Are you going to be at Epcot for the 30th Anniversary?

Monday, October 1st, 2012. Now that’s a special date on the calendar of Walt Disney World! As everyone knows, Monday will be the 30th Anniversary of the opening of Epcot! Much like last year’s 40th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World, this weekend is seeing a lot of people travel to Walt Disney World for the celebration, as well as for the kickoff of the 17th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and I’ll bet a bunch of them will also be at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel Meet & Greet! For all of you that are going to be down there, have a fun and safe trip and enjoy every moment of the fun! If you are of a mind to do so, please feel free to send Disney pictures on up to the My Dreams of Disney Facebook Page! If you want to email them, send them to the email address facebook@mydreamsofdisney.com. Thanks!

So, will you be there? What is your must-do thing at Epcot on the 30th Anniversary? Tell us in the comments please, we would love to know!

Disney Dining Review: Princess Storybook Dining

Princess Storybook Dining at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall over at Norway in Epcot’s World Showcase is one of our favorite dining locations on property.  We have taken Sophie there for her birthday twice, and overall, Sophie and Cindy have eaten there four times, and I have eaten there three (one time the girls had a girls only breakfast there).

There are many reasons why we like Princess Storybook Dining.  For starters, it is one of the best places on property to get a lot of great one on one time with the Disney Princesses.  We have seen Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Wendy from Peter Pan, Pocahontas, and even Mulan at the restaurant!  Some of these were during the breakfast that Cindy and Sophie were at, but I’ve got some great pictures of Sophie, Stephanie, and other family members with the beautiful characters.  What I really like about this restaurant is that it is only one table service credit, whereas Cinderella’s Royal Table is two.  Also, like CRT, with your reservation, you get a photo package.  For up to four guests, you get one package, for five to eight guests, you get two packages, and for nine to twelve guests you get three photo packages!

I love the beautiful interior of the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  Like so many things at Walt Disney World, Akershus is a replica of 14th Century Akershus Castle.  In addition, the food is great!  Akershus serves a traditional American breakfast, and for lunch and dinner they serve traditional Norwegian food, starting with a cold appetizer bar of meats, cheeses, salads, and breads.  I love the Traditional Kjottkake, which is Norwegian Meatballs served with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and Lingonberry sauce.  It is a wonderful dish, and something that I recommend to everyone that asks!

I think that Princess Storybook Dining is among the best of the Disney Character Dining restaurants, and I hope that you consider it for a dining experience when you are next at Walt Disney World!  Now, take a look at some of the great photos we’ve gotten while eating there!  Tell me, do you like Akershus?  What is your favorite dish?

Our picture with Belle

 

Stephanie and Sophie with Cinderella

 

Stephanie and Sophie with Snow White

 

Belle

 

Anna Jane and Sophie with Snow White

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My Top 10 places to eat at Disney World

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to eat at a lot of restaurants that are part of Disney World.  There are so many places to eat, you really can’t go wrong.  As impossible as my title seems, I’m going to give it my best effort and give you my top ten places to eat.  I’m going to count down from ten.


At number ten, I give you … The Pinocchio Village Haus

Magic Kingdom's Pinocchio Village Haus Quick Service

This quick service restaurant serves up standard fare — pizza, chicken nuggets, sandwiches, etc., but what makes this place good to me is the location.  Situated behind Cinderella’s Castle, right next to it’s a small world, this location even has windows that look down into the launch area for the popular attraction.  Couple that with it’s Old World charm, and it becomes a place for us to eat at least once per trip.

Sitting at number nine is the Liberty Inn

Located over at the American Adventure pavilion on the World Showcase at Epcot, this quick service restaurant, like Pinocchio Village Haus before, serves standard American food such as hot dogs and hamburgers.  However, what makes this place a really great place to eat is the large, open courtyard seating — which holds probably 200 people (although I don’t have exact numbers).  Additionally, there is an old style military band that plays periodically in the courtyard, and they are well worth the wait if you decide to stay and listen to them.

 At number eight in my list is the Flame Tree Barbeque, located over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The Flame Tree is one of the best quick service restaurants in all of Disney.  This restaurant serves up a lot of great food at a good price.  We don’t eat here every year because some trips we only make one trip over to Animal Kingdom, and often we have a big dinner planned somewhere else that day, so we don’t want to overeat.  However, if you ever have the chance, check out the Flame Tree!

 Sitting at number seven is ‘Ohana, located at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Ohana is Hawaiian for family, and as a result, a meal at ‘Ohana is served family style.  We ate there in 2009 for breakfast, and had a wonderful selection of sausages, waffles, eggs, fruits, biscuits, and other delightful dishes.  The character breakfast also included visits by Lilo, Stitch, Mickey Mouse, and Pluto, with numerous photo opportunities and autograph sessions.  It was a great meal breakfast, and we enjoyed it immensely.

At number six in my countdown, we come to one of the true institutions of Disney — the Main Street Bakery

If you want a quick place to grab some good food, this is the place.  Serving everything from yummy breakfast items like cinnamon rolls, sandwiches, and even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for picky eaters like Sophie, this is the place to be.  One step inside the shop and you are inundated with all sorts of sweet smelling treats, just begging you to try one out.  It was here where one of our Disney memories was created when Sophie was presented with her huge chocolate chip cookie, courtesy of Cinderella.

Now we have reached the top five in our list.  Starting us off is the Liberty Tree Tavern at number five.

 Located in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, this restaurant was one of the ones that Cindy and I ate at when we were “eating our way through Disney” in January of 2001.  At that time, and again when we took Sophie and Riley there for Sophie’s birthday, the Liberty Tree served dinner and also had character greetings with Chip and Dale, Minnie Mouse, and Pluto.  At this point, though, looking at the page linked above, it doesn’t appear that there are any characters at the Liberty Tree.  If that is the case, I might have to bump this down on the list some.  However, the food is still delightful, and the deserts are really awesome!

Coming in at number four we have Cinderella’s Royal Table.

The beauty of Cinderella’s Royal Table is in the details.  A picture with Cinderella herself, with prints included in your meal.  Going up the stairs of the Castle to a site in the dining room overlooking Fantasyland.  A delicious meal, served with a Princess Wand for your little girl to make wishes with.  Character greetings with other Disney characters (the list varies from time to time).  It all adds up to a top five restaurant in my book.  I imagine that I will receive some criticism that it is ranked “only” number four in my list, but the top three I have I believe are better.

Sitting at number three in my countdown, The Crystal Palace

 The Crystal Palace continues to be on our list of restaurants to eat at every year.  The place has it all:  a fantastic building, an all-you-can-eat buffet, and best of all, character greetings from Winnie the Pooh and his friends Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore.  What is better in your opinion — having Tigger ham it up for the camera, sticking his big snout closer to the camera, or getting a great one-on-one with Eeyore? Wait, I know what’s better — sharing the moment with your Cousin Stephanie, that’s what!

And coming in at number two…Akerhus Royal Banquet Hall located in the Norway Pavilion of Epcot!

This restaurant is listed at number two on my list for several reasons:  First, it all starts with a family picture with Belle — and the prints are included in the cost.  Secondly, the Royal Banquet Hall is an incredible room, take a look at the link above to get an idea — but you’ve got to see it in person also!  Third, the meal starts with a traditional Norwegian buffet of cheeses, meats, breads, and salad to get you started — this is so good I could almost just stick with that and call it good.  However, then you get to choose one of several traditional dishes.  You can check out the dinner menu here.  The last time we ate, which was in June, I had the Traditional Kjottkake, and it was delicious!  In addition to all of this, the meal we had in June included visits with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White (that was the first time we had ever seen her here, so that was a big treat!), and Ariel.  If you have never eaten here, try it out — you will be happy you did!

And finally, my number one restaurant in all of Disney World to eat at…The Garden Grill Restaurant, located in The Land Pavilion at Epcot!

What makes this restaurant unique, and my (as well as Sophie’s) favorite is the circular nature of the restaurant.  The restaurant itself spins ever so slightly, taking you in a 360 degree view of the Land Boat ride below.  In addition to the coolness of that, you also will enjoy a family style dinner of flank steak, roast turkey, and sustainable fish (that varies), along with all of the fixings, and a delicious desert afterwards.  To top it all off, you will be greeted by some of Sophie’s (and my) favorite characters:  Chip and Dale, Mickey Mouse, and Pluto.  This restaurant is such a favorite of Sophie’s that she has already told us that she plans on taking her date there when she is old enough to date!  How’s that for planning ahead!

That, my friends, is my list of my top ten restaurants to eat at Disney World.  In addition to my top ten, I am also including my honorable mentions here.  These are restaurants that I have enjoyed, but not enough to visit them every year or two.  If you haven’t tried these out, I recommend them as well!  There really isn’t a bad restaurant in all of Disney!

  • 50’s Prime Time Cafe
  • Cape May Cafe
  • Captain’s Grille
  • Chef Mickey’s
  • Pepper Market
  • Sassagoula Float Works and Factory Food Court

All of these restaurants are quite good for various reasons, whether it be for the cuisine, culture, selection, or location, but just not good enough to make my top ten.

Before I leave you, I think I should point out that most of these restaurants would not have been enjoyed by us except that we choose to take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan.  If you can do it, I recommend it.  Some people claim that it isn’t as good a deal as it used to be, but I disagree.  In a future post, I’ll talk up the plan.

Thank you for reading, and feel free to post any comments, or even your own top ten list!

EPCOT, Summer 1983

The EPCOT Center opened it’s doors on October 1, 1982.  The following summer, my grandparents took me to see it.  We went with some of their friends who also had a grandson, so the two of us got to enjoy it together for the first time.

EPCOT is the park that Walt Disney envisioned all of Walt Disney World to be like.  EPCOT is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.  In Walt’s original vision, he saw Walt Disney World as a planned community that would help people to achieve a utopian society.

Unfortunately, Walt passed away before Magic Kingdom was built, and the planning for EPCOT changed.

For my money, though, I love Epcot Center (as it became known in the mid-90’s) just the way it is.  I love all of the futuristic exhibits, and Spaceship Earth is one of my all time favorite rides, not just in Epcot but in all of the parks.  I can ride that ride eight times in a day, and sometimes do!

My first visit to Epcot was in 1983.  I was 15 years old, and my summer friend and I had a great time seeing the park together.  He was from Chicago, so after that summer I haven’t seen him since, but boy did we have fun!

We rode all of the rides together (which was just fine with our Grandparents!), we were both old enough that we could go off and see things on our own, and without adult supervision!  It’s funny the things that I remember, I don’t remember all of the details for that first trip to Epcot, but what I do remember was seeing the fireworks show that played that night.

The real beauty of Disney is the amalgamation of all of the memories from all of the times we have been able to go to Walt Disney World.  From each visit, a special memory is ingrained in me, whether that memory is of a ride we enjoy, or a special food item we ate, or even something as simple as taking it all in.

The real joy of this blog for me is that, with every post, I bring those memories, even if they are really small memories, back to the forefront and I am able to enjoy the moment once again.  Thanks for reading!