Archives for July 2015

Akershus Royal Banquet VS Cinderella’s Royal Table

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At Disney World, there are two main choices of character dining with the princess: Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom and Norway’s Akershus Royal Banquet at Epcot. If your little princess or prince is dying to meet a lot of princesses and you want to try a character dining experience, the big question is – Which one do we choose?

We are asked all the time which princess character dining is better? Or which should we pick? If you haven’t experienced either, it is hard to know which to choose. Luckily, we have been to both with our crew and we will compare them for you. Then you can decide which is right for your Disney experience.

Keep in mind one thing: Cinderella’s Royal Table is a much smaller restaurant than Akershus Royal Banquet. Royal Table has much less tables and thus has fewer reservations. It is much harder to get into this restaurant, not because it is better, but because it is smaller. You may not be able to get a reservation depending on the time of year as well.

Atmosphere

Royal Table

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The entrance to the restaurant is actually on the first floor and it is designed like a castle with armor and flags. This is where you will meet Cinderella and take a picture with her. From there, you will climb stairs to the dining room. This room is, again, decorated like a castle with crests, flags and lots of wood and stone. It has amazing views out into the park. These views, unfortunately, are only enjoyed by the families seated right in the center or in front of the windows. If you have more than 4 in your party, you will not be sitting near these areas. The tables are dark, thick wood and the chairs are thick wood with medieval-style fabrics. The dining area is somewhat of a circle shape. The stain-glass windows looking out into the park are beautiful.

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Stain-glass windows that look out into Fantasyland

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Akershus

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Main dining room at Akershus

The entrance to this restaurant is somewhat like a restaurant waiting area, and you will take a photo with a princess in a small inlet area. The decoration is designed to feel like a castle with somewhat similar decoration to Royal Table – flags, crests, wood and stone. Inside the dining halls, there are many wood tables and wood chairs. The tables and chairs are less fancy than Royal Table. Stained glass windows and regular windows surround the dining areas. The dining areas are much larger than Royal Table and there are about 3 different rooms of dining tables.

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Overall: The overall atmosphere at Royal Table wins out only by a hair – the design of Akershus is still delightful and royal. But being inside the actual castle makes Cinderella’s just a smidge better.

Food

Royal Table

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Stuffed French Toast

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Kids meal breakfast

Cinderella’s Royal Table is served as a sit-down style where you order from the menu and it is brought to your table. The food is very good and the selections should appeal to most people. The menu is somewhat European/American style fare. The service is very good and prompt. The servers are very good with small children. Our kids always enjoy the food at this restaurant! This restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are using the dining plan, this table-serve counts as two table-serves.

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Steak and potatoes breakfast

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Vegetarian quiche

Akershus

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Breakfast fare served family-style at table

Akershus is served as both a buffet/family style and a sit-down style. They serve Norwegian/American style fare food. Breakfast offers a buffet as well as family-style breakfast offerings brought to your table. Lunch and dinner have family style appetizers and desserts as well as menu-ordered entrees. They offer some different fare like fish, but we found the food was delicious and our kids enjoyed the food a lot, and even tried some new dishes.

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Breakfast fare from buffet

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Buffet at Akershus

Overall: It is pretty even on the food unless your family is extremely picky and Norwegian fare scares you (but it shouldn’t). Our family enjoyed meals at both restaurants evenly.

Princess Meet & Greets

Royal Table

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Cinderella greet before you enter the dining room

Cinderella meets guests at the entrance and takes photos there. There is a PhotoPass photographer there and the photos can be added to your PhotoPass account or on your MagicBand. All other princesses will do meet and greets in the dining room and come straight to your table. If you are there at the beginning of the “session”, each princess is announced individually and then begins a set pattern through the dining hall stopping at each table to say hello, interact, sign books and take photos. They also will do a wishing star portion with all the princesses and each child gets a plastic wishing star to make their wish. They used to give princesses wands and princes swords but that may have changed.

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Princesses love little princes!

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Wishing star and wand that girl receive at Cinderella’s – boys get a sword

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Akershus

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Belle greet before you enter the dining room

One of the princesses meets guests at the entrance and takes photos there. There is a Photopass photographer there and the photos can be added to your PhotoPass account or on your MagicBand. All other princesses will do meet and greets in the dining room and come straight to your table. Princess are announced individually and then they begin a set pattern through the dining rooms stopping at each table to say hello, interact, sign books and take photos. They also do a princess parade, where all the kids get in a line with the princesses and walk through the dining hall. They do this several times while guests are there.

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Princesses love little princes!

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Cinderella leading the Royal Parade

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Overall: The experience of meeting the princess at each restaurant is completely the same. They interact at your table and with your kids the same. It takes the same amount of time for them to get to your table. There is really no edge given to either restaurant for this one.

Keep in mind: All photos taken inside the restaurant are with your personal camera and not PhotoPass photographers. Also, the princesses NOT included in these dining experiences are: Anna, Elsa, Rapunzel, Merida and Tiana. Princesses usually included in these experiences: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan and Belle. Belle is typically NOT included at Cinderella’s because she has her own greet at Enchanted Tales with Belle in New Fantasyland.

Price

Cinderella’s Royal Table is more in price than Akershus. Both are expensive and prices vary based on time of year so we can’t give you a set price. It can cost anywhere from $130-$160 for a family of four. Akershus counts as one table serve on the Disney Dining Plan. Cinderella’s Royal Table is more expensive – it is roughly $180-$210 for a family of four. It also uses two table-serve credits from the Disney Dining Plan. At both restaurants, breakfast is less expensive than lunch and dinner. At Royal Table, tax AND gratuity are included in your price. At Akershus, only tax is included. Also, Table of Wonderland discount cards are accepted at both locations.

Overall: If you are simply looking for the cheapest princess dining, then breakfast at Akershus is the least expensive.

Those are the four most important things to look at when deciding which princess dining experience you want to do with your family. Our family has dined at Cinderella’s Royal Table many times and recently wanted to try something different with Akershus, and we were pleasantly surprised with how much we enjoyed it and how similar it really was to the other restaurant.

We hope this comparison has helped you decided where your royal crew will dine with Disney royalty!

Disney’s Polnesian Villas & Bungalows

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Disney completed its final phase of construction on the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows as of July 1st. If you have not ever stayed or visited the Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World, it is a rare treat!

The Polynesian Village Resort (formerly the Polynesian Resort) is a deluxe resort along the Monorail Loop near the Magic Kingdom. The new studio villas and bungalows are an expansion as part of the Disney Vacation Club. These new accommodations are available for non-DVC members as well.

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The Polynesian Village Resort is one of the most lush and beautiful resorts on the WDW property, mimicking the feel of the Hawaiian islands. Recently, the pools, restaurants and grounds were given a renovation in order to make room for the new bungalows. The lobby of the resort is one of our favorites, with tropical plants that create a rainforest feel. The lobby was also recently renovated with new sculptures and decor.

Deluxe Studio at Polynesian

Deluxe Studio at Polynesian

The new Deluxe Studios sleep up to 5 people and feature a queen-size bed, queen-size sleeper sofa and a pull-down bunk-size bed beneath the television. They also offer a kitchenette, private porch or balcony, and new upgraded decor and finishes. There is a split-design bathroom, with one bathroom area housing a walk-in shower and sink, and the other area housing a tub/shower combination, toilet and sink. The design is to allow multiple people to get ready at the same time.

Living Room in the Bora Bora Bungalow

Living Room in the Bora Bora Bungalow

Master Bedroom in Bora Bora Bungalows

Master Bedroom in Bora Bora Bungalows

Master Bathroom in Bora Bora Bungalows

Master Bathroom in Bora Bora Bungalows

The Bora Bora Bungalows sleep up to 8 people and include 2 bedrooms and 2 baths – there are only 20 units on the resort property. These newly designed and decorated bungalows have a master bedroom and master bathroom, as well as a second bedroom and bath. The second bedroom has one queen-size bed and one pull-down bunk. The living room offers a queen-size sleeper sofa, and one pull-down bunk-size bed, as well as a flat panel TV and glass doors that open to the back deck. Master bedroom windows overlook the lagoon waters. Bungalows also include a full kitchen, private deck and stacked laundry.

Living Room and Kitchen in Bora Bora Bungalows

Living Room and Kitchen in Bora Bora Bungalows

One of the things we love best about the Polynesian is the dining! Dining options offered at the resort are:

  • O’Hana – Character breakfast with Stitch and Lilo; Hawaiian style dinner feast (reservations recommended)
  • Spirit of Aloha Show – traditional Hawaiian luau with Polynesian dancing and family style feast (reservations recommended)
  • Kona Cafe – Asian and American fusion menu that also serves sushi (reservations recommended)
  • Tambu Lounge – tropical drinks and Hawaiian-inspired appetizers
  • Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – Tiki cocktails and small plate snacks
  • Cook’s – 24-hour quick service with a great menu for families
  • Pineapple Lanai – Dole Whip location at the Polynesian
  • Kona Island – coffee and pastries in the morning, sushi and sashimi in the evening, located in the lobby
Newly redesigned lobby of Polynesian

Newly redesigned lobby of Polynesian

Other great amenities located at the Polynesian include:

  • Multiple pools including the Lava Pool and the Oasis Pool, as well as the new splash area for kids, Kiki Tiki Splash Play area
  • Seven Seas Marina that offers watercraft rental as well as private cruises and excursions
  • Campfires on the beach where they roast marshmallows
  • Fishing dockside or on excursions
  • Movies Under the Stars – movies played on an outside screen
  • Jogging trails around the beautiful lush grounds
  • Direct monorail access to take you to the Magic Kingdom or to the TTC to catch a monorail to Epcot.

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Special Deal for Polynesian Villas

The Polynesian Village Resort is a Deluxe resort at Disney World, and the Villas and Bungalows are on the pricier side. But they do offer families wonderful amenities and space while staying on property – it is such a luxury to have a kitchen and laundry while on vacation, as well as having much more space than a traditional hotel room. If you are considering staying at the Polynesian, this is a great deal that was just announced!

Disney Visa is offering an exclusive deal for the Polynesian resort and you can enjoy all these wonderful amenities and new rooms at a discount! Disney Visa Cardholders can save 35% on Deluxe Studio-Standard View rooms for most stays July 5-October 3, 2015.

You can receive this discount by calling the Disney Reservation Center and using your Disney Visa card for booking the deposit. Reservation must by booked in the cardholder’s name. The number of rooms allocated for this discount are limited! Other restrictions may apply. Don’t miss out on the awesome deal if you want to experience the amazing Polynesian resort in the new studio villas that look amazing!

If you are interested in this promotion or any other Disney deal, contact our friends at Destinations in Florida for a quote. They are truly awesome at setting up your dream Disney vacation!

Disneyland Updates

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This had been a big year for Disneyland with the Diamond Celebration! So we have collected all the updates, news and scoops for our favorite Disney destination on the west coast!

Disney Parks

Disneyland and Disney World now ban all selfie sticks in the parks. They have stated this is for the safety of guests and cast members. Do not bring them into the parks – this is as of June 30th. This includes all extender poles.

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Disneyland Diamond Celebration

In May, Disneyland began its Diamond Celebration to mark Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. Here is a round up of all the additions and changes at the park for this momentous occasion –all changes will remain through the end of this year.

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Sleeping Beauty Castle and Carthay Circle Theatre are decked out in faux diamonds and decor for the 60th birthday

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“Paint the Night” new electrical parade through Main Street and surrounding areas. This new parade uses 1.5 million LED lights and it is the most vibrant parade in Disney history. Tinkerbell leads the processional along with other characters like Cinderella, Rapunzel, Lightning McQueen, Anna & Elsa, and many more. Of course, Mickey and friends complete the finale.

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Part of the new fireworks includes digital projection throughout Main Street

“Disneyland Forever” new fireworks display each evening over Sleeping Beauty castle and throughout Main Street with the use of digital projection screens throughout the park. This new fireworks show features two new songs, including one written by Richard Sherman.

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New World of Color presentation: “Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” – the magical water canvas is still part of this amazing nighttime spectacular show which now tells the story of Walt Disney and the happiest place on earth. The show is narrated by Neil Patrick Harris and intertwines fireworks, lasers, special effects and wonderful music. Still a must-see at California Adventure!

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Mickey and Minnie get some new costumes for the celebration! Don’t miss seeing our favorite pair in the Diamond celebration duds!

Some attractions have received some new enhancements and renovations for the celebration:

  • Haunted Mansion has a new ghost added although this isn’t really a “new” ghost – The Hatbox Ghost is now in the attic scene of this attraction. The original Hatbox Ghost was in the attraction for the opening over 45 years ago but was removed although cartoons of this character continued. Imagineers reimagined this happy ghost and he is now part of the ride with some new tricks!
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  • Matterhorn Bobled has a new snowman, and we don’t mean Olaf! The abominable snowman has been replaced with a much scarier version similar to the Yeti figure on Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. They have also added some projection moments along the way similar to Expedition as well. The ride is still a bit bumpy though – that hasn’t changed!
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  • Grizzly Peak Airfield is a newly re-themed area around the Soarin’ Over California attraction. Most of the changes are cosmetic – new signs and decor. The biggest change is the rocket is now a water tower named after John Muir (Mt. Muir Lookout). The restaurant has been changed to Smokejumpers Grill but the menu is fairly similar with burgers and fries.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight will have special effects added to the nursery scene when the attraction begins when the Darling children discover how to fly. They will add enhancements to the London night and Neverland scene as well. Peter Pan’s Flight is still set to be reopened with these enhancements.
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Diamond Mad T Party – A new Mad Tea Party is rocking California Adventure this summer! The show is redesigned with new decor, interactive fun and dancing, and new food and drinks!

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New “Made With Magic” merchandise – A magic slipper is the newest addition to the Made With Magic fun (formerly Glow with the Show) – in addition to the newly designed ear hats, wands and paint brushes. Made With Magic items work at Fantasmic, fireworks and World of Color.

Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes – daily and weekly prizes are awarded to guests although theme park admission purchase is not required, winners have to be present to collect daily prizes. Daily prizes include in-park experiences and weekly prizes include VIP experiences for fireworks and pirate party. Daily entry requires a text-in of the word of the day. Sweepstakes will end on September 11, 2015. For more details, visit the Disneyland website.

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Storybookland Canal Boats have a new castle! While this was technically released in December, we wanted to make sure everyone knew about this Frozen fun at Disneyland. Arendelle has been added to Storybookland – this is one of our favorite little rides at Disneyland and now guests can see Anna & Elsa’s beautiful castle on the magical boat ride.

So much going on at Disneyland this year – it’s hard to keep up! Please keep following Preschoolears for all the latest Disney parks updates and news.

Photos credit courtesy of Disneyland news.
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