Kid Free Disney

If your nest is still full and you love Disney vacations, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to take a kid-free trip to Walt Disney World.  If you fell in love with Disney World before you had kids, you have some idea how that is, and may long for the eventual return of park touring sans stroller, bags full of supplies, and meltdowns.  RM-DuffyTo do what you want to do, go where you want to go…where the only whining you hear is your own on the day you have to leave.  Think about it!  Once the kids are grown, it’s your turn to enjoy Walt Disney World exactly the way you want to.  For us that means we still invite the kids (both adults now) along occasionally, but vacation alone at least once a year.  (If your children still live at home and you can overcome the guilt involved with leaving them behind while going to Disney World, you’re a stronger person than I am!)

Kid Free Disney

So you’ve finally made it.  You’ve booked an offspring-free trip to Disney World.  In order to fully flex your kid-less status, there are plenty of opportunities available to minimize exposure to other people’s children while maximizing your footloose and fancy free vacation happiness.  Here are a few ideas for your consideration…RM-Grand-Floridian-Senses-Sign

Splurge at the Senses Spa – No kids allowed!  With the Spa’s extensive menu, you’ll find something appropriate for pampering yourself at this serene spot at the Grand Floridian.  We’ve enjoyed the Massage for Two on more than one occasion and highly recommend it!RM-California-Grill-Interior

Book a Great Meal – Disney’s Signature Dining options offer an opportunity to dress up a little (or a lot) and dine in Disney splendor.  Citricos-MichaelWe love the California Grill, Jiko, Shula’s Steakhouse and Citricos (just to name a few).  Great service, fewer non-grownups, and excellent food are the draws and while these restaurants are more expensive, it’s worth it for a special evening out.RM-Sunset-Animal-Kingdom-Lodge

Take a Leisurely Stroll – Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, the early and late hours of the day are both great times to take a walk and explore resort grounds.  Bay-Lake-Tower-SunriseI can attest to the beauty of all the monorail resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Grand Floridian), Port Orleans Riverside, and the Boardwalk areas for this highly relaxing activity.  Dawn and sunset are my personal favorite times of the day at Disney World.RM-Mizner's-Lounge

Relax in a Lounge (or a few) – There are so many to choose from!  Whatever your preference – loud and boisterous or quiet and reserved, there’s a pub, bar, or lounge for you.  Mizner’s at the Grand Floridian, the Belle Vue Lounge on the Boardwalk, The Outer Rim Lounge at the Contemporary, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Polynesian, Victoria Falls Lounge at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Jock Lindsey’s at Disney Springs are all places we highly recommend.RM-Victoria-Falls-Lounge

Fellow kid-free people! What are your favorite aspects of an adults-only trip to Walt Disney World?

 

 

Disney at Home – Duplicating Recipes

The Wave EntrancePart of (I should really say much of) our Disney vacation happiness is about the food.  Favorite restaurants, favorite dishes, trying new places – oh, boy, do we love to eat at Walt Disney World!  What’s best about all this dining is when a particular dish really surprises us.

Disney at Home – Duplicating Recipes

Last December when Raymond and I were on our post-Christmas R&R, I booked dinner at The Wave (Contemporary Resort) for our last night.  I knew we’d be tired and want to be close to our room at Bay Lake Tower.  We’d never eaten in The Wave before, but had enjoyed snacks and cocktails in the lounge more than once.  We knew the food would be good and were looking forward to the relaxing atmosphere.The Wave Menu

As expected, we were exhausted, but had been having a fantastic trip.  We arrived for our last dinner practically sleeping on our feet.  If you’ve never been to The Wave before, it’s a lot like being in a cellar – no windows, cozy if a bit dark.  The service is absolutely top notch.  We ordered soup for an appetizer and, if I remember correctly, we both ordered fish for our entrees.  I’m positive we ordered a bottle of wine from the cocktail menu.The Wave Menu Cover

The soup was a most pleasant surprise and made the entire meal for us.  In fact, it was one of the most delicious soups we’d ever had.  The ultimate comfort food – creamy soup full of sausage, gnocchi, and spinach.  As we were exchanging Mmmmmm’s, I made the offhanded comment that I could probably recreate this amazing deliciousness at home.  We enjoyed the rest of our dinner, made the short walk back to Bay Lake Tower and crashed.  The next morning we headed for home.

Fast forward about at week and Raymond says, “Hey!  Weren’t you going to try to make that soup?”.  Yes!  I had planned on that and I made my grocery list right then and there.  I’ve cooked Disney dishes at home before, but always found a recipe online to use.  This time I didn’t even search for a recipe, I made it up as I went.  How hard could it be?The Wave Soup Recreation in Progress

Turns out not really hard at all.  I stared by browning spicy Italian sausage which I drained and set aside.  While the sausage was browning (I added red pepper flakes to make it spicier), I defrosted, squeezed dry, and food-processed a package of frozen spinach (the food processing part was a total waste of time).  After that I whipped up a simple roux of butter and flour.  Then I stirred in a healthy amount of both chicken broth and real live honest to goodness cream.The Wave Soup Recreation Begins

I added the spinach and sausage and one store-bought package of gnocchi to the pot and let it all cook together for about half an hour.  This gave the gnocchi time to become soft and all the flavors to blend together.  While all that was going on, I toasted up some garlic bread as an accompaniment.  The original version from The Wave had a crunchy toasted cheese topping which I’ll try to recreate in the future.The Wave Soup IngredientsThe Wave Soup Recreated

While the soups didn’t look exactly the same, the flavors were nearly identical.  I was very proud of my soup!  I will most definitely be making it again as soon as the weather starts to cool off a little in the fall.

Have you made a Disney dish at home?  What’s your favorite Disney recipe?

Chef Mickey’s Character Dining Review

Happy Saturday, Disney Friends!  Let’s talk character dining today!  When our kids were little, Chef Mickey’s was a must-do for every visit to Walt Disney World and I’ve recommended this fun chance to meet the Fab Five many times over the years.  Nick’s opinion of Chef Mickey’s is a little different than mine.  I welcome all views and opinions here and now you can hear about Chef Mickey’s from someone who prefers to enjoy his character dining experiences elsewhere.  What I want to know is this – How about YOU?  Are you a fan of Chef Mickey’s or do you favor a different restaurant?

Chef Mickey’s Character Dining Review

By: Nick

I’ve eaten at Chef Mickey’s twice in the last several years. Once with our Godson, Flynn, back in 2009, and just a couple of months ago with our friends Kandi and John and their kids Jazzlyn and Grayson.

 Me, Jazzlyn, Barbie, Kandi, Grayson, and John

I’m going to just come out and say it. It’s my least favorite buffet in Walt Disney World.

It’s not bad, but I have some issues.

Let’s look at the good first. The Fab Five, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy, are here, and that is truly awesome!

 None of our Minnie Pics came out well!

They come around often and spend quality time with each table. Periodically, there is even an opportunity for kids and adults to cut loose with the characters!

The not so great?
The layout of the restaurant, which is located in the Contemporary Resort, is just odd.

Somehow, both times we’ve eaten here, we have been put up in an upper corner. This past time, it was a very dark corner.

There really shouldn’t be any dark corners in a character buffet, in my opinion.

Then, there is the food. It’s not bad, I just don’t feel it’s on par with other Disney buffets, with the exception of the desserts.

There are a variety of salads and a soup du jour, as well as sushi and pick and peel shrimp.

There is Mac and Cheese, Chicken nuggets, pasta and meatballs.

Some of the better items were the small individual dishes, such as the Braised Beef. The Lemon Pepper Chicken was pretty good also.

There are a few other seafood selections as well as BBQ ribs.

The carving station included turkey and beef.

The desserts include a variety of cakes, cream puffs, and cookies, as well as ice cream.

I can see why this would be a top priority for kids with the Fab Five, but I don’t recommend this buffet when there are so many other better character dining options, such as Crystal Palace and Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at the Garden Grill.

Don’t miss any of Nick’s Disney adventures!  Follow along at the Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest. You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about…well, you can probably guess.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up in February during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!

 

Walt Disney World Dining – Resort Loop Table Service (Part 1)

RM-Bay-Lake-Tower-Contemporary-ViewIt’s time to talk about food (Big Surprise, right?).  Pros and Cons of Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Resort Table Service dining, to be exact.  As always, I’m providing information mostly based on my own experiences and opinion – I like to be completely honest.  This means I’ll do my best to give you balanced reviews.  Since there are three resorts on the Monorail, I thought we’d, you know, make this simple and take one at a time.  Thus, part one is Disney’s Contemporary table service dining options – it gets the #1 spot because it’s my favorite resort.  Let’s talk food!

Walt Disney World – Resort Loop Table Service Restaurants (Part 1)

Hop on the monorail from the Magic Kingdom and you are just a stop or three away from some of the very best dining those genius Disney chefs can dish out!  The best part of this deal is that you can easily avoid in-park dining if you want to.  Not that the Magic Kingdom’s food is all bad, but it is somewhat limited if you want to get away from the crowds a bit and maybe have an adult beverage (currently only available in-park at Be Our Guest for dinner).  On the resort loop, you will find quite a variety of experiences to choose from and while I’ve not eaten at every restaurant in every monorail resort, I’ve eaten at enough of them to make some well-informed recommendations.  I’ll also include the number of table service credits each eatery requires for those of you who use a dining plan.RM-Monorail

Contemporary Resort Table ServiceIMG_2651

Chef Mickey’s (buffet, 1 TS credit) – Character dining at its best.  I’ve covered the joys of meeting the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto) in a couple of previous posts because we have had many excellent times at Chef Mickey’s for both breakfast and dinner.  Pros: No waiting in line in the Florida heat to meet these beloved characters – you get one-on-one time for plenty of prime photo ops.  The buffet, while not extremely imaginative, is full of decent, basic food with plenty of choices that are sure to please even the pickiest eaters.  Cons: It’s loud, super crowded (usually), and you can often find a bunch of families with ill-behaved children.  It’s worth it, though, especially since boys and girls alike will enjoy the character lineup here.RM-The-Wave

The Wave (1 TS credit) – Raymond and I stopped in for a late lunch and ate in the bar.  What a delightfully unexpected surprise!  We shared several things which were all absolutely delicious and we each enjoyed a fantastic glass of red wine.  The menu offers fresh, sustainable, locally grown ingredients.  Pros: Good eats for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.  Expect a decent selection that is designed to please almost everyone.  The dinner menu includes beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and a couple of vegetarian options as well.  Cons: Décor is Dark and a little dreary – feels like you’re in a basement.RM-California-Grill-Menu

California Grill (2 TS credits) – LOVE this place.  I thought our dinner here on our 25th Anniversary Celebration trip (October, 2014) was absolutely fantastic with some extra-special touches just for us.  Raymond wished we’d gone someplace quieter.  To me, pretty much everything about this place is great – the atmosphere, the view, the food, the wine list.  RM-California-Grill-InteriorYes, it’s expensive and while we’ve taken our kids to eat here, I would categorize the California Grill as a best-appreciated-by-adults dining experience.  Pros: Excellent menu and service, great view of Magic Kingdom, guests are welcome to watch Wishes from the restaurant (If you had dinner there early, you can come back later the same evening.).  Cons:  If there are lots of children present, the noise and action can kind of kill the romantic atmosphere – make a late reservation to minimize the impact.

Check back soon for Parts 2 & 3 – Table service options at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Have you eaten at Disney’s Contemporary Resort?  What restaurant(s) would you recommend?