Planning a Disney Vacation? Give me a call!

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Are you thinking about taking your family on a Disney vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, on a Disney Cruise, or to some other destination?  If you are, give me a call — I can help you out!  I am an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations, and I specialize in helping families like yours plan and enjoy a wonderful vacation to a Disney location.  I’ve been a Pixie for over two years now, and during that time I’ve helped many families have a wonderful vacation and create many memories that they remember to this day.  Feel free to check out my Client Testimonial page for more information on that.  As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I can help you plan your trip to any of these great Disney Destinations:

My services to you are absolutely free, so if you would like more information on what it will take to get you and your family to a Disney park near you, please give me a call at 919-606-6725, email me at Mike@PixieVacations.com, or click here to generate a quote request for me.  Thanks, and remember, at My Dreams of Disney, our goal is to help you turn My Dreams of Disney into Your Dreams of Disney!

Question for the Disney Addicts: Travel to Walt Disney World without your family?

The following post is a hypothetical situation, a what if, if you will, and not something that I am actually considering. However, I want your thoughts on the matter for the following question:

If you had the opportunity to leave your family behind to take a long weekend to Walt Disney World, would you?

As I said in the beginning, this isn’t something that I am actually considering; however, it is something that a lot of my Disney friends have done and do on a quite regular basis. For me, this question is a huge one, I thought I would outline the thoughts that I have towards such an undertaking.

First of all, would the fact that I was going to Walt Disney World without my family make me a selfish person? Would there be any reason why I would go without them? The answer to this question is it depends. It is my belief that if I were to go on my own, without some contributing reason, that wouldbe selfish. However, everyone that has read my blog for a while now knows that one thing I really and truly want to do is to become a member of the world famous Walt Disney World Moms Panel. In fact, this month is when the applications will open again for the next crop of Moms, and I will likely be applying for the panel again. If the Disney Magic comes true for me, and I by some long stretch do get selected for the Moms Panel, I would be going to Disney for training in December, and I would be traveling alone. The difference, in my mind — please let me know if you think I’m wrong — is that the benefit to the Moms Panel is that my family would earn a trip to Disney as a result of me participating on the Moms Panel, so this is more like a business trip. Of course, it’s a business trip with some seriously incredible perks!

If I had the opportunity to travel to Disney alone, why would I? I answered that I think it would be a really selfish thing to do for me; although if the roles were reversed and Cindy and Sophie had the opportunity to visit Disney without me, I would gladly send them, even though I would spend every moment they are away wishing I was with them. For me, a trip to Disney World is an incredible family experience, and something that should be enjoyed by the whole family, or as much of the family as possible. The real beauty of a Walt Disney World vacation is the memories that get created when we take our trips.

I know that I am oversimplifying the thought that goes into whether you should take a solo trip to Walt Disney World; there are a ton of compelling reasons why you would do such a thing. However, for me, there are two reasons why I’m not at that point in my life yet, and this picture sums it all up the best:

The look of joy on both their faces is perfection personified!

So tell me, what would you do? Do you take trips to Walt Disney World by yourself? Is your significant other okay with you doing that? Let me know in the comments, please! Thanks!


My Dreams of Disney is just that…My Dreams of my absolute favorite place in the World! Stop by and share your Dreams too! Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and check out our special pages on the Lands of the Magic Kingdom, the countries of Epcot’s World Showcase, and our Disney Planning Resource pages!

 

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My favorite Disney World Roller Coasters

As a roller coaster fan, I’ll admit that I grew up a self-proclaimed roller coaster CHICKEN!  In fact, it wasn’t until I went to a theme park in Virginia that I became a fan.  But that’s another story for another time.
Over the years, I have become a huge fan of the roller coaster genre, and Walt Disney World, in my opinion, has some of the best roller coasters on the planet.  A lot of my friends will disagree with me, saying that this roller coaster, or that roller coaster is better, but to me, there is a whole lot more than how many loops a roller coaster can do, or how far the drop is.  To me, what sets the roller coasters at Walt Disney World apart from all of the others is the theming that the Disney Imagineers put into planning the attraction.  I believe that Disney spends more time on the theme of an attraction than any other “theme” park in the world, and it is the theme of their lands, attractions, shows, and other things that really sets the parks apart from all of the others.  Now, after all of that build-up, I am going to give you my rankings for my favorite roller coaster rides at Walt Disney World.

6)  The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm

I know what you are thinking.  I am absolutely insane by including The Barnstormer in my listing of my favorite coasters.  I have now lost the two readers that come to Chip & Company to read my material.  I can’t be serious.
However, my friends, I am serious.  The Barnstormer was the very first roller coaster that my daughter Sophie ever rode, and the moment she got on that coaster, she was addicted.  There is not a single roller coaster that my daughter will NOT ride.  My wife and I enjoyed it too!  It was a quick ride, certainly, but when we went that first year, the park wasn’t very busy, and Sophie wanted to ride it again, and again, and again, and again, so we ended up riding that thing probably eight times in a row.  You know why we did?  Because there was no line.  We walked off, turned around, and walked right back on.  It was fun.  It was quick.  It provided excitement for us.  It was great.
Today, we don’t ride The Barnstormer as much, simply because Sophie has moved on to many other fun and challenging rides, but I have a soft spot in my heart for those days when Sophie was excited beyond compare by the simple joys of that roller coaster.  With the closing of Mickey’s Toontown Fair, I’m not certain what the future holds for The Barnstormer.  I hope it stays to be enjoyed for generations to come.

5) Primeval Whirl

When we first wanted to ride Primeval Whirl, it continually amazed us that you had to be 48” tall in order to ride this roller coaster.  For the first two years, Sophie wasn’t tall enough to ride it, but in year three, she was.  The Whirl is not your typical roller coaster, in fact, I’m not sure if it should be classified as a roller coaster at all.  But for our discussion, that’s what I’m calling it.
The Whirl is a fun ride because it takes you fast through some turns, dips, climbs, all sorts of things that spin you around and almost make it seem like you are going to fall right off the edge of the structure.  In fact, in some ways Primeval Whirl may have more thrills than some of the other coasters because it is a completely different experience.  The circular car really makes a difference, especially when it is turning you around this way and that as you make one of the 90 degree turns on the track.
The Primeval Whirl is located in Animal Kingdom at DinoLand U.S.A.

4)  Space Mountain

Space Mountain is a ride that I enjoy, but I haven’t ridden it for a few years.  The first time I rode it I kept trying to anticipate which way the coaster was going to turn, and since night vision isn’t my thing, I was anticipating completely wrong!  By the end of the ride I had a headache from the jarring.  However, I did ride Space Mountain again after that, and when I decided that the key was to just go with the flow, I really enjoyed the ride.
Sophie isn’t a big fan of it because it is in the dark, but she has told us that she is going to try it again when we go in June.  However, while the appeal to Space Mountain is that it is in the dark, I feel like it takes away something from the ride.  We haven’t ridden it since it was renovated, so I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with the ride.  Space Mountain is the signature attraction in Tomorrowland, located in the Magic Kingdom.

3) Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest is one of those rides that I, for whatever reason, never seemed to ride – until this past June.  Then we all rode it, and I liked it!  For me the most gut-wrenching part (I say that literally) was when we rode backwards down the track.  I did feel like the speed of the coaster was a little slower than I would have liked.  But I liked the coaster, and will ride it again.  Last time I was in the very back of the train, so this year I’ll see what it’s like at a different location!
For me, I really like the mountain.  Additionally, the Disney Imagineers have done a great job in theming this attraction.  In so many ways, the theming of an attraction also helps to make the wait in line seem shorter because you can look around and see all the little details of the ride.
Expedition Everest is located in Animal Kingdom, not far from the Kali River Rapids.

2) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

I absolutely LOVE Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  It is one of my favorite roller coasters anywhere, not just at Disney World.  There is so much to experience with BTMR that it is easy to ride it over and over again just to pick out the things you missed before.
Have you ever ridden it at night?  If you haven’t you absolutely must experience that at least once.  It introduces a totally different dynamic into the ride.
Have you seen the dancers dancing above the saloon?  If you haven’t, look for it.  BTMR is one of those attractions that delivers – over and over again!
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is located in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom.

1) Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

I wonder where I have been all my life – six years in a row we have gone to Disney for at least one day, and in the previous five years, I never rode the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  How stupid have I been?!
Last June I made the distinct decision that I was going to ride this roller coaster, and when we were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios we did just that.  We had a Fastpass for it, so we walked right on.  In fact, we walked in the queue so quickly that I didn’t even pay attention to the limo leaving with the previous group of riders.  You know what?  That was better, because I had NO IDEA how quickly that limo was going to take off!
The initial start is from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, immediately propelled into the dark with the music of Aerosmith blasting in your ears!  The ride contains a corkscrew, a loop-de-loop, and several high speed turns, all with the music playing.  The ride is in the dark, but there are several neon signs to look at, so it really is cool!  The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster immediately became my favorite roller coaster anywhere, not just at Disney World!

But tell me, what are your favorite roller coasters at Walt Disney World?  How do they compare in your eyes with roller coasters at other theme parks?  Tell me in the comments below, and thanks!

The Lands of the Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is an incredible place to visit.  From a theme park perspective, it is almost like having seven parks all rolled into one.  The reason for this is because of all of the different “Lands” that you can visit.  They include the following:

Over the next several posts, I will take a look at each of these lands, outlining the things that my family has enjoyed from each place, and also taking a look at some of the things we haven’t done that we would like to explore.  Stick with “My Dreams of Disney” for some information you can take with you the next time you visit Disney!

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!