Walt Disney World for the young and fabulous!

Walt Disney World as seen from an unwed, childless, and self indulgent 26 year old unwilling to settle for anything less than luxury. Tips for travelers that are young and young at heart. A truly magical vacation is not magical without a little bit of fabulous!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Week: Where to book your Thanksgiving dinner

While every holiday is automatically better in Disney, Thanksgiving is one of the more popular ones.  Why?  Well first of all, kids are off from school which makes a taking a trip much easier on families.  Also, the Christmas season is in full swing.  All of the parks and resorts are decorated, certain rides have special holiday theming (The Jungle Cruise, it's a small world, The Haunted Mansion and I'm sure others that I'm missing), and special parades and nighttime shows have begun that are specific to the holiday.  Be prepared for long wait times if you're staying over Thanksgiving break.  If you'd like to check out WDW during the holidays but want to avoid crowds, try going mid-November or early December.  These are still higher volume times, but it won't be quite as busy as the actual holiday break times.

If you are in the parks over Thanksgiving, you officially get a free pass from having to prepare a holiday meal!  If you're staying in a villa with a kitchen, I would still recommend making a reservation if possible.  You're in Disney, might as well enjoy the great food and theming!

Here's a list of places that are offering special dinner menus on Thanksgiving Day.  If a restaurant is underlined, that means they also have a special menu for lunch.

Animal Kingdom
Tusker House

Downtown Disney
Fulton's Crab House
Raglan Road
Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Norway Pavilion
Biergarten, Germany Pavilion
Coral Reef Restaurant, The Seas Pavilion with Nemo and Friends
Le Cellier Steakhouse, Canada Pavilion
Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room, United Kingdom Pavilion
Sunshine Seasons, Future World
Tutto Italia Ristorante, Italy Pavilion
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria

Hollywood Studios
50's Prime Time Cafe
Hollywood & Vine

Magic Kingdom
Liberty Tree Tavern
Tony's Town Square Restaurant

Mickey's Backyard BBQ, Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Trail's End Restaurant, Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Intermission Food Court, All Star Resorts
World Premiere Food Court, All Star Resorts
Jiko, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Sanaa, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Flying Fish Cafe, Disney's Boardwalk
Kouzzina by Cat Cora, Disney's Boardwalk
Shutters at Old Port Royale, Disney's Carribean Beach Resort
California Grill, Disney's Contemporary Resort
Chef Mickey's, Disney's Contemporary Resort
The Wave of American Flavors, Disney's Contemporary Resort
Citricos, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Narcoosee's, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Grand Floridian Cafe, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Olivia's Cafe, Disney's Old Key West Resort
'Ohana, Disney's Polynesian Resort
Kona Cafe, Disney's Polynesian Resort
Boatwright Dining Hall, Disney's Port Orleans Resort
The Turf Club Bar and Grill, Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Artist Point, Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Whispering Canyon Cafe, Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Cape May Cafe, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club
Captain's Grille, Disneys Yacht and Beach Club
Yachtsman Steakhouse, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wait...Mickey can talk?!?!

While you may have met Mickey once before (or twice before, or more times than you can count), I guarantee you've never met him the way you're about to see.

Disney's Imagineers have outdone themselves yet again and now you can meet a talking Mickey at Magic Kingdom! Magician Mickey just premiered yesterday so expect long lines for a while. I definitely think he's worth the wait!

Here's a link to a video from BigFatPanda  , who is the owner of BigFatPanda.com and arguably my favorite source of Disney information (especially on YouTube!).  I love seeing Mickey interact with all ages and people from all around the world. What we're seeing is an early stage, it'll only get better from here!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Disney Vera Bradley on Disney Store website today!

Okay, you all know by now how I feel about Vera Bradley but I gotta admit I think I'm coming around to the Disney Vera bags. They are available on the Disney Store website starting today! I'm willing to bet they will go fast!

Shop the collection here:


Personally, I'm a fan of the Just Mousing Around print. It reminds me a little bit of the Lilly Pulitzer Ode to Mickey print circa 1971 (my blog wallpaper). What do you think?

Happy shopping!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Another great Disney collaboration...Disney Chamilia beads!

Okay guys, let me start by saying that I'm WAY late on this one. You've heard me talk about the Disney collection by Dooney and Bourke (hooray!), the Disney Vera Bradley collection (meh), but I've neglected to mention one that I bet a lot of you ladies will appreciate...the Disney Chamilia beads!

If you don't know what a Chamilia bead is, I guarantee you do but you probably just don't know it by name. Here's a pic of a Chamilia bracelet:
You may have heard of them by their other brand names; Pandora, Trollbeads etc. From what I understand you can use them interchangeably, I just happen to like the Chamilia beads the best, ESPECIALLY now that I found the Disney collection.  While all of the bracelets have a similar look, you can personalize the beads to make it your own.

I saw the beads all over Disney when I was there and wished I had a bracelet to add to, but didn't feel like making the investment then (I had already spent way too much on that trip!).  Coincidentally, my mom and dad bought me a starter bracelet on the cruise they went on a week after I got back.

The good news is that the beads are available online and in many jewelry stores, so if your trip isn't for a while you can still access a great selection!  I've found that the Disneystore.com selection is much smaller than Chamilia's site.  Here is the link to the Disney beads:

Also be sure to check around the entire site for different colored charms and spacers to compliment your Disney charms!  Here's my first Disney charm, Ariel's shell:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dining Review: Be Our Guest...Worth It?

Okay, so if you've heard anything at all about Disney in the past year or so, you've presumably heard about New Fantasyland at least once.  One of the most highly anticipated pieces of the Fantasyland expansion was Belle's castle, and the restaurant Be Our Guest inside.  New Fantasyland has been open for a while now, but getting a dinner reservation for BOG hasn't gotten any easier.  Is it worth the hype?

If you don't feel like reading the rest of this, let me give you the answer right now...YES.

It's important to note that BOG is open for lunch as a quick service restaurant so no reservation is needed.  If you can't get a dinner reservation it's a nice alternative, but I definitely feel it's worth trying to getting a spot for dinner.

The Atmosphere
The atmosphere is Be Our Guest's #1 selling point...and it doesn't disappoint.  This could possibly be one of the best themed restaurants in all of WDW.  There are three different rooms you can be sat in, but if you can manage it at all I would recommend trying to get the West Wing.  I wouldn't recommend it for very young kids (the loud thunder and lightning may scare them) or older adults (very dark lighting and the noises can get pretty loud for someone hard of hearing).  This is the smallest dining room and is modeled after the "forbidden" West Wing in the movie.  The enchanted rose is the centerpiece of the room, and as a petal falls periodically the portrait of the Beast on the wall in human form transforms back into the Beast.

The largest room is the ballroom, which is modeled exactly after the ballroom where Belle and the Beast shared their first dance.  While it tends to get a little loud thanks to the acoustics of a large open room, it's still pretty cool to see.  Be sure to peek at the windows...you won't see the Magic Kingdom, but you will see snow falling in the woods outside the castle.  This is probably the only time you'll see snow in Orlando!

The Food
I got the sauteed shrimp and scallops.  It came in a puff pastry with lobster sauce and mushrooms.  It was absolutely fantastic!  The shrimp and scallops were both prepared perfectly, and the sauce really set it off.  I usually skip the pastry bowls but I ended up eating most of that as well.  Absolutely no complaints about my dinner; in fact it was probably the best one we had our entire trip.

For dessert I got "The Grey Stuff".  I don't know exactly what's in it, but I can tell you there's no peanuts or tree nuts (I have an allergy so I got this double checked with the chef).  It was amazing!  It was a hard choice because all of the desserts looked great, but this was the only non-cupcake one.  It was my birthday week and I received a birthday cupcake at just about every meal.  I was pretty cupcake'd out.  Next time I might give one a try...or I might just get The Grey Stuff again because it was amazing.

The Service
Our server was very attentive and made great conversation with us.  I had thought that I lost my Key to the World card and was a little bit panicked (I had my Visa linked to it) and she got her manager right away so that it could be cancelled.  Thankfully, I found it and we didn't need to, but it was nice that she went out of her way without me asking.

We definitely didn't have to wait too long for anything, in fact if anything we felt a tiny bit rushed.  Dinner came out exceptionally quick but our waitress didn't take our dessert order until we were completely done with our dinner, which helped alleviate that "rushed" feeling.

I also had the opportunity to meet the chef because of my allergy.  He came out and talked to me about some of the dishes and what I should steer clear of.  There were no nuts used in this restaurant but he let me know what was and wasn't made in house so that I could be sure what definitely wasn't cross contaminated.  He was very thorough and very friendly.  I later learned that this particular chef is one of the best in WDW and was responsible for opening BOG, so I feel pretty privileged to have met him!

I hope everyone knows by now that I'm very honest in my reviews, if not brutally honest (see my review of California Grill).  So if I say something is worth your time, I really do mean it!  I posted previously about getting difficult reservations, so check that out and good luck to you!

Top 5 Fashion Trends in Disney Right Now

Hello everybody!  I'm back from my trip and I have SO much to tell you!  I figure I'll break it up over a few entries rather than write a novel in one.

If you're getting ready to go on your trip right now, you might be confused as to what you should pack.  I can tell you that as of three days ago, the usual post-Labor Day fashion rules don't apply in Disney.  It's still hot (and I mean HOT) outside so people generally tend to stick to lighter colors, including white pants/sandals/etc.  It might not hurt to pack a sweatshirt in case you run into a cooler night but I doubt you will.  Oh yeah...DEFINITELY bring a poncho!  Fleece hoodies are ok for a drizzle but they get soggy and uncomfortable in Florida downpours.  I found some at Target and uline.com sells them by the box, so you can toss them each day instead of trying (in vain) to fold them back into their original shape.

A big difference with this trip and my previous ones is that I have a blog now, which made me a lot more aware of what people were wearing around the parks.  Here are the top 5 fashion trends I saw the most often.  Although travelers come from all over the world, Southern preppy style seems to rule at WDW!

5. Longchamp Le Pliage bags
Aside from Disney Dooneys, the Le Pliage seemed to be the bag of choice around the parks.  And why not? They are fairly inexpensive, extremely lightweight, and stylish.  Did I mention that they fold up into a smaller, more travel friendly form leaving plenty of room in your luggage for all of the souvenirs you picked up?  This bag was MADE for vacationing.

4. Chino shorts
Shorts are a must in the 90+ degree temps, but who wants to have to yank their way too short shorts out of their nether regions every time they get on and off a ride?  Women's designers have finally gotten a clue and brought back the chino short, a classier and more comfortable option than the cutoffs we've been seeing year after year.  Both solids and Lilly Pulitzer (or Lilly Pulitzer-esque) prints were extremely popular.  I know I personally wore my Lilly Callahan shorts every day I was there!

3. Disney Dooneys
I'm not even a Dooney fan and I adore the Disney Dooneys.  It seems like tons of other women in the parks agree!  Dooney's cartoony style is normally too cutesy for my taste, but combined with Disney it makes complete sense.  There are tons of patterns to choose from now thanks to the enormously positive response the collection has received.  In fact, the day before I arrived (which just so happened to be Friday the 13th) a limited edition Haunted Mansion design Dooney was released.  It sold out within a half hour!

The Disney Vera Bradley collection premiered yesterday to much fanfare.  Personally, I'm not a Vera fan AT ALL and I don't really think their style works very well with Disney anyway.  So far the response has been pretty positive, but I predict Dooney and Bourke will remain the most popular collaboration (until Disney collaborates with Lilly again...please???)

2. College Gear (especially SEC)
I personally love to show my team pride when traveling out of state!  You never know who you might run into from your alma mater.  It seems like a lot of folks agree with me, although my own alma mater, Penn State University, wasn't one of the most represented.

If I was to give an unofficial ranking of the schools that I saw most often, it would be 1. University of Florida 2. Auburn 3. University of Texas 4.LSU and 5. University of Georgia.  Four out of five are SEC schools, way to go guys!

1. Chevron
If my trip is any indication, the chevron trend isn't going anywhere!!  Dresses, bags, pocket tees, tanks, croakies, flip flops, phone cases...there is nothing that I didn't see chevron-ed at least once!

If you're planning to go to Disney soon, happy packing and stay dry!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Quick tips to get difficult reservations

Hi everybody!

If you took the time to read my previous mega long post, thank you! I'd love to hear your feedback if you've been to any of the places I'm going, and if you haven't which ones you'd like to try during your trip.

I hope my picks played a part in some way in helping you narrow down where you'd like to try during your next visit.
 However, sometimes wanting to go somewhere isn't enough! It sucks but it's true. In Disney, dining reservations open up six months in advance and some restaurants book up within minutes!  The most difficult seem to be Le Cellier Steakhouse, Ohana, Chef Mickey's, Akershus, Cinderella's Royal Table and now the highly anticipated Be Our Guest Restaurant.  That list isn't all inclusive !75 these are the ones I see other lament about the most in Disney online communities.

So right now you're saying to yourself, "Wait a minute, Sam. You just listed six places that are impossible to get reservations for, yet you have reservations for four of those six."  What can I say? I know people. Yeah...that was a total lie. I don't know people nor am I in any way special.  As I've mentioned before, Disney doesn't compensate me in any way for this blog (which is great because I can freely bash places I don't like!).  Here are some tips that anyone can use, whether its your first trip or you've lost count at 90.

1. Stay in a Disney hotel
You guys know by now that I only stay in the park and I am absolutely hellbent on convincing everyone I cross paths with to do the same. I've mentioned the many perks in other posts (because there are MANY) but one really applies here: while reservations open up 180 days in advance for all guests, resort guests get the 180+10 advantage. What this means is that when you hit the 180 mark for your check in date, you can also book dining for every day of the length of your stay, up to 10 days.  These few days make an enormous difference.  Set your alarm and get online at midnight or call in at 7 am when they open. They WILL go that fast.  This is how I secured the majority of mine.

2. Missed out? Keep checking back!
People DO cancel. Prime times for cancellations are around the 45 day mark and anytime a new promotion comes out. If folks can get a better deal at a different time of year, they may cancel their trip and move it to a different month, thus freeing up all of their reservations.  This is how I got Akershus.

3. Keep in touch with the online Disney community
Disboards has threads dedicated to reservation cancellations by month. You can subscribe to your month's thread and get email notifications when someone posts their reservations. The first person to respond will then coordinate with the poster so that you can grab the reservation as soon as they let it go. This is how I snagged Be Our Guest. Don't forget to pass on the good karma and do the same with your own cancellations!

4. If all else fails, give walk-up a shot
Sometimes walk ups will be turned away, sometimes you'll have to wait a while, and sometimes you'll completely luck out and get right in. I knew someone who was able to do this for Cinderella's Royal Table and my sister and I did this with Chef Mickey's. We had a 2 hour wait so we just did our souvenir shopping in the store close by and called our mother and significant others from one of the couches in the lobby (I'm glad we did( we ended up at the parks until 3 am right after our meal!).

If you miss out on a meal you wanted, don't stress! Try for it next time and above all, it's really just a small part of the amazing Disney experience. Don't let it ruin your trip! There are great places that don't fill up as quick like Kona and Cape May Cafe if you book last minute, anyway.

Happy dining everyone!