Ride Line Boredom Busters

written by Christina O’Neill, Travel Specialist

Don’t let the Ride lines at Walt Disney World get you down!!!  

We all associate Walt Disney World with fun character meets, yummy food,  family adventures, fun rides and of course, ride lines.  Pretty sure we enjoy all but the last!  Those ride lines don’t have to make everyone be like Grumpy!   There are ways to pass the time and keep everyone acting like Happy instead! Here’s a countdown of my family’s personal ride-line-coping-mechanisms!

10.  Open your My Disney Experience app and start making plans for what comes next.  Check out wait times, book your next FastPass, plan your next food stop, see what rides or shows are nearby, or parades and characters you might like to meet.  Get the whole family involved in the planning!

9.  Keep a secret stash of snacks and candy in your park bag reserved for lines only and take this time to open it up and thrill your kids. I keep a little tin of mints or gum, or small hard candies in my bag and only hand it out in ride lines.  Cheetos,too, which my kids never get, thanks to that messy orange powder!  The nice thing about this is it keeps my kids from groaning when we enter a long ride line, but rather they get a bit excited because they know it’s a chance for them to get a special treat.  Or if you know you’re about to enter a long wait, grab a cotton candy, Mickey bar, Mickey pretzel or other snack before heading in.  Food always helps pass the time.  

8.  Use your wait time to take silly selfies!  Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook all have fun filters to have fun while you wait.  Even better, post them to social media and let your kids watch peoples funny responses to their posts.  Or take pics of your favorite pair of ears while waiting and have your friends guess where your ears are on social media!  

7.  Look for Hidden Mickey’s while you’re just standing around! I guarantee you’ll find a few.  

6.  Take in the your surroundings while you’re looking for those Hidden Mickey’s!  The Imagineers are some of the most creative minds in the world and the tiniest little details they come up with and add to the attractions and around the park are always so amazing.  For example, the submarine in the rocks at Journey of The Little Mermaid, a nod to the extinct ride 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.  Look down at the sidewalks in the lines for horse shoes, boot prints, jewels or the fabled engagement ring at Haunted Mansion. Speaking of Haunted Mansion, spend some time in line reading the tombstones!   They’re super fun.  Look for Madame Leota, she’s looking for you!  And Mr. Toad, too in the pet cemetery.  There is a chemical makeup detailed on pipes in Dinosaur.  Do you know what those ingredients actually make?  Or while you’re waiting in line for the Royal Carousel, be on the lookout for Cinderella’s horse, the one with a gold ribbon on her tail.  So many fun things to notice and see while you wait!

5.  Speaking of details, some of the rides around the parks have interactive queues.  These are always a big hits with kids and adults alike!  From the dripping honey or musical garden at Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to the giant playground awaiting you in the Dumbo queue, there are some attractions whose lines are almost as entertaining as the ride itself.  Peter Pan, Space Mountain, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain, Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ all have interactive queues too.  Take advantage of the entertainment and use these fun queues!

4.  SING!  Just start belting out your favorite Disney tune!  I promise not only will your kids have fun, but you might just start a chorus when others fighting boredom join in too.  

3.  We like to play games during our wait times.  The Heads Up app is always a hit with my kids. You can play any sort of alphabet game, like naming things you see in order of the alphabet, characters that start with A, B, C, etc.  If you have any games you like to play to pass the time in the car, use them here too.  

2.  Checkout the new Disney Play app!  Disney introduced this super fun new feature the summer of 2018 and it is such a great little secret.  I see so many iPads being used in queues but the Play app allows everyone to participate.  You can play Disney trivia at anytime in the app, just pick your favorite land and get started with the trivia button.  The Play app unlocks games in certain rides that don’t activate until you have entered the Ride queue.  Some even allow you to play with others waiting in line.  There are ride playlists for great Disney music, rewards for using a fastpass or even getting in line, ride specific games.  It’s just all around fun throughout the park and good for everyone to play.  It’s nice to be able to use the electronics as a time-killer, but in a way that involves the whole family.  We LOVE this new Play app and just in the few months we’ve been using it have seen lots of new additions.  I hope it only continues to grow and just add more fun to our park days!  My daughter insists I keep it on my phone and she still plays music and trivia at home, while wishing to be back at Walt Disney World of course!

1.  Use this time to TALK to each other!!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen whole families with everyone on a different screen, noses in the iPads and phones.  Ask about favorite rides, best experience of the day, what to do next, what do you think your friends are doing back home? Use this time to find out what your kids will remember the most from this trip.  Ask your spouse or whoever you are traveling with what has been their best moment.  And don’t stop there.  Get to know your line neighbors!  Maybe you’re from the same town.  Maybe you will learn something new about the parks, get a good tip, find out that a ride is down or that something has a really short line.  And take it even further!  Talk to the Cast Members!  We love love love to do this.  We always enjoy talking to the Cast Members.  And they enjoy being acknowledged as more than just the person checking your magic band!  We have had such fun conversations in the lines waiting for attractions.  I even once met a woman who had decided on an impromptu weekend road trip for her kids first Walt Disney World visit and basically showed up the day before with a new hotel reservation.  She hadn’t booked any fast passes or done any research.  She was so confused and we stood in line at Small World and booked all her fast passes for the weekend.  She was thrilled and we kept bumping in to them around the parks.  Make a new friend and have a little fun!

The ride lines don’t have to be the worst parts of your trip!  Find what works for your family and turn the waiting into a memory too!

Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

The Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s BoardWalk debuted April 2, 2017 but this character dining experience is very popular and books up quickly, so I was just able to experience it for the first time!

I have eaten at Trattoria al Forno for breakfast and dinner many times under previous restaurant names, as well as dinner at the current Trattoria al Forno, but this Bon Voyage Breakfast is the best experience of them all for food, service and character interaction and is a fun experience for everyone – including your servers who were all having a great time!!

This dining experience offers a pastry service and fruit bowls for everyone with several entrées to choose from and, of course, a kids menu too. This is a prix fixe menu and adult and specialty beverages are an additional charge.

I shared this experience with my husband and we ordered the King Triton’s Shipwreck al Forno (Calzone with Scrambled Eggs, Bell Peppers, Salumi, Bacon, Sausage, Blend of Cheeses, and Sunday Gravy – the Sunday Gravy is an Italian tomato sauce) and the Royale Breakfast (Oak-grilled Steak, Cheesy-Egg Torte, and Fonduta with Breakfast Potatoes and crispy Onions). Both options were delicious!

During our meal the Royal Couples were announced and came around to the tables separately. Interaction with each was very personal and fun, especially with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. However, they were quick to move about when together, so it was a challenge to get a good photo of either Royal Couple – but I managed to get a great shot of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider having a little fun together!

Once all four were announced Ariel and Prince Eric dance around the room with anyone that wants to join in.

And, no worries if you forgot anything for your little Prince or Princess, there is a kiosk set up just across from the host stand to purchase whatever your Prince or Princess needs.

Of my many character dining experiences, this was one of the best on property and I highly recommend it – especially if you want fun interaction with these Royal Couples! Advance reservations are a must and are currently available via your My Disney Experience account and some Dining Plans are accepted.
Please note: Disney Characters join guests for breakfast only. Character appearances are subject to change. Menu items are subject to change.

Sebastian’s Bistro at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Old Port Royale - Disney

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

Sebastian’s Bistro at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort recently opened, replacing the former Shutters dining location. Located along the Old Port Royale promenade, this family-friendly spot offers signature dishes for lunch and dinner.

When looking at the menu for this table service dining experience I was not very excited. However, don’t let the menu deter you, the descriptions do not do the food justice and our server was super helpful with recommendations and she was spot on! I highly recommend Sebastian’s Bistro and would say that is it now one of my favorite dining experiences on property!

I dined with friends and, first, we enjoyed island inspired appetizers – Grilled Jerk Chicken Wings, Arepa and Caribbean Pull-apart Rolls – before our dinner.

For dinner we chose the Slow-cooked Pork Shoulder, Sautéed Shrimp and Tamales, Grilled Skirt Steak “Chimichurri” and the Sustainable Fish which was Mahi Mahi. Everything was delicious and prepared exactly as ordered and the presentation was perfect.

And, of course, dessert is always a must.

We shared the Warm Chocolate Pudding and Banoffee Tart, which was the recommendation of our server. And, because it sounded fun, I also ordered the Message in the Bottle – stick with what your server recommends, this tasted like raw eggs to me… And, I do apologize, I didn’t get a chance to take a photo before we dug in to the Banoffee Tart – but it was DELICIOUS!!

When planning your dining experience at Sebastian’s Bistro, be sure to allow time before or after dinner to enjoy the outdoor bar, Banana Cabana. It’s a fun and relaxing spot with island music and friendly bartenders.

Be sure to add this dining experience to your “must do’s” for your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort! Walk-up Guests can sometimes be accommodated, however, reservations are accepted and recommended. Reservations are currently available via your My Disney Experience account and some Dining Plans are accepted.

Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs

Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' at Disney Springs - Exterior

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

If you are looking for comfort food and a fun atmosphere, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ is the place!

I have experienced Chef Art Smith’s Homcomin’ at Disney Springs several times and every time was a great experience with a welcoming host/hostess, friendly servers and amazing food too with the vast majority of ingredients sourced from local Florida farms, ranches or fisheries.

This dining venue offers both inside and outside options for dining or if you just want to stop in for drinks at the Southern Shine Bar offering signature moonshine craft cocktails!

While the majority of the menu is more traditional southern comfort food offerings it does offer healthier choices too. The Bunch of Puppies are a tasty start and served with pimento cheese and red jalapeño jelly. Main Entrees include such dishes as Art’s Famous Fried Chicken and Shrimp & Grits with the Spinach & Kale Chopped Salad with chicken for a healthier option.

And don’t forget dessert – the Hummingbird Cake is always a favorite!

Be sure to add this dining experience to your “must do’s” for your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort! Walk-up Guests can sometimes be accommodated, however, reservations are accepted and recommended. Reservations are currently available via your My Disney Experience account and some Dining Plans are accepted.

The Edison at Disney Springs

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

The Edison at Disney Springs is a fun dining spot or even a great place to just stop for adult beverages. It boasts an industrial gothic-style and serves up classic American cuisine, craft cocktails and unique entertainment.

Designed to look like a 1920s electric company, The Edison offers several themed dining/lounge areas with a steady lineup of unique acts like contortionists, aerialists, live cabaret, DJs and more.

Guests arriving after 10:00 PM each night must wear venue-appropriate attire. Men may wear slacks, jeans or dress shorts. Jackets are optional. No ball caps, sleeveless shirts or flip-flops allowed. Guests also must be at least 21 years of age to enter The Edison after 10:00 PM.

We have imbibed at the lounges and dined at The Edison several times but, while I have experienced some of the entertainment, I have not yet had the opportunity to experience the ‘adults only’ nightlife – soon!

The most famous appetizer on the menu is the DB ‘Clothesline Candied Bacon’, which we order every time and always enjoy! For our main dining, we have experienced the Organic Tomato Soup and Gooey Grilled Cheese, Caesar Salad with Salmon and The Edison Burger with fries – all delicious!

You can also slip through the back passageway to Enzo’s Hideaway, a speakeasy-inspired tunnel bar, for more food and beverage.

Be sure to add this dining experience to your “must do’s” for your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort – especially for an adults only experience! Walk-up Guests can sometimes be accommodated, however, reservations are accepted and recommended. Reservations are currently available via your My Disney Experience account or Open Table and some Dining Plans are accepted.

Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is not new to Disney or to me but it has been several years since I have experienced this dining location and it was much too long to wait…

From the time we arrived at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort we experienced a lively atmosphere – a warm welcome from the attendant at the entrance, open hospitality at the indoor bar, Las Ventanas, and a friendly greeting from the hostess, manager and staff at Maya Grill – our experience before any food was served was exceptional.

We shared our experience with local friends celebrating their birthday and, on arriving at Maya Grill for our dinner reservation, we were met by a Hostess and the manager as well as a seater – all were very friendly and welcoming making our experience fun from the start.

On being seated, our server was quick to greet us and offered suggestions for beverages and food choices from the menu. The atmosphere of the restaurant is a casual Tex-Mex Mayan feel and you could comfortably enjoy a dinner here after coming straight from a day at the parks.

After our server brought our beverages he delivered a bread service to start, along with our appetizers – Queso Fundido and House Guacamole – everything was delicious and prepared well.

Our entrées consisted of Maya Grill’s Signature Fajita Skillet, Seafood Grill Platter (which was enough for two!), Beef Short Ribs and a Classic Caesar salad with a side of steak (for me) at the recommendation of our server – it was delicious, and I loved how it was prepared and served.

For dessert we shared the Ancho Chili Creme Brûlée and Chocolate Abuelita Panna Cotta – both were amazing – the Creme Brûlée was very light and I love everything chocolate!

And you can’t dine at Maya Grill without experiencing the Margarita Flight, which includes 5 shot glasses of specialty handcrafted Margaritas – Mango Blueberry Basil, Classic, Horchata, Pineapple and Jalapeño!

While Disney’s Coronado Springs is undergoing extensive construction, be sure to add this dining experience to your “must do’s” for your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort! Walk-up Guests can be accommodated, however, reservations are accepted and recommended. Reservations are currently available via your My Disney Experience account or Open Table and some Dining Plans are accepted.

Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante at Disney Springs

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante opened early January 2018 and started serving Sunday Brunch shortly before the Easter holiday. I was just able to enjoy my first experience at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante and I chose the Sunday Brunch.

The restaurant theming is set in an airline terminal from the 1930s. On arrival you “check-in” and are then escorted down a flight of stairs where the dining area is a large airy space with floor-to-ceiling views of Lake Buena Vista.

Flight memorabilia, including vintage maps and artifacts, are on display throughout the dining room to provide the aviation theme.

The Sunday Brunch includes Prix Fixe buffet selections for your starter, entree, and dessert. The Salami and Cheese Station was delicious as well as the Antipasti Station. Entrees included with your Sunday Brunch are Spaghetti alla Carbonara, New York Strip Steak and Eggs and Poached Hen Egg and Quinoa-Kale Salad in addition to a few other selections.

The dessert was a delicious chocolate fountain with fresh dried fruits and tasty sweets to cover with chocolate! You can also choose other breakfast/lunch menu items for an additional charge, including Endless Mimosas or Bellini for just $15.00!

The current (July 22, 2018) cost is $35 per adult and kids eat free.

If you are looking for a relaxed yet unique Sunday Brunch experience, Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is a great experience. Advance reservations are highly recommended and can be made online or by calling (407) 939-3463. Same day seating without reservations was a one hour wait time on the day I experienced Sunday Brunch but we had no wait time at all with our confirmed reservation.

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant – Disney Springs

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant has been at Disney Springs for many years, but I recently had the opportunity to visit this dining and entertainment venue again. With new menu items and entertainment since my last visit, it was like a whole new experience!

We started with adult beverages at just one of the 4 bars. With a fun assortment of themed cocktails and a wide offering of Irish, European and American beers, including local and craft varieties, there is something for every taste.

Following our “cocktail hour” we were seated for our reservation. The menu offers traditional Irish options—from Atlantic fish & chips to classics like Shepherd’s Pie—as well as several not-so-Irish options.

We enjoyed wings and scallops to start and our main dishes were traditional Irish options of fish & chips and shepherd’s pie as well as a not-so-traditional Red quinoa and white bean burger with Smokey Bacon and Almond-roasted Brussels Sprouts.

And, of course, dessert is a must… The Chef’s Dessert Flight offered a small taste of everything delicious!

Entertainment is offered daily from 4:30 pm until 1 am. There is a main stage and a patio stage with live music, dance shows and bands.

The Rhythms of Raglan Dance Show is the all-new entertainment featuring 90-minutes of live Irish music and dance presented by a talented mix of performers.

And, during each performance, kids are invited to join the dancers on stage and even receive a signed certificate of achievement.

We enjoyed a very entertaining and fun evening as well as great food and drinks! Reservations are accepted starting at 180 days but walk-ups are welcome as well, based on availability. Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant also offers a Saturday and Sunday Brunch.

STK Orlando – Disney Springs

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

STK Orlando at Disney Springs opened its doors May 25, 2016 but I was just able to experience it for the first time.

STK Orlando is an interesting place… The outside style reminds me of The Hangar Bar or The Edison – more industrial brick and beams with a casual feel – and the front patio would be a relaxing spot to people watch.

Once you step inside you feel as if you are about to enjoy an intimate dining experience – it’s dark with pops of light with a warm inviting feeling.

However, the experience is anything but intimate due to the very loud nonstop music – top 40 tunes and classics from decades past. While the music choice was to my liking, the volume was not conducive for an intimate experience and gave it a more club like vibe rather than a signature dining experience feel as we are accustomed to with Disney (think California Grill or Flying Fish). It was a challenge to have a conversation with our dinner partners and a bit hard to even hear what our server was saying at times.

Regardless of the ‘club vibe’, the food lived up to the reviews and our expectations as did the service! Something to remember before you go, the menu is à la carte but a delicious bread service is included.

We waited for our table in the lounge area and the bartender was very accommodating, answering our questions and offering tastings and her personal experience to help me choose a wine. The drink menu offers some interesting cocktails that I will need to go back and try another time and they carry a few Florida beers that my husband tried. They also offer a full wine list to choose from.

We enjoyed the Double Smoked Bacon – more like large chunks of fatty pork but very tasty once you cut the fat off (IMO) – for a starter as well as the Shaved Brussels Sprouts for a salad.

While STK is known for its steaks, they serve an amazing Scottish Salmon too. With your steaks you can choose various sauces and/or toppings (for an additional charge) and there are several delicious sides to compliment your protein as well. The sides are priced a bit on the high side, but they are large enough to share – the problem is that you want to try them all!

Dessert also did not disappoint, we ordered the Warm Baked Cookie with chocolate sauce, caramel and vanilla ice cream. Again, large enough to share.

STK Orlando currently offers a Social Hour, weekdays 3:30 – 6 pm, and Thursday – Saturday, 10 pm to close. In addition, you can reserve the venue, or parts of it, for private events. On the evening we were there we were not able to go to the rooftop dining area due to a private event.

While they do seat walk-up Guests, reservations are accepted and recommended. They currently accept reservations via your My Disney Experience account or Open Table. Some Dining Plans are accepted and this is a Signature Dining experience, requiring 2 Table Service Credits per person.

Overall, if you are looking for a fun place with great food and service that is geared more towards an adult experience rather than a family experience, I would recommend STK Orlando, just be prepared for the loud music and club vibe.

Be Our Guest Restaurant – New Prix Fixe Menu

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

On Friday, July 27, 2018 Be Our Guest Restaurant debuted its new prix fixe menu for dinner and I was there to experience it!

The new prix fixe, 3-course menu features French-inspired dishes and includes an appetizer, main entrée and a trio dessert as well as non-alcoholic beverages and bread service. Adult beverages may be purchased for an additional charge.

For our appetizers we chose the Maine Lobster Bisque and Assorted Meats and Artisanal Cheese Selection. Both were very good, and the meat and cheese tray was much better than the previous cheese plate they offered at dinner service.

While all of the new menu items sounded amazing, we chose the Saffron-Infused Seafood Bouillabaisse and Spice-Dusted Lamb Chops as our entrées. Both were delicious and prepared to perfection! I am looking forward to trying other entrée options available on the menu.

Dessert is an amazing trio served on a platter with a ‘stained glass’ overlay that is edible. Every single bite was oh so delicious – but I do love my desserts!

And, for everyone wanting to know… The Beast still receives Guests in the library following dinner but, as many have anticipated, Belle was not one of the new additions to this Signature Dining experience.

I highly recommend the new prix fixe menu, my only disappointment was that they no longer do the “rose” napkins…

For dinner service, Be Our Guest Restaurant is a Signature Dining experience which requires 2 Table Service Credits when using the Disney Dining Plan. Current pricing, when not using a Dining Plan, is $55.00 for adults ages 10+ and $35 for children ages 3-9, tax and gratuity are not included. Breakfast and Lunch are still Quick Service options but do require reservations as well.

And here’s a little tip – if you reserve your dinner about 1 ½ hours before ‘Happily Ever After’ you will be able to view the fireworks show from the bridge just as you are leaving the Beasts’ Castle! #wishtips