Tag Archives: Disney

Tony’s Town Square – December 30, 2017

For our first meal on our trip, we decided to try something new and made a reservation at Tony’s Town Square. It was December 30th, and we figured the park would be really busy, so we really wanted to make sure we had an ADR. We made it for quite late, just to give ourselves wiggle room in case our flight was delayed (which turned out to be a good call – we were never in danger of missing our reservation, but our flight was over an hour late).

We checked in, and had a bit of a wait before being called. We were eventually led to a 4-top table in the back corner, and handed our menus.

We were brought a plate of bread with some oil while we read over the menu. We were both really hungry after a day of traveling, and we crushed the bread fairly quickly and then said yes to a second plate haha. I really enjoyed the spices/seasoning that was mixed in with the oil (although I’m fairly certain it was just basic Italian seasoning).

We decided that since it was the first night of our wedding trip, we would do something we’ve never done at a restaurant before – order a bottle of wine! #treatyoself Keep in mind, I’m fussy with wine, and the only way I’d agree to drinking any of this was if it was a really sweet wine – so Luke, being the great husband he is (although he was still technically just my fiancé at this point), agreed to split a bottle of Moscato with me.

Coppo Moncalvina Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont – refreshing aromas and flavours of tropical fruit and sugar cane with a touch of acidity on the finish – $39/bottle

This was really good Moscato! It was nice and sweet, just the way I like my wine, without being sickly sweet over the course of a bottle. I don’t understand the language they use to describe wine, I can never taste the difference between different kinds of fruits used – obviously I’m not a wine connoisseur seeing as I only drink Moscato haha. We had no issues finishing this bottle off (Luke drank way more than I did, I’m such a lightweight haha), and it wasn’t too expensive at all for restaurant prices!

For food, we skipped appetizers (as we almost always do), and went straight for entrees. Luke went for the Chicken Parmigana – lightly breaded chicken breast with melted mozzarella and Tony’s Marinara Sauce over spaghetti $26.

The spaghetti was nothing special, the sauce was basic but the chicken was cooked well.

My eyes were larger than my belly, and I ordered the Italian Trio – three classic favourites on one dish. Chciken Parmigiana, baked rigatoni and fettucine alfredo $32.

I’m not a huge fan of alfredo sauce typically, but this was really good! The chicken parm was standard, but tasty and the baked rigatoni was surpisingly one of the stars of this entire plate. I expected the bowl of baked rigatoni to be fairly basic, but it was so good!

There’s really nothing special about the food at this restaurant, but overall it was tasty and hit the spot. We had been led to believe that this restaurant wasn’t very good, so we went in with very low expectations – and we ended up being pleased with it! There’s no mistaking this place for fine dining, and there’s definitely better options on property, but I’m glad we went there and tried it – and we wouldn’t mind going back again..

The restaurant itself is really cute, with lots of Lady & the Tramp references (as seen on the menu above). The walls were decorated in artwork from the movie, and there was a giant fountain in the restaurant which was adorable.

The total cost of our meal was $100.11 – this included an 18% tip and a 20% discount thanks to Tables in Wonderland.

I purchased a Tables in Wonderland card for the first time ever (seeing as this was my first trip to WDW as an annual pass holder, it was the first time I was ever eligible for the card). The cost to purchase a TIW card is $150 (no tax), but it will allow you to save 20% on food and alcohol at many restaurants on property.  It does add an auto-gratuity to your check of 18%, but Luke and I tend to tip that much anyways. Also, parties of 6 or more have the 18% auto-gratuity added on even without a TIW card, and we knew almost every meal during the entire second week of our vacation would be with at least 6 people at a time.

I wanted to track the numbers and see how much we ended up saving by purchasing the card, so the numbers will be shared at the bottom of each review 🙂 Keep I mind I didn’t calculate the 18% gratuity in the cost to break even, since we would have been paying that anyways.

Tables in Wonderland Original Cost: $150                                              Break Even Point Before this Meal: $150                                                        Savings this Meal: $19.40                                                                                            Total until Breaking Even: $130.60

 

 

 

Naples – November 13, 2017

One of the places I wanted to go back to was Naples, so we made a reservation for supper there on our last night.

We checked in and were led to a table outside. We were handed the menu – which is a giant one-page thing with the food on one side and drinks on the other.

One thing on the drink menu caught Luke’s attention: Mule Flight – a flight of three unique, Italian-inspired mules, all topped with ginger liqueur and lime juice $18

From left to right, that’s the Venetian – Absolut vodka, prosecco, Sicilian – Skyy vodka, averna and Naples – Stoll vodka, blood orange juice. Mules have become one of Luke’s favourite drinks to order at restaurants, so he was excited to try some different kinds (and I might have sampled each of them as well…).

We both liked the Venetian and Naples, but the Sicilian just tasted like straight vodka.

I was boring and just wanted water, but I didn’t take a picture of that – just imagine a tall glass filled with a clear liquid.

They brought us some bread with olive oil/balsamic to start. I hate balsamic, so I very carefully dip my bread so I only soak up the oil – it’s a process I’ve pretty much mastered by now haha. Luke likes it all, so he just eats it like a normal person. This is a good crusty Italian bread – and I like just about every type of bread out there!

A big reason for wanting this reservation was because of the appetizer we’d had the last time we were here: Panzerotti – fried pizza dough filled with fresh mozzarella, artisan ricotta, parmesan, marinara, three for $10, five for $14.

These are delicious little puffy pockets of cheesey goodness, with a big bowl of marinara to dip them in. I could make an entire meal just out of these <3

We also ordered a regular sized pepperoni pizza $35 (they have individual, regular and large- which is massive!). I love the tiny little pepperonis they use, and the fresh mozzarella. Overall, a very tasty pizza 🙂

 

Our total bill came to $63.03 after saving $4.50 with my annual pass.

Flame Tree BBQ – January 2, 2018

We were feeling a little hungry, and decided we wanted a snack around 11:30am, so we headed over to Flame Tree BBQ. We didn’t want anything big, so we ordered some fries to split.

It was also really cold out, so Luke ordered a coffee and I got a hot chocolate.

Our fries tasted like fries, and our drinks were warm. It was everything we’d hoped for.

Cost: $7.57 after using my Tables in Wonderland card ($1.77 saved)

*See post for Tony’s to see explanation of the math below*

Tables in Wonderland Original Cost: $150                                              Break Even Point Before this Meal: $119.80                                                      Savings this Meal: $1.77                                                                                          Total until Breaking Even: $118.03

January 8th, 2017 – Part Three

Eventually, Snow White came out and it was our turn to meet her. We handed her our Record Store Day Disney vinyl to sign (well, just the case, we were smart enough to leave the actual record home). We still haven’t actually done anything with that yet, it’s just sitting beside our record player..,

This was also a really amazing Snow – she looked the part, and her voice/giggle was spot on – I was very impressed by this casting!

This might be one of my favourite character meet and greet pictures ever haha – I didn’t get the memo on how to pose for this one…

After our meet and greet with Snow White, we continued on our way around the World Showcase. Next up was Italy, so we looked around a bit in the shops. Nothing was jumping out at us to purchase, so we journeyed over to the American Adventure. The show was only a few minutes away from starting, and it was something we had never watched before, so we decided to go watch.

The inside of that building is gorgeous! The American Adventure Rotunda is actually a reception venue option for a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding, but it’s only for the Wishes collection (we had an Escape wedding), and the minimum guest count is high (I believe it’s a minimum of 80 people – which means big $$$) – so obviously it was not an option for our wedding. I’ve seen gorgeous wedding photos from there though!

Anyways, back to the American Adventure audio-animatronics show… it’s a great place to have a nap? It’s definitely showing its age, and since I’m not American I guess I just don’t care that much about the country’s history (plus almost everything mentioned during that show was taught to us in school). Basically – it’s not something I feel the need to do every trip. I’m glad we did it once, but I almost fell asleep a few times…

Once the show was over, we rushed back over to the Italy Pavilion – it was time for a meal I was really looking forward to after hearing lots of great reviews – Via Napoli! It was….disappointing. The food was fine, but the service left A LOT to be desired. You can read all about it here.

After our pizza and terrible service, we slowly started making our way back to the Mexico side of the World Showcase. We stopped in Norway to see the giant troll –

It wasn’t long before it was time for our second dining reservation of the night – because everyone needs second supper, right? This time we checked in to La Hacienda de San Angel – Luke made this reservation because he wanted to drink margaritas while watching Illuminations from a different angle  – this proved to be a great choice, since it was so cold out that night!

We had to wait a little bit past our reservation time, but we were led to a two-top table shortly before Illuminations began. You can read about our experience here.

Once we settled up our check and left the restaurant, Epcot was officially closed – however there were extra magic hours that evening for guests staying on property. We decided to take advantage of that, and went to meet Baymax.

I was actually wearing my Baymax dress that day, so this meet and greet was a must!

We then crossed over and got into line to meet Joy and Sadness!

After meeting these characters, we decided to head our of the park for the night, but Spaceship Earth was a walk-on as we went past, so of course we had to get on that again!

We headed out to the bus stop (and even remembered to head to the Saratoga Springs stop, since we were checking in to that hotel for the remainder of our stay), and then stood and waited. And waited. And waited. There were quite a few of us at the bus stop, and it was cold out – and it took forever! Finally, 35 minutes later a bus showed up…

By the time we reached the main lobby of Saratoga Springs, we were exhausted – but of course we still had to go check in, get our room number and new Magicbands, and pick up our luggage from bell services. We got in line in the lobby, and figured it wouldn’t be too long of a wait since there was only one family in front of us. Again, we waited. And waited. And then waited some more… the family in front of us took forever! The kids were running around the lobby loudly, the dad kept asking questions – but eventually it was our turn and we were able to check in and get our room. After a quick stop at bell services, we collected our luggage which had been transferred over from Old Key West, and they drove us to our building.

I was going to take pictures of our room, but I was way too tired (and it was pushing midnight by this point), so I just went to bed instead.

 

 

Carnation Cafe – November 11, 2017

Each and every trip to Disney, we like to try out at least one new-to-us restaurant. During this trip, that happened to be Carnation Cafe (which is definitely not a new restaurant to the park!)

Located on Main Street USA, Carnation Cafe features some of Walt’s favourite recipes. It is not a huge place, and reservations are definitely recommended.

We checked in, and only had to wait a few minutes before our names were called and we were led to a two-top table in the outside section. The menu is not huge here, just a single page.

We ordered our drinks – a root beer for me and a cherry coke for Luke. They quickly arrived (and apparently I was so thirsty I drank a quarter of mine before taking a picture haha).

I loved the carnations in the design of the tabletop, I thought it was a cute way to tie in the name of the restaurant. It also gave it a vintage feel – I wonder how old these tables actually are?

There were also real carnations on every table. I’m not a huge flower person, but I’ve always likes the simplicity of carnations 🙂

While we were sitting there, waiting for our food, a server came over and asked if we would mind moving to a different table. They had a large group checking in, and they needed our two-top table to push up against a large 6-top. They ended up moving us to a 4-top table – so no complaints from us! It’s always nice to have a little more space for our food!

Luke decided to start with the Fried Pickles with Dipping Sauce – Dill pickle spears dipped in Parmesan and Panko, fried golden brown and served with a house sauce, $7.

I don’t like pickles, so I didn’t try these, but Luke seemed to really enjoy them! He described them as having a nice crispy/dense panko-style breading The sauce was like a cajun aioli, and tasted great with the pickles. He did recommend sharing it between two people, he found it to be a lot to eat all on his own.

I had scoped out the menu before we even made this dining reservation, so I knew exactly what I was going to order before I even sat down – the Chicken-Fried Chicken – buttermilk-fried chicken breast served with mashed potatoes, country gravy and seasonal vegetables, $18.

This was a huge piece of chicken! It was much larger than I expected it to be, and it was tasty! The batter on it was really good – flaky and crispy at the same time, and the chicken was nice and moist. The mashed potatoes were good, although I did ask for more of the country gravy so I could pour it on top of those as well. The seasonal vegetables were a little underwhelming, just a few pieces of cauliflower and broccoli, but I still ate them. The sourdough roll was nice, and I appreciated the huge dish of butter they provided to smear over everything (obviously, I didn’t put butter on my chicken haha).

I came close, but I wasn’t quite able to finish everything on my plate. I would definitely order this meal again!

Luke ordered the Homemade Meatloaf – our special blend of beef and pork served with ketchup glaze, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and seasonal vegetables, $15.  Since my meal was also served with mashed potatoes, we asked about switching his out for french fries, and that was no issue at all – we just wanted to try both 🙂

The outside of the meatloaf had a nice crunch to it, while the inside was juicy and flavourful. The ketchup glaze had a smokey taste and the mushroom gravy was just the right amount of savoury. The perfect umami complement to its tangy tomato counterpart. The shoestring fries were as you’d want them to be. Light, crisp and not too greasy. The ketchup was sublime. Or Heinz. Either way – 9/10. Would dip fries into again. The vegetables were pretty good to, if not necessary to get a little fibre involved with this whole thing. We’re not getting any younger – amiright?

After using my annual pass to save 15%, our total bill came to $43.94 after tax – not bad for such a good meal!

Goofy’s Kitchen – Brunch – January 29, 2017

In the spirit of trying out new-to-us restaurants on this trip, we had made a reservation at Goofy’s Kitchen – a buffet meal with characters located at the Disneyland Hotel.

We walked over to the hotel and checked in for our 11am reservation. By ten after eleven, we had already paid for our meal – which you do before even being seated – and were in line to meet Goofy. The cost per person is $36, but they automatically add 18% gratuity to your bill. I did get 15% off with my Annual Pass so our total bill came to $79.91. I’m used to the characters coming to your table during character meals, and for the most part they still do that here. But, you typically meet Chef Goofy before entering the restaurant, and then during your meal cast members come around and try to make you pay more money to get the picture they took of you with him. I’m not a fan of this at all – in my opinion I’ve already paid more than enough just to eat here, plus I had Photopass covered by my annual pass. Needless to say, we did not purchase the photo.

Anyways,  we were led to our table – a two-top close to the main entrance, and immediately went to hit up the buffet. I took a crazy amount of pictures of this buffet, so enjoy:

                                                          The main buffet area

         Cold options – mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, baby corn, black olives and beets

          Beets (again), cucumbers, rolls

   The sign just says Garbanzo – which would be the lighter coloured ones (I call them chickpeas). The red ones look like kidney beans. Also, balsalmic and ranch.

  Smoked salmon, sliced deli-meat turkey

  Sliced cheese, pasta salad, Tarragon Chicken Salad

  Pork Stew, Oatmeal

  Bacon, scrambled eggs, pork sausage

  Pork sausage, eggs benedict, roasted potatoes

 Sliced Ham, Pasta Pasguali

  Seasonal vegetables, chicken teriyaki, rice pilaf

 Made-to-order omelets – choose from red onion, tomato, green pepper, black olive, spinach, mushrooms, ham, bacon, chicken sausage, pork chorizo, jalapenos, cheddar cheese

  Mickey pancakes, chicken nuggets   Hot dogs and buns

   Margherita Pizza (tomato, mozzarella, basil), Macaroni & cheese pizza, Cheese pizza

  Pepperoni pizza, Peanut Butter & Jelly pizza

  Orange jello, cake pops

  Worms and dirt (chocolate pudding, crumbled Oreos and gummy worms)

 Root Beer Bundt cake

  Croissants, assorted mini muffins

   Banana Bread, cookies

 Assorted cookies, squares

   Ice cream machine – vanilla, chocolate or swirl

  Ice cream toppings – blue sugar, chocolate covered peanuts, Mickey sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, mini M&M’s, Reese’s pieces, white chocolate pearls

Not pictured (since the pans were mostly empty when I was up taking pictures): Bread Pudding, Monkey Bread and a Seasonal Cobbler.

Now for our plates of food:

I didn’t pile my first plate too high, and went for a slice of pepperoni pizza, some cucumbers with ranch dressing, a slice of ham, green beans/carrots, chicken nuggets, rice and chicken teriyaki.

I also grabbed some orange jello – it’s something that is so simple, yet I never make at home, but I’m always a fan!

Luke’s first plate – eggs Benedict, pepperoni pizza, PB&J pizza, chicken nuggets, bacon, cucumbers, sliced deli turkey, a slice of cheese and chicken salad.

My second plate:

I actually went fairly healthy (not very common for me, really), and grabbed more cucumbers and  green beans/carrots, some pasta, and then half a plate of fruit – grapes, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon and raspberries.

Luke’s second plate:

A made-to-order omelet (he can’t remember for sure what he had, but it looks like ham, green peppers and onions), chicken teriyaki, green bean/carrot mix, a sausage and another eggs benedict.

Finally, we had the ridiculousness that was our desert plates… first up, Luke’s:

A mini creme brulee, a square (looks like a puffed wheat square) and some of the seasonal cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream.

Since my second plate of food was healthy,  I guess that qualified me to go crazy on my dessert plate – this looks like the plate of a five year old…

More orange jello, a cake pop covered in sprinkles, a piece of the root beer bundt cake, a dish of ice cream covered in sprinkles and some of the worms and dirt. Yup, I’m definitely an adult…

Oh, we also can’t forget that they brought over a cupcake for Luke’s birthday:

This was a rainbow chip cupcake with orange icing piled high, decorated with Mickey sprinkles and a little chocolate Goofy hat. Yes, we ate this too…

Also, not pictured is the bowl of mini M&M’s I had… can we say sugar high?!

Overall, the food was good – it was nothing spectacular, but it was exactly the consistency and quality I’ve come to expect from Disney buffets. I never leave hungry or unsatisfied, and usually enjoy my meals.

Of course, Goofy’s is most known for being a character meal! The characters were making their rounds, we saw some of them more than once.

Overall, we enjoyed our experience at Goofy’s Kitchen. I really do not agree with them trying to force you into buying your picture with Goofy, I think they need to re-evaluate that and have that included for anyone with an annual pass or who has paid for Photopass – I refused to pay them an extra $30 just for a picture when I had just paid $1500 for an annual pass a few days earlier (and $80 just to eat here). Why not just run things like they do at WDW?

One thing I really like about the character meals at Disneyland are the custom pins they have. You get one just by eating there – we have a good collection of these now!

We don’t feel the need to eat at Goofy’s Kitchen on every trip, but we will definitely be back at some point!

 

Galactic Grill (Tomorrowland Terrace)

Breakfast – February 27, 2016

After cancelling our Plaza Inn breakfast reservation in lieu of meeting some Oilers (including Mr. McDavid!), we arrived to Disneyland hungry. After securing our coveted fastpass for Hyperspace Mountain, we decided to just grab something from the Tomorrowland Terrace since we were already in Tomorrowland.

At this point, the Tomorrowland Terrace had been re-themed as the Galactic Grill and was serving up Star Wars-inspired food options.

We had a lunch reservation for Blue Bayou a little later that day, so we decided to just split a kid’s meal (and grab a churro immediately afterwards as well…) – so we ordered the Blue Milk French Toast, served with bacon and a fruit cup.

The french toast was actually blue! It was also coated with a generous layer of powdered sugar – in case you needed even more sweetness with your breakfast. Since this was a kid’s meal, there was only two pieces of french toast (or one full slice of bread) and two slices of bacon.

The french toast was just ok – not terrible, but not overly great either. We were both hungry though, and it hit the spot and held us over until lunch. The bacon was standard Disney bacon, and the fruit cup was not bad – fairly fresh!

I can’t remember the exact cost of this meal, but it was cheap – I want to say $5.99?

I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat breakfast here again, but it was fine for what it was.

January 8th, 2017 – Part Two

I still wanted to check out Journey into Imagination with Figment since it was another ride we had never checked out. We just entered the standby line, and it wasn’t bad at all – under half an hour.

This ride is super cute, I’m glad we waited in the line to do it, but I’m not obsessed like it seems some people are.

After we had used our Soarin’ Fastpass earlier, we had jumped on the app and managed to grab another FP for Test Track – that’s right, three tier one rides in one day!

This time around, we made this beauty:

I really can’t bring myself to make a serious car on this ride haha!

We decided to go spend some time in the World Showcase – we never devote enough time to that area of the park! We had to make a stop in the China Pavilion, a drink had caught Luke’s eye – the Tipsy Ducks in Love: Bourbon whiskey, coffee, black tea, cream and chocolate syrup, $8.95.

We ordered Luke’s drink, then stepped off to the side to wait for it to be made, as we’re supposed to. There were two women in front of us, but obviously I hadn’t been paying attention when they ordered. One of them picked up her drink and started walking away, then the other one grabbed the next drink the cast members set down. The two women gave each other funny smiles and started giggling as they walked away. I found this all to be odd, and I thought the second drink looked like Tipsy Ducks in Love. I told Luke I thought that his drink might have just been stolen out from under him, but he didn’t want to believe that, and trust in the honesty of people. I took a step backwards to get a little closer to the two women (who had just moved over a few steps to take selfies with their drinks), and I was able to overhear them talking – the first one was questioning what the second one was drinking, since “I didn’t think you ordered anything”. The second woman giggled, said “I didn’t!” and they both laughed. Meanwhile, Luke was still standing by the counter waiting for his drink, but everyone who had been behind him in line was getting their’s first. At this point, he finally realized that his drink had been stolen by the women in front of us,  so he spoke up and told the cast members. They didn’t seem to believe him at first, but he hadn’t left his spot from in front of the counter and he was still holding his receipt, and when they looked over at the two women I pointed out, they could see one of them holding a Tipsy Ducks in Love drink. So, eventually, Luke did finally get his own drink! I just couldn’t believe it though, I’ve never seen anything like that before! What a terrible human being, I hope that drink made her sick.

Anyways, once Luke finally had it, he loved it. I didn’t even try it, I hate coffee, but he raved about how good that thing was.

We stopped for a few pictures in the China Pavilion (although I’m sure Luke only did that so he could get more pictures of his Tipsy Ducks in Love…)

That giant brown paper bag I’m holding? No clue as to what was inside haha. It must have been pretty big to not fit into the backpack Luke was wearing… this is the problem with waiting over a year to actually write up these trip reports haha.

After China, our next stop was Germany. Luke had one thing on his mind – Schofferhofer Grapefruit Beer.

I’m not a beer person at all, but I really enjoyed this! It’s so light, only 2.5% alcohol, so it barely even tastes like beer. We’ve since been able to find it here in Edmonton, so it makes an appearance in our fridge from time to time 🙂

I had more important things on my mind though – I HAD to go to Karamell-Kuche! Just stepping inside that place is amazing, the smell of warm caramel and chocolate, mmmm.

I bought a large bag of the caramel popcorn, and a chocolate covered caramel (which I didn’t end up eating until we were back home – and it was still really good!).

This popcorn. Oh man. I don’t even know where to start. This is now my favourite snack in Disney World, and it’s up there as one of my favourite snacks anywhere – I loved this. The popcorn is not at all soggy (as sometimes happens with caramel popcorn), and it is coated with a nice, generous layer of Werther’s Caramel.

Honestly, we both loved this so much we added it as part of our wedding day dessert party, and all of our friends and family seemed to love it just as much as we did.

Since we were in Germany, we decided to meet Snow White. She wasn’t out at that exact moment, but we checked and she would be coming out fairly soon, so we joined the growing line of people for her meet and greet. It was nice to just stand still for a few minutes, I was enjoying my popcorn and Luke, his beer.

 

January 8th, 2017 – Part Three

 

Disneyland Tips & Hacks

  • 1. The line for Pirates of the Caribbean splits into 2 directions at one point. When that happens – go right. Going left the line extends into a corner so you’ll wait longer.
  • 2. The doors in the haunted mansion open to let you onto the ride are underneath the stretchy photo of the barrel guy. You can see a red light on the wall.
  • 3. There’s a little known washroom up by the Enchanted Tiki Room. And the line for Dole Whips is much shorter up by the Tiki Room as well.
  • 4. Toward the end of the night, Disney will inflate the wait times for the more popular rides. We once entered the queue for Radiator Springs Racers 15 minutes before the park closed. The posted wait time was 120 minutes. We were on in less than 20. They keep the posted time high so cast members don’t have to deal with 2 actual hours worth of people at the end of the night.
  • 5. If it gets super busy & you need a drink – there’s a tiki themed bar at the Disneyland Hotel called Trader Sams (kid friendly too) where the bar itself kind of comes to life when certain drinks are ordered. Good food too.
  • 6. World of Colour > Disneyland Fireworks. Plus it happens every night in California Adventure. Not just on weekends.
  • 7. There’s a coffee shop in the Disneyland Hotel where you can get a Dole Whip with rum in it.
  • 8. In the Star Wars Launch Bay – there’s a seemingly empty Mos Eisley Cantina. If you see cast members hanging around- ask if they’ve seen Boba Fett. It may trigger a secret meet & greet.
  • 9. In Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – there’s a secret 100,000 point target just underneath the Z on Emperor Zurg’s chest.
  • 10. Plaza Inn fried chicken is very good. And you don’t need a reservation to get in.
  • 11. There’s a Starbucks in each park where you can get pretty neat Disneyland/California Adventure specific You Are Here mugs. They usually have a line specifically for merch so you can avoid the super long coffee lines.
  • 12. The parks are least busy the first 2 hours of the day. If you can get there around then you’ll walk right onto rides for the first hour or so. They get most busy around 2 but there’s a second wave of busyness between 3:30-5 as SoCal locals get off work & just swing by the park to hang out for a few hours.
  • 13. Wear your best shoes. The parks are earthquake-proof so the ground is super reinforced concrete. When you add that + 20,000 steps your feet will be sore AF.
  • 14. Kids tend to have sensory overload sugar infused dehydration meltdowns between 2-4 pm. Bring your own bottles of water or get a free cup of water from anywhere that has a soft drink fountain.

Disney’s Magical Express (and Navigating MCO)

If flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO) and staying in a Disney-owned hotel, you can use their complimentary bus service, known as Disney’s Magical Express (DME). This is a fleet of motorcoaches which travel to every Disney hotel on property (the first year, our DME to All Star Music shared a bus with All Star Movies and Sports as well as Coronado Springs. The second year, our DME to Old Key West was sharing with those staying at Saratoga Springs and Port Orleans).

After you have made your room reservation and booked your flights, you must sign up for DME. The confirmation email you received from your Disney-owned hotel will have information on how to do this.

You will receive a letter in the mail, along with bright yellow luggage tags before you leave (if you have not received these about 30 days prior to your trip, you can give the 1-800 number for DME a call).

Simply attach the yellow tags to your checked baggage before you leave, and check-in at the airport like normal. Once your baggage arrives in Orlando, the airport employees will see the yellow tags, and sort it off to one side. From there, it gets transported from the airport to Disney property, where it is sorted by Hotel and then delivered directly to your room. Expect this to take 3-4 hours from the time you arrive at the hotel – but you do not need to be present in your room for your luggage to be delivered.

If you do not receive the yellow tags in time – no worries! You can just pick up your own luggage once you arrive at MCO (just like any other flight you’ve ever taken).

After arriving at MCO, you will be in one of the four terminals. From there, you will need to catch their monorail to the main building – it’s impossible to miss it.

Then just follow the signs for Disney’s Magical Express – located on Side B on the first floor.

The signs saying “Ground Transportation” will have a little bus with a Mickey head, as seen below.

Other signs will say “Disney’s Magical Express”.

Once you reach the check-in desk for the Magical Express, they will ask to scan your Magicband. Disney only mails these bands to US addresses, so I just say I am Canadian, and they will ask for the letter you received in the mail. Even if you don’t have that letter with you, they can search for your reservation by name in the system. They will then direct you into the proper line, and you will be greeted by another cast member once you reach the front of the line. From there, you will be directed onto the proper bus to get to your hotel.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the welcome video you will see! You are officially on vacation!