Archives for October 2013

Top 10 Disney World Quick-Serves


While on vacation in Walt Disney World, families will most likely visit a lot of the resort’s quick-serve restaurants for family meals. While typically, amusement park fare sticks to hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and all the fried, greasy menus of the like, Disney World really breaks out of the mold and offers families many different options that are healthy and delicious. In fact, some of our favorite places to eat are quick-serve restaurants because of the outstanding food that we had.

With that said, here is our list of top 10 quick-serve spots at Disney World, that we think your family will enjoy visiting. And we wouldn’t recommend it if we didn’t love it!

  1. Be Our Guest – Lunch. At Magic Kingdom in New Fantasyland, this is one of the newest restaurants at Disney World. The lunch menu is different from the dinner menu, and lunch is a quick-serve while dinner is a table serve. Sounds confusing, right? Think of it this way: for dinner, you need a reservation; for lunch, you don’t! The lunch at Be Our Guest is truly delicious and unique. I had one of my favorite meals here and I couldn’t believe it was a quick-serve. The atmosphere is magical with the design of Beast’s castle inside. And meals are served on nice dishes with real silverware, and brought right to your table. Magnifique!
  2. Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom in Liberty Square. This restaurant has a great menu and some of the most delicious dishes. While they serve traditional fish and chips dishes, there new sandwiches are outstanding and we loved the grilled salmon. Kids will love the traditional menu although it could use a few more healthy options for kids.
  3. Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort. This little quick serve inside the hotel has quite an extensive menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, making it a great stop for hotel guests. But it is open for all visitors and we put it high on the list because of how delicious their dishes are. Their sandwiches and flatbreads are great – we particularly loved their unique Hot Turkey Sandwich. And their kids menu has many choices, which is great for picky eaters. And this quick-serve offers Take-Out as an option, which is nice if you want to take it back to your room.
  4. FlameTree Barbecue in Discovery Island at Animal Kingdom. This restaurant offers traditional barbecue fare: smoked chicken, ribs and pulled pork. If you like barbecue, this is the place to visit for a delicious quick meal. Kids will enjoy the Mickey Check Meals as well as some usual kid’s menu items. Seating is all outside but offers nice shaded areas as well as quiet views of the water.
  5. Katsura Grill in Japan Pavilion at Epcot. This quick-serve offers a variety of Japanese dishes from noodles to stir-fry to sushi. All dishes are delicious and healthy. Cast Members are very friendly and helpful, and seating inside and outside is pleasant. We particularly enjoy the outside seating that sits up a bit and overlooks Japanese gardens and Koi fish, as well as the Seven Seas Lagoon.
  6. La Cantina de San Angel in Mexico Pavilion at Epcot. Authentic Mexican food in a beautiful location at Epcot. We love the menu and the food is great. Our kids loved their empanadas. There could be a bit more veggies offered with everything, but that would be my suggestion at all quick serves. Dining is either outside, overlook the water, or inside a lovely dining are that is shared with  La Hacienda.
  7. Sunshine Seasons in The Land Pavilion at Epcot. The food court style quick-serve offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The nicest part about this spot is that there are many different choices for everyone in your family. We have enjoyed both lunch and breakfast at this restaurant, and we have enjoyed everything we have tried. The kids can pick from a variety of choices. There is a lot of seating although this is a very popular dining spot so at peak dining times, the seating can be full.
  8. Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. We chose this restaurant because the food is quite good, although it lacks a bit on the healthy food side. Their new flatbread pizzas are delicious and the pasta is great. Only choices for kids are mac-n-cheese or pizza. But parents will enjoy the other dishes they offer. One suggestion: split an order, because their portion size is quite large.
  9. Backlot Express in Echo Lake at Hollywood Studios. Menu offers hamburgers, sandwiches and salads. The food is well done and the kid’s menu has some good healthy options they will enjoy eating. The atmosphere is fun with movie set props and decorations. Seating is available inside and outside (shaded).
  10. The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge offers a blend of African and American flavors. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. Kids will love the choices – one favorite is the kid’s salad with chicken. Their flatbreads are great as well. If you are staying at or visiting the Animal Kingdom Lodge, this is a great option for quick-serve dining.

Those are our top 10 choices for quick meals at the World. While we still think more healthy options need to be offered for kids, we think Disney has come a long way with their quick-serve choices and really offer guests some fabulous food for fast dining. As always, Disney restaurants are willing to make changes for dietary restrictions or allergies, or even picky eaters (like ones who don’t want sauce on their noodles!) Don’t ever be afraid to ask!

What is one of your favorite quick-serve restaurants at Disney World?

Top 10 Disneyland Quick-Serve Restaurants

Disney Junior Halloween Specials and Update

Disney Junior recently premiered new episodes for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Sofia the First, as part of their Halloween celebration. On October 18th, the new Super Hero Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Our kids loved it and it was a great 1-hour special episode.


Celebrating Halloween, Jake and the Neverland Pirates featured the story of the Pirate Princess (voiced by Tori Spelling) as well as Misty the Wonderful Witch (voiced by Tiffani Thiesen). On Sofia the First, Amber uses magic on her Halloween costume, she learns a great lesson about not trying to outdo her sister.


Another new episode of Sofia the first will air this Friday, featuring Sofia’s quirky Aunt Tilly (voiced by Bonnie Hunt).

For a second year, families are invited to visit where parents can upload videos of their child explaining and acting out what they want to be for Halloween for a chance to be shown on air. The videos are selected at random and will air on Friday on Disney Channel and Disney Junior throughout the month of October.

In November, a new primetime special of Sofia the First will air. This episode is called “Sofia the First” The Floating Palace”. Here is a preview of the story:

Sofia and her family take to the high seas for a royal vacation. Sofia is magically transformed into a mermaid, and there is a special appearance by Princess Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”, voiced by Disney Legend Jodi Benson, who reprises her iconic role from the animated film. The special also introduces a new character named Oona, a young mermaid voiced by Kiernan Shipka.


This full-length show will debut on Sunday, November 24 at 7:00 pm ET/PT on Disney Channel.

“Sofia the First” is currently cable TV’s #1 series for kids and girls ages 2-5, and the #1 preschool cable TV series. Sofia is a favorite in our house, even with my older kids! We are looking forward to the full-length primetime show in November.


News in Disney Parks & Travel

It’s been awhile since I did a big collection of changes and happenings at the Disney parks and beyond, so I have brought together the most recent happenings around the Disney travel world. I am looking forward to my annual “Looking Ahead in 2014” to what we might see in the new year. It is hard to believe that 2013 is coming to a close soon!

Disney World


First, both Disneyland and Disney World have their Halloween parties in full swing now, and then they will be winding down in the next two weeks. While there are always new and exciting things at this event, this year was the debut of Jack Skellington and Sally (from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas) at the Magic Kingdom for meet and greets. They have been at Disneyland during Halloween time for a few years, but this is the first year they are greeting guests during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney World. They can be found on Main Street at the Town Square Theater at the Magic Kingdom. Our family saw them last year at Disneyland during Halloween time, and it was one of my favorite meet and greets!


Magic Bands and FastPass+ are continuing testing and roll out at different parks. But they are getting more and more used by guests at the parks now, and the buzz on the street is that the new system is pretty slick! In case you don’t know what these Magic Bands are, they are bracelets that take the place of the former “Keys To The World” cards PLUS they combine your dining reservations PLUS your Magical Express reservation PLUS schedule FastPass+ for your family (limited amount per day) so you don’t even have to get the paper FastPass tickets anymore. There have been some glitches, but overall most guests are enjoying the ease with the bands and getting to schedule fastpasses. Right now, the Magic Bands are only available at select resorts but expect that list to keep growing as the system gets going bigger and bigger. And the Magic Bands are linked with the My Disney Experience that you log into online and sync with the app (of the same name) on your iPhone or SmartPhone. Doesn’t this all sound like something from Tomorrowland? (Note: This system is only at Disney World and not Disneyland)

As we reported awhile back, the Disney Vacation Club will be building villas at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Right now, the resort is under renovations and construction, although guests are still staying at the resort. Another DVC project is wrapping up at The Grand Floridian with villas for families. Transportation by monorail to the Magic Kingdom has been interrupted during the day to some of the resorts while construction is finishing. For more information on the new DVC at the Polynesian and the construction, click here for our post. Also, very soon the new villas at the Grand Floridian will be complete and ready for families to enjoy!

At the Contemporary Resort, the amazing California Grill restaurant on the top level, was redesigned and renovated. It recently reopened on September 9th for guests to experience the wonderful cuisine as well as their awesome views of the Magic Kingdom. Reservations are highly recommended for this restaurant. On the Disney Dining Plan, this is a Signature Restaurant and uses two table-serve credits.


Just this week, at Hollywood Studios, the Fantasmic show debuted the Glow with the Show Mickey Ears. These originated in Disneyland’s California Adventure park for the World of Color show, and then they were added to the Fantasmic show. Now they are available at Disney World for the Fantasmic show at Hollywood Studios. They are truly fun to watch during the show as they change colors to match what is going on with the show. They cost around $25 each, which for this family of 6, is a little steep. But we think the concept is wonderful and very interactive for guests. I predict we will see these being added to other nighttime shows like Illuminations and the Electrical Parade.



New renderings and sketches were released of concepts for the Avatar-land coming to Animal Kingdom. While these are still in the concept stage, they do show some sort of ride that mimics riding a Banshee, as well as lush surroundings with the floating mountains and possibly a boat-ride attraction. This will be an interesting project to watch as it unfolds, but it is years in the making!


One of my favorite sweet spots at Disney World is at Epcot in Germany – Karamell-Kuche, the caramel bakery. They recently unveiled a few new treats at their store, and I can’t wait to try them! They include an apple tart, sea-salt fudge brownie, caramel toffee bark, and a caramel cheesecake with chocolate. Stop in and give them a try! They look delish!

Both Parks


A new addition to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience is a Sofia the First makeover! Visit the boutique and have your little princess turned into Sofia the First! This special treat is being offered at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Fantasyland at Disneyland (just past the castle), and at the World of Disney at Downtown Disney in Disney World. Right now, it is not available at the Magic Kingdom location (just past the castle)but I would expect that to change soon. As always, make sure you make advanced reservations for this special experience.


With the new movie “Frozen” coming to theaters in November, there will be a new meet and greet at both Disneyland and Disney World for the movie. The main characters, Anna and Elsa, will have a meet and greet for their new fans. There will be a frozen, icy greeting area in Fantasyland at Disneyland, and there will be a frozen greeting area at Epcot in Norway. Keep your eyes open for these two sisters at the parks!



The Cozy Cone in Cars Land at California Adventure, just added two new delicious breakfast cones to their menu. The two new morning choices are a Chorizo and Eggs cone, and a Southwestern Scramble cone. While you can also get a quick-serve breakfast at Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land, these breakfast cones might be a great option for a grab-n-go hot breakfast.

On Main Street in Disneyland, the famous Market House has reopened after renovations, and now serves Starbucks coffee. This is the second location at the Disneyland resort to serve Starbucks coffee to guests. The Market House has always served delicious coffee to guests but has been renovated and enlarged to serve more people. The other location for Starbucks brand coffee is at Fiddler, Fife and Practical on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure.

“The View” will be filming on location at Disneyland from November 18-22. If you are a big fan of the show, make your way to the happiest place on earth and watch filming. One of the first guests is set to be Jimmy Kimmel.

Disney CruiseLines


On October 20th, Disney will relaunch the redesigned Magic cruise ship in Miami. Some of the new additions and changes to the ship, besides complete redesign of decor, interiors and rooms, are:

  • Three new family shows
  • Renovated Oceaneers Club including Andy’s Room, Pixie Hollow and the new Avengers Room
  • New restaurants including Carioca’s offering South American flavors
  • New adult venues including After Hours bar and a piano bar

Adventures by Disney


With the new movie “Frozen” coming to theaters, Adventures by Disney has created a new experience for families wanting to visit Norway. The “Frozen” inspired family vacation will take your through Bergen, Flam, Geiranger and Oslo. Your family will experience storybook villages and boat rides through beautiful landscapes. All Adventure by Disney vacations are led and planned by Disney staff and guides.

Show Your Disney Side


The newest campaign by Disney is Show Your Disney Side. They want people to share with them how they celebrate and experience Disney. The new website is Disney wants you to upload your photos, videos and vines, and show off your great Disney experiences. We all have something we could share! This is a great way to be interactive with Disney and maybe your picture will make it on their site!


That is the round up of all the happenings at the parks. The Halloween parties will be winding down in a couple weeks and then the Christmas decorations and parties will begin. If you will be visiting the parks in the next couple months, we hope this update will help you know what is going on all around the Disney world!

Canada Pavilion at Epcot

Of all the pavilions at the World Showcase in Epcot, Canada is by far my favorite. Each pavilion has something special to offer, but the overall feel when I enter Canada is amazing. It is so relaxing and beautiful. It is my favorite spot in Epcot. I wanted to simply share with you some of my photos from the Canada pavilion, and one of my all time favorite photos from Walt Disney World.

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This is my favorite photo. This little princess caught my eye, and I snapped this picture of her wearing a Cinderella gown admiring the beautiful grounds of Canada. It is just a magical moment that I loved.

I hope you have enjoyed these photos of my favorite pavilion. And the next time you are at Epcot, don’t pass by the Canada pavilion! Stroll through and enjoy the beauty!


Giveaway for Blog Subscribers

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For the month of October, all blog subscribers will receive a FREE Disney Junior-inspired printable! We have adorable Sofia and Jake inspired bookmarks that you can print at home and your kids can cut them out themselves. They are cute and lots of fun, and will hopefully get them excited about reading!


Sign up to receive our blog and we will email you a link to download the FREE printable! This offer is only for blog subscribers. If you are already subscribed, you will receive it as well.

So a big thank you to our blog readers! We love ya!

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