This is How We Disney – All the Food!

When you’re going to Disney, ya gotta eat. All that walking you do, you have to refuel. Once we had our resort picked out and figured out which parks we wanted to do and when, we had to decided on meals. If you are staying at Disney you can book your meals 180 days in advance of your arrival.That sounded so crazy to me. Who makes dining reservations 180 days advance? You do, if you want to actually be able to get in to the restaurant of your choice, especially if you want to go on a specific day and around a specific time.

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Let me start with Dining at Port Orleans Riverside. I will tell you that we have no idea what table service food there is like. We seriously only at quick service food there, and it was good. There were burgers, pizza, fried seafood, an awesome little salad spot, and a sandwich area. There was also an area with just treats.We don’t have any regrets.

We knew we wanted to make Johanna’s 6th birthday extra special, so picking the right restaurant was key. Based upon her love for princesses, we narrowed down our options to Akershus at Epcot and Cinderella’s Royal Table (CRT) at Magic Kingdom. After much thought we chose CRT because at the time we were not sure if we were going to Epcot, but we knew that Magic Kingdom would be, well, magical, for her birthday.

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CRT is expensive. When I called to book I didn’t have the dining plan yet. I had pay (yes pay in advance) $200 for 3 of us to eat. While that did include the tip, It was still a very expensive meal for such a little person. The plus was that she was guaranteed to meet 5 princesses, including the Princess of all Princesses, Cinderella (who she doesn’t care about at all mind you) and she would get to eat in the castle. What little girl wouldn’t love that? Once we found out we were going to Epcot I did make a reservation at Akershus, but we ended up cancelling it and here’s why. There is no guarantee of which princesses will be where for either restaurant. I believe the only given is that Cinderella will be at CRT and not at Akershus. In hindsight, I would’ve chosen Akershus for the princess experience because the food choices are much better than at CRT and Johanna could care less that she was eating inside the castle. Also, if you get the dining plan, CRT is 2 table credits. Not worth it. We went to CRT on Thursday and found out taht the exact same princesses minus Cinederella were going to be at Akershus on Friday, when we had our reservation. Because of that, we switched our reservation to Via Napoli.

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I had heard wonderful things about the pizza at Via Napoli, but wouldn’t you know, pizza isn’t what I ordered. My husband and Johanna got pizza and raved about it. I got Candele, which is stick pasta, sausage ragu, polpettine meathballs, mozzarella, and ricotta. It was so friggin good. So good! But it wasn’t the best meal I had while there.

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The best meal goes to 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios. Oh my goodness! 50’s Prime Time is American comfort food in a 50’s kitchen/dining room. Johanna stayed boring and ordered chicken nuggets, but my husband and I ordered A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes which includes fried Chicken, Pot Roast, and meatloaf. When I tell you that is some of the best fried chicken I ever had! And that pot roast was super tender and flavorful. Even the meatloaf was yummy. And our waiter? Was super awesome. He not only had our area of the dining room sing happy birthday to Johanna, but he also has another family he was serving do the same. And although the specialty drinks are not a part of the dining plan, he brought Johanna one anyway and gave her an extra dessert for her birthday. He made it so special for her and we were so thankful. Also, when they call you to seat you, they call your name out like your mom would when she’s calling you to dinner. Love it!


Another fave of ours was Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom. Crystal Palace almost didn’t make it on our list because Johanna isn’t a big Pooh fan at all, but hubby and I are! We love him! And I’m so happy we did it because it was our best character interaction experience. She even got to hold Piglets hand in a parade around our side of the dining room! All of the characters were as sweet as you would imagine they would be, and the food. The FOOD! We went just in time to experience breakfast AND lunch (11:15 reservation), but we only ate breakfast because it was plentiful and we were still full from the day before. My husband loved the breakfast lasagna and I loved this egg-sausage combo thing they had going on.

We at at Cosmic Ray’s one night for a quick service meal and it brought back great memories from the last time I was there in my early 20s! The burgers are still as yummy as they were back then.

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I must mention that we LOVED the pizza at Blaze in Disney Springs and were over the moon when we learned that they have a few in our state. Can’t wait to visit them again!

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Also, my favorite snack credit was that gigantic cinnamon roll from Gaston’s Tavern at Magic Kingdom. Not only was it hot and tasty, but all 3 of us were able to eat off of it.

Here are more restaurants that were recommended to me (QS – Quick Service/SC – Snack Credit/TS – Table Service):

Magic Kingdom

  • Mini kitchen sink dessert in MK (sc)
  • The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (sc)
  • Liberty Tree (ts)
  • Columbia Harbour House (qs)
  • Skipper Canteen (MK)

Epcot

  • Electric Umbrella (qs) – Epcot
  • Lotus Blossom Eggrolls or potstickers (sc)
  • Chips and guacamole in Mexico (sc)
  • Anything from the bakeries in France and Norway (sc)
  • The Caramel Shop in Germany (sc)
  •  Garden Grill (ts and character meal – Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale)
  • Rose and Crown (ts). Get a 7:30-7:45 reservation so you can watch Illuminations after your meal

Hollywood Studios

  • Hollywood and Vine only because you can meet Doc, Sofia the First, Jake, and Handy (ts)
  • Sci Fi Dine In for good burgers (ts)
  • Starring Rolls (sn)
  • ABC Commissary (qs)

Animal Kingdom

  • Tusker House (ts)
  • Rum Dole Whip (sc)
  • Flametree (qs)
  • Yak & Yeti (qs)
  • Boma (ts)

Outside the Parks

  • 1900 Park Faire (ts – character dining: evil stepsisters) – Grand Floridian Resort
  • Chef Mickey for the character interaction (ts – the fab five) – Contemporary Resort
  • Ohana (ts – Lilo and Stitch and friends) – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe (ts) – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

My advice:

If you’re on the dining plan, order the most expensive item on the menu for your meal. Get the biggest bang for your buck. That’s the only thing that will make the dining plan worth it.

Use the dining plan calculator to see if it is really worth it for you to get the plan. It wouldn’t have been for us because we just don’t eat enough for it. In fact, we had to spend $170 more to make it worth it. However, with the stay, play, dine package , we ended up paying $20 less for the trip in total with the plan, so it worked out.

Double check that all of your dining reservations are actually listed on your account. Crystal Palace somehow fell off of ours and they had to go through some backdoor server to find it. It was a mess.If you don’t see your reservation call in to make sure they link it and follow up within 24 hours to make sure it was done!

Typcially the food at Character dining is not amazing, but the pay off is that you get to meet many characters at once, which is important if you plan on getting autographs or photos. Decide earlier which ones you are willing to stand in line to see, which ones you want to skip, and which ones you would like to get close and personal with in a dining situation.

Figure out where you may want to use your snack credits ahead of time (you can go here for more suggestions). You don’t have to have a schedule, but just have it in the back of your head so you don’t wander around aimlessly and just keep getting popcorn or nuts because you’re not sure where you can use your snack credit.

Figure out your reservations at least a week before your 180 days. It’ll make things go super smooth when you can make your reservations.

You have to call to make Cinderella’s Royal Table Reservations ((407) 939-3463). You cannot make them from your disney account.

Again, you can make reservations 180 days before your stay. Go to the Disney dining website  at 6 a.m. Eastern time, ordo phone reservations at 7 a.m.

For more information on dining, go here.

What is your absolute favorite thing to eat at Disney?

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This is How We Disney -The Theme Parks

After choosing where to stay, next up on our agenda was deciding which parks we would visit and on what days, because that would affect where we would make dining reservations while there. After hours and hours of research, I got the hint – You could spend days at Magic Kingdom and still possibly not do everything! Since we were only going to be there for 4 park days and 2 travel days, and we didn’t want to have anything scheduled for our arrival day, we had to choose wisely.

Magic Kingdom was a given. The dilemma was choosing between Epcot and Animal Kingdom. We did not want to get park hoppers this go round. Park hoppers let you do just that, hop between that parks whenever you please. Being that this was my husbands first time back at disney since he was a kid, my first time since I was 22, and the first time ever for Johanna, we wanted to take it easy and just do 1 park a day.

Epcot seemed like a really grown up park. There are countries, and lots of food and drinks to try. Limited on the rides. On the other hand, animal kingdom seemed *to us* like more of a safari or really big zoo with entertainment and attractions. I know people love animal kingdom, but personally, I couldn’t imagine wanting to spend a whole day there. Don’t get me wrong, Johanna loves animals! But we have a fantastic free national zoo in our backyard, and an animal park. I know for a fact that she would’ve been over the animals and just want to get on rides. I had read very mixed reviews about the rides there, so we scratched animal kingdom off of our list. Finally we had ours days figured out

  • Monday –  Travel Day/Disney Springs
  • Tuesday – Magic Kingdom
  • Wednesday – Hollywood Studios
  • Thursday – Back to Magic Kingdom for the Princesses birthday!
  • Friday – Epcot
  • Saturday – Early Travel Day

In Hindsight, we would’ve done 4 park days, and 3 resort days tacked on 2 more days to our trip, and our schedule would’ve looked more like this:

  • Monday – Travel Day/Resort Day
  • Tuesday Magic Kingdom
  • Wednesday – Resort Day/Disney Springs
  • Thursday – Magic Kingdom
  • Friday – Epcot
  • Saturday – Hollywood Studios
  • Sunday – Late Travel Day/Resort Day

So here’s how it went. First up, Magic Kingdom!

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Magic Kingdom (MK) was our absolute favorite park! We actually could’ve used a 3rd day there! The first day was all about trying to see what kind of rides Johanna liked. She had never been to an amusement park before, so this was her first time getting on real rides. Our first ride, and worse ride, was the tea cup ride. Man, let me tell you! If you are no longer in your 20s, you should probably skip the ride lol. I was absolutely miserable coming off of that thing! But Johanna of course loved it. Oh to be a kid again.


I won’t make this longer than it has to be by telling you every single ride that we went on, but I will tell you our favorites, and favorite activities.

Favorite Rides/Attractions/Entertainment:

  • 7 Dwarfs Mine Train: This wasn’t Johanna’s favorite rollercoaster, but it was her favorite! She went on Tuesday and then twice on Thursday!
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle: This is a MUST do for your princess loving ladies. Not only do they get to see Belle, but they get to play a part in her story time by being a cast member! Even my husband got a part. And they offer a part to anyone that wants to be apart of it. Johanna was too scared of the talking Wardrobe to go up and get a part, but since her daddy was chosen for one, they let her go up with him at the end of the performance to meet Belle!
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Peter Pan’s Flight – Surprisingly amazing. We were flying! In the dark with great scenes. Awesome!
  • Astro Orbiter
  • People Mover – It’s actually a very cool, laid back ride. Especially go if you are tired and need a break.
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – More on this later this week, but if you have a princess, just do it! No regrets.
  • Crystal Palace – I’ll talk about this in my dining post, but evenif you don’t fancy Pooh and friends, go, at least for breakfast!
  • Talking Mickey – you can find him just as you come in at the Town Square Theatre on Main Street
  • Incredibles Super Dance Party
  • Move it, shake it, dance and play it street party
  • Festival of fantasy parade
  • Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
  • Once Upon a Time – Stay for this, even if you don’t want to stick around for wishes (fireworks). It was Amazing! And felt downright magical!

We were there 2 days and Still only did maybe half the things you can do at MK. Johanna road her first rollercoaster at Magic Kingdom (The Barnstormer) and fell in love. I’m so proud of her. She is so cautious and reserved, it was quite pleasant to see her so free. I on the other hand am not a rollercoaster rider at all. I’ve never been on one because I don’t need that kind of excitement in my life, so I had a lot of time hanging out with Isabella.

While at Magic Kingdom, don’t write off the shows if you aren’t a show person. They really are magical. You honestly feel like you’re going to have the best day ever because you’re walking down the street with Pooh and Tigger, or have a moment to chat with Cinderella’s step-sisters. Magic Kingdom is just that – Pure MAGIC!

hollywood-studios

Johanna’s Second favorite Park was Hollywood Studios (HS), but even while there she was still dreaming of Magic Kingdom, and I don’t blame her.

One of my favorite things at HS was everything Star Wars. I’m not even a Star Wars fan. Like, I’ll watch it if it’s on, but I know it has a cult like following and that’s just not me. But I’ll be darned if I didn’t totally get wrapped up in it while I was there. from March of the First Order up Hollywood Boulevard to meeting Chewbacca, I was thrilled!

Johanna’s favorite area was Disney Jr. of course! She got to sing along with her Disney Jr. friends, and meet her faves, Doc McStuffin and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And she was so excited that he was 6, just like her!

While those were pretty fun, I think all of us, even baby Isabella, can agree that the Frozen Sing-a-long gave us life! OMG. I got so wrapped up in it. It was just yummy. The two comedians (historians of Arendelle) that helped tell the story were hilarious! Some of the humor goes over the kids heads, but it’s great for the adults. It is certainly a show for everyone. It was hilarious to see men trying not to sing along, but it’s basically impossible. Even my husband wanted to experience it again!

This isn’t the lady from our performance, so it’s not quite as funny, but it’s still very enjoyable.

While we had a lot of good moments at Hollywood Studios, it was a downer after going to Magic Kingdom. There simply isn’t as much to do. In fact, I believe you could get a hopper and do a half day of Hollywood studios and a half day of Animal Kingdom easily.My only regret was not experiencing Indiana Jones, but Johanna didn’t want to do it and this trip was all about her.

Favorite Rides/Attractions/Entertainment:

  • Frozen Sing Along
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Disney Junior Live on Stage!
  • March of the First Order
  • 50s Prime Time – More about this in my upcoming dining post!

Don’t forget to sign your little one’s up for Jedi training while you’re there. In fact, do that first before you do anything else. It gets full pretty quick.

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Our final park of our trip was Epcot. It was Johanna’s least favorite of the 3, but as adults her dad and I really enjoyed it and want to go back, just the two of us! As  you know, Epcot takes you around the world! There is plenty to see and do, but not much to ride. That was the bummer for Johanna. I think that when she is older, a preteen, she will definitely love Epcot. It is absolutely gorgeous there and if you are doing the dining plan, seriously save most of your snack credits to eat at as many countries as possible. Because it was raining while we were there, our schedule got completely messed up, so we were literally walking back and forth around the world trying to make all of our fastpasses. It was exhausting. We didn’t get to stop at each country like we really wanted to. My advice – if you go, try to schedule all of your fast passes back to back, inching your way closer and closer to the various countries, then take your time enjoying the top countries on your list. That’s what I wish we would’ve done. Also, don’t go on the last day if you don’t have resort days built into your schedule. By Friday we were all a little cranky and worn down.

Did I mention that I was stupid happy to meet Joy and Sadness from Inside Out? Like I was bubbling over with excitement. Johanna was geeked to meet Minnie and we’re all sad that we missed every ethnic Princess except Jasmine. Like, how? At Epcot there was Pocahontas, Mulan, and Jasmine. We even missed Anna and Elsa, but that was more so on purpose. Johanna didn’t really seem excited to meet them and I thought she would. We did meet Moana at Hollywood studios, but totally missed Tiana at Magic Kingdom. We’ve gotta do better.

Favorite Rides/Attractions/Entertainment:

  • Frozen Ever After – Sit in the middle if you don’t want to get a little wet!
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Disney Animals
  • Test Track

Just a warning, Mission: Space made my husband feel unwell, and he and Johanna were on the less intense side (the orange is intense, while the green side is less intense). My husband is young and in shape, so just take that into consideration. I’m super happy that I didn’t ride!

Overall we found the fast passes to be most useful for these rides:

Magic Kingdom

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Peter Pan
  • Space Mountain (she hated Space Mountain because it is super dark and super fast, but didn’t have to wait long to ride it)

Epcot

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Seas with Nemo
  • Figment
  • Any of the characters

Hollywood Studios

  • Toy Story Mania
  • Frozen Sing Along
  • Star Tours- The adventures continue
  • Disney Jr. Live

When Isabella was born we said we would go to Disney for Johanna’s birthday, then not go again until Isabella is 6. Now we are thinking of taking another trip in a year or two. If we do we will make it a short trip (3 park days, 2 resort days) and definitely do Magic Kingdom again, try out Animal Kingdom, and head over to Universal Studios. We really wanted to go to Universal, but we didn’t know if Johanna was a thrill seeker yet, and it kind of seemed ridiculous to go if she wasn’t going to get on any rides. Well now we know our child is definitely a thrill seeker! If we can get a babysitter to come along, we’ll take a date night trip to Epcot.

What is your favorite park at Disney? Favorite ride? I’d love to hear!

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