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Friday, January 31, 2014

Chef Mickeys


To me, Chef Mickey's is the quintessential character meal at Walt Disney World.  You get to meet the "Fab Five" - Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Pluto.  They are all adorned in their Chef attire.  My family eats here every trip because of this.  You get great character interaction here plus the food is very tasty.  There is something for everyone, no matter their tastes.  They accommodate allergies and/or dietary needs very well, just as all of the restaurants on property.  

On my most recent visit, I was pleasantly surprised when I found peel and eat shrimp and crab legs on the buffet (I'm a seafood lover).  They also have the usual children's buffet area with their favorites, carving stations, pastas, seafood options, vegetables, potatoes, and a fantastic dessert selection complete with a do it yourself soft serve ice cream machine!  If you've never dined here before, you simply must.  Even if you don't have kids (my husband and I started coming here way before kids)!


Magical Travels,
Amanda Laczynski

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Narcoosee's, how I love thee!


Narcoosee's is a wonderful signature dining experience located at Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.  This resort is beautiful.  It really is my dream resort.  I love the relaxing feel, the theming, and looking out over the water.  Narcoosee's is nestled on the grounds in a great little nook.  


My 30th birthday dinner this March was here for some fabulous seafood, great waiters, and an all around magical evening.  While we waited for our table we stood out on the porch over the water and enjoyed the view.  We took some pictures and just enjoyed being together.  We were seated within 5 minutes of our reservation time.  


The views of the Seven Seas lagoon were just the beginning! The seafood here was fabulous (visit the menu here).  I started my meal with the apple salad and my husband with the lobster bisque (two thumbs up for both), we then split crab cakes (delicious!), and he had the Lobster and Filet dish for his entree while I got the Ahi Tuna.  Both were exquisite (although my husband was so impressed by the lobster he said if we make a return visit he would just get the big lobster plate).  When we were done eating and finishing our drinks our waitress brought out dessert menus, but before we could order anything they returned with a complimentary birthday dessert for me!!


We split the Creme Brulee and because my hubby loves cheesecake he ordered this for himself as well! This was such a great meal and a great day for us.  I recommend this to everyone I know when asked for signature recomendations.  I think it is overlooked because there are other signature options at the Grand Floridian but it really was everything I hoped it would be and more! We were staying at the Polynesian and as we ate our dessert the sun began to set so we decided to take the boat back so we could watch the sun set over Seven Seas lagoon as we headed back to get ready for our Magic Kingdom evening.  What better atmosphere to enjoy on a vacation (or any day of the year)?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ohana means Family (as in Family-Style Dining)!


The thing about Ohana is that it is one of those restaurants that at the end of the trip turns out to be worth the wait- it is a perfect "last breakfast".  My husband and I actually had reservations here 3 times that we had to cancel before actually getting to dine with Lilo, Stitch, and some of their pals (Mickey and Pluto for us).  We loved the ambiance, character interaction, island theme, and the family-style breakfast selection.  You get bread, biscuits, eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, of course mickey waffles and island juice all served continuously to your table.  Breakfast is served until 11:00am and reservations can be tough because characters are not present for dinner and the restaurant is closed for lunch.


The dinner here is also a favorite and is served family-style.  I have not eaten here but trust the reviews of friends who said its not to be missed! No matter when you visit, the Polynesian Resort is beautiful and worth a visit in and of itself! Trust me you will not be disappointed!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lilo & Stitch: A Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride


I was excited to see the Magical Blogorail's American Tourister giveaway (by the way, if you didn't see it the first time check out my American Tourister review) would focus on Disney couples and knew exactly who I wanted to choose as soon as I found out! While they may not be your average Disney couple, Lilo & Stitch will always hold a special place in my heart.  There is something about the magic of friendship that warms my heart like no other.  And for all intensive purposes, there are few friendships that compare to a girl and her "dog".  One of the best thing about celebrating friendships around Valentine's Day is how it helps us remember that the best husbands & wives start out as the best friends.

My husband and I have met Lilo and Stitch on all six of our Disney trips together (and strangely neither of us have encountered these characters on trips we've taken without one another)! My favorite place to meet them is at their Best Friends Breakfast at the Polynesian Resort.  I love the food and that they are rockin leis and bring along some other Disney favorites just in their Poly best.  You can also catch Stitch out and about posing in the parks.

I still remember the first time I saw Lilo and Stitch on the big screen and funny enough people sometimes mistake me for being Hawaiian because my ethnicity is hard to tell when you look at me (I am actually a bit of a mutt- Irish, German, Italian, and Native American) and I had recently become smitten with Elvis.  I remember my first year teaching when I had an Elvis war poster up in my classroom and kids starting calling me Lilo. :) The soundtrack is one of my very favorite and one of the few I have on my phone even now.  I love Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride! And I love Hawaiian music so the whole thing is very appealing to me!

There are tons of fun facts that I didn't see the first time I watched (but of course have found in time).
Check out some little hidden gems and fun facts from Lilo & Stitch:

 In the scene where Lilo is eating a snowcone one of the postcards features "Orlando, Florida" and has a picture of none other than Walt Disney World Resort

 At the end the tracking image Captain Gantu uses when searching for Stitch is a symbol used for Spaceship Earth in Epcot

 Many liscence plates in the film shar ethe number A113 which can also be found in Toy Story and Cars 

 When Stitch licks the councilwoman towards the start of the film his saliva makes a momentary Disney "D". 

 In one scene Lilo throws her doll Scrump on the ground.  When she runs back and picks her up the doll begins to smile. 

 Lilo and Nani's parents died in a rainstorm.  There is a reference made that at first seems random. When Lilo wants to feed the fish Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, she insists it is important because Pudge controls the weather. 

 Lilo means "generous one" and Nani means "beautiful"

 It was originally set in Kansas before being switched to Hawaii, the 1st Disney film to be set here. 


Now, here's a trivia question for you! 
The Disney Couple Giveaway Questions is...  What storybook does Stitch read in the film?


Enter to win a Disney inspired D23 2-piece luggage set. No purchase necessary to enter. Just read about a famous Disney couple and answer the question in the post. There will be a new post daily through February 7 so keep checking back for additional chances to enter. There will be two winners in the giveaway. Each winner will receive a Disney Inspired D23 2-piece luggage set valued at $100. Design winner receives will be chosen at random. Contest begins Jan 27th 2014 and ends February 14th 2014 at midnight EST and is only open to U.S. legal residents 18 years and older with valid email address.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Voice Behind the Cricket


Last Christmas I decided I wanted to learn how to play the ukelele.  My husband got me one with a tuner, some self-teaching books, and music books and just recently now I have started to actually give it a go.  I know what you are thinking: “What the heck does that have to do with Disney?"  Well, for that we must quit imagining we are in the Disney Parks and instead imagine we are somewhere else in American history.  Let’s go back to the early 1900s where a young man named Cliff Edwards was making some money singing in local movie theatres and saloons.  By 1917 he was living in Chicago making a living as a performer AND he had taken up the ukelele.  He was affectionately nicknamed “Ukelele Ike”.  He recorded classics such as “Singin in the Rain” and “It Had to be You” and starred in movies and vaudville. 

 This is not the happiest of stories, however, because not long after being cast as the voice of everyone’s favorite cricket, Jiminy, (who we all know as Pinnochio’s bestie the host for Magic Kingdoms’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show) a series of marriages and divorces left him alone.  Ukelele Ike had his vices too and got caught up in drugs and alcohol.  He never enjoyed the wealth he did early in his career again, but he could often be found wandering around Walt Disney Studios so that he would always be available to them for voiceovers.  (And he would later be the voice of Jim Crow in Dumbo.) When he passed away in 1971 it came out that the Walt Disney company had been quietly paying for his medical bills and they paid for his burial expenses as well. 

 This short sad story isn’t meant to depress or sadden you, though.  It’s to remind you that just like Walt Disney Studios took care of Cliff Edwards when they could and when he needed it, so must all dreamers stick together.  Next time you hear “When You Wish Upon a Star” think of the boy who sang in movie theatres and made his way up to singing in movies… and think of just how life can rise you up it can bring you down. Just as dreams come true they can be taken away so embrace the moment and remember that “the very things that held you down are gonna carry you up”. 

This article was written by Melissa and was first posted on The Disney Moms Blog.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The New & Improved Main Street Bakery


While the Main Street Bakery's recent Starbucks makeover has been a point of contention for many Disney fans I applaud the upgrade and found that I enjoyed the same ambiance and atmosphere with the added bonus of being able to order a frappachino! Enjoy tasty baked goods (the Cinnamon Rolls that used to be on the menu here can now be found at Gaston's Tavern) and a huge variety of hot and cold, caffeinated and caffeine-free beverages! 


The only problem I had was that this carnation of the Main Street Bakery was substantially busier than it used to be.  Whether that is because it is new or because it is filled with Starbucks drinks- only time will tell. It took me roughly ten minutes from start to finish to get my frappuchino on a rainy Saturday in June where the park was only moderately crowded.  Also, worth noting is that you can cash in Starbucks gift cards here (although they can't scan your Starbucks rewards card if you have one). 



Friday, January 24, 2014

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall: A Meal Fit for a Princess!


While my most recent visit to Akershus Royal Banquet Hall was lunch last summer I also enjoyed dinner here as my very first Disney restaurant in January of 2006.  Both times I experienced wonderful character interaction, great servers, and delightful food.  I would highly recommend this character meal to princess lovers-- but if I am being honest I enjoyed the food more at lunch.  At all sittings you will meet Belle (both of my visits it was Belle in the posed photo at the beginning of the meal even though the website says it may be any princess) and other princesses as you dine (I've met Snow White, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Jane here) and you get a keepsake photo in a cute Akershus folder.  


Breakfast is the normal Disney breakfast fare, a mixture of cold and hot foods.  Lunch and Dinner both start with the "Taste of Norway" buffet appetizer with cheeses, fish, and other salads to nosh on.  For dinner I had Beef Tips which were served in a mushroom sauce and it seems an improved version is still on the menu.  This was tasty but my lunch was much better: a sirloin sandwich with wild mushroom ragout and jarlsberg cheese served on a warm bun with roasted potato wedges.  This was delicious and probable my favorite meal of my conference trip last summer. 


While meals here can be pricey, I enjoyed it enough to say anyone who does not get the coveted Cinderella's Royal Table reservation for their family should feel solace if they can nab a reservation here! With such a great locale in the heart of world showcase there is something for everyone at Akershus!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Checking out My Disneyside with Magical Blogorail!


Welcome to those of you joining me from Disney Babies Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail.  We are discussing our "Disneysides" this month in celebration of #DisneySide promotion in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts this year.  I love this advertising line and I have actually had students in my school tell me that they thought of me because I am always "showing my Disneyside"! Haha! So how do you show your Disney Side?



I show mine every single day.  Because I love Disney and the magic of happily every after.  Since you will see lots of posts upcoming from my Disneyside@Home party (and tutorials on how to put together some of the great food and crafts I am making at your own parties) I thought I would take you on a day in the life of Mel's Disneyside. 




On weekdays I wake up at 5:30.  Sometimes a little earlier or later (I am queen of being able to go from sound asleep to out the door in under 15 minutes if I need to catch some Zzzz's) and I get ready for my day.  I usually use some fabulous Mermaid scented lotion from Bubble & Geek and rock some of my favorite Disney apparel.  I am a Social Studies teacher so in the winter cardy's and khakis are my go-to work wardrobe which means I can usually rock some awesome Disney tees or tanks.  My favorite this year has been the great line of tanks from Hot Topic featuring 90s favorites! 




I grab my lunch from my Disney kitchen (I need to write a post about it because it really is spectacular) and head out to work where I start my morning with a Disney mug full of coffee.  My classroom is very much a history classroom with maps, globes, artifacts, and replica documents all around.  But it is also very me and my Disneyside can be found all over.  Hanging over my desk I even have a portrait of George Washington donning mouseears. :)




Teaching teenagers can be tough, but I love my job.  One of the best birthdays I had was my 30th last year which all started with some wonderful homemade gifts from my students (pic left) and as you remember, my mom made me the cake at right since my husband took me to Walt Disney World to celebrate my birthday! :)


I get home from work around 2:30 (often later after running errands or advising at school) and if I have any etsy orders that day I fill them, print shipping labels, and get them ready to mail out in the morning.  Then I relax, read a book or watch TV until dinner time.  


After dinner depending on what's going on you might find my hubby and I snuggled on the couch watching a movie! :)  How do you show your DisneySide every day??


Like the pics from this post? All of the square ones can be found on my Instagram account! Come follow me! Also on IG is an unboxing video of my Disneyside Celebration kit (I am over the moon that I was chosen)... check it out below!


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Manda's Disney Blog!


1st Stop ~ Disney on Wheels
3rd Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog
4th Stop ~ Picturing Disney
Final Stop ~ Manda's Disney Blog

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Epcot's Via Napoli!

View looking out from bench at Italy's Via Napoli

I live in NJ.  The Italian food and pizza here is wonderful and plentiful.  It's also my husband's and my favorite.  But, I'm always willing to try new things, so we finally put Via Napoli on our list in 2012.  I love the inside of this restaurant!  It's very large and rustic feeling with hanging lights and marble topped tables. This trip we sat outisde which I love even more.  There is a large awning, so you don't even really feel like you're outside.  


I wanted to try the entrees (check out Laura's pics above of the veal parm and spaghetti with veal meatballs), but was outnumbered by pizza lovers.  I was not disappointed!!  The pizza was so delicious, which is not what I was expecting outside of NJ/NY.  We returned last year and again had the pizza, this time the Metro which is a very large rectangle pizza (there were four of us, and it's thin), and the Arancini (rice balls).  Again, an extremely delicious and wonderful meal.  Our servers both times were excellent with adorable Italian accents.  On our second trip we sat at the very long family style table in the center of the restaurant.  We weren't a fan of this, since we were only a party of 4 and the table is wide so we found even at across from each other, we were sort of spread apart.  But with a large party, this would be super fun since you'd have a lot of space to spread out and share all of the delicious offerings!  If you like Italian you should certainly put this on your Epcot restaurant list!

Zeppoles!

Magical Travels,
Amanda Laczynski

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Flash Giveaway! Anastasia and Drizella Vinylmation!


Well, here in the northeast we have some more winter weather on the way.  The school I work at closed early so I am home and feel like spreading some magic.  

Want to win this pair of step-sisters?  These vinylmation exclusively came with a Cinderella set that released when Cinderella came out on blu ray and cannot be purchased separately.  The sets sold out so they are extremely rare.  These lovely ladies just need a good home! ;)

Complete the rafflecopter below! And don't forget to check out our recent Cinderella (and her step-sisters) related posts: Review of 1900 Park Fare, Strawberry Soup Recipe, Cinderella's Royal Table Review

Monday, January 20, 2014

Secrets in Epcot's UK Pavilion



When you make your way into the United Kingdom pavilion its easy to get distracted by the delicious food and drinks to be had and the character meet and greets that are often around but there is also history all around you!  Mary Poppins as well as Pooh & Friends have been known to frequent the shops and Alice often sets up shop outside the tea shop in the garden.  All three of these characters from classic English literature were brought to life by the Disney company and fit smashingly in this area of EPCOT!


While you are on a character, or food, or beer line… take a look around you!  The cottage where you can find the tea shop is a replica of the home of William Shakespeare from Stratford-on-Avon.
As you make your way through the area you will also notice that the architecture is built larger on top than the first floor… this represents the medieval architectural design of many homes in England.  Since taxes were mainly based on the square footage of your ground floor, citizens often built their second floors larger than the first!


This article was written by Melissa and was first posted on The Disney Moms Blog.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My favorite Animal Kingdom Quick Service: Flame Tree BBQ!


Flame Tree BBQ has pretty much been our go-to Animal Kingdom quick service since our first trip to Walt Disney World.  Animal Kingdom is a half day park for us so we either arrive and want to grab a quick bite or head over in the morning and grab lunch along the way.  A lot of people favor the new Yak & Yeti but with the way Animal Kingdom is laid out I find that I am never in the close area of any other quick service or need the respite from the sun/heat.  The seating situated around this restaurant is nice and shady and they serve a nice variety of food here. Located in the Discovery Island area of the park, the menu features ribs, chicken, pork, and a yummy barbecue chicken salad.  I highly recommend this quick service! (For adults I got a yummy Orange Vodka Lemonade here last summer and they also serve other drinks and beer!)

Sunshine Tree Terrace


Being a huge fan of Orange Bird, this was a MUST stop for me last year.  I enjoy a good Orange Citrus Swirl soft serve, don't get me wrong, but I actually paid for this adorbs cup and had it filled with water I was so excited to get my hands on one! 

This Adventureland snack shop is located around the outside of Magic Carpets of Aladdin next to the lovely Enchanted Tiki Room.  If there are tables available near the shop its a great little respite as this area of Adventureland can sometimes be a little ignored for the bigger draw areas.  I love the nostalgia here and visiting with that little orange bird. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Meet Frances from Mouze Kateerz!


As many of you know I often guest post over on Mouze Kateerz.  The owner, Frances, wanted to share some info with you all on her Disney travel planning.  While I know many of you take advantage of booking online yourself and Amanda has shared the pros of using an agent, I wanted to deliver this message to you straight from Frances herself:

Are you the planner for all things Disney to your friends & family?
Are you detailed oriented?
Do you want to make money doing something you love to do?

If you answered yes, then you may just need to become a Disney Travel Agent!

Magical Vacations by Me is currently recruiting new travel agents to be on their team.
This position doesn't have a base salary and is 100% commission. 
You put forth a lot of work before you ever receive you commission.

If you would like more information, please contact them at info@magicalvacationsbyme.com for more information.

Please let them know that Picturing Disney sent you!
Magical Journeys,


Frances Hedrick ~ Travel Specialist
Concierge Planning-We Make Travel Dreams Come True
Cell:404-414-6198
We Appreciate Referrals!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cinderella's Royal Table


The most magical dining location in Walt Disney World is definitely Cinderella's Royal Table. This character meet-and-greet experience will charm any little prince or princess. 


When you enter you get to take your picture with Cinderella and as part of your dining package will receive printed copies of these images in a cute little folder during your meal. Cinderella and other well-known Disney Royalty visit each table as guests dine in the romantically, ornate dining room. Take a look around every corner. Some helpful mice might be around.




The menu was absolutely exquisite and is filled with some decadent items including a chocolate duplicate of the name sake’s famous glass slipper. The best of moments can happen at any time while dining there as well. From a carefully planned proposal to experiencing a new way to see the fireworks display in the evening. There is even a moment specifically for young guests where Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother asks for their help.

It is definitely a must do for any Disney fan. Check out some of the photos of some of the menu items as well as some of the famous hosts that you'll get to see at Cinderella's Royal table.  And remember, this is one of the most coveted reservations in all of the Walt Disney World Resort- if it is on your to do list you simply MUST call ahead (reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance and during busy times fill up this early)!