Friday, December 30, 2016

Foodie Friday: La Cantina de San Angel

La Cantina de San Angel
in the Mexico Pavilion of Epcot

I don't know about you, but I love Mexican food. Tacos, burritos, nachos, chalupas... you name it. So, on our trip in September I had to stop in Mexico and grab a bite to eat. Seeing how we could eat "anywhere in the World (Showcase)" my husband opted for fish'n'chips from the UK.

This is a popular Quick Service restaurant located on the lagoon side as you walk around World Showcase. Tables can be hard to come by because of its popularity. It's a good idea to have someone grab a table while someone else does the ordering.

Here are some shots of the menu (click on them to enlarge)

Oh, and we can't forget about the margaritas!

I wish I'd been able to snap some pics of the food coming out of the window before mine. They not only looked delicious, but the portions were huge. This is definitely a QS meal to share!

I went for the nachos (minus the tomato) and a sangria. You get plenty of chips, a heaping helping of nacho cheese with seasoned beef and beans, and they add some sour cream and jalapenos... I'm in heaven. Handling my tray I wasn't able to get a picture of the salsa bar, but they have an area where you can help yourself to various salsas to spice up your dishes.

These were pretty good for what they were, but after having seen some of the other items come through the window, I wished I'd have tried one of the taco meals or the Pollo Cascabel. The sangria wasn't the best I've ever had, but it was certainly refreshing on a hot September afternoon.

These nachos could definitely have been shared, as could all of the dishes I saw. Actually, I would quite recommend sharing all QS meals you might have walking around the World Showcase. This little tip not only saves you money or a QS meal credit, but this way you can also sample fare from multiple countries as you make your way around.

Being a QS restaurant, these items (minus the alcoholic beverages) are covered by all of the Disney Dining Plans. Those churros would make nice use of a snack credit, too!


Let me know if you've been in the comments. What did you get?

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Getting your MagicBands

If you're going to Walt Disney World for the first time, or perhaps this is your first time staying on property, I thought I'd share with you what to expect when receiving your MagicBands in the mail.

The fun starts when you book your vacation and set up your MyDisneyExperience account online. You can go in and select your MagicBand color and the name to imprint on the inside (up to 9 characters). The color you choose will determine the color of your luggage tag (these are only for guests booking a Magic Your Way package including room and tickets). Your final selection needs to be done by 30 days prior to your vacation. Once you're paid in full, your bands will be made and shipped to your home.

These magical bands are your "key to the world" while on property. They'll check you in at Magical Express and your resort, they'll unlock your resort door, be your park ticket, store your FastPasses (scan to get in the FP line), store your PhotoPass photos. You can charge things back to your room if you add a card to it, and you'll also use it to pay for your meals if you're on a Disney Dining Plan. It's an amazing thing!

So, here's what to expect when they show up at your home...

They come in a brown box (so as not to ruin any surprises).

 The names you selected for each band will be printed on the box insert as well as on the inside of the band,

In the lid of the box there are instructions on making the band smaller for children or adults with smaller wrists.

There are tabs sticking out of the box to show you to lift the insert out for more info (and the fun luggage tags)

 The luggage tags corresponding with everyone's bands will be in the envelope in the bottom of the box.

 No worries if two people in the same party select the same color. The bands are imprinted on the inside with the name as well.

There you have it. What to expect when getting your MagicBands. Don't forget to pack them (in your carry-on if you're flying)!! 

The luggage tags make great souvenirs. We've collected all of the colors :-)

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Caribbean Beach Resort: Pirate Rooms

On our recent trip to Walt Disney World, my husband and I decided to stay in the pirate themed rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort. CBR is a moderate resort and is beautifully themed in a Caribbean style. It's a larger resort, and each area is named after Caribbean islands- Aruba, Jamaica, Martinique, Barbados, Trinidad North, and Trinidad South. For the price and the beachy atmosphere, this is one our favorite resorts. 

We usually stay in the preferred section of Martinique, but I have so many ask me about the pirate rooms we thought we'd check them out. They're located in Trinidad South, and are a little bit of a walk from Old Port Royale (the main area of the resort- food court, theme pool, gift shop and marina).

The rooms were really cool though! As with everything, Disney put so much into the details of these rooms. The beds are shaped like pirate ships, with the masts going up the wall as headboards! The bed was pretty comfortable, too.

The chest of drawers was made to look like a stack of old crates. The mini-fridge was disguised as a rum barrel.

The table had a large compass on it.

We were actually given an accessible room, so the bathroom is a little different. I love the lantern light fixture.
These beds were just too cool!

Here's the smaller closet area in the accessible room. Each room does have an iron and ironing board.

Oh, and I was pleasantly surprised by these USB ports. I don't recall ever having seen them in the rooms before.

Overall we liked the rooms. The theming was awesome and fit right into the feel at Caribbean Beach Resort. The walk wasn't a bad one, but that's the only downfall to these rooms. Call us spoiled, but we just honestly prefer the preferred rooms of Martinique. It's so convenient being next to the food court for those late night/early morning runs for coffee and drinks. If you've got a pirate in your group, these are the rooms for you!

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Foodie Friday: Beaches & Cream Soda Shop

Foodie Friday this week is a review of
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
at the Beach Club Resort.

This restaurant is themed after a nostalgic soda shop, featuring malted shakes, classics like onion rings and burgers, and of course, some great sundaes! The old-timey juke box really makes the place! This is a small restaurant featuring a couple booths, a few small tables, and counter with bar stools. Due to its size reservations book very quickly! This is a Table Service meal on the Disney Dining Plan.

I've always wanted to eat here. The place is just adorable, and it doesn't hurt that they have a reuben on the menu. As I've mentioned, reservations go quickly, and while it's possible to get a walk-up, I've never been so fortunate. They do have a To-Go counter though for ice cream and beverages. This is what we did in April. Even at 10pm, the line was out the door. We got some ice cream cones as we took a stroll over to Boardwalk.

Fast forward to just days before my husband and I took a quick, last minute weekend trip to Disney to see the Main Street Electrical Parade one last time (yes, I'm devastated), I lucked into a reservation for a late lunch/early dinner the Saturday we arrived!! I was so excited to finally get to try this reuben!

We got there a few minutes early for our reservation and waited about 10 minutes. We were seated at a booth along the wall, which had its own adorable juke box on the table.

The menu is pretty limited- sandwiches, burger, hot dog, fries, onion rings, etc. and desserts, of course! My husband got the burger, and I got the... you guessed it, reuben. We also ended up ordering a side of onion rings, and I forgot to get a photo!! They were big, and golden, and beautiful, and perfectly fried! So good!!

My reuben was everything I had hoped it would be! The fries were okay. I wish I'd had more of those onion rings instead. I'll be honest though, my husband was not impressed. His burger was okay, but he didn't understand why I'd tried so hard for so long to get in here... especially after having made him leave Epcot in order eat here instead. (That was a hard point to argue there.)

It was a really hot day and my reuben and rings were pretty heavy, so, I'm shocked even at myself here, we skipped dessert. We enjoyed watching the table next to us indulge in the "Kitchen Sink" though. It's 8 scoops of ice cream covered in every topping they offer! Can you imagine?! This isn't a great photo, but here's one I snapped from the time before when someone ordered it.

All in all I enjoyed the experience, even if my hubby didn't get it. My reuben was really good, as were those rings, and you just couldn't beat the nostalgic atmosphere. I probably won't book it again for a while, but I'd certainly try for a walk-in or the to-go window if we were in the area. If you were celebrating a birthday or something while on property this would be a great place to have a little dessert party for sure!

This counts as a Table Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, as mentioned before. However, it is one of the cheaper meals, so I would probably opt to pay out of pocket here. That way you can use the credit for something more substantial. The ice cream cones, ice cream sandwiches, floats, etc. do count as a snack credit though! Those are totally worth it!

If you've eaten here before, I'd love to know your thoughts. Share them in the comments below or find the post on my Facebook page.

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Disney's Magical Express

Disney's Magical Express is a fabulous, free service offered to guests flying to Walt Disney World who are staying on property. Not only do they provide free transportation from the Orlando airport (MCO), but they'll also handle your checked luggage. You check it at home, and the next time you see it will be in your hotel room!

The service works on the way home, too! You can check in for your flight right at your hotel. They'll check your luggage there and give you a ride to the airport. You'll pick your bags up again at baggage claim at home.

If you are staying on Walt Disney World property, and plan to arrive by plane, you'll want to add Disney's Magical Express (DME) to your vacation package. You simply add the service to your package and you, or your travel agent if you book with one, will provide them with your flight information when you get it.

You'll receive yellow luggage tags for everyone in your party. (These are different than those that come with your Magic Bands.) They should come in the mail, or from your agent, a couple weeks before your trip and should be affixed to your luggage before you check it with the airline. If for some reason you do not receive them in time, it's quite alright. You would simply keep your baggage claim tickets to give to to the DME Cast Members upon check in.

A letter detailing what you should do before your trip and upon your arrival will accompany the tags. If you have your Magic Bands you can check in using those, but it's nice to have the letter with you for the handy map.

So, here's what this looks like in action...

Check your bag when you arrive at the airport. You'll want to have a day bag with you for your carry-on, as it could take around 3 hours for your luggage to arrive to your room.

When you arrive at MCO (Orlando airport) look for the Disney's Magical Express signs and follow them to Side B, Level 1.

Check in using your MDE letter or your Magic Band. You'll be asked here to confirm your return flight home, so have the info handy.

They'll direct you to the appropriate line for your resort motorcoach. The bus may make multiple stops, so allow 45-75 minutes for travel time.

The bus will drop you off at your resort lobby for check-in. If you've done on-line check in, you may be able to proceed directly to your room if you've gotten the info via text or email.

This is a great added value to your trip. In addition to DME, Disney provides transportation to and from the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. There's no need to even rent a car- they've got you covered! What a savings!

We've had nothing but great experiences with Disney's Magical Express and recommend it to everyone!!

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple

Younglings, aged 4 to 12, are invited to learn the ways of the Force at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple is a popular, free activity with multiple shows per day. Advanced registration on the day of the show is required. Registration begins at park opening, even with early extra magic hours. Because availability is limited, and it's on a first-come, first-served basis, it's recommended that you arrive early to proceed registration when the park opens for the day. All participants must be present at the time of registration.

Registration takes place at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost. This is located between the 50's Prime Time Cafe and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. You'll enter the park and should walk down the left side of Hollywood Boulevard. You'll take a left after the shops and pass Hollywood & Vine and 50's Prime Time Cafe. From there you should see the sign for Jedi Training sign ups.

The participants must be present at time of registration. They'll ask them a few questions to make sure they can follow directions and won't mind being in front of people in a show setting. It's a good idea to have your itinerary with you with any FastPass and dining reservation times. They'll do their best to find a show time that works for you. The show last 20 minutes and they'll have you arrive early to get ready. These shows are first-come, first-served, so if the only times left interfere with FastPasses, You may have to rearrange that instead if it's important that your little one participate.

Please arrive on time at the time they designate. This allows them to account for everyone and see if any stand-ins will be able to participate in the show. They'll entertain the kids with trivia while they pass out the Jedi robes and go over some rules and guidelines with them.

From there you'll be directed to the staged area, which has expanded to two stages. Don't worry if you don't get that front and center spot. They'll have a PhotoPass photographer on-hand to capture lots of great action shots. Participants will receive a card afterward that can be used to link the photos to your MyDisneyExperience account. (If you plan on attending, this is a great reason to pre-purchase the Memory Maker!)

The younglings will learn how to use a lightsaber and a sequence of moves proven to defeat the Dark Side. Once they've learned the ways of the Force they'll have an opportunity to use those new techniques to battle the Dark Side!

(The following photos are from Jedi Training Academy, before it was expanded and changed to Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. They'll give you the concept though.)
You can see the PhotoPass photographer getting up close here

Check out the awesome edits you can make to the PhotoPass photos in MyDisneyExperience!

The kids have a great time, and the show is a lot of fun for the adult spectators as well! If you have any Star Wars fans aged 4-12 who don't mind being on stage with other kids, this is definitely an activity you should plan on adding to your next trip!

Please keep in mind, the shows are done outside and could be canceled due to inclement weather. I would still show up at your designated time, despite rain. They've been known to try to reschedule people if they have room in other shows, or will provide another fun alternative to the missed show ;-)

Feel free to comment if you have any questions or if you'd like to share your experience with Jedi Training!

 This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.