Haunted Mansion!

Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular!

Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular!

Our special MNSSHP pins!

Our special MNSSHP pins!

A treat bag and a party map

A treat bag and a party map

We loved this event! Have you been to MNSSHP? Did you wear a costume? What was it? Would you go again? Any advice for those who haven’t yet been to this party?

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Beaches & Cream

As many of you already know, my son has celiac disease and cannot eat gluten. Walt Disney World is top-notch at accommodating special dietary needs such as his. I’d heard that Beaches & Cream Soda Shop was just as wonderful with special diets as the rest of WDW, so when my son requested this as his birthday dinner spot of choice, I didn’t hesitate to book it.

This was taken on Cale's actual 16th birthday!

This was Cale’s actual 16th birthday!

Now, Cale chose Beaches & Cream for his special day specifically because he wanted to try The Kitchen Sink. I had read that it could be modified to be gluten-free, and made sure to ask our server about this before we ordered anything. She assured me that any gluten-filled toppings would be left on the side, and that only gluten-free toppings would actually be in the “sink.” Well, when it arrived, it had all kinds of gluten toppings all over it!

The gluten-laden Kitchen Sink

The gluten-laden Kitchen Sink

A different cast member came over and told us that it cannot be modified to be gluten-free. I asked her to get some safe ice cream and toppings for my celiac son, and she seemed a bit put out by this, but eventually complied. So, he didn’t get to eat his Kitchen Sink on his birthday, but he did have a nice, big bowl of ice cream.

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Once home, I contacted Disney World’s Special Diets department to let them know about our experience. They very promptly replied, assuring me that my concerns have been taken seriously and that they are reviewing their special diets process at Beaches & Cream.

Have you been to Beaches & Cream? How was your experience?

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AbracadaBar!

This cool, cozy new bar at Disney’s BoardWalk is a super fun place to hang out and have a refreshing beverage. The backstory is awesome, and the decor will knock your socks off:

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The menu features a fun little trick, but no food. Drinks only – but they’re very good drinks!

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Magic Hattan and Pepper's Ghost

Magic Hattan and Pepper’s Ghost

The boys sampled the non-alcoholic specialty drinks – the Seashore Sweet and the Magic Mirror. Our server even performed a little magic trick as she presented each of their drinks!

Have you checked out the AbracadaBar? Do you have a favorite specialty drink?

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FuelRod chargers

On our latest trip to Disney World, we decided to try out the FuelRod charging system. We purchased a FuelRod for $30, would take turns using it to charge our phones, and would turn in the “used up” FuelRod for a re-charged one at a FuelRod kiosk.

FuelRod kiosk in Tomorrowland

FuelRod kiosk in Tomorrowland

When we were there, we found kiosks in the Magic Kingdom (at Curtain Call Collectibles, Tomorrowland Light & Power Co., Big Top Souvenirs, and Pecos Bill’s), in Epcot at Disney Traders, in Animal Kingdom at Island Mercantile, and in Hollywood Studios at the Celebrity 5 & 10. I’ve heard they also have FuelRod kiosks at Disney Springs, and some at the Wide World of Sports Complex. I recently read that the number of FuelRod kiosks in the Magic Kingdom has doubled, and that more kiosks are being added to the other theme parks and Disney Springs.

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This system worked pretty well for us, though the charger drained faster than we expected (less than two hours). If you’d like to learn more about FuelRods, here’s a link to their site. I’ve read that you can purchase a FuelRod before going to Disney World, and still use the kiosks there to exchange them.

Have you tried this charging system? How did it work for you?

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