Disney Dining: Poll of the Day

Dining-Reviews

In honor of my great friend Heidi and her husband Brian’s 22nd anniversary, I’ve got a Disney Dining poll for all of you.  First, though, let’s set the stage:

You are at Walt Disney World with your special loved one.  This isn’t just any old trip to Walt Disney World, this is a trip that you have been planning for quite a while now, and you are celebrating a very special moment in your life, whether it be an Anniversary, a Honeymoon, a Wedding, perhaps the impending arrival of a child, you name it.  Normally, you don’t really eat at the really high dollar restaurants when you go to Disney World.  For the most part, you go to character meals, mid-range restaurants, such as the Crystal Palace, or Garden Grill, or something like that.  However, for your special moment, you want to go to a Signature Disney Restaurant.  Now, I ask you — which one do you choose?

Please take a look at the poll below, and give me your choice from the options listed below.  Thank you everyone, and have fun with it — who knows, you might just do this in the future with your loved one (or, perhaps you have already done this with your loved one!)  As always, thank you for stopping by to visit, and go out and make today and every day a great Disney Day!


Disney Getaway

The Anatomy of a Great Disney Park

Cinderella Castle is the crown jewel of the Magic Kingdom!

Cinderella Castle is the crown jewel of the Magic Kingdom!

What makes the Magic Kingdom a great Disney Park?  What puts the Magic Kingdom and the other Disney Parks on a level that is, in this writers’ opinion, night and day better than any other Disney Park?  In short, what is the anatomy of a great Disney park?  Let’s explore these details in more depth and see if we can come to a conclusion.

Music

The Piano Player outside of Casey's provides a great example of Disney Music!

The Piano Player outside of Casey’s provides a great example of Disney Music!

There are few things that channel a person’s thoughts about a particular section of a park more than music.  When you enter Main Street, U.S.A., the music is enticing, drawing you in, welcoming you to the Magic Kingdom.  When I enter the park, instantly I find smiles on my face, Cindy’s face, and a look of wonder on Sophie’s, and I know that our day is going to be a great one.

Theming

Main Street, U.S.A. at night is one of the most beautiful parts of Walt Disney World!

Main Street, U.S.A. at night is one of the most beautiful parts of Walt Disney World!

On Main Street, U.S.A., you’ll find the old time shops, the old time theater, the street vendor selling freshly popped corn, and so much more.  It is this theming that makes up one aspect of the anatomy of a great Disney park, because the theming changes as you go from land to land, from park to park, and it is it’s own special thing.  Going to the Magic Kingdom, because of the different lands, is like going to six different parks, all rolled into one!

Attractions

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a great roller coaster ride!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a great roller coaster ride!

Another part of the anatomy of a Great Disney Park is the attractions.  When you go to the Magic Kingdom, for example, most people go there primarily for the attractions — although, that isn’t the case with everyone.  Still, if you have a great themed park, with incredible music, but lousy attractions — well, you’re just not going to be able to sustain your operation for very long.

Parades

The Grand Marshall Car starts the parade on Main Street, U.S.A.!

The Grand Marshall Car starts the parade on Main Street, U.S.A.!

When it comes to Disney, I think they do better parades than anywhere I can think of.  Imagine being designated the Grand Marshall for one of the parades, and getting to sit in this car and wave at everyone.  How cool would that be?!

Fireworks

Special Fireworks over Cinderella Castle!

Special Fireworks over Cinderella Castle!

Fireworks.  Some people like them, some people don’t.  For years, I didn’t view them because the loud noises of the explosions really bothered my ears.  The same was true with Sophie.  Then one year, we saw ear plugs at a local store, bought two pairs, and we’ve been watching fireworks ever since.  It was the best $4 investment we ever made!  If you have sensitive ears and forget to get ear plugs, don’t worry — you can go to Guest Services and get free disposable ear plugs for you and your kids and enjoy the fireworks yourself!

Food

Piglet poses with Sophie and Stephanie at the Crystal Palace!

Piglet poses with Sophie and Stephanie at the Crystal Palace!

At a park like the Magic Kingdom, you will do a lot of walking — in some cases, perhaps as much as 10 miles per day!  So, with all that exercise, it’s important that a great park have a lot of dining options!  Fortunately, Walt Disney World has some incredible ones, like the Crystal Palace (shown above) and others!

Special Events

Image Courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug.  The Magic Kingdom hosts it's own Special Events!

Image Courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug. The Magic Kingdom hosts it’s own Special Events!

At the Magic Kingdom, you have Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party to enjoy at the right time of the season.  In addition, you’ve got the special holiday events at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios too, and at Epcot, you’ve also got the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, so the special events are definitely worth seeing!

Memories

This memory from Sophie and Donald Duck dancing back in 2007 is one of my favorite memories!

This memory from Sophie and Donald Duck dancing back in 2007 is one of my favorite memories!

One of the most important aspects in the Anatomy of a Great Disney Park is the likelihood that you will make great memories at the park.  I’ll be really honest here — the memories of our trips to Walt Disney World and Disneyland are probably the number one thing that I take away each year.  The memories are why I started this blog; the memories are why we keep going back year after year; the memories are what led us to buy our Disney Vacation Club, and the memories are what made us decide to bring our family and friends along with us.

Laughter

Sophie on the Mad Tea Party showing her wonderful smile and laughter!

Sophie on the Mad Tea Party showing her wonderful smile and laughter!

Laughter really is the best medicine, and for a great Disney park, you’ll find plenty of laughter to go around!  It seems like our trips are one constant laugh after another, and often we get the kind of laughter that just keeps going on and on!  Just take a look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean!

The People you share it with

The people you spend your time with is the missing link in our Anatomy of a Disney Park!

The people you spend your time with is the missing link in our Anatomy of a Disney Park!

Sharing the parks with those that we love — that is another great part of the Anatomy of a Great Disney Park!  These pictures sum it all up — our trips with Kerry and Neal and Monica, with Steph and Shane and Kyle, with Otis and Nancy and Sherry — all of these great trips that we’ve had.

Steph and Shane and Kyle enjoy Animal Kingdom!

Steph and Shane and Kyle enjoy Animal Kingdom!

Otis, Nancy, Anna Jane, Sophie, Cindy and I pose in front of Cinderella Castle!

Otis, Nancy, Anna Jane, Sophie, Cindy and I pose in front of Cinderella Castle!

Thank you for taking time to read my post about the Anatomy of a Great Disney Park.  My family truly enjoys taking our trips to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!  I hope that you have gained some insight with me on the anatomy of a great Disney park, and why I think Disney parks are the best in the world.  Is there anything I left off of my list?  If so, please let me know in the comments, and thanks!  Go out and make it a Disney Day, everyone!

What do you do at Disney in January?

In this incriminating photo, my wife Cindy has proof of my infatuation with Minnie Mouse!

In this incriminating photo, my wife Cindy has proof of my infatuation with Minnie Mouse!

Hello everyone, and welcome to our second episode in the Magical Blogorail “Riding the Rails” series!  Last week we participated in what we would do to get ready for a runDisney event.  This week the theme we are following is to talk about what we do at Disney in January!  I don’t have a lot of experience being at Disney in January, but I’ll tell you what we did when we were there, and what we typically spend the month of January doing when we aren’t!  I hope you enjoy!

My wife and I have been to Walt Disney World just one time in the month of January — January 2001 to be exact!  It was the second time that Cindy had ever been to Disney, and it also happened to be the time we were at Disney when we were expecting our daughter Sophie!  So, due to those circumstances, this was the trip that we ate our way around Disney!

We had a long weekend due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, so Cindy and I decided to take a weekend trip to Disney!  Since we were expecting, we couldn’t go on the thrill rides that we like, but we were at Disney, so we didn’t care!

Being naive tourists, we went to Disney with clothes more suited to warmer weather — but what we weren’t expecting was a biting winter wind in central Florida!  We were freezing!  The sweatshirt you see in the picture we bought — one for each of us — and it worked some to keep us warm, but it still a little cold!

We were able to walk right into Guest Services and line up our dining reservations for that day — there was no issue at all!  We ate at Liberty Tree Tavern, as you see based on the picture with Minnie Mouse, and we ate at Cinderella’s Royal Table for lunch — although, that day for lunch they didn’t have characters there, oddly enough — and we basically had our pick of any restaurants we wanted to eat at!  We also ate at the Crystal Palace! Since we stuck to the tame rides, and all of that, we just took our time and enjoyed being at Disney together — and had a great time.

We also got some photos with some of our favorite characters, as you see here:

At Mickey's Toontown Fair, I had my picture with Donald Duck!

At Mickey’s Toontown Fair, I had my picture with Donald Duck!

And Cindy had her picture with Pluto at Mickey's Toontown Fair!

And Cindy had her picture with Pluto at Mickey’s Toontown Fair!

Nowadays, though, with school schedules and work schedules, we really don’t have as much of an opportunity to get to Disney World in January.  However, the new thing we do during the month is plan our trip that we’ll be taking in the summer, when school is out and we can enjoy the warm weather!  This year, we are vacationing with our friends from California and our friends from Raleigh, so we’re in full planning mode already!  It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait until that next trip!

Thank you for stopping by the Magical Blogorail  “Riding the Rails” series!  I have enjoyed having you stop by, but please tell me, what do you do at Disney in January if you are able to get there?  Any special traditions?  Please let me know in the comments, and thanks!

To access the rest of the posts, please click on the image below to head to the Magical Blogorail site!

Spring Fever on the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!

Main Street Station

Hello everyone, and welcome to a slightly delayed Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop post!  As always, our hop is hosted by my great friend Deb from Focused on the Magic, so let’s give a big shout out to her!  Thanks Deb!

I confess that I found this post to be a little trying.  Try as I might, I couldn’t envision what angle my post should take!  I’ve never been to Walt Disney World in the spring, so these photos, while I think are neat, are actually all summer photos — but the passion of Spring Fever makes them work anyway!

In the first picture at the top, I love the little glint of sunlight that my camera captured when I took the picture of the Main Street Station of the Walt Disney World Railroad.  Our country’s great flag flying proudly just adds to the experience, and I can picture myself getting ready to step off the monorail and start my day!

The Crystal Palace

This next picture is one of my favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World, and in many ways, it is because of the incredible detail that was put into this extraordinary structure.  The Crystal Palace just looks radiant in this photo, so much so that it looks like I could almost step right into the picture and appear right there!

Pink Rose

My grandmother absolutely loved roses, and whenever I see a rose somewhere, I always think of the lady that Sophie called “Nana”.  Grandma is in Heaven now, but one of her loves — roses — remains on earth for us to enjoy, so Grandma, this picture is for you!

Hot Springs at the Poly

There is something about this shot that just catches my attention and allows me to envision as if it is warm outside, instead of 20 degrees colder then our “normal” temperature. This shot was taken over at the Polynesian Resort when we were on our way to ‘Ohana in 2009. I hope you enjoy it!

Peter Cottentail

You know, it isn’t just the people that get into the Spring Fever mood! Little Peter Cottentail, for lack of a better name, is also enjoying the arrival of spring! Here he is in the Magic Kingdom, located over in the grassy area in front of the Crystal Palace.

I hope you have enjoyed our look at some of the things that instill a feeling of Spring Fever on me!  Now, head on over and see the rest of the entries, and thanks for stopping by!  Just click on the button!

Focused on the Magic

Memorial Meals Monday – Crystal Palace

Pooh and I at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom

For many families with daughters, Disney World is all about the DIsney princesses and the easiest way to ensure a meet and greet is to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table. This is not the case for my daughters and I, for my girls, Disney World is all about Winnie the Pooh and friends. The best way to ensure a meet and greet with Pooh and friends is to have a meal at The Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom.

Located at the end of Main Street USA, the Crystal Palace serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. All the meals are buffet style; I enjoy a buffet as I think many choices at a meal allows everyone to eat what they like. There is even a special section for kid-friendly foods (think chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and pizza) which ensures something for everyone. Of course no buffet would be complete without dessert and Crystal Palace certainly has tasty desserts. Beverages are served by your waitstaff.

I can’t point to any specific food that was better than any other. What I remember most from all the times I have eaten there is how much my daughters and I look forward to visiting with Pooh and his friends. The typical cast of characters is Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. While diners eat, Pooh and his friends travel around the restaurant (separately) stopping at each table to pose for pictures and sign autographs.

We discovered the Crystal Palace by accident. On a trip with my mother and my daughters, we decided we wanted a “good” sit down lunch. We were walking by the Crystal Palace and noticed people standing by the door and walked over to check it out. When we heard that Winnie the Pooh and friends were “in there”, my daughters practically begged to eat there. As the wait was only about 15 minutes we waited. After 5 minutes, we were shown to our table and a new tradition began.

If you decide to go to the Crystal Palace, I suggest booking an advance dining reservation. This restaurant is in the Disney Dining Plan so if you are using the dining plan, you will only be responsible for the tip;  otherwise, expect to pay between $35 and $60 per person. (Prices can be confirmed via the Walt Disney World website). If you (or the kiddies) are Winnie the Pooh fans, this meal is worth the price!