A Review of Chef Mickey’s with the Return of Characters

Minnie at Chef Mickey

by Noelle Schreiber 

Wanting to dine at Chef Mickey’s is nothing new.  This is usually a box people are told to check on their Disney vacation.  But, since the reopening of Disney World it has been without the beloved characters…until now!  They’re back!  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto have returned to Chef Mickey’s.  With their return, Chef Mickey’s has also brought new menu items and a new way to dine.

I had the pleasure of being one of the very first guests to dine at Chef Mickey’s the morning of the big change.  Chef Mickey’s opened at 7:30AM.  We checked in promptly at opening time.  You can now check in via the My Disney Experience app, or by scanning a QR code upon arrival.  Very quickly we were welcomed and escorted to our table with a lovely view of the Castle, the monorail, and the Christmas tree on Main Street.

Our tables were very socially distanced.  We were in an area where only two tables were available.  The area would normally accommodate six tables.  Between our area and the lower level there was a plexiglass barrier.  With Chef Mickey’s being in a very open-air area in the Contemporary, with extra social distancing, we felt very safe.  We were still extra cautious and courteous of our wait staff and kept our mask on while ordering, or when interacting with them later in the meal.

There are Magical Morning Cocktails, such as a cranberry-orange mimosa, a peach bellini, the chef’s bloody mary, and the cold brew XO available at an additional cost.  There were also very cute non-alcoholic specialty smoothies for purchase for the kiddos.  You could get a Mickey or Minnie Mouse version.  A souvenir sipper was also available.

Chef Mickey’s is now served family style.  It is no longer a buffet.  I also appreciated this safety precaution, and much preferred it this way.  Every menu item was offered to us including the new signature dishes that have been added to the menu.  You did not have to pick just one.  Any time we wanted more of something, including the newest dishes, all we had to do was ask.  Our wait staff were very quick in bringing seconds and always kept our drinks filled.

We started off with some very cute mini yogurt and granola parfaits served in little mason jars as well as a selection of fresh fruit.  Next came the large skillet full of eggs, bacon, brisket, chicken sausage, pork sausage, and of course the ever-popular Mickey waffles!  Everything was wonderful.  I particularly enjoyed the brisket.  There were definitely seconds on those waffles.

Before we could finish this course, Chef Mickey’s signature selections started to arrive.  There is a “Celebration” Mickey pancake, banana bread French toast, and a loaded potato-cheese casserole.  I personally am very much a savory person and the casserole was my favorite!  I ate more of this than I am willing to admit.  The banana bread French toast was also amazing.  The espresso-mascarpone cream with the bananas and chocolate crumbles really made this one a winner!  The cream was light and did not have an overwhelming coffee flavor.  It was a perfect pairing with this dish.  The Mickey pancake was the surprising favorite of my girls.  One said it was the best pancake she had ever had.  Once this showed up that was all that she was eating, and we had to get seconds to even try it ourselves.  She was not giving it up.  We ended our meal with some sweet rolls and sweet fritters that were rolled in vanilla cinnamon sugar.  These little doughnut hole type bites were a great “dessert” to this meal.

While we were enjoying our meal, the characters made 4 rounds through the restaurant.  You are asked to stay seated while the characters make their way through.  The characters danced to a new song called “Let’s make some biscuits.”  There was hand clapping, but the napkin twirling has gone by the wayside.  The characters posed for pictures from a distance.  We switched seats at one point with our girls once we figured out where each character would always stand so that we could get pics of our kiddos with the characters in the shot.  This is something to keep in mind when picking your seating.  They would also pose in the background for selfies.  They took their time interacting and playing that fun game of conversation charades that you get at Disney with the characters.

At the end of the meal, we were given a souvenir card with a picture of all the Chef Mickey’s characters in their Chef Mickey attire in the monorail going through the Contemporary.  On the other side was each character’s autograph.  This was a wonderful keepsake from our breakfast.  I think Disney has done a great job in bringing the magic back to Chef Mickey’s!

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!

Certified autism resorts and theme parks

Certified Autism Travel Professional

written by Lynnette Katz, Travel specialist and Certified Autism Travel Professional

Sometimes planning a family vacation to a theme park or any other destination can be really overwhelming, but specifically more for families with children with Autism due to sensory needs, dietary restrictions and safety concerns 

     Some resorts and theme parks have become certified to offer the best service for individuals of all ages on the spectrum.   Each destination has extensively trained staff and have committed to an ongoing training program.

      In 2017,  Beaches Resort became the first All Inclusive Resort to be certified by IBCCES as a Certified Autism Center.   They offer a variety of activities and experiences tailored for children on the spectrum.

Other places that are also certified are:

  • Sesame Place
  • Sheraton Park Resort Anaheim
  • Grand Palladium Bávaro Suites Resort & Spa
  • Space Center in Houston
  • Santa Barbara Zoo
  • Georgia Aquarium
  • St. Augustine Pirate Museum
  • Edventure Museum in South Carolina

      
      Even though other destinations, like Walt Disney World Resorts, are not yet certified, they do offer special accommodations, like Disability Access Service, dietary accomodations, break areas and more.

     Recently I became a Certified Autism Travel Professional to help you plan austim-friendly vacations for your family.  Call me to help find you the best option that suits your family’s needs. 

Debi’s visit to Aulani

Photos from Debi’s visit to Aulani

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