Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Save up to 30% on rooms at select Disney resort hotels this Spring!

This Spring, treat your family to the magic at Walt Disney World Resort by saving up to 30% at select Disney Resort hotels. Delight in comfortable accommodations with charming Disney touches as you create fond vacation memories to last a lifetime.

Book through January 22, 2012 for stays most nights February 21 to
March 31, 2012.

Book through February 28, 2012 for stays most nights April 13 to
June 14, 2012.

It's the perfect time to visit Walt Disney World® Resort for the Flower and Garden Festival!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy Itineraries available for 2013!

The Disney Fantasy will offer 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, while the Disney Dream will continue to sail 3-, 4- and 5-night Bahamian cruises. Both ships depart from Port Canaveral, Fla., and include a stop at our own private island paradise, Disney’s Castaway Cay.

2012-2013 itinerary dates for the Dream and the Fantasy!

Changes to Disney Dining Reservation Policy

To provide consistent Guest service, adjustments will be made to the Walt Disney World® Resort dining cancellation policy beginning on Oct. 26, 2011. At that time, additional table service dining locations will begin using the cancellation policy already in place at select restaurants on property. When booking a reservation at these restaurants, guest will be required to provide a credit card to hold a reservation and will be charged $10 per person if a cancellation to this reservation isn’t made at least one day in advance.

This policy will not apply to dining reservations made before Oct. 26, 2011. However, any modifications made to these dining reservations after Oct. 26, 2011, will then be required to provide a credit card to hold the reservation, regardless of what date the reservation was originally booked.

For your convenience, a special phone line that only handles dining cancellations is available: 407-WDW-CNCL. Guests may also cancel online at

Dining locations participating in the credit card guarantee policy include:
• 1900 Park Fare
• Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
• Artist Point
• California Grill
• Cape May Café
• Chef Mickey’s
• Cítricos
• The Crystal Palace
• Flying Fish Café
• The Garden Grill
• Hollywood & Vine
• Jiko – The Cooking Place
• Le Cellier Steakhouse
• Narcoossee’s
• ‘Ohana
• Tusker House Restaurant
• The Hollywood Brown Derby
• Victoria & Albert’s (cancellation policy is $25/per person)
• Yachtsman Steakhouse

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hungry for a GREAT deal? Free Dining is BACK!

Walt Disney World has extended their Free Dining promotion to include selected dates all the way into March 2012!! If you want to get away to Walt Disney World, this is the time to go!

Now through Oct. 29, 2011, buy a Magic Your Way package for 4 nights and 5 days at select Disney Value Resorts and get a FREE Quick-Service Dining Plan. Or, buy a non-discounted Magic Your Way package for 4 nights and 5 days at select Disney Moderate, Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts and get a FREE Disney Dining Plan.

Offer Details:
This Vacation Package Includes:
  • Accommodations
  • Magic Your Way Base Ticket
  • A Dining Plan

Booking Window:
Aug. 3 - Oct. 29, 2011

Travel Window:
Valid for arrivals most nights:
  • Oct. 2-8, 2011
  • Oct. 23 - Nov. 5, 2011
  • Nov. 13-19, 2011
  • Nov. 27 - Dec. 3, 2011
  • Dec. 11-17, 2011
  • Jan. 8-14, 2012
  • Jan. 22 - Feb. 4, 2012
  • Feb. 12-18, 2012
  • March 4-10, 2012
  • March 25-31, 2012

Offer Details:

Sample Pricing:

Buy 4 Nights and 5 Days at a Select Disney Moderate Resort in a Standard Room for $89* per person, per day, for a family of 4, and get the Disney Dining Plan FREE (valid for stays most nights Oct. 2-6, 2011; Oct. 23 - Nov. 5, 2011; Nov. 27 - Dec. 3, 2011; Dec.11-17, 2011). That's a total package price of $1,773.

Buy 4 Nights and 5 Days at a Select Disney Value Resort in a Standard Room for 73* per person, per day, for a family of 4, and get the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan FREE (valid for stays most nights Oct. 2-6, 2011; Oct. 23 - Nov. 5, 2011; Nov. 27 - Dec. 3, 2011; Dec.11-17, 2011). That's a total package price of $1,442.

Ask about packages for other lengths of stay. Also, ask about other great rates for arrivals most nights Jan. 8-14, Jan. 22 - Feb. 4, Feb. 12-18, March 4-10 and March 25-31, 2012.

Check out this FLYER for more details!

Contact your Mouse World Travel vacation planner today for the best availability of resorts and restaurants!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Disneyland: SAVE up to $450, PLUS Get a FREE Character Meal!

Save up to $450* on a Disneyland® Resort vacation package with a 4-night hotel stay and a 3-day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper® souvenir ticket. Plus, you'll receive one free** Character meal per person on the reservation! This package gives you the time to enjoy two amazing Theme Parks filled with favorite attractions, shows and more!

Offer Details:
Buy a 3-day, 4-night Disneyland Resort vacation package that includes a 3-Day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper souvenir ticket.
  • Save $350 when the package includes a stay at Disney's Paradise Pier® Hotel
  • Save $400 when the package includes a stay at the Disneyland Hotel
  • Save $450 when the package includes a stay at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel® & Spa
Every person on the reservation also will receive a voucher for one free** Character meal (including tax and gratuity) at selected Disneyland Resort restaurants.

Booking Window:
July 26 - Sept. 24, 2011

Travel Window:
This offer is available for arrivals Aug. 14 - Sept. 28, 2011. Travel on this offer must be completed by Oct. 2, 2011.

Additional Information:
Remember, through Sept. 5, 2011, guests can enjoy special, limited-time benefits just for staying at one of the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Walt Disney World for Beginners - Basic Information You Should Know Before Your First Disney World Vacation


by Nikki Bonfanti Glinski on Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 3:01pm

So, you’re thinking about taking a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida! Have no idea where to begin? Planning a Disney trip can be very confusing and overwhelming. The following provides some helpful information to get you started!

First of all, congratulations! You’re going to Walt Disney World! I hope that you find the following information helpful. It may seem overwhelming, but there is so much that goes into planning a Disney vacation and we want you to have a magical, memorable vacation!

Where are you going to stay?
There are over 20 resorts on Disney property and they all vary according to price and theme! They are split into 4 categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas. There are 4 Value resorts that are all relatively the same price and there are 4 Moderate resorts that are all relatively the same price. The rest are Deluxe and there is a wide range of prices among all of them, with the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge being the most affordable. It is also important to note that the prices also vary depending on time of year and what promotional discounts are available.

Package vs. Room Only
There are two ways to book a Disney vacation. You can get a package, which includes your resort, tickets and, if you choose, the dining plan. The other way is to book a “room only” reservation and purchase your tickets separately. There are pros and cons to both.

If you book a package, you have the option of getting the dining plan (more on this later!) and your tickets are given to you upon check-in. For a package, there is a $200 deposit at the time of booking and the balance is due 45 days in advance.
If you book a “room only” reservation, there is a one-night deposit due at the time of booking, but the balance is not due until you check-in.

There are often discounts released separately…sometimes for booking a package and sometimes for a “room only.” For example, there have been a 25%-45% off discount code for “room only” reservations or an offer for the Disney Dining Plan FREE if you book a package. You really never know what the best option will be until it is released. Sometimes, it’s months before your trip, sometimes just a few weeks.

Once you decide where you want to stay, and if you want a package or not, BOOK! Then, if and when a discount is released for your travel dates, the agents at Mouse World Travel will be sure to have your rate adjusted, and send you an email with your new rate!

There are a few different types of tickets options for your vacation. First is just a base ticket that will get you into one park per day, for the amount of days you want. You then have the option to add on “Park Hoppers” which will allow you to go from park to park on the same day. (NOTE: You CAN NOT get a base ticket for 7 days and use two of your “days” to get into two separate parks. You pay for the number of days, not number of park admissions.) Another add-on is the “Water Park Fun and More” option, which grants you admission to either of the two water parks on property, DisneyQuest, Oak Trail Golf Course or Wide World of Sports. Number of admission to the water parks and more depends on the number of days on your ticket. The final add-on, is the "No Expiration" option.

An adult one-day base ticket is $85. Depending on the number of days you want, the price for each additional day goes down. For example, a 5-day pass is $251 and a 6-day pass is $259, only a few dollars more. If you are still confused, here is a chart of current ticket costs.

Getting There, Getting Around and Getting Back
Once you get on the plane to Orlando, you don’t have to worry about arranging any further transportation! Once you have your fight information, let your Mouse World Travel agent sign you up for the free Magical Express service. Once you are signed up for this service, you will get your voucher and luggage tags in the mail with the rest of your vacation information. When you land in Orlando, the bus will take you from the airport to your resort and even get your tagged luggage for you, which will be delivered to your room later in the day.

Once at your resort, there are buses that will take you to any of the 4 parks, 2 water parks and Downtown Disney area. You can even take buses from park to park or from a park to a different resort for dinner or just exploring. There are also boats and, of course, the monorail, as other ways to get around WDW!

Then on your last night, you will get information on the Magical Express bus that will take you back to the airport on your last day. You are even able to check your luggage and get your airline tickets from your resort that morning so you do not have to worry about transporting your luggage back to the airport.

Fast Pass
Even in the middle of Summer, I never wait for a ride with more than a 20 minute posted wait time. The reason for this is Fast Pass! When you enter a park, your ticket is activated to be able to get Fast Pass tickets. Basically what that means is, if the attraction you want to ride has a line longer than you want to wait, you can put your park admission ticket into a machine just outside of the attraction and get a Fast Pass. On that ticket, there will be a time frame for you to return to the attraction. There is a separate Fast Pass line to get on, hand in your ticket, and ride with little to no wait!

 There are only a certain amount of Fast Passes available for the day, so some of the more popular attractions will have Fast Passes with time frames much later in the day, or even run out of Fast Passes by the afternoon. Pick which attractions are most important to you and make sure you either ride them first thing in the morning, or get a Fast Pass right away.
NOTE: Fast Pass is FREE to all park guests. Not all rides have Fast Pass.

The Dining Plan
If you decide to get a package, you have the option of getting the dining plan. I personally have only gotten the dining plan once and found it wasn’t worth it for us BUT other people wouldn't think of going to WDW without it! It all depends on if it's worth it for you and your family. (See Brook’s blog on the Mouse World Travel website for more information and to figure out if the dining plan is right for you!) There are three options for the dining plan: counter service, basic, and deluxe. Most people go for the basic dining plan, which consists of 1 counter-service meal, 1 table-service meal and 1 snack per guest per night. When you check in, your dining credits are put on your Key to the World card (along with your room key and park tickets ;) ) and you are free to use them as you choose throughout your trip.

It is important to remember that you are paying for these meals in advance, so be sure to make the best use out of your credits. Talk to your agent about choosing restaurants so you can make the most out of your table-service credits. For example, you can use a table-service credit for an filet mignon at an authentic Japanese hibachi restaurant in Epcot OR to eat a hamburger at the Sci-Fi Dine In in Hollywood Studios. Obviously, the second option doesn’t make the most sense. (Although I think the Sci-Fi is a can’t miss, but then again, we pay out of pocket. WHICH you can also do on top of the dining plan.) Same with your snack option: you can get a bottle of water with a snack credit OR you could get an ice cream sandwich from the Main Street Bakery with a giant scoop of ice cream squeezed between 2 warm, fresh baked cookies. I’d pay for the water out of pocket! If you use your credits wisely, you really can end up saving money!

(What’s included in the Dining Plans can change from year to year so be sure to ask your agent for the most updated information.)

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)
You might want to think about making some dining reservations in advance. They can be made up to 180 days before check-in. I know it’s hard to know where you’re going to be on what days so far in advance, but if you want to eat at some of the better restaurants or dining experiences, you really should think about making a few. There are certain places that book up fast, such as breakfast with the princesses in the castle, so talk to your agent about what options you might be interested in and we would be happy to make your dining reservations for you and even help you create an itinerary to fit everything in!

It makes me cringe when people come back from Walt Disney World saying the food was all hamburgers and chicken fingers when there really are tons of fantastic restaurants on property.

NOTE: Anyone can make ADRs, regardless of if you are on the Disney Dining Plan or not.

Park Hours and Events
Park hours vary depending on the park and the time of year. Hours are usually posted around 6 months in advance. The best place to get this information is directly from the Walt Disney World website, as they are subject to change.

For resort guests only, there is also a benefit called “Extra Magic Hours.” That means that each day, one of the 4 major theme parks will either open an hour early or close up to 3 hours later.

There are also occasionally special “hard-ticket” events in the Magic Kingdom. The only two now are the Halloween party, in September and October and the Christmas party, in November and December. If you want to attend the party, you have to buy a ticket for the event. If not, plan to be in a different park that day, as the Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm for guests without the ticket.

There are also a variety of special things happening around the parks at various times of the year, like the Flower and Garden Festival in the Spring and the Food and Wine Festival in the Fall, both in Epcot. (On one trip, I saw a Starship as part of the Food and Wine Festival concert series!) Talk to your agent about the special events going on in Walt Disney World during your vacation!

Like I said before, there are various discount released throughout the year. Some are for the general public, some are for Disney Visa holders, Annual Passholders and some individual Pin Codes. If you want to increase your chances of getting a “pin code,” Disney needs to have your address or e-mail address. So, go to the official website and create an account. Make sure you check the box that says you would like to receive additional information and promotions from Disney. Order a planning video, too. I heard that helps! Pin codes are random and you might not get a pin code at all but there have been some GOOD discounts sent this way.

There is so much to see and do in Disney World and it is impossible to see it all in one trip. Pick the things that you definitely want to accomplish and don’t expect to do it all! That’s what the second trip is for!

Take it one step at a time and let me know if you have any questions or need clarification! All the agents at Mouse World Travel will be more than happy to assist you with any questions you may have and look forward to planning a magical vacation for your family!

Contact me at or visit our website

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Newly refurbished All Star Movies Rooms!

Check out the newly refurbished rooms at the All Star Movies Resort! New flat screen TV's, new furnishings and all the trimmings. (Thanks to Brook for making the video.)

It's not too late for booking this resort during Disney World's Free Dining promotion, so contact us today for some great rates!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

List of the 2011 Candlelight Processional Narrators

Here is the list of narrators scheduled for this year's Candlelight Processional show held in Epcot!

  • 11/25 – 11/27: Mira Sorvino
  • 11/28 – 12/01: Michael W. Smith
  • 12/02 – 12/03: Whoopi Goldberg
  • 12/04 – 12/06: TBA
  • 12/07 – 12/09: Isabela Rossellini
  • 12/10 – 12/12: Neil Patrick Harris
  • 12/13- 12/14: TBA
  • 12/16 – 12/18: TBA
  • 12/19 – 12/21: Trace Adkins
  • 12/22 – 12/24: Susan Lucci
  • 12/25 – 12/27: Blair Underwood
  • 12/28 – 12/30: Marlee Matlin (interpreter: Jack Jason)

Thist is subject to change. Lunch and Dinner Candlelight Processional Packages include a meal, reserved seating at a specific time show, and pre-arranged Illuminations fireworks viewing.

It is highly suggested that guests purchase a Candlelight Processional Dining Package as these shows are very popular and standby wait times can be quite long. Tickets will probably go on sale sometime in July.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Disney Dining Plan, Or Not?

By: Brook W. - agent at Mouse World Travel

One of the BIGGEST questions for anyone going to Disney World..."Do I buy the Dining Plan, or not?"

If you are new to Disney Dining - the food is varied and overall pretty good, no matter where you eat.  You won't be stuck to burgers and nuggets only at the Quick Service Dining locations!  (though, the Kids Picks on the Quick Service meals could stand to be a bit more varied...)  So don't worry, everyone will find something good.

Now, let me take you on a journey of how I face this "to Dining Plan, or not?" question each and every trip (and sometimes for the trips of my Clients), and then you will have your answer at the end.

Do we, or don't we?

If we do--will we really save?

And if we do...which plan?  Quick, Regular, Deluxe???

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  Like Disney doesn't have enough options already!!!!!


Let's look at this logically.

STEP ONE: The facts.

In my little scenario, we are going for 4 nights, a family of 2 adults and 1 child-let's call this family Brook, Joe and Henry.  Creative, I know.

All people on your reservation must have the same Dining Plan, for the entire length of your stay.

In 2011...

The Quick Service Dining Plans includes / costs:
2 "Quick Service" meal credits (entree, dessert, non-alcoholic drink), per person, per night
2 Snacks per person, per night
1 refillable mug, per person

Adults $34.99 per person per night;
Children (ages 3-9) $11.99 per person per night

$81.97 per night.  x 4 nights = $327.88

And the Regular Dining Plan includes / costs:
1 "Table Service" meal credit (entree, dessert, non-alocholic drink--gratuity is NOT included) per person, per night
1 "Quick Service" meal credit per person, per night
1 Snack per person, per night

For stays during off-peak seasons, cost is: Adults $45.99 per person, per night; Children $11.99 per person, per night
For stays during peak seasons cost is: $47.99 per person, per night; Children $12.99 per person, per night

For ease, let's just say we are visiting during an off-peak time.

$103.97 per night x 4 nights = $415.88

And the Deluxe Dining Plan includes / costs:
3 Meal Credits - to be used however you'd like.  Quick or Table. per person, per night
2 Snacks per person, per night
1 refillable mug, per person

Adults $78.99 per person, per night
Children $21.99 per person, per night

$179.97 x 4 nights = $719.88

STEP TWO: Who is your traveling party?

1) Is your family the type that likes to sit-down for a meal every single day?  You treasure the time to sit and relax and have a server at your table?

2) Or, is your family more the quick type - where you would rather grab what you'd like, whenever you'd like, eat, and move on?  Maybe with a few sit-down meals sprinkled in there...but not everyday?

We are currently, with a young child, in the Choice #2 Camp.  Hands down.  However, I know many families-with young children-that are in the first choice.  They use that sit-down meal as a time to get out of the sun and re-charge, re-apply sunscreen and relax -or, as a finale to a wonderful day in Disney.

What choice are you?  This will help you determine which plan is best for you.

Wow, that's a really large picture of my face.  It was a good pretzel though!

STEP THREE: Where to eat?
This is sometimes difficult even for a Disney World Veteran.  There are a TON of choices.  So research, read reviews and ask opinions of those you know.

If you are a first time Disney-goer, this is VERY difficult, and my recommendation to you would be, if you think you might like the Dining Plan - buy it.  Buy whichever plan you think will fit your family best, try it and see if you like it.  The best way to learn is by experience.  Every family is different!  If you don't, next trip you will know what not to do!

For the Table Service meals you want to try:

-Are most character meals? (they are usually expensive)

-Are there any Signature dining places? (they take 2 Table Credits)
-Are there any dinner shows? (takes 2 Table Credits)

All these affect the credit usage if you are on the Dining Plan, and the out-of-pocket costs should you not buy a Plan.

Looking at the quick-service meals I need to evaluate where I *think* we might stop based on previous trips and what we like to eat.

-Are we wanting to eat at the most expensive of the choices: Wolfgang Puck's Express, Sunshine Seasons, Starring Rolls, or La Cantina de San Angel?  How about Cosmic Rays, Fairfax Fare, or Flame Tree BBQ-which also can be expensive?
 -Are we going to really eat that many desserts? (sometimes you can get fruit, or a bottle of water instead of dessert too-so keep that in mind!)
 -Are we just going to opt for the free ice water instead of a soda at our meals because of the heat?
-Are we going during the Food & Wine Festival and can use those snack credits during the festival for the expensive little-plates they sell?

Only YOU can answer these questions for your family.  And they aren't easy to answer!  Only from experience have I found that my family doesn't eat as much in the hot summer months as in the cooler winter/fall months.  My husband's stomach sometimes disagrees with the fountain sodas in the heat.  And I'm not a big dessert eater-unless it's very specific desserts.  My little man will eat and eat like no tomorrow one day, and eat a crumb the next.

Picky much?!! :-)

STEP FOUR: Do the math.

Now, open up:
(>Walt Disney World>Dining>The Menus!)

Look at the menus and prices of your choice restaurants, and COMPLETELY IGNORE the links to their Travel Agency sponsor.  Book with me instead. ;-)

Now, let's do the math.

Here is how I do it.

I take the total dollar amount from the dining plan above and plug it into my calculator.

We are mostly a Quick Service family, so let's tackle the Quick Service Dining Plan.

I then go through the list of restaurants, picking which ones I think we will eat at (based on our favorites and past experiences and reviews I have read online).  I guess what each person will eat at the meal.

That, again, is not an easy task!

How is someone supposed to know what they are going to eat days-even MONTHS in advance???

However, everyone has their habits and favorites.  So, I go with this - and if I'm not certain what we will order, I average the prices.

I ONLY add in the things we would order if we were paying out of pocket; meaning if we normally probably wouldn't order a dessert or a drink here, I don't add it in (even though the Dining Plan includes it, it's not really a value unless you would normally eat it, right?)

So, let's look at a favorite of mine, Casey's Corner in the Magic Kingdom:

I know I will order Corn Dog Nuggets $4.19 and either apples or fries on the side: $2.49 and a Diet Coke: $2.19

Joe will order Hot Dog Meal - served with apples or french fries $6.59, maybe a drink-let's not add it in, but I know he'll get Cracker Jacks! $1.49

Henry will order Hot Dog Meal - served with apples or french fries $6.59 (they do not have a Kids menu at Casey's) and a milk $1.99

And I go on with the other meals, remembering to just subtract what I think we will eat, being a bit more on the conservative side.  I include a snack or two, just thinking about our eating habits, like we might crave ice cream more during the hot months, and that we like to bring a few bags of candy home with us.

This step of the process really is to know your family / traveling party and what they might order.  I know Joe cannot go to Casey's and not order Cracker Jacks.  I also know if we eat at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot, we ALL get a piece of the $3.99 strawberry shortcake!

We also eat most breakfasts in our room - bringing a few options from home, or purchasing them in the resort's gift shop.  We are sloooooow movers in the morning and I like to sip my coffee.  It's rare that we make it out of the room in time for breakfast unless we have a reservation!

Okay - so that step is done.  Your calculator is smoking and you might be a tad grayer after all the "Will we do this, or this?" thinking.

STEP FIVE: Is it worth it?


What is the total left on your calculator?

Is there a LOT of money left?  If so, the Dining Plan is not for you!  Pay out of pocket and save the money!  Some people take the total cost of what the Dining Plan would have cost and put it on a Gift Card to use for the meals - then they still don't have to think about the costs of the meals, and will likely be able to splurge on a few gifts at the end of the trip!

Is the number on the calculator negative?  Then the plan IS for you!  Buy, buy, buy!  And enjoy!

If there is only a small amount left on your calculator - you are on the fence.  This is where we most often land.  And usually I say - buy the plan.  That way we don't have to think about the costs, and since I was conservative in my calculations above, we will be splurging on vacation with desserts and snacks, and that is always fun!!

What is a "lot" and a "small amount" of money is your determination.  Sometimes the ease of being all-inclusive is enough of a lure for some families to just buy the plan and be done with it.  Only YOU can truly decide.

It all can be a toss up!  And really, even if you choose wrong and we end up spending a bit more than you might have, it's probably not going to be THAT much more.  It's vacation....relax and just let it roll...or try to at least!

 So, to DDP or not?

THE ANSWER: "It depends."

Helpful, aren't I?  LOL!

Oh, and of course there are a few other options beyond these 3 Dining Plans, maybe I'll cover the Premium and Platinum plan in a future note! :-)  And if you are looking at 2012, it's a whole new ball-game.  New prices, slightly altered plans!!  Yippee!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spotlight on La Cantina de San Angel in Epcot (Quick Service)

by: Brook W. - agent at Mouse World Travel

Earlier this year, my family and I had the opportunity to visit the newest addition to Epcot's awesome variety of Quick Service Restaurants - the La Cantina de San Angel, which is part of the Mexico pavilion in the World Showcase.

La Cantina is nestled right along the waterfront of the World Showcase Lagoon.  It is open for lunch and dinner.  During the lunch period there is both outdoor and indoor seating, but during dinner hours, the inside portion of the restaurant is turned into a sit-down Table Service.  We arrived at 8:00 pm for a late dinner.

Illuminations was just one hour away and this place was BUSY!  Many people were coming into this restaurant, ordering a drink or two, in hopes of snagging a table along the water for a great Illuminations view.  So, if you'd like to take advantage of that - arrive early and enjoy your food and drinks slowly!

That was not on our agenda for the evening, so we determined we would take any table that happened to open up.

But, first things first, let's figure out what to eat!

The menus is not vast.  Beef tacos, chicken tacos, cheese empanadas, "loaded" nachos, or nachos and guacamole.  The tacos and empanadas come with a side of pico de gallo and tortilla chips.  During my visit the guest in front of me asked about getting Spanish rice instead of the tortilla chips and the Cast Member affirmed that he could - but he changed his mind at the last moment and went with the chips, so I cannot completely confirm that this is an option...but it doesn't hurt to ask!  It is not listed on the menu.  The corn tortillas and guacamole are both handmade.

Desserts are churros with a caramel sauce, or Paletas - which are traditional Mexican fruit popsicles.

For Kid's Picks the choices are chicken tenders or a cheese empanada.  They come with tortilla chips, fruit and a beverage.

There are a few alcoholic drinks, the typical Coke products, bottled water, hot cocoa and Jarritos and Sidral - which are two traditional Mexican sodas.

After we ordered, I waited for my food and started to take in the details of this beautiful restaurant.

Food in hand, I navigated the crowds to my waiting child and husband.  We had found a table fairly quickly despite the number of people at the eatery.

 This is not a great picture, but it shows the seating over the waterfront.  The little cart on the right has napkins, straws, all that sort of thing.  It also has two types of salsa-a red and a green.

My 3-year old's choice for this meal were the chicken tenders. Many of the Quick Service restaurants serve basic chicken nuggets for the kids; however, these were full, white-meat chicken strips that you find generally in the adult meals (they taste much better than the kids nuggets!).
My husbands choice was the cheese empandas.  

And mine, the beef tacos.

We also received one cup of nacho cheese sauce.  This wasn't anything special, or spicy - just your basic nacho cheese sauce.  Standard is good sometimes...why fix what isn't broken?!

All three of us enjoyed our food!  My husband said the cheese empanadas were "good, not great", but he didn't leave one morsel behind either.  My beef tacos were DELISH!  I have nothing bad to say about them!

For dessert, both my husband and I chose the churros with caramel sauce.  The picture shows one portion.  They were hot and fresh.  The caramel dipping sauce isn't your traditional thick caramel, but is much thinner and an awesome compliment to the churro.

The churros are not only delicious, but they also make an excellent sword!

After our meal our bellies were full.  We were happy.  La Cantina was a hit.  We enjoyed it immensely despite the crowded status.  It was worth dealing with the crowds for!!

Matter of a fact...we liked it so much...we ate there again in our trip!

This time around, my husband chose the beef tacos that I raved over.  He agreed with me, they were a clear winner!

I chose the chicken tacos.  They were good...but not as good as the beef, in my opinion!

And the little dude chose the cheese empanada this time.  Which, as you can see, comes plain-unlike the cheese-loaded adult portion.  It's similar to what a deep fried grilled cheese would be, so naturally, my son really liked it!

And dessert....we couldn't resist...more churros!

All three of us agree that this is an excellent addition to the World Showcase options.  If you enjoy Mexican food, don't pass this one up!

Watch for my future review of the La Hacienda de San Angel, which is the Table Service portion of this restaurant.  I'm already drooling in anticipation of my meal!

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Disney Fantasy Experiences!

The Disney Fantasy™, the new Disney Cruise Line® ship set to debut next spring, will bring to life many of the innovative features guests love on the recently launched Disney Dream™ including AquaDuck — the world’s first shipboard water coaster.  But new design elements and guest experiences will give the Disney Fantasy™ an identity all its own.

The Disney Fantasy™ is the second of two newly designed Disney Cruise Line® ships that take the family cruise experience to new heights. Sister ship to the Disney Dream™, which entered service in January 2011, the 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy™ will sail week-long Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla., with its maiden voyage scheduled for March 31, 2012.

“Animation Magic” at Animator’s Palate

Like Animator’s Palate on the Disney Dream, the venue is wall-to-wall whimsy inspired by a classic animation studio. Throughout the restaurant, pillars are fashioned like huge pencils and brushes. Character sketches, maquettes (three-dimensional character models), film strips and other tools of the animation trade adorn the room.  As a special nod to Mickey Mouse, the dining room chairs feature red and yellow colors and a trademark design – Mickey Mouse pants with two bright yellow buttons.

Upon entering Animator’s Palate, guests are surrounded by artwork featuring their favorite Disney characters.  Guests get a sneak peek into the origins of these beloved characters through concept art, storyboards and character studies. 

As guests are seated at their tables, they are invited to draw a character of their own using a simple template on their placemat.  Then, just before dinner, house lights dim and a sprinkling of pixie dust illuminates the room.

Imagery is revealed on several large monitors showing animated, black and white drawings of Mickey Mouse.  Mickey then places the Sorcerer’s hat upon his head which transforms him, as well as all of the other pencil drawings shown throughout the room, from black and white to color.

Mickey then invites guests to sit back, relax and enjoy a taste of animation as a montage of memorable food-themed moments from Disney and Pixar films set to “Be Our Guest” begins to delight guests.  After the “Be Our Guest” number is complete, animated curtains are drawn on the monitors for a brief intermission. During this time, guests are encouraged to complete their own drawings, if they have not already done so, so they may be whisked off to Mickey Mouse who is conjuring a magical final act.

While guests enjoy dinner, the restaurant’s walls fill with classic Disney and Pixar characters gathering food, eating and drinking together, and celebrating over meals.

After dinner, the animated curtains are opened on the screens and Sorcerer Mickey returns for the exciting finale.  With a flourish and musical crescendo, Mickey works magic as only Disney can do.  Mickey conjures the guests’ drawings – now fully animated and brought to life – into the onscreen action.

A parade starts as Mickey leads the guests’ drawings in a march across the screens around the dining room.  The animation of the drawings becomes increasingly more elaborate, and then the drawings step into scenes from beloved Disney movies and skip, skate and dance side-by-side with characters such as Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket, Cinderella and Snow White. 

At the conclusion of the show, Mickey returns to say “so long” to the guests and, as he does, credits roll on screen showing each guest’s name listed as a guest animator. To commemorate the experience, each guest will have their character drawing returned to them, with an added touch… a golden seal proclaiming them an Official Disney Animator.

Europa Nighttime Entertainment District

On the Disney Fantasy, adult guests step into a world that’s all their own at Europa – a nighttime entertainment district exclusively for guests 18 and older that features sophisticated bars and trendy lounges inspired by the very best in European travel.
  • La Piazza is a lounge that draws inspiration from Italian cities and their decorative outdoor plazas. The bar is modeled after a colorful vintage carousel. Venetian masks, romantic couples’ booths and a classic Vespa with a sidecar add Italian flair.
  • Skyline
  • Skyline is a chic bar that provides ever-changing birds-eye views of stunning European city skylines that transform from day to night. Skyline’s “windows to the world” give guests a glimpse of spectacular locales in panorama such as Paris, London, Barcelona, Athens and St. Petersburg.
  • O’Gill’s Pub is a rollicking Irish bar with modern-day twists.  Dark woods, brass accents and a selection of Irish beers create the perfect pub atmosphere where guests can sip a pint while watching live sporting events on one of several high-definition televisions.
  • Ooh La La is inspired by an elegant French boudoir adorned with velvet tufted walls, Victorian furniture and Louis XIV-style chaise lounges. A sensuous color palette is accented with ornate framed mirrors, gold details and a “jewel box” feature bar backed with sparkling diamond-like facets.

The Tube
  • The Tube transports guests to a vibrant metropolitan club via the London Underground. Guests “mind the gap” as they walk across a Tube route map, lounge among mod furniture, pose by a red English phone booth, dance atop an illuminated Union Jack dance floor and enjoy cocktails at a bar inspired by Big Ben and London’s many train stations.
“Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular”

A new ship means new main stage entertainment at the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre.  New to Disney Cruise Line, “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” takes the stage on the Disney Fantasy.  During this Broadway-style production, guests laugh along with the wise-cracking Genie and the cast from the classic animated Disney film, “Aladdin.” 

In this fast-paced musical comedy, Aladdin is back as the “street rat” of Agrabah meeting up with a Genie who grants him three wishes, battling the evil Jafar, and falling in love with Princess Jasmine.

Many of the classic scenes and songs from the movie are re-created on stage and some of the action even spills out into the aisles, like Prince Ali’s jubilant arrival in Agrabah on the back of a stallion. Magic lamps, wise-cracking genies, princesses and evil wizards are all part of this musical production. And of course, an Aladdin production would not be complete without a magic flying carpet scene, which combines mechanical wizardry with state-of-the-art projections, allowing Jasmine and Aladdin to soar as they perform a heartfelt duet of “Whole New World.”

Many of the songs from the movie are featured in the 45-minute musical production, including “Friend Like Me,” which is performed as a lively, Las Vegas-style production number featuring special effects, illusions and more than a dozen dancing genies. Composer Alan Menken, who created the original soundtrack with songwriters Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, composed an original song for the stage production entitled “To Be Free.”

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

When young princesses-to-be make their royal entrance at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, they are greeted by their very own Fairy Godmother-in-training who transform them with magical makeovers such as the Disney Diva, the Pop Princess or the Fairy Tale Princess. A variety of royal treatment packages include combinations of hairstyle, shimmering makeup and nails. Princess costumes, complete with crown, wand and shoes also are available.

Exclusive to Disney Cruise Line, Captain Mickey Mouse, Princess Minnie Mouse and First Mate Minnie Mouse makeovers plus special Under the Sea packages will be offered. 

On pirate party nights aboard the Disney Fantasy, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique transforms into the Pirate’s League, where swashbuckling boys, girls and grownups can get ready for the pirate life.

Each guest checking in at the plunder-filled pirate’s lair gets an official pirate name.  Then it’s off to Muster Station for applications of beards and bandanas, swords and scars, earrings and eye patches – all done with the savvy skill of a pirate master who shares his own tales of sea-sailing adventures.

After the new buccaneers recite a sacred pirate oath, they are officially part of Captain Jack’s motley crew, leaving their old identities behind.  The shipmates and scoundrels are then turned loose on their pirate vessel.

Guests can choose from two pirate packages – First Mate (includes bandana, facial scars tattoos, fake teeth, earring, eye patch, sword and sheath) or Empress (includes bandana, shimmering makeup, face gem, tattoos, nail polish, earring, eye patch, sword and sheath).

Atrium Lobby – Mademoiselle Minnie Mouse

The magnificent three-deck atrium lobby on the Disney Fantasy is reminiscent of grand ocean liners of the Golden Age.  Art Nouveau-inspired details and patterns in hues of vibrant blue, green, pink and gold lend to the sophistication.  Glamorous and graceful design elements include a sweeping grand staircase, towering fluted columns, grand piano and an exquisite marble and stone inlay floor. A focal point is a cascading chandelier of stained glass and crystal beads.

The pièce de résistance of the magnificent space is the atrium lobby statue – Mademoiselle Minnie Mouse.  Inspired by travel of the 1920s and 1930s, Minnie, cast in bronze and dressed in vintage fashion with a parasol and steamer luggage at her side, serves to welcome all guests who board the ship.

Royal Court Restaurant

At Royal Court restaurant, guests are immersed in the lavish surroundings of an elegant dining room fit for a grand palace.  Royal Court takes design inspiration from the classic Disney films “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Sleeping Beauty.”  Décor features ornate details and custom furnishings and fixtures that incorporate iconic symbols from the films – glass slippers, apples, roses and tiaras.

An Austrian glass chandelier is a focal point, while eight custom brass and glass lighting fixtures modeled after Cinderella’s coach adorn the room.  Hand-crafted mosaic tile murals of the princesses – Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, Ariel and Sleeping Beauty (Aurora) – and their princes grace the walls.  Inspired by the mosaic tile murals in Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, the Disney Fantasy mosaics are beingmeticulously created by skilled Italian craftspeople using more than 200,000 individual tiles, with 23 mosaic panels depicting six  different vignettes.

With careful attention to detail, many of the restaurant’s features are modeled precisely from the inspirational films. The Royal Court’s chandeliers, chair backs and columns with marble bases and fluted tops are fashioned after those seen in “Beauty and the Beast.”  Wall sconces, decorative patterns, throne-style chairs and the circular floor plan are recreated from “Cinderella.”

The Disney Fantasy will depart on her maiden voyage March 31, 2012, and will sail out of Port Canaveral on seven-night Caribbean itineraries – alternating eastern (St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and western (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel). Special Eastern Caribbean sailings in November and December 2012 stop at St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  All Disney Fantasy itineraries include a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

At Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on the Disney Fantasy, aspiring young princesses and pirates receive the full fairy tale treatment with pixie-dusted and piratical makeovers at this very special salon. Animator’s Palate on the Disney Fantasy brings the magic of Disney animation into the dining room with a new show called “Animation Magic.”  The dinner show celebrates the magic of Disney animation and allows families to create and participate in a whole new way.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Some exciting things happening for Disney Cruise Line in 2012!

For the first time ever, Disney Cruise Line will set sail from three new ports in 2012 – New York, Seattle and Galveston, Texas – making the Disney family cruise vacation more accessible to guests around the country. Additionally, the cruise line will offer more choices than ever before with several new itineraries planned.

“In 2012, we’re making it easier than ever for families to enjoy a Disney Cruise Line vacation by offering cruises from a variety of regional homeports,” said Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz. “Guests can now enjoy a magical, one-of-a-kind Disney cruise experience with the convenience of departures from their own backyard.”

For the full listing of all the itineraries, dates, and pricepoints, please check out our website HERE

And the MOST exciting part is:
For the first time, the Disney Wonder will offer a special 15-night voyage to Hawaii from Los Angeles, calling on Hilo; Kahului, Maui; Honolulu, Oahu; Nawiliwili, Kauai and Ensenada, Mexico.Rates for the 15-night Hawaiian itinerary (departing April 29, 2012) start at $1,800 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dreaming of a Disney Cruise

A few of our agents recently returned from cruising on the new Disney Dream during Disney's Agent Education Program. Seeing her in person was awesome to say the least!

Cass has written a very detailed trip report with TONS of fabulous pictures of anything you could want to see on the Dream HERE

As for my experience, I never thought that I would be fortunate to have been able to sail on the Dream so soon. My family had a 3-day cruise booked on her in September, but it looked like we were going to have to cancel it. When the opportunity came not only to sail on her almost immediately, but be there as Disney's guests and on her second official sailing, I jumped at the chance.

Even after many Disney cruises I still never tire of seeing the DCL ships docked at their terminal in Cape Canaveral! Seeing the Dream for the first time all spanking new, was surreal. :)

During my stay, there were SO many changes and improvements that I appreciated and loved on the Dream. Instead of doing a trip report that Cass has already done such a thorough job on, I will list some of my favorites features and improvements:
1. A bigger, more grand atrium lobby. Simply breathtaking! The pictures don't do the chandelier justice, it sparkles so much more in real life!

2. Great improvements to all of the kids clubs and nursery. It made me wish my 8 year old son was with me

3. Great improvements on the teen club, the Vibe. It made me wish my teens were with me! I was wishing everyone were with me!

4. The interactive art and mystery game that anyone can have fun playing

5. Cabanas buffet- bigger and much, much easier to maneuver through. Great selections!

6. Movies on demand on the stateroom TVs. It will be so hard going back to the Magic and Wonder's        TVs after being spoiled with this!

7. Mickey slide - it has a few more curves going down it, and is in a much better location.

8. Great big splash area for little kids and it's Nemo themed!

9. Both kids' pools can watch the jumbotron now :)

10. Walt Disney Theater! Much easier to get a great unobstructed view and now there is a balcony! So happy! Plus, there are 3 showings a night, 5:00, 7:00 and 9:00pm

11. Stateroom closet doors- they open now instead of slide. (It's a minor improvement to me, but still an improvement.)

12. Stateroom decoration and bedding - very comfy and pretty. I love the duvet instead of the bedspreads.

13. Animator's Palate - simply amazing! Great improvements with great technology!

14. The rest of the restaurants - stunning

15. And last but definitely not least, the AQUADUCK! We came back early from Castaway Cay and rode it 10 times in a row! It was a blast and I can't wait to go with my kids.

All in all, the ship was big, new and beautiful,  the colors-- vibrant,  the decor-- elegant, tasteful and pristine. This new ship is definitely a feast for the eyes and welcome new addition to the Disney Cruise Line fleet! I cannot WAIT to be able to go back with my family and now that I have been on her, it will probably be sooner than later! :)