Disney Dining – Off the Beaten Snack

The tried and true, wildly popular, well-known Disney snacks are great!  Essential contributors to Disney vacation happiness, those Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars, churros, Mickey-shaped pretzels, and Dole Whips are must-haves for masses of fans.  But there are so many more options!  What about those?  Let’s talk about the lesser known but just-as-delicious Disney World snacks. (My apologies, turkey leg fans, I just can’t include you’re precious poultry treat here today…or ever.)

Disney Dining – Off the Beaten Snack

I consider the iconic snacks – you know, the ones mentioned above that are made into souvenir magnets and such – to be “tier one” Disney snacks.  Those would be followed by the slightly less popular “tier two” selections.  Those include Magic Kingdom popcorn (I’ve never had it, but I hear it’s the best in the World), Mickey krispie treats, and funnel cakes.  Also in this category are cupcakes like Butterfinger, Red Velvet, and the ones decorated like Disney characters, the Studios’ Carrot Cake Cookie, and those amazingly fancy candy/caramel apples.  I suppose my beloved Citrus Swirl would also fall into the tier two category (being slightly less popular that that frozen pineapple concoction). Starring Rolls / Red Velvet Cupcake

Finally, there are the snacks that fall out of the mainstream and into “tier three”.  These include some of the tastiest and best snacks in Disney World that are not available in every park.  Thus, they’re less well-known.

Think about the offerings in World Showcase like School Bread in Norway (Kringla Bakeri og Kafe), Macarons in France (Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie), caramel popcorn in Germany (Karamell-Küche), and the Churros with Caramel Sauce in Mexico (La Cantina de San Angel).  That caramel popcorn got me through Hurricane Matthew!  The School Bread, macarons, and churros are still on my to-try list.  Disney Dining - Off the Beaten SnackAlso in Epcot there’s the Croissant Donut from the Refreshment Port (YUM!) and let’s not forget that kiosk over in Italy where that Espresso Gelato “Affogato” is sold – so incredibly delicious!  I’ve mentioned the cinnamon glazed almonds and pecans before.  I’m not sure where else they can be purchased, but I always enjoy them during a visit to Animal Kingdom.  Finally, I’ve got to add the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls from the Adventureland egg roll wagon.  Yet another thing I haven’t tried, but I keep hearing how good they are.

The point of all this?  So many snacks, too little time!  I’m training like crazy for the Dark Side Challenge with just two weeks to go.  All that running makes me hungry and has me daydreaming about what snacks I’m going to have while I’m at Disney World.  Seriously, if running 19.3 miles in two days doesn’t justify a few extra snack calories, I don’t know what does.  This is a short trip and if I had more than four days to snack, I wouldn’t have to pick and choose.  Decisions, decisions…

Do you have a favorite Disney snack that I haven’t mentioned?  Please, tell me what it is and where to find it!

 

Being a Disney World Electrical Water Pageant Fan

From my non-Disney-loving friends, I take some flack for my vacation destination of choice.  From my fellow Disney fans, I get teased about my love for one of the most special, original, and enduring attractions at Walt Disney World…The Electrical Water Pageant.  What’s made me so devoted?  Glad you asked.Disney World Electrical Water Pageant

Disney World’s Electrical Water Pageant

It was 1996 when the Pageant’s current version was launched and that’s the year I first experienced this most amazing of extra magical touches.  Available to guests who happen to be along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake most evenings, this parade-on-water is a charming treat.  It’s one of those things Disney doesn’t have to do.  People would still flock in droves to the House of Mouse and have fantastic family fun without this one attraction, but it’s been there since late October of 1971 and is still “a thing” treasured by many adoring fans like me.Disney World Electrical Water Pageant

For my family, it’s the whimsical simplicity of parade floats made out of barges with blinking lights.  As the floats go by, animals seem to leap out of the water and dance.  There may only be 14 floats and the entire experience lasts only 15 minutes, but it’s got a special place in our hearts.  If we’re staying at Bay Lake Tower, we can sometimes hear the Electrical Water Pageant’s music as we’re drifting off to sleep – like a perky lullaby even if we’re not watching the show. Disney World's Electrical Water Pageant

The music is snappy and the songs are well-known (mostly…maybe not everyone is familiar with the 1988 Was (Not Was) hit, “Walk the Dinosaur”).  Many of the songs are from The Little Mermaid and there are also tunes from Peter Pan, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and other Disney movies.  Patriotic favorites like “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “America the Beautiful” add a nice touch as well.  I’m telling you – this thing’s adorable!  Quirky, eclectic – there are sea creatures, a dinosaur, and the Stars and Stripes –  there’s a lot to see in a mere quarter of an hour.Disney World Electrical Water Pageant Disney World Electrical Water Pageant

Who would love the Electrical Water Pageant?  Little ones, fans of classic Disney World attractions, folks who want a low key attraction that’s both free and outside the parks, and lovers of Disney music and magic.  Our favorite spot to watch the Pageant is on the boat dock at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, but there are lots of prime viewing locations.  If you’re enjoying a meal at one of the monorail resorts, adding the Pageant to your evening is a great way to end the day.  Evening show times vary and are available in the My Disney Experience app…search for “Electrical Water Pageant”.  Here’s what Disney’s website says…

Recommended viewing locations include:

Please note that all show times are approximate and may vary by several minutes. All entertainment is subject to change and may be cancelled in cases of inclement weather.

Have you watched the Electrical Water Pageant?  How do you feel about it?

 

Disney World Vacation Photo Must-Haves

This is just me talking.  Part of my overbearing big personality is that I never experience a shortage of opinions and as usual, I’ve decided to offer you some of them.  I’ve always been a picture-taker and am particularly photo-snappy on a Disney vacation.  After 25+ years of said Disney trips, I’ve noticed certain patterns in my photography and decided to share.  Hopefully, this will cause you to examine your own Disney picture-taking style and share your favorite types of pictures with me.  Sharing is good, dontcha think?

It’s like a Friday Five times two!  I’ve compiled a list of TEN…

Disney World Vacation Photo Must-Haves

The Classic Shots – You know the ones.  The iconic must-haves in front of Cinderella Castle and the other park weenies (Yes, that’s the correct term for a Disney park’s centerpiece.  Really.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.).  I particularly like the Tree of Life and have pictures from every possible angle and time of day.

The Character Meet & Greets – In-park Characters, Character Dining Experiences, the random encounter – all are exceptionally tempting as memory capturing moments, no?  It might make me a little nostalgic to look back at the ones from when Megan and Joseph were little, but the ones from our last trip make me just as happy.

Foodies’ Favorites – Not quite as good as the real thing, commemorating an excellent snack or meal with a photograph allows me to remember my favorite flavors of Disney and better plan my dining and snacking strategies for future trips.

Attraction Action – Pictures or it didn’t happen, right?  You never know exactly how ride photos will turn out, but they are absolutely some of my favorite pictures!  Yes, I love the ones from Memory Maker, but I also like the ones I took myself.

Tropical Paradise – I can’t help myself.  I have to capture at least a few pictures of the lush Florida landscapes and the amazing sunrises and sunsets.  When I’m at home, I’m usually getting ready for work as the sun comes up and in the evening I’m likewise occupied with cooking dinner or some such activity.  On vacation, though, I stop to soak up those spectacular moments and you should too. 

Five Down, Five to Go…

Hidden Mickeys – If you’re constantly on the lookout for those little, sometimes elusive Mickeys, you probably snap a pic or two of your favorites like I do!

The Group Selfie – What ever did we do before the wonders of technology allowed us to take pictures of ourselves so easily?!?  I’m a huge fan of the group selfie.  Unless maybe it’s a really hot day and we’ve been hitting the parks pretty hard.  Looking back, we seem less likely to clump up for those close-together shots as the day wears on.  Huh…just now noticed that.

Boredom Busters a.k.a. queue pics! – Even if you plan everything just right and book FastPasses for all the most popular attractions, you’re bound to wait in a line or two from time to time.  Don’t waste the opportunity to create some awesome family memories!  We have even developed photo traditions for some particularly taxing waits…like the one for Fantasmic.

EarHat Fashion – How could anyone not love a good EarHat photo?  Not into amazingly fun headwear?  Certainly someone in your family is, right?  There’s nothing like capturing the happiness of a loved one sporting their favorite Disney chapeau in a Disney park.  Look at those happy faces!

Cast Member Memories – Sometimes you just get extra attached to a particular Cast Member and want them to be part of your photo album.  They don’t mind if you take their picture – the best ones are used to it!  If you’re on Twitter and you’ve had an awesome Cast Member experience, you can tweet to @WDWToday with the #CastCompliment hashtag and say a few words about how the Cast Member made your vacation extra special.  Disney will then track down that Cast Member and present them with a certificate.  They will photograph the moment and tweet it back to you.  It’s an excellent way to ensure your favorite Cast Members get the recognition they deserve.  We did this for Kile from Tiffins because he’s wonderful!

BONUS – This one has almost reached the ridiculous.  I’ve been on Kilimanjaro Safaris at least a dozen times.  Each and every one of my tours of Africa involves me madly taking pictures and videos as if I’ve never seen any of these animals before in my life.  Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!  Drives my family crazy, I’m sure, but they love me enough to let me sit on the outside and stay out of my way.Rhino on Kilimanjaro Safari Kilimanjaro Safari / Animal Kingdom One last thing about taking pictures on a Disney vacation…

Even though I love Memory Maker, you should not feel like you have to spend the money if it’s not in your budget.  Cast Members are always happy to take pictures for you with your own camera or smart phone.  You’ll still have amazing memories to look back on!!!

Okay, now it’s your turn!  Share with me!!!  What are your favorite types of Disney vacation pictures to take?

 

Considering Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan

With all the details nailed down for April’s Disney World visit, Megan and I have moved on to planning June’s “Epic Mother / Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip”.  This vacation will be different in a lot of ways…Not the least of which is it’s GIRLS ONLY and we couldn’t be more excited to have some time away together.

We’re planning to thoroughly explore Pandora and take advantage of Animal Kingdom’s nighttime Extra Magic Hours at least once.  We’re also planning an afternoon and evening in Magic Kingdom so we can do all our favorite attractions and see the new Happily Ever After show (replacing Wishes).  For sure we want to grab a few hours in Epcot’s World Showcase and based on all of that, we decided maximum flexibility will be key to our Disney happiness.

Normally we enjoy at least one, if not more, table service meals on every day of a Disney World visit.  We have our favorite places and also a list of to-try restaurants waiting.  When Megan and I talked about where we might like to eat and when we wanted to book ADRs, we realized how much time those meals might cut into the free-style park touring plans we were really looking forward to.  That’s when I remembered the Quick Service Dining Plan.

Considering Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan

With two meals and two snacks per night of stay, we’ll be good to go and our food will be mostly pre-paid.  Since we’re driving, we can bring breakfast foods and use our meal credits for lunch and dinner.  Booked through the Disney Vacation Club site, we’d pay $46.24 per person, per day ($279.04 total).

I must confess…I did book one ADR for the last night of our stay, but this would actually work out perfectly.  We’d have one Quick Service credit left over to use for lunch on the day we leave AND we’ll get to try Paddlefish in Disney Springs for the first time.

No doubt about it, we will certainly miss the guys on this trip, but by making plans that are different from our usual Disney vacation style, we think we’ll have a great time!

Have you tried Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan?  What restaurants did you choose?