Top 5 Table Service Restaurants at Disney World

These are my top 5 table service restaurants at Disney World. I based my list on service, atmosphere, food, and overall experience (on a scale of 1-5).

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1. Akershus at Epcot- buffet style appetizers with menu order for entree and dessert with character meetings

Service: 5     Atmosphere: 5     Food: 5     Overall Experience: 5

2. Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios- buffet style with character meetings (breakfast and lunch)

Service: 4     Atmosphere: 4     Food: 4     Overall Experience: 4

3. 1900 Park Fare at Grand Floridian Resort- buffet style with character meetings

Service: 4     Atmosphere: 5     Food: 5     Overall Experience: 5

4. Cinderella’s Royal Table- menu order with appetizer, entree, and dessert

Service: 4     Atmosphere: 5     Food: 5     Overall Experience: 5

5. Chef Mickey’s at Contemporary Resort- buffet style with character meetings

Service: 5     Atmosphere: 5     Food: 4     Overall Experience: 5


Top 5 Quick Service Restaurants at Disney World

These are my top 5 quick service restaurants at Disney World. I based my list on atmosphere, food, and overall experience (on a scale of 1-5).

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1. Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom

Atmosphere: 5     Food: 5     Overall Experience: 5

2. Pinocchio Village Haus at Magic Kingdom

Atmosphere: 4     Food: 4     Overall Experience: 4

3. Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios

Atmosphere: 5     Food: 4     Overall Experience: 4.5

4. Sunshine Seasons at Epcot

Atmosphere: 4     Food: 4     Overall Experience: 4.5

5. Electric Umbrella at Epcot

Atmosphere: 4     Food: 4     Overall Experience: 4.5

Top 5 Snacks at Disney World

These are my top 5 snacks at Disney World. I based the list off of taste! The bonus is that all were included as a snack in the dining plan.

1. Gaston’s Cinnamon Roll at Magic Kingdom

2. Any bakery treat from Big Top Souvenirs from the Storybook Circus in the New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom

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3. Aloha Isle Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom

4. Ice cream cookie sandwich at All-Star Movies World Premier Food Court (also available at Sleepy Hollow and Plaza Ice Cream Parlor)

5. Chocolate covered frozen banana at Magic Kingdom (and the other parks as well)

Disney World:: Magic Kingdom

This was probably my favorite day of our Disney World vacation. We started in Tomorrowland. We had a FastPass for Buzz Lightyear’s Spin, but we didn’t use it because the line was not long at all. I think it got longer later in the day. The Tomorrowland Speedway was lots of fun. I just kept laughing because Abby was bumping along back and forth and I just kept thinking how scary it will be when she turns 16! Abby and Cade got to meet Stitch. He was very funny. He pretended to pick his nose with Cade’s marker, which Cade thought was hilarious. After we made our way through Tomorrowland, we made our way into Fantasyland. We took a quick ride on Dumbo and then we utilized the Rider Switch again on Splash Mountain in Frontierland. Derek and the kids got in line for Splash Mountain while Cara and I headed back to “it’s a small world.” We rode that twice and then met Derek, Abby, and Cade in line at Be Our Guest for a quick service lunch. Be Our Guest had a neat electronic way of ordering on the way in. The dining room at Be Our Guest was beautiful and the drink machines were accessible. I had the carved turkey sandwich which was very good. After lunch, we went to use a FastPass at Enchanted Tales with Belle. That was a fantastic experience. The kids really enjoyed it and I had fun watching.



We spent the afternoon meeting characters, riding rides, and having fun. Around 4:00, we left the park and rode around on the monorail to have some rest time and to look around. Then we went to Contemporary Resort to eat at Chef Mickey’s. Chef Mickey’s was a lot of fun. The food on the buffet was great and the characters were fun too. After dinner, we went back into Magic Kingdom. We were still hanging around in the front when we realized it was almost time for the Main Street Electrical Parade to begin. We got seats right in the front where the floats come out. It was a lot of fun and I got some glow things out of the bag for the kids that I had brought with. I had glow necklaces, bracelets, rings, and swords. It sure was a lot cheaper than buying the souvenirs they were selling.  After the parade, we met some fairies and rode some more rides. It was an amazing day…and night!

Laundry at All Star Movies at Disney World

When trying to pack lightly for a vacation, one idea is to pack half of what you need and decide to do laundry part way through the vacation. That is what I did since we were flying Spirit and I knew that laundry would be cheaper than another suitcase. Planning ahead will make everything go much easier. I packed quarters and Tide Pods, which I had gotten as samples on Tide.

Laundry collage editedAfter we got back from Hollywood Studios, Derek got the kids ready for bed while I loaded all the dirty clothes into the suitcase. I grabbed my Rapid Fill cup and headed off to the laundry room. At All-Star Movies resort, it is located next to the pool area in its own little building. I was lucky to find two washing machines because a lot of them were being used. I got the laundry started, put the suitcase on top of the washer so it was out of the way and people would know it was being used, and then I headed to the food court. I filled up my cup with some Coke and sat by the pool for awhile texting my bestie back home about the weather. We hadn’t had great weather in Orlando, but back home it was negative 40 something with the windchill and lots of snow. (It sure is nice to have good friends who will check on your house and make sure the pipes aren’t frozen and then clear your super steep driveway for you!) Anyway, I think the most important thing about doing laundry on vacation is to bring everything you need so you don’t have to buy the overpriced (and not as good) detergent out of the vending machine. It was nice to walk in and get started right away and not have to mess with getting change either. The only thing I didn’t plan well enough was having a fully charged phone battery. I was mid conversation when my phone died and then I got bored waiting for the clothes. When the laundry was done, I just threw it back into the suitcase and folded it when I got back to the room. It really was quite easy and even somewhat relaxing!

Top 5 Character Experiences at Walt Disney World

The first time I visited Disney World as an adult, I had no idea how big of a deal the character meetings could be. When we went in 2010, Abby loved the characters (although Cade did NOT). It was even more special meeting them this time because all 3 kids LoVeD the characters. Although we did not have any character experiences that were not enjoyable, we definitely had some that stood out as amazing. Here is a list of our top character experiences (in no particular order):

1. Peter Pan and Wendy Darling: They were located at Magic Kingdom in the area between Fantasyland and Liberty Square where the bathrooms used to be. We just missed the cut off to meet Peter and Wendy a few times throughout the afternoon and kept saying we would come back. When we missed the 3:00 set, we found out that 4:00 would be their last one of the day. So, we decided to go ahead and wait in line even though it was only about 3:15. That put us first in line for the 4:00. When they came out, Peter came running into the area yelling and crowing. He actually made me jump a mile but I instantly started laughing when I realized what was going on. Peter and Wendy talked to the kids, asked them questions, and played their roles perfectly. Then they gave the kids “flying” lessons. It was such a neat experience and the kids still randomly talk about when they met Peter Pan and how he made them jump.

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2. Princesses at Akershus: When we went to Disney in 2010, we ate breakfast at Akershus and this time we ate there for dinner. Aside from the food and service being fantastic, the characters were fabulous as well. The night we were there, the princesses were Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, and Cinderella. We met Belle on our way in and had our pictures taken with her. The other princesses came out during dinner. They also had a Princess Parade where the kids walked through the restaurant with the princesses. It was cute and a nice way for the kids to feel part of the experience.

3. Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella: We met Cinderella’s step-mother and step-sisters near Prince Charming Regal Carrousel at Magic Kingdom. They were perfect. They were in character but not mean and scary. The girls loved them. They asked Cara questions and Anastasia kept telling Cara how cute she was. Although they had their characters down perfectly, Cara was cute enough to get Lady Tremaine to smile even though I could tell she didn’t really want to.


4. Playhouse Disney at Hollywood and Vine: We ate at Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios for breakfast in 2010 and lunch in 2014. The characters do not do appearances for dinner. When we were there, it was Oso, Handy Manny, June, and Jake. A few weeks after we left, the characters switched to Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake, and Handy Manny. Ugh! Cara would have LOVED to meet Doc and Sophia. Even without those favorites, the character experience was fantastic. They took their time at the table and didn’t make us feel like we couldn’t go to the buffet or we would miss out (as they told us at Crystal Palace). They also had times where the kids could go up and sing and dance with the characters. The kids really had a lot of fun and the fact that the food was amazing was a bonus.

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5. Enchanted Tales with Belle: This experience is at Magic Kingdom in the New Fantasyland area next to Be Our Guest restaurant. When we went in 2010, the New Fantasyland area was under construction so this was the first time we did the Enchanted Tales. We used a Fast Pass for this since we had the Magic Bands although I’m not sure how long the line would have been without it. It would be worth waiting for anyway. It reminded me of a reader’s theater. There were three different areas to the experience. In the first area, it is an introduction. The second area is where the kids “try out” for parts. They made sure everyone got a part that wanted one. Then in the last area, Belle came into the room and the kids acted out the story. Cade got the part of Belle’s father so he held up prison bars and shivered from the cold. Abby was Philippe so she galloped and neighed across the room. Cara got the part of Chip and she was to jump around. She did a great job! After the play, the kids all got a picture with Belle. It really was such a neat experience.

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Walt Disney World:: Hollywood Studios

On January 3, 2014, we went to Hollywood Studios. We started with the Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage musical. It was pretty chilly but as soon as the characters came on stage, we forgot about how cold we were and really enjoyed the show. After the show, we walked over to Hollywood and Vine to check in for lunch. There was a buffet lunch, characters, and dancing. The kids enjoyed meeting Jake, Oso, June, and Handy Manny. Of all the places we ate, this is the place that surprised me the most. Last time we went in June 2010, we went to Hollywood and Vine for breakfast so we hadn’t had the lunch before. It was delicious. After lunch we walked around Echo Lake and toward Streets of America. We saw Muppet Vision, met Phineas and Ferb, went on the Studio Backlot Tour, met Mike and Sully, and then headed toward Disney Jr.-Live on Stage! We had a Fast Pass for that. I’m not sure it was completely necessary to get in, but we were able to set in the middle section in the second “row” (the seating is just on the floor). So, it was nice to be able to get up front. After Disney Jr., we went to Toy Story Midway Mania! That has to be my favorite ride at Hollywood Studios. It is too bad that most other people must feel that way too. The line is always so long and now with the Fast Pass+, we were only able to get one fast pass for Toy Story Midway Mania. Then we went through the line to meet Buzz and Woody. It is nice that there are things to entertain the kids on the way through the line. We ended our day at Voyage of the Little Mermaid. We sat in the front row and had a great view of the production.

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When we got back to the hotel, we ate at the World Premier Food Court. After eating dinner, we headed back to the room and got ready for another day at Disney. That included a trip to the laundry room and getting bags packed for the next day.

Autograph Photo Mats

Characters. Characters. MORE Characters. The first time we went to Disney World with the kids in 2010, I really had no idea that character meetings were such a big deal. Before we left, my sister-in-law bought the kids autograph photo books. Abby loved it. She wanted to meet all the characters. The books are really cute and a nice souvenir, but they never get taken out. No one ever looks at them. This time I wanted something for the signatures that I could display. I decided to use a photo mat.


I found these at Hobby Lobby. The opening is a 4×6 and the mat fits into an 8×10 frame. I also read that click top Sharpies are easy for the characters to use and they worked out really well. We didn’t have caps to keep track of either, which was nice. I kept our 4 mats (one for each kid and one for Derek and I to share) and the markers in a gallon size slider baggie (yes, I have a baggie problem!). It fit well in our backpack and was easy to carry around. The characters seemed to have no trouble with the mat or the markers. The only problem was that they filled up fast. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought 2 for each kid. Maybe have all the princesses sign one and other characters for the other. As it turned out, the characters just signed both sides so if we want to, we can flip the mat around, although I doubt we ever will. The end result is an amazing and not very expensive souvenir that we get to look at every day hanging in the playroom.


Walt Disney World:: Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is the quintessential Disney World park. Walking through the gates, walking down Main Street, and seeing Cinderella’s Castle is amazing. After having breakfast at Gaston’s Tavern in the new Fantasyland, we spent the morning riding rides. We love it’s a small world, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirate’s of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain. We ate lunch at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. It was crazy busy and hard to find a table but the food was good. The kids had hamburgers, Derek had a southwest chicken salad, and I had the pulled pork. The rain was awful for parts of the day. We had our emergency ponchos, but it didn’t make much difference. We were all soaked. We did have moments of reprieve from the rain, but our shoes were soaked through for much of the day.

We ran into one of Abby’s classmates and his family right by Aloha Isle while we were in line for a Dole Whip. We visited with them for awhile and then went off to use our fast passes in the afternoon. We used our fast passes on Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight. Those were good choices because the lines were very long. After that, we went to Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner. We met Cinderella and took pictures in the lobby of the restaurant and when they called our name, we went upstairs to the dining room. Our table was right by the window overlooking Prince Charming Royal Carrousel. It was raining hard and it was windy outside, which made us extra glad to be sitting in the castle. Dinner was good, the service was good, and the atmosphere was amazing! The kids had fun meeting the princesses and making a wish with the wishing star. While Ariel was at our table, Jasmine came into the dining room. Cara saw “Jazz Man” and took off across the dining room toward Jasmine, leaving poor Ariel in her dust. It was pretty funny except I had to run through the dining room after her. After dinner, we went to use our last fast pass on the new ride, Under the Sea~Journey of the Little Mermaid. It was a nice ride, but not quite as good as I was expecting. It was the only time we rode that one. We rode a few more rides on our way out and then decided it was time to call it a night. Other than the rain, it was a great day in the Magic Kingdom. We made it back to the hotel and attempted to dry out and get warm.

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Rider Switch Pass

If you have a little one that is not quite tall enough for a ride or doesn’t WANT to ride and other people in your group want to ride it, you should utilize the rider switch pass. You can even use the rider switch with a fast pass. We used this on Soarin’ at Epcot and Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Cara was not tall enough for either of those rides. When it was time for our fast pass return, we told the cast member at the entrance to the ride that we needed a rider switch. Most of the time Cara was with us when we told them, but one time for Soarin’ she was sleeping in the stroller and strollers cannot be brought in by the Soarin’ entrance. I did take a picture, but they didn’t ask any questions. The cast member gave us a ticket that said it was good for 3 people to ride. With that, Derek or I would take Abby and Cade on and then the other of us would take them on again later. The other nice thing with the rider switch is that there is not a time on it, just on the same date. This worked really well and Cara was able to ride another ride while she waited for us.