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).
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
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).
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
What a way to start the new year! We spent January 1, 2014 at Epcot. Before we went there, we ate breakfast at the World Premier Food Court at All-Star Movies Resort. The kids ate Mickey waffles, sausage, and eggs and Derek and I ate whatever was left. We used our Rapid Fill drink mugs so when we were done at breakfast, we had to walk back to the room and then back to the resort to the bus area. We decided we wouldn’t make that mistake again. We weren’t in a hurry so much as it added a lot of extra walking to a day that would be full of walking.
We rode the bus to Epcot and spent the morning riding rides. We ate lunch at Sunshine Seasons which is located in The Land. It was pretty good, but after reading the reviews I expected a lot more. After lunch, we had some fast passes to use. It was interesting with the new fastpass+ system. I set up all the fast passes ahead of time which was nice, but at the same time, I didn’t know which rides would have long lines at what times. The Seas with Nemo and Friends never really had a line and I had a fast pass for that. The Land didn’t have much of a wait either and I had a fast pass for that. I was really glad we had a fast pass for Soarin’. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have been able to ride it. Even with the fast pass it was a bit of a wait, but doable. The good and bad with that was that Cara couldn’t go on it. I felt bad for her, although she didn’t seem to mind, but we were then able to utilize the rider switch pass. That way she didn’t have to wait in the line, Abby and Cade got to ride twice, and Derek and I each got to ride once. Nemo was close enough that we took Cara on that while she had to wait for the other two to ride Soarin’. Another time I took her on The Land. We had a dinner reservation at Coral Reef. The wall of aquarium was neat to look at and there were divers in there while we were eating. The kids, however, were looking for characters. I ordered the steak which was good. The kids had grilled chicken. It was pretty warm in there, though, and part way through the meal I started not feeling very well. I lost my appetite and only ate about half of my meal. As soon as we got out into the fresh air, though, I felt fine. After dinner, we decided it was time to call it a night and we headed back to the hotel. The kids had some time to play with their iPods when we got back to the room and then it was time to get to sleep to get ready for another busy day ahead.
Going into this, I knew that by choosing a “value” resort that we would not be getting everything that we got when we stayed at the “deluxe” Wilderness Resort in 2010. However, I have to be honest, that All-Star Movies Resort was still not what I expected. It was fine and served its purpose, but the room felt like a motel and not a resort. The room had an exterior entrance, a funny smell upon entering, and just the bare necessities. There were two double beds but there was enough room to put the blow up toddler bed that I brought along, so we all had a (small) place to sleep.
That being said, the lobby, store, restaurant and other areas did feel like a resort. The theming added a fun element. We didn’t get a chance to use the pool, but it was big and also added a focal point right out the back door of the lobby area. Sorcerer Mickey from Fantasia shooting a fountain of water into the pool was pretty neat. Overall, I would say if you are not going to spend much time at the resort and are looking to save money, I would recommend it. However, if you want to have time at the resort and are looking for some extras, choose somewhere else.