Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine with Jedi Mickey

Last year, Nick and a couple of buddies went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to for Star Wars Weekends – They had no way of knowing they were enjoying the LAST Star Wars Weekends ever.  The guys had an excellent trip and were making plans for a repeat in 2016 until the announcement was made that due to the Star Wars expansion coming to the Studios (after which all manner of special Star Wars attractions, shops, dining, etc. would be offered all the time) – Star Wars Weekends were over.  This made us very sad!  Let’s take a look at one of the special events Nick and friends attended last year…hopefully the new Star Wars experiences coming in the future will be just as fun!

Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine with Jedi Mickey

By Nick

On a recent trip with 2 friends to Walt Disney World, we went to Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine, which is in Disney’s Hollywood Studios through June 14th.

We started off this galactic dining experience getting photos with Jedi Mickey himself!

 Me, Mickey, Joe and Josh

As we were being brought to our table, we were handed our Lightsabers. Okay, they were pieces of paper that we rolled up, choosing either the blue side for the good guys or red for the bad, and securing this with provided rubber bands.

This is a buffet, and like the normal buffet at Hollywood and Vine, which my wife and I visited in January and enjoyed very much, there is a wide range of interesting choices mixed in with more standard fair. Several of the items are named in honor of Star Wars characters, such as the salad greens below, renamed “Greedos Fresh Green Mix.”

Continuing down the buffet, we get other items, such as Yoda’s Edamame Salad, Obi-Wan Insalata Caprese and, seriously, my favorite dish from the entire meal, R2-D2s Cantaloupe Salad, which had, obviously, Cantaloupe, pancetta, greens, and, I believe, a vinaigrette. I really need to contact Disney and try to get the recipe, it was terrific.

Moving along we get to entree items like Princess Leia’s Sweet and Sour Pork (a bit dry), and Ahsoka’s Orange Chicken (very tasty).

There is a carving station that served Kessel Run Roasted Strip Loin and Dexter Jettster’s (Obi’s diner owning friend from Episode 2) Herb Roasted Turkey.

The“Padawan Kid’s Buffet” serves Kanans Corn Dogs, Chewbaccas Chicken Tenders and other kid friendly foods.

As you dine, favorite Disney characters come around dressed like favorite Star Wars characters, like Chip and Dale as Ewoks.

If you miss one, don’t fear, they come around frequently, and a Cast Member will make sure you’ve seen everyone, like Darth Goofy

…and Stormtrooper Donald!

On to what many consider the most important part of any meal, dessert! One of the best were the
Darth Vadar Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake.

I didn’t try the tarts as I was saving room for the cupcakes.

My favorite dessert was Aunt Beru’s Blue Milk Ice Cream. It tasted like cotton candy!

We opted for the Fantasmic package, which gave us guaranteed seats for the show, and cost $63.99 for adults, and $38.99 for children aged 3-9.

I highly recommend this experience. True, it is not cheap, but it’s a lot of fun, and the food is really very good. It’s 3 of my favorite things in one. Disney, Star Wars, and food! May The Force be with you!

Princess Leia Minnie and me

Want to read more about Nick’s Disney adventures?  Visit the Disney Musings Blog and follow Nick on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.  You can also listen to Nick, our friend Dave, and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about….well, I bet you can guess.

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Can Walt Disney World be Romantic?

Magic-Kingdom-Boat-Dock-SelfieI was listening to the latest episode of one of my favorite Disney podcasts, Mighty Men of Mouse, (if you don’t already listen to Dutch, Kip, and Russ, you should) and found myself pretty fired up about an article the guys were discussing.  The article’s author, Brooke, proposed that young couples who consider a Disney World vacation a romantic getaway are ridiculous and should be mocked…reviled even.  I wonder does Brooke realize how many honeymoons are spent at Disney resorts?  I pity her refusal to see Disney World as anything but fast food, lame attractions, screaming children, and sweating.  Shame on you Brooke – you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Can Walt Disney World be Romantic?

(From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary) Simple Definition of romantic

  • : of, relating to, or involving love between two people

  • : making someone think of love : suitable for romance

  • : thinking about love and doing and saying things to show that you love someoneClam-mobile-selfie

Even though I’m a baby boomer and not a millennial, I feel I have the experience with both Disney World and romance to make a few observations of my own.  I’m certainly secure in both my adultness (if that’s not a word, it should be) and my nearly 28-year long romance with the same man (and absolute love of my life).  While we might not consciously think “Oh, we should do THIS, it’ll be SO romantic”, we have enjoyed (and plan to continue enjoying) many romantic moments at Walt Disney World – a place we DO consider perfect for a romantic getaway.

With Valentine’s Day just two days away, this is a great time to share some suggestions (in case you, like Brooke, have a difficult time envisioning the more grown-up side of Disney) for adding romance to your next Disney vacation.EPCOT_BACKSIDE 4_7072200359

Share – There’s something romantic to me about sharing dessert.  Nothing says “I love you” like offering up the first or last bite of something delicious, rich, and decadent.  Or an appetizer or snack even.  With so many wonderful flavors to try at Disney World, this has become one of our favorite things to do!  In Epcot’s World Showcase, there are sweet and savory treats perfect for sharing in every country.Bay-Lake-Tower-Sunrise

Take in a sunset (or sunrise) – At home during our busy workweek, we are rarely together for either of these two daily events, but at Disney World, it’s a different story.  Florida dawns and dusks are spectacular.  If we have an evening dining reservation, we try to plan our route to the restaurant to take advantage of the view.  Sunrise or sunset spent in quiet contemplation with your favorite person on Earth?  Very romantic!RM-Enchanted-10K-Sunrise

Grab a quiet moment – There are plenty of places to avoid crowds and yes, screaming children too, for a few minutes of solitude.  It’s easy to get swept up in doing all the rides and attractions and forget the simple joy found in discovering a secluded corner from which to watch the World go by together.  We like Tomorrowland’s PeopleMover, the benches in World Showcase facing the lagoon, and the beaches on Seven Seas Lagoon (for enjoying Wishes from afar or watching the Electrical Water Pageant float by).  Some of our favorite memories are of enjoying a glass of wine together at some of our favorite Disney lounges.RM-Brown-Derby-Patio-Wine

Go on a date – So many romantic options available!  Couples massage at the Senses Spa (Disney’s Grand Floridian), dinner at one of Disney’s amazing Signature restaurants, or even a Segway tour at Fort Wilderness can be romantic because we’re together doing something new, special and unique.  We’ve splurged on specialty wine-pairings during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival and had a wonderful time at each.  One thing we’ve never tried, but think would be amazingly romantic is one of Disney World’s Specialty Cruises.  Top date-night favorites for Raymond and I include Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge), California Grill (Disney’s Contemporary Resort), and Citricos (Grand Floridian Resort and Spa).RM-California-Grill-Patron

Take a walk – The places to explore are endless (hand-holding optional).  We love strolling along the Boardwalk and around Epcot’s World Showcase.  One day we took some time to explore Fort Wilderness (before and after our Segway tour) and had such a great time!  The walkway between Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and the Grand Floridian is very special and romantic.  We purchased a “Walk Around the World Brick” way back in 1996 – following the path from Magic Kingdom towards the Grand Floridian, we can locate our little piece of the World and remember how buying that brick was so hard on our finances back when Megan was four and Joseph was one.  IMG_1981We are also reminded of how much we love each other and our now all-grown-up children and what wonderful, magical memories we’ve made at Disney World through the years.  To me, there’s nothing more romantic than that.

*Sorry for all the cheesy, lovey-dovey pictures! Due to today’s subject, it could not be avoided*

It’s your turn!  Has Disney World been a place for romance in your life?  Or is it just a sweaty amusement park full of screaming kids, fast food, and not-so-thrilling rides?

 

 

 

 

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Disney Dining Review – Whispering Canyon Cafe

Whispering-Canyon-CafeNeed a Magic Kingdom park-break? Craving a terrific meal in a great setting?  Got a hungry group or family to please?  Have I got a restaurant for you!

Whispering Canyon Cafe, located in Disney’s beautiful and majestic Wilderness Lodge, offers guests a unique, and delicious dining option just a quick boat-ride away from the Magic Kingdom or a bus-ride from the other three parks.  Didn’t I make that sound wonderful?  The real deal is that Whispering Canyon is plain old fun!  Worth the trip no matter how you get there.  The theme is western, the food American, and the service will be either hilariously ridiculous or the usual service of the excellent Disney variety – you get to decide if you are ready to be part of the action or if you just want to watch and enjoy some tasty comfort food.Whispering-Canyon-SignWhispering-Canyon-Indicator-NO-FUNWhispering-Canyon-Indicator-FUN

Raymond and I booked lunch at Whispering Canyon based on reviews we’d read and recommendations from Disney World food fans like us.  Having had poor luck with meals in the past at Artist Point, we were hoping Whispering Canyon would become our go-to dining choice at Wilderness Lodge – a resort we love to visit!  We booked for lunch on a Magic Kingdom day and the break could not have been more perfect.  The weather was gorgeous and our FastPasses were spaced just right to have enough time to get to Wilderness Lodge, enjoy a leisurely lunch, and get back to rides and attractions.Whispering-Canyon-Table

Our first impressions were great!  We gave our name at the podium and were seated immediately.  The décor is adorable!  We were seated near the middle of the room which gave us an excellent vantage point from which to view the action.  If you’ve been to 50’s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Whispering Canyon’s experience is a bit like that one, but (to me) better.  I don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you have a good sense of humor and don’t mind being picked on a little, you’ll enjoy Whispering Canyon.  (If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you’ll use one table service credit to eat there.)  The crowd during our lunch was mostly made up of families and groups of friends who were there to embrace all that this special place has to offer.Whispering-Canyon-Detail Whispering-Canyon-Shelves Whispering-Canyon-Lighting

After a quick glance at the menu, we decided to split the Slow-smoked Pulled Pork Spring Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce for $12.49.  These were absolutely fantastic!Whispering-Canyon-Cafe-Menu Whispering-Canyon-Pulled-Pork-Spring-RollsWe each ordered a different beer to try (both brews were new to us) and Raymond decided to go with a burger and sweet potato fries (Bacon-Cheese Angus Burger -Thick-cut Praline Bacon, Sharp White Cheddar, and House Ketchup with your choice of House-made Idaho Potato Chips, French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, or Cucumber Salad -$17.49).  Whispering-Canyon-Cafe-Beer Whispering-Canyon-BurgerI thought a basic tuna melt sounded exactly right (Tuna Melt on Sourdough Bread with Vine-ripened Tomatoes, Sharp White Cheddar, Arugula, and Herb-Olive Oil – $14.49).  Whispering-Canyon-Tuna-MeltWe were very happy with our choices and before we knew it, our bellies were too full for dessert and we could hear our FastPasses for Space Mountain calling to us.  We headed to the boat dock and enjoyed the scenery on our way back to Magic Kingdom.Wilderness-Lodge-Dock

Absolutely we will be making a return visit to Whispering Canyon at the earliest opportunity!  Our expectations were high and we were not disappointed.  Good food, fun atmosphere, excellent service…all in gorgeous Wilderness Lodge.

Have you eaten at Whispering Canyon?  How’d you like it?

 

 

 

Epcot View

Disney World – Chosen for Extra Security Screening

Epcot in SummerYou may have heard about Walt Disney World’s new park security screening involving the use of walk-through metal detectors.  In December of 2015, Disney began to randomly screen guests entering Disney World’s four parks.  Initially, this screening is (was?) being conducted by a third party company until Disney is able to hire, train and implement their own in-house screening process.  Certainly for many Disney fans, this latest reminder of the outside reality of mass shootings and other acts of violence signaled a certain loss of innocence for Disney World and Disney park guests – an intrusion on the carefully crafted magic that makes a Disney vacation particularly special.  I have something to say about this based on recent experience.

I’ll admit it – when I first heard about metal detectors being installed near the bag-check areas of Disney World parks I was sad.  The units would detract from the beauty of the park entrances, the reminder of the real world would negatively impact my enjoyment of the Disney Bubble.  Heck, the lines would move slower and take much longer.  Nothing good would come of this…except safety and added peace of mind, that is.  This is the world we live in today.  How horrible would it be if our favorite vacation destination became tainted with tragedy?  I’m all for this new security screening and, after having experienced it myself, can tell you it is absolutely no big deal.Chosen-One-Pin

I was chosen for extra security screening.  Raymond and I came down the monorail ramp, making our way to the entrance for Epcot.  As is our custom, Raymond went on through the entrance for guests without bags while I headed for the bag-check area.  Once my bag had been inspected, I started forward looking for Raymond when I security guard addressed me by saying, “You’ve been chosen for extra security screening, Princess, please step this way.”  I was asked to place my bag on a table and step through a metal detector (with no wait).  I retrieved my bag and was on my way in mere seconds.  This was no major inconvenience – nor even a minor one.  It was a less than a minute of time and absolutely no big deal.  The screening personnel were professional yet friendly and being called “Princess” didn’t hurt my feelings either.Disney-World-Security-Screening

I’ve heard much feedback on social media about Disney’s newest security measures.  Many remarks involve mixed feelings and criticisms about the process.  I’m all for anything necessary to keep my family and our memories safe.  I hope Disney continues to develop and implement whatever screening processes are necessary in the volatile and complex world we’re living in today.

What are your thoughts on the new Disney World metal detectors?  Should Disney be doing more?  Is this newest protocol too much?  Please leave a comment.