Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sorry for the Lack of Updates!

Hey everyone!

Sorry I've fallen off the face of the earth recently.  The holidays definitely make it hard to get around to sitting at the computer.  Especially with family and friends from home to visit, instead of tests to procrastinate!

That being said, over the next week and a half, I'm going to try REALLY hard to get a post up, either about dining at Magic Kingdom area resorts, dining at all other resorts, or something else entirely!

In addition, for my upcoming trip in March, I soon get to make my Fastpass+ selections, and I hope to write a post about that process!

Thanks for being patient, and for all those new viewers that I've seen stumbling over here the past few days, you interest is truly inspiring and appreciated!

Happy New Year! <3

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dining Downtown and at the Boardwalk

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Of course the parks at Disney are great, and along with that have some great dining options!  But let's say you want a little more of an adult atmosphere.  It is pretty well known that Downtown Disney, and the Boardwalk Area, are great for this, especially in the nighttime hours!

So why not look here for a dining reservation?  Truly, you won't be disappointed.

Let's start with Downtown Disney:

If you're entering from the Disney Bus stop, the first table-service restaurant you'll encounter is Rainforest Cafe
Ideal for: The Planner
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu:Lunch/Dinner
  • This restaurant, being a familiar favorite, books up in advance!  Be sure to make reservations ahead of time if you plan on dining here!
  • Pros:
    • Great atmosphere, typical of Rainforest Cafe Restaurant
    • Generous portions
  • Cons: Pretty standard American menu options
  • Other Notes: Being one of the first restaurants from the Disney bus stop, it might be a good choice if you plan on stopping by Downtown for some light shopping, but not being there all day.  The Downtown area is huge, and this option would give your feet a rest.

Next up, a little bit down the way, you'll run into T-Rex
Ideal for: The Planner
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Lunch/Dinner
  • Much like Rainforest Cafe, due to the fun theming of the restaurant, it tends to book up early!  Be sure to reserve a spot in advance if you plan on stopping here!
  • Pros:
    • Huge portions, with tasty food
    • Really fun atmosphere
  • Cons:
    • Long waits for food while at the table
    • Pretty standard American restaurant fare
  • Other Notes: Every 20 minutes, a magnificent meteor show occurs in the restaurant, which only enhances the already immersive atmosphere.

Then, out on the water, try Fulton's Crab House
Ideal for: The Spender
Price Range: $30-$60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: LunchDinner
  • Fulton's menu is very upscale, and it's prices reflect that.
  • Pros:
    • Great riverboat atmosphere, especially at night
    • Good seafood, and an extensive wine menu
  • Cons:
    • Expensive
  • Other Notes: Seafood is definitely the star of this menu, and with very few non-seafood options to choose from, consider only going here if your entire party is planning on eating it!

Very close to Fulton's is Portobello Country Italian Trattoria
Ideal for: The Romantic
Price Range: $30-60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: LunchDinner
  • One of the more romantic restaurants in Downtown Disney, with a classy Italian vibe.
  • Pros: Really high quality, rustic Italian foods
  • Cons:
    • Somewhat short menu, so not a lot to choose from
    • Rather bland atmosphere
  • Other Notes: Just recently opened was the Portobello Meatball and Beer Bar.  This walk up option serves 4 types of meatball sliders with a few beer choices, and is a good option for a taste of this restaurant.

And very near that is Raglan Road
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun, The Impulsive
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit (remember, no alcohol included!)
Link to Menu: LunchDinnerPub
  • Evenings get pretty wild here, described as a "tipsy cocktail party," so it's great for those looking to have a good time!  Also, the pub serves great food as well, and doesn't require a reservation.
  • Pros:
    • Authentic Irish pub feel (only much bigger!)
    • Great food (and even better desserts!)
    • Live entertainment most nights of the week
  • Cons:
    • The restaurant can get loud, especially at night
  • Other Notes: The bars (not just the alcohol, but the actual wood and countertops) in the restaurant are imported directly from Ireland.

And in the same area is Paradiso 37
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Paradiso 37
  • This place is perfect for those who want to have more of an adult atmosphere during their trip, becoming more club-like in the later hours.
  • Pros:
    • Definitely aimed toward an adult crowd
    • Lots of beautiful seating areas with different views
    • Really great food with North, Central, and South American inspiration
  • Cons:
    • Like Raglan Road, the restaurant can get loud, especially at night
  • Other Notes: With nightly entertainment and a tequila tower with 37 varieties, this place knows how to have fun!  For a calmer atmosphere, visit during the afternoon.

Also in Downtown Disney, try something a little more familiar, Planet Hollywood
Ideal for: The Saver
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Planet Hollywood
  • Some of the cheaper table-service food in Downtown Disney, with large portions for the price.
  • Pros: Fun movie memorabilia covering every inch of the restaurant
  • Cons:
    • Extremely loud rock music constantly playing
    • Food and service mediocre in comparison to other Downtown restaurants
  • Other Notes: This restaurant is ideal for the movie/music buff.  The loud, club-like atmosphere without it actually being a club make it a little less than ideal for most types of people.

For some flair, try Bongos Cuban Cafe
Ideal for: The Impulsive
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Bongos
  • Typically easy to get a table here without a reservation.
  • Pros:
    • Both indoor and outdoor seating with a "Miami" vibe
    • The food here is flavorful without being too spicy
  • Cons:
    • The restaurant is really big, it's easy to get "lost" in here
    • Slightly overpriced
  • Other Notes: The cocktails here are huge, so be aware when ordering them!

And right next door, find Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe
Ideal for: The Spender
Price Range: $30-$60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: LunchDinner
  • The interesting creations (and let's face it, the name) come with a more expensive price tag.  This is especially true if you decide to go to "The Dining Room" instead of the Grand Cafe when reserving this restaurant.
  • Pros:
    • Really great cocktails and decadent desserts
    • Interesting and technical flavor profiles in the meals
  • Cons:
    • Due to high ceilings, the restaurant is quite noisy
    • The seating areas are close together and the chairs a little uncomfortable
    • Some of the food here is hit or miss
  • Other Notes: For a more upscale experience, book a reservation for "The Dining Room," upstairs from the Grand Cafe.  Alternatively, for a quick stop while shopping, try the sushi bar inside the restaurant. 

And for some fun with your meal, go to Splitsville
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun, The Planner
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Splitsville
  • Because of the combination of great food, cocktails, and the bowling alley inside, reservations here fill up!  Definitely a fun option, though, especially into the later hours!
  • Pros:
    • "Upscale" bar food that is really well done
    • Great cocktails that you can get from one of the 5 bars in the restaurant
  • Cons: Recently, reviews are trending toward the negative, especially for service
  • Other Notes: Bowling costs an extra $15-$20 per person, depending on the time of day.  Lane times vary based on the number of people bowling, all things you need to take into account if you plan on getting the full experience here.

And last in Downtown Disney, try Crossroads at House of Blues
Ideal for: The Saver
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: House of Blues
  • Cheaper prices and sizable portions make this place great of the saver!
  • Pros:
    • Delicious desserts
    • Great variety of strong cocktails
  • Cons:
    • Despite the amazing authentic decor, the music being played sometimes doesn't match the Blues theme
    • The food isn't the best you can find in Downtown Disney
  • Other Notes: The separate concert venue, "The Club" is next door, and puts on frequent ticketed events.

Next, check out the offerings at Disney's Boardwalk:

First, find The Flying Fish Cafe
Ideal for: The Spender, the Romantic
Price Range: $30-$60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: Flying Fish
  • This signature dining restaurant comes with a more expensive price tag, but the whimsical feel and delicious food make it great for couples.
  • Pros:
    • Food is excellent across the board: known for seafood, but the steaks, chicken, and vegetarian dishes are equally as great
    • The interior is fancy and fun
  • Cons:
    • Acoustics in the restaurant aren't great, and it's a bit loud
    • Menu changes frequently, so past favorites might not be there a second time
  • Other Notes: After visiting Flying Fish Cafe, stop at Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar in the Boardwalk area that gets rave reviews.

And also at the Boardwalk, try Kouzzina
Ideal for: The Romantic
Price Range: $30-$60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastDinner
  • This intimate, "modern farmhouse" Greek restaurant is lovely for couples to have a hearty breakfast or comforting dinner together.
  • Pros:
    • Relaxing atmosphere
    • Breakfast menu is really appetizing, and a little different than just a typical breakfast menu
    • Great appetizers (Greek spreads, in particular) and hearty and robust Greek dishes for dinner
  • Cons:
    • Bad acoustics, slightly loud
    • Service here tends to be sub par
  • Other Notes: If you visit Kouzzina and don't have a different dish in mind, try the Cinnamon Chicken for dinner, and make sure to order the Honey Pecan Cinnamon Roll at Breakfast.

I just want to again mention Jellyrolls, the dueling piano bar, on the Boardwalk.  Though I have never personally been, I hope to go on my next trip, because it seems to be the spot for those without children to check out during their trip.

And there you have it!  Downtown Disney is really the place to go for fun nightlife on Disney property, with plenty of options that seem to have been created especially for groups without kids.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Please let me know!
And to Pinterest users, please pin the graphic at the top to Pinterest, help spread the word!

Until next time! <3

Follow Young Adult Disney on Pinterest: Young Adult Disney
And on Twitter! (@YADisney20)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dining in Animal Kingdom

Sorry for the blurry title there. Whoops.  (Pin me to Pinterest!)

Here we are again!  We have arrived at the last park at Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom!   But don't worry, we won't have to think about these dining options that long, as there are only three different restaurants to pick from here!

We'll start at the entrance, where you will find the Rainforest Cafe!
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun
Price Range: $13-30/entree, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastLunch/Dinner

  • Those who have been to a Rainforest Cafe know that the atmosphere is fun and colorful, a great place to grab some food and have an entertaining, fun meal.
  • Pros:
    • Great theming, with perpetual nighttime atmosphere
    • Bar area for adults
  • Cons:
    • Does not allow outside food or drink in the restaurant
    • Pretty standard, uncreative food
  • Other notes:
    • Located outside of the park gate, so you don't need a park ticket to dine here.  Also, of the two Rainforest Cafes on Disney property (the other in Downtown Disney), this is the only one to serve breakfast.
    • Only some of the reservations are released onto the Disney website.  If you can't get a reservation online, many seats are available by calling 407-938-9100.

In the Africa Section, you can find Tusker House
Ideal for: The Planner
Price Range: $30-35, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastLunch/Dinner
  • Breakfast and lunch here are character meals, which means that reservations book up pretty fast.  Dinner, however, is the same price and is not a character meal.
  • Pros: 
    • The Dawa Bar offers a place to get a drink while waiting for your table
    • A variety of really great, African food choices as well as plenty of "unadventurous" options
  • Cons:
    • Character meal means that many kids could be there
    • Service can be a bit inconsistent here
  • Other Notes: The juice served at Tusker House (called Jungle Juice, though no alcohol is involved) is absolutely fantastic, and is pretty exclusive to this area of Animal Kingdom.

And lastly, in the Asia section, you can dine at Yak and Yeti Restaurant
Ideal for: The Saver
Price Range: $8-14, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Yak and Yeti
  • The food here is comparable in price to most quick service options.
  • Pros:
    • Fun "backstory" and theming around the restaurant
    • Great service is typical here, and the food is consistently good
  • Cons: There isn't much creativity to the menu, including simple Asian options as well as some American dishes
  • Other Notes: To view Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade, book a reservation around 2:30-3:00 and request a second floor seat by the windows!

Before booking a reservation at one of the restaurants in Animal Kingdom, be sure to consider how long you plan on staying in the park.  Because it closes so early in the evening (typically around 6:00), it's important to realize that you might have left, or be headed somewhere else before dinner.  If you are making a reservation in Animal Kingdom, it might be beneficial to make it for the breakfast or lunch slot.

Another thing to consider are the quick-service options, in particular the Flame Tree Barbecue.  This outdoor restaurant is known to have great food, and the seating offers a picturesque atmosphere!

Questions?  Comments?  Do you agree or disagree?

Pin the graphics to Pinterest and help me spread the word!

Also, what do you want to see next?  More food options (resorts/Downtown), hotel analysis, or something else?  I have plenty I want to say, I just need to know what you want to hear!

Until next time <3

Follow Young Adult Disney on Pinterest: Young Adult Disney
And on Twitter! (@YADisney20)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dining in Hollywood Studios

Once again, let's visit the parks to evaluate the dining options!

Hollywood Studios might not have quite the variety of options that other parks have (Epcot, anyone?), but there are definitely good options for each type of visitor!  It's 180 days before your visit, and you're trying to decide which restaurant in the Studios that you want to try.  Even with only a few options, it's hard to decide which is right.

So let's start looking at them a little closer, shall we?

Let's start near Echo Lake, at the 50's Prime Time Cafe
Ideal for: The Impulsive, Those who want to have Fun
Price Range: $13-21 per entree, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: 50's Prime Time
  • Typically easy to get into, the 50's Prime Time Cafe offers diners the experience of a family dinner back in the 50's, including being "yelled at" by the staff (who are acting as your family members) to the finish your vegetables and keep your elbows off the tables. 
  • Pros:
    • Fun atmosphere, immersive environment
    • Lots of great home cooking, and desserts are big enough to share
  • Cons: The "interactive" nature can make some people uncomfortable, especially if one of the punishments like standing in the corner or singing I'm a Little Teapot come up.
  • Other Notes: Request a table with a TV to see snippets of popular TV shows from the 50's.

Near the Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat, find the Hollywood Brown Derby
Ideal for: The Spender, The Planner
Price Range: $28-45, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: Brown Derby
  • The meal is expensive, but provides a "Golden Age of Hollywood" feel.  Reservations book up fast so they need to be made well in advance.
  • Pros: Decorating has many details, definitely worth taking notice of them
  • Cons:
    • For how expensive it is in relation to other options, it has somewhat inconsistent food and service
    • Waits tend to be long inside the restaurant
  • Other Notes: Booking a reservation toward the end of the night means that many attractions are closed or closing, so you won't miss out on the park experience.

Also around Echo Lake, you can find Hollywood and Vine
Ideal for: ...probably no one
Price Range: $25-35, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastLunch, Dinner
  • Hollywood and Vine features the "Play 'n Dine" character meal (breakfast and lunch) that includes the characters from Disney Junior.  It's a very interactive experience for little ones, meaning that it probably isn't ideal for a group that doesn't contain children.
  • Pros: Extremely extensive buffet bar with good food and lots of options
  • Cons: Disney Junior character dining means lots of little kids will be present
  • Other Notes: If you are in the mood for a buffet or are just trying to satisfy a lot of different tastes in food, consider this for dinner, as only breakfast and lunch are character meals.

Mama Melrose's Restaurant is in the Streets of America
Ideal for: The Romantic
Price Range: $15-30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Mama Melrose's
  • The small, more intimate feel of this restaurant is well-suited to couples.  
  • Pros:
    • Many of the entrees are very good
    • Cozy and inviting atmosphere
  • Cons:
    • Sometimes the food and service is inconsistent (but when it's good, it's very good)
    • Waits can be long even with a reservation

And last (I know, so quick!) is the Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant
Ideal for: The Saver, The Impulsive
Price Range: $12-30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Sci-Fi
  • Can be pretty easy to get a reservation here, and the food is reasonably priced for a table-service option.
  • Pros:
    • Really fun decor, from the fake drive-in screen to the car tables
    • Interesting and creative (and also tasty) food options
  • Cons:
    • Tables are small, and could possibly end up staring at a stranger's head for the duration of the meal
    • The video starts repeating a little earlier than most would like
  • Other Notes: If the cars don't seem to be appealing seating to you, you can request one of the limited number of picnic tables toward the back of the restaurant.

And already, here we are at the end of the Hollywood Studios list!  Though there may not be many options, those that are provided have great theming and experiences that make them worth trying!

Agree?  Disagree?  Have something to add, or a question to ask?
Leave a comment! Please!  I want to help!

Next up: Animal Kingdom Dining

Until next time <3

Follow Young Adult Disney on Pinterest: Young Adult Disney
And on Twitter! (@YADisney20)

Thanksgiving 2013 (and Frozen!)

Hey readers!

While I'm still in the process of getting this blog up and running, I've been trying to post what I feel is crucial information rather quickly.

BUT since I haven't posted in a over a week, I felt like I wanted to give you some updates about MY life.  (Now: everyone pretend to care!)

Last week was Thanksgiving here in the States, so I had a few days off from college which I used to go home and visit my family and boyfriend.

My vacation began with mom and I decorating the Christmas tree (trying to get some of the decorating out of the way before Thanksgiving passed and we became too busy to really enjoy it).  I never really noticed before how many of our ornaments are Disney, but mom and I laughed about the way that she raised me to be the Disney lover that I am, consciously or not.
Look reallllly closely and you can see my bee Mickey ear ornament I got this past spring on my latest Disney trip.

Naturally, being the Disney lover that I am, I had to go see Frozen that day, since it was the day it came out!  It was so fantastic!!  If you haven't seen it yet, please go.  The animation was magical, the songs are super catchy, and it has the perfect mixture of romance, adventure, and comedy.  As most Disney movies are, it really is perfect for anyone.  Even boyfriend enjoyed it (proof to follow).
The sad little frozen tree outside my house...if only Elsa was around to fix it.

The best part though, was that because Frozen is set in Norway, I was able to convince boyfriend to agree to go to Akershus during our coming Disney vacation this spring (Disney spring break, second year in a row? No shame).  I used the excuse that dining with the princesses would mean not waiting in line for them later, and thus more time doing other things.  Did he buy it or did he just want to make me happy?  Debatable, but I'm not complaining!

Thanksgiving came and went, I spent lots of time with family, ate lots of food, and went shopping (did not spend lots of money, though, thanks to scouting Black Friday deals!)  It was a great, mostly relaxing time, just what I needed during a hectic semester at school.

Saturday marked the 100 days until our trip to Disney this spring, which meant I could officially start a countdown!  I personalized our magic bands, and changed our reservations in Epcot in celebration.

Then Sunday, I had to return to school (finals approach rapidly).  Boyfriend drove me back, and we listened to the songs from Frozen 4 times over the 4 hour car trip.  At least twice HE turned them on, not me.  And he sang along, allowing us to duet "Love is an Open Door."  I was just impressed he knew most of the words!
Meet my chauffeur! (aka boyfriend).  Isn't he cute?

At college, I work at one of the libraries, and helped develop the theme for the poster/book display/etc. for this semesters finals.  We decided on a "Winter Wonderland" theme.  It wasn't my idea, but when it was suggested, did I think of Frozen?
Yes, yes I did.
So paper snowflake making quickly ensued!
Not a bad start!  Again, I think we need Elsa around to really spruce the place up, but we'll make our own magic the best we can!

So as I work on final papers and studying for tests, I will continue to surround myself with all things Disney as I always so.
  • "Frozen" decor at work? Check.
  • Soundtrack (with instrumentals) to listen to while I study? Check.
  • Mini Mickey snowglobe under my baby tree on my desk? Check.
  • This blog as well as planning my own vacation to distract me every 10 minutes (because what are finals without a little procrastination??) Check!

To those like me with finals ahead, best of luck!
To everyone, good luck preparing for the holidays!

And to those who celebrated them:
Happy (late) Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!