Thursday, June 25, 2015

What is Rope Drop and Why Should I Care?

By: Melissa

Many touring plans require you to begin at “Rope Drop.” But what exactly is Rope Drop, and why should you care about it? I’m glad you asked.

Rope Drop refers to the park opening. It’s when the “rope drops” and you’re allowed to enter the park.



Through the years, Rope Drop has looked different at the parks. Currently, Magic Kingdom is the only park that has a ceremony/show welcoming you to the park. Mickey and friends arrive on the train to welcome you to the park, and even sing a song.  A lucky family may be chosen to ride the train and help open the park along with the characters. This ceremony actually starts about 15 minutes before the posted opening time. At the other parks, it’s a rather unceremonial opening of the line by Cast Members and entry through the scanners.

Sometimes, the parks are opened anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes prior to the posted opening time, so it’s best to be at the park an hour before open if you’re driving and parking, and 30-45 minutes before the posted open if you’re using Disney transportation.

As much as you might hear about the “Toy Story Sprint” at Hollywood Studios and the “Frozen 5k” at Magic Kingdom, you won’t actually be allowed to take off running.  At Magic Kingdom, it’s become more of a graduated opening, with Cast Members leading the way into the Town Square, the Hub, and then allowing guests into the various lands from that point. They sometimes lead the way in other parks as well, just to make sure everyone stays safe and orderly. Once you’re allowed into all the parts of the park, you’re free to go to your favorite attraction. Just keep in mind that the attractions aren’t necessarily open right at Rope Drop, so even if you’re first in line, you may have to wait a few minutes to get on an attraction.

So, why would you start at Rope Drop? Well, to put it simply, being among the first in the parks has certain advantages. You can head straight to a coveted attraction with little to no wait and save your FP+ selections for later in the day. You can hit several attractions before lines get long and start your fun before the day gets too warm. If you have little ones that take an afternoon nap, you can also get plenty of fun under your belt before naptime or the pre-nap crankiness sets in.

There are some who prefer not to be at the parks for Rope Drop. If it works for your family and how you like to tour, that’s perfectly fine! There are even some touring plans that cater to those who like to sleep late.

We typically choose to be at the parks for Rope Drop. Our kids are early risers, and we really don’t have to get up too much earlier than we normally would, even with the time change. (Remember Disney is on Eastern Time!) Our last trip, we were also planning for daily rest time/naptime, so we wanted to have plenty of fun before we took a break from the parks.  


Getting up “early” on vacation might not be your idea of vacation, but we feel being among the first into the parks is worth it. It’s not like my kids are interested in sleeping late at Disney anyway!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Favorite Quick-Service Restaurants



By: Lindsey







Quick-service meals at Disney are great options for families, especially if you have small children. And, sometimes, a designated time for a sit down meal just doesn’t fit into your schedule for the day. There are a lot of different choices at each park.

A quick-service meal can be equated to a fast food type restaurant. You order at the counter and take your food to a table to eat (there are a few exceptions where the food is delivered to you but those are few). If you have the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) or the Quick-Service Dining Plan (QSDP) these will be credits included in your plan.

Today I’m going to break down my family’s favorite quick service restaurants by park. There are so many great options; it really was hard to choose.


Magic Kingdom

Tortuga Tavern is located in Adventureland. If you are in need of a Tex-Mex style meal, this would be it! They have lots of yummy menu items to choose from. My favorite thing about it? The toppings bar! I like having the option to “spruce up” my meal without having to ask a server for additional items. We really like the location of the restaurant. It’s in a busy but not-so-busy area so you really feel like you get a good break while you are eating. Plus, if you time it right, you can sometimes hear some of the fun pirate stuff that goes on in Adventureland.

If you aren’t on the DDP or QSDP, this is a great option for a quick-service meal as well. The prices are relatively inexpensive compared to other Disney meals. Read Jenna’s review (linked above) for more detailed info and even an image of the menu!


Hollywood Studios

Pizza Planet is located in the Streets of America section of Hollywood Studios. We absolutely love this place! The pizza is really good. It has a fun atmosphere. It’s, at least while we were there, never been packed. If you are on the DDP, QSDP or if you just love dessert, try the cappuccino cupcake. It’s amazing!


Epcot

Seriously, Epcot is my favorite park to eat in. There are SO many different options. You can basically have anything you want – any type of food, any type of drink, any type of dessert. It’s a food lover’s dream. So here we go.

If you are in the mood for a standard hamburger, hot dog or other American standard food items, Liberty Inn is your place. The food is good, not excellent, but the building is pretty darn cool. Little known fact, there are several “secret” lounges throughout Epcot that have corporate sponsors. When I was in tenth grade, we made a trip down there. At that time Coca-Cola was the corporate sponsor for The American Adventure. We got to visit the secret lounge and it was pretty neat! It’s probably one of the reasons I love this little section so much. I don’t believe it is still sponsored by Coca-Cola but I’m sure someone else has it now! If you work for a large corporation, check to see if they are corporate sponsors before you go on your trip. You might get treated to a special visit!

Another favorite of ours is the Lotus Blossom CafĂ© if you are in the mood for Chinese food. It is, of course, located in the China pavilion. It is so, so good. It’s also very quick, off the beaten path and not very crowded. We had a group of 10+ when we visited and we were able to find seating all together without any issues at all. Anniston even ate everything on her plate!

The last one I’ll point out is La Cantina de San Angel, which is located in the Mexico pavilion. If you’ve ever eaten at San Angel Inn, it’s very similar to that. If I absolutely HAD to pick a favorite place at Epcot, it would be this one. Who doesn’t love fresh-made guacamole? The nachos are also very good, as is the Pollo Cascabel. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

 Animal Kingdom

Let me preface this by saying, this is the only quick-service meal we’ve eaten at Animal Kingdom. Out of three trips, we’ve always come back to this place. Why? It’s a great value for the money (or credit)! Plus it’s really good. I’m not a huge barbecue fan, who am I kidding? I’m not a huge meat fan in general. But this is barbecue that I actually eat AND enjoy it. Therefore we keep going back!

It’s usually extremely busy as it is pretty popular. Try to get there a little early or a little later in the day for shorter lines. We’ve tried several different meal options and we’ve enjoyed them all. 

Jenna has a post about eating at Yak & Yeti. If that’s more your style of food, check it out!


Downtown Disney

We love to eat at Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney (DTD). With all of the construction currently going on at DTD, it can get overwhelming to find and decide on a restaurant. This is a great option. They serve hot or cold gourmet sandwiches. The dessert isn’t half bad either. We’ve eaten here three different times and enjoyed it each time.

That being said, Jenna reviewed The Express at Wolfgang Puck. I do believe she has convinced me to go there on our next trip. Doesn’t that food look amazing?!


Eating is one of my favorite pastimes at Disney. I love eating just as much as I love riding. Quick-service meals, while they are a slightly different environment than a table service meal, are just as tasty and just a good as option as table service. In fact, a few of my quick-service meals have been my meals at table service restaurants.

When you are planning your trip, don’t forget to take a look at all the options out there. In the heat of the moment, no pun intended if you are traveling in the summer, it can be frustrating to try to find and pick out a meal that will please everyone. Do some research beforehand to decide where you want to eat or at least have your top couple of picks ready. It’ll make for a much smoother trip!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Counter Service Review: Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom

by: Jenna

As much as I love reviewing Disney's table service restaurants, I know it's equally as important to review the quick service options.

I'll be completely honest here - I'm not a fan of most of the quick service options at Animal Kingdom. I just don't think there is anything that outstanding there, and I prefer to use my credits elsewhere.

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite snacks can be found at Animal Kingdom, at Yak and Yeti. More on that can be found here.

But for today, I thought I'd post the actual Yak and Yeti counter service menu for you. It's definitely worth considering if you will be spending a whole day at Animal Kingdom and need to utilize a quick service credit. 
I can tell that this will be a little difficult to read, so I'll type it out below.

ENTREE:
  • Honey Chicken
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Teriyaki Beef Bowl
  •  Asian Chicken Sandwich
  • Ginger Chicken Salad
  • Roasted Vegetable Couscous Wrap

SIDES:
  • Pork Egg Roll (snack credit may be used)
  • Side Pork Egg Rolls (2) 
  • Chicken Fried Rice (snack credit may be used)
  • Basket of French Fries (snack credit may be used)

DESSERTS: (snack credit may be used for all of these)
  • Banana Pudding
  • Triple Chocolate Mousse
  • Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade Cup

KIDS MEALS:
  • Cheeseburger
  • Chicken Tenders
  • Uncrustable

 
To order, you queue up outside. In all honesty, this was the longest line I stood in the entire time we were at Disney. All I wanted was a simple carton of chicken fried rice and it took me over half an hour to get it!


However, it was GREAT, and I would definitely go back for it next time I'm there!

Have you ate at Yak and Yeti? What did you think?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Keeping the Disney Fun Alive at Home

by: Ashley

Our family LOVES our visits to Disney World, and we usually make trips every 12-18 months on average. But even at that frequency, we still go through withdrawal at home! And it's not just the kids - I'm just as bad! 

We've found that there are fun little ways to keep the Disney magic alive at home, and it makes the World seem closer to home! 
 

  • Watch Disney-themed YouTube channels! Our favorite is See Ya Reel Soon! We love watching Joe and Ashley vlog their trips to Disney World. Another fun channel for moms is Moms with Mouse Ears
  • Wear your Disney attire around the house! Don't just save the cute themed shirts and merchandise for your trips - make them everyday wear! 
  • When I'm at Disney World, I always make sure to look for souvenirs that "keep on giving." I love my bath bombs from Basin (stores are in the Grand Floridian and Downtown Disney), my Mickey earrings, and my Spa H2O products, just to name a few. Once I'm home, it's like a little piece of the trip is with me! 
  • Save your toiletries from your Disney resort hotel. They're great for travel and also to put in your guest room for visitors. The smell will take you right back to Disney!
  • Working on photo books from our trips is a fun project that helps me relive the memories! I use Blurb for our photo books, and I love how they turn out! 
  • Create a Disney Rides/Attractions playlist on YouTube! We turn on the playlist and "ride" our favorites - Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more! Just hearing the attraction music and sounds will transport you!
  • Bring some Disney flavors into your home! There are Disney-themed cookbooks available online, and it's fun to see if you can recreate your favorite dishes! We also love to make homemade "Dole Whips" from a super easy 3-ingredient recipe (found HERE)! 
  • Consider hosting a Disney party! Even just turning on Disney music and adding a few fun decorations can make an ordinary play date something really fun! 
  • Read up on the biographies of Walt Disney and other Imagineers. Learning their stories makes your trips even more meaningful. 
  • There are great books about all of the hidden magic in the Parks. Study up for your next trip! 
  • Help others plan their trips! Many people welcome any advice they can get, and I find that helping someone plan the perfect trip can be so rewarding! 
  • Join a Facebook group for Disney fans, like "You Might Be a Disney Addict. . ."
  • Decorate with Disney! Don't be afraid to hang a print of Cinderella Castle or even something small like cute salt and pepper shakers in your kitchen. It brightens your mood and makes your home unique! 
  • Browse fun websites like www.retrodisneyworld.com. There are so many sites out there that feed a Disney fan's interests! 
  • Watch the "Confessions of a Disney Princess" videos from the YouTube user Jennifer Oakes. There are 3 installments, and they are SUCH an interesting perspective from someone who was formerly with Disney entertainment! 

There are so many little ways to keep Disney fun in your every day life and keep you going until that next magical trip!
 
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