Narcoossee’s Review – by Chuck Blades

Narcoossee’s Review – by Chuck Blades

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Narcoossee’s is a signature restaurant located right on 7 Seas Lagoon in the Grand Floridan. Narcoossee’s is the 2nd most expensive restaurant on Disney property only to Victoria and Albert’s which is also located in the Grand Floridian. With a New England Sea Side atmosphere, and views of Cinderella castle the overall atmosphere at Narcoossee’s is hard to beat!

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Menu

Onto the Food:

The Narcoossee’s menu has a lot of New England seafood influences, this was the first signature restaurant I remember ever going to so it always has a special feeling for me.

This is the first place I ever had mussels so whenever I dine here they are a must order. Tonight they were in a Tomato-White Wine-Saffron Broth, they were pretty good however not as good as they used to be or as good s the Mussels at Flying Fish Cafe. They may not have been as good as I have had in the past still however they were a nice way to start the meal.

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Prince Edward Island Mussels - Tomato-White Wine-Saffron Broth with Chorizo, Shaved Fennel, Red Onion, and Toasted Baquette

The next course is the single most expensive entree in Walt Disney World at $71 dollars you have the Butter-poached Maine Lobster Tail with Grilled Filet Mignon.  At $71 it is steep however the Lobster was fresh cooked perfectly and honestly quite excellent! The Filet was tender, cooked perfectly and also very flavorful. This is an expensive meal however if your looking for a great surf and turf this is hard to beat! They have changed the way they prepare this meal and it has improved substantially! I very much enjoyed this and would rank it right with Flying Fish’s Surf and Turf (not quite as good and $30 more) but still its a great option!

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(This is a half portion generally you get two tails and a larger filet)

Butter-poached Maine Lobster Tail with Grilled Filet Mignon - Roasted Potatoes, Grilled Spring Onions, Velvet Pioppini Mushrooms, and French Green Beans with Herbed Cabernet-Oxtail Sauce and Smoked White Truffle 

After finishing up our entree’s it was time for Dessert! One of my favorite things to order for Dessert is a nice Loose Leaf Tea and I love that Narcoossee’s has press pot tea the presentation is excellent I love “pressing my own tea”

Another all time favorite from Narcoossee’s and one of my favorite desserts in Walt Disney World is the Almond Crusted Cheesecake. I love cheesecake and love almonds so how could you go wrong! The cheesecake is sweet but also light honestly this is the perfect dessert! You can also sit and eat your dessert and watch Wishes if you time it right. If not there is a Deck where you can go out and watch them as well.

The other dessert we ordered was the Narcoossee’s Candy Bar this was very good and very chocolatey it really reminded me of the of the Chocolate Pudding Cake at California Grill. Overall a good dessert but not as good as the cheesecake.

DSC_0403Press Pot Individual Loose Leaf Tea

DSC_0404Almond Crusted Cheesecake - finished with Lambert Cherry Sauce

DSC_0407Narcoossee’s Candy Bar - Dark chocolate-mocha bar with house-made guanaja chocolate gelato

Wishes:

One of my favorite parts of Narcoossee’s is its incredible views of Wishes! Check out some of our photos!

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Rating:

Atmosphere: 10 – The restaurant is incredibly beautiful and the views of Cinderella Castle and Wishes just make this restaurant fantastic! This is my 2nd favorite spot to watch Wishes in Walt Disney World only to California Grill

Service: 7.5 – The service was good, she was efficient and satisfactory. But honestly that was it she didn’t really care to talk with us and seemed very professional. Her lack of personality is the reason she didn’t score higher again not that she was bad just not great.

Food: 8 – Like the service everything here was very good however it wasn’t incredible. I love the almond cheesecake and the press pot tea but the mussels were a little below average. I enjoyed the Surf and Turf but at $71 it is quite pricy. For me Narcoossee’s is a perfect restaurant to sit at the bar grab dessert and watch Wishes.

Overall Score: 8.5 – Narcoossee’s scores a solid BA its not as good as some other Signature restaurants in Walt Disney World but its also far superior to many other restaurants. I put this restaurant in the same category as Artist Point a solid consistent restaurant never going to blow you away but never going to be terrible. When you can sit and watch Wishes from here eating that amazing Almond Cheesecake and drinking Press Pot Tea life couldn’t get much better!

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Yak and Yeti Review – by Chuck Blades

Yak and Yeti is located in Animal Kingdom Park, it is owned by Landry’s the same company that owns other restaurants in Walt Disney World like T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe however I think Yak and Yeti is a much better restaurant than its other Landry’s counterparts.

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When Animal Kingdom was first built it was really lacking table service food options, I can remember seeing signs for Yak and Yeti and I was incredibly excited to see a new restaurant in Animal Kingdom I was hoping that the new restaurant would have good food and continue to fit into the wonderful theming of Animal Kingdom *spoiler alert* I think it fits perfectly!

Atmosphere:

The story of Yak and Yeti is that it is a quaint village home that’s been turned into a restaurant. According to Disney Yak and Yeti “At the base of Expedition Everest, decorated with the souvenirs collected by the proprietor and his family on their travels through Southeast Asia, Yak & Yeti Restaurant serves favorite dishes from regions across Asia.”

I absolutely love the atmosphere at Yak and Yeti and think its Landry’s best, its not loud or gaudy like T-Rex but it still has a unique feel that you can’t get anywhere else!

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Onto the Food:

Yak and Yeti has a Pan Asian Menu – with some traditional influences like burgers and fries for your average theme part attendee.

I love the Asian influences so I tend to order something every trip that is distinctly Asian, my favorite appetizer on the Menu is the Dim Sum Basket for TWO I have never had Dim Sum anywhere else however I always really enjoy it here. The presentation of the dim sum is fun and it always tastes great!

DSCN1171 DSCN1173Dim Sum Basket for Two - Pork pot stickers, shrimp siu mai, cha su bao, and pork sie mai steamed on a banana leaf, soy lime dipping sauce 

For my entree I always go to the exact same thing… the … Kobe Beef Burger! I believe this is the best burger on Disney Property! It is always excellent! Juicy, flavorful you can tell the beef is high quality! I have eaten burgers all over Disney World after trying this one I stopped going anywhere else for burgers this one is simply the best!DSCN1180

Kobe Beef Burger - 10 oz grilled American Kobe beef burger, sesame-soy sauce, mayonnaise, crispy shoestring fries. topped with choice of shiitake mushroom & scallion compote or Asian slaw

Like the Burger I always end up eating the same thing for Dessert on every trip the Fried Wontons! How an fried cream cheese wontons with vanilla ice cream and honey over the top be a bad thing! These may not be good for you however they are superb! They are extremely sweet so I recommend sharing unless your a complete pig…. Okay I don’t share but I recommend you do! They are really outstanding!

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Fried Wontons - Skewers of fresh pineapple and cream cheese wontons, vanilla ice cream, honey vanilla drizzle

Rating:

Atmosphere: 9 – The atmosphere is the best part of the restaurant it fits in perfectly with the incredible theming of Animal Kingdom which in my option is the best Themed Park in the entire United States. It is not a fine dining restaurant by any means however the atmosphere is fun!

Service: 8 – I have never had bad service here they are not Disney employees however you would not know it they are efficient friendly and professional everything you would want in a waiter or waitress.

Food: 8 – How can you beat a good burger and fried cream cheese wontons! Again not fine dining but Yak and Yeti has some very good food!

Overall Score: 8 – Yak and Yeti may be my favorite theme park restaurant in Walt Disney World! I love the atmosphere and the food and service area always very good as well. Honestly I have been guilty of going to Animal Kingdom just because of this restaurant!

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The Wave Review – by Chuck Blades

The Wave Review – by Chuck Blades

The Wave is located in Lobby of The Contemporary Resort. It is a perfect location as it is within walking distance from the Magic Kingdom as well as right on the monorail loop! The Wave is a 1 table service credit on the Disney Dining plan and 1 of three table service restaurants in The Contemporary (check out our California Grill Review).

The restaurants menu focuses on Fresh Local ingredients, one of my favorite restaurants in my Local Hometown has a similar “theme” so I was looking giving The Wave a try!

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Generally we check into all of our reservations at Disney 15 – 30 minutes early on this evening the restaurant was running a little behind so we sat at the bar for a little while before our table was ready. I have to say I was really impressed with the bartenders and the overall atmosphere here. It was dark “hip” honestly I could have been anywhere I really felt like I had escaped from Disney and I was only a 10 minute walk to the Magic Kingdom!

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After sitting at the Bar for about 45 minutes it was time for our meal. The Dining room itself was very sterol compared to the Bar, it was extremely loud and full of screaming children a little disappointing and 100% different than the bar however I was still hopeful that the food would make up for the poor atmosphere. I did like these little chandlers though!

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Onto the Food:

Bread Service – The Bread Service was your standard Disney Bread service nothing special…

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I debated between the Seared Lamb Chops and the Herb-salt Seasoned Beef Tenderloin, the waitress suggested the Lamb so I obliged. The lamb was very good! The vegetables and were fresh, lamb was cooked perfectly, and the risotto was excellent! I was absolutely blown away with this dish! For 1 meal credit on the Dining Plan this was better than some entrees at Signature Restaurants! The other people at my table ordered the Filet so I was to try it and the waitress was correct in recommending the Lamb Chops the filet was good but it was your standard tenderloin something you can get anywhere really just with a higher price tag.

DSCN1704Seared Lamb Chops - Dijon reduction, toasted summer risotto with wild rice and vegetable of the moment

DSCN1706Herb-salt Seasoned Beef Tenderloin - tomato-green bean salad with Cypress Grove Creamery Lamb Chopper Cheese and citrus-herb butter

For Dessert the wave specializes in different Trio’s they change often so I will not comment on mine specifically however it was just okay I personally would skip the dessert and go up to the Contempo Cafe and grab a Cupcake for dessert instead! I did order a loose leaf tea however that was very nice not very many 1 credit restaurants have loose leaf tea it was a nice touch!

DSCN1712Dessert Trio

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Loose Leaf Tea

Rating:

Atmosphere: Restaurant itself 6 – Bar 8 – I honestly would recommend coming to The Wave and just sitting at the Bar. You can order the entire menu and the atmosphere is a lot better than in the restaurant itself!

Service: 7.5 She was average did what she was asked filled refills however nothing more, nothing less either so she gets a solid C

Food: 8 The Lamb Chops were very good but that was the only thing I really enjoyed, however seeing as it was the main course it carried the entire meal scoring an 8!

Overall Score: 7.5 The Wave had some hits and some misses I love the atmosphere at the Bar and the Lamb Chops were excellent however the desserts were pedestrian and the atmosphere of the restaurant itself was lacking! My suggestion would be to go to the bar order a drink and try the lamb that would be a great evening!

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Port Orleans French Quarter Overview – by Chuck Blades

Port Orleans French Quarter Overview – by Chuck Blades

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Port Orleans French Quarter sits on the banks of the Sassagoula River, it is Walt Disney World’s smallest Moderate Resort and is themed after The New Orleans French Quarter. With bright colors, beautiful landscape and boat transportation to Downtown Disney I had high hopes for The French Quarter.

Port Orleans has bus transportation to every Disney Park and overall it is fairly efficient because it is very close to the majority of the parks! It is not as convent as say Beach Club or the Polynesian however it is a lot less expensive.

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Boat Dock – Boat Provides Transportation to both Downtown Disney and Port Orleans Riverside

Port Orleans has a wide variety of recreational activities like renting boats to travel on the Sassagoula River!

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Recreational Activities  Sassagoula River

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Port Orleans – French Quarter only has one major Dining Option Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory. It has a very bold bright atmosphere with many larger than life statues and other elements. Its menu is pretty standard however it has beignets!!! Beignets are fried dessert covered in powdered sugar, they are made fresh to order everyday at the French Quarter!

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Beignets!!!

In 2012 Port Orleans French Quarter went though a large Room Renovation. This was much needed  as the older rooms still had double beds verses Queen Beds as well as a very dated decor. The new rooms are are lot nicer than the older rooms however they are still not nearly as nice as Port Orleans Riverside’s rooms and they are still lacking. The beds are comfortable however not spectacular. We actually had some major problems with the air conditioning as well as bugs in the room that may have led to our feelings about the room.

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Overall:

There are a lot of positives about French Quarter, from the small layout to the bright colors, beautiful atmosphere, boat transportation and beignets! However the food options are below average seeing as French Quarter is the only Moderate Resort not to have a Table Service restaurant and the Quick Service Location is just average (not including the beignets)! The rooms are nicer than the were before its renovation however they are still not as nice as other Moderates in Particular Port Orleans Riverside and Coronado Springs. “Mousekeeping” was not at all up to par here and to be honest the entire resort’s service as lacking when compared to other Disney Resort’s! Generally I would say service at Walt Disney World is a 8 or 9 out of ten and to be honest between the poor cleaning and overall resort service I would say it was only about a 6 this entire week!

Rating:

My score for Port Orleans French Quarter is a 6.5 / 10

The Resort itself is quaint and very pretty however its lacking in food options and its rooms are not nearly as nice as other moderate resorts.  We experienced very poor housekeeping and overall poor service throughout the entire resort! I personally would suggest staying at Port Orleans Riverside before staying at French Quarter.

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Port Orleans Riverside Review – by Chuck Blades

Port Orleans Riverside Overview – by Chuck Blades

Port Orleans Riverside sits on the banks of the Sassagoula river. Port Orleans Riverside used to be named Dixie Landings however it changed to Port Orleans Riverside in 2001. Port Orleans has two distinct sections Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend. The Story goes that Port Orleans French Quarter is “New Orleans” as you walk down the path to Riverside you pass mansions the farther you go the less grand the mansions are and eventually you end up in Alligator Bayou! The theming of this resort is really beautiful and I believe it is by far the nieces moderate resort in Walt Disney World!

  Riverside has many features that set it apart from the other Moderate Resorts in Walt Disney World. From boat service to Downtown Disney which is especially helpful during the weekends when parking is crazy downtown! As well as fishing, carriage rides and of course Yehaa Bob Jackson a wonderful entertainer that can ONLY be seen at Port Orleans Riverside this resort is really the best value in Walt Disney World!

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The resort really is incredibly beautiful from the Magnolia Bend Mansions to the Alligator Bayou every piece of this resort is themed and very well maintained!

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Port Orleans Riverside has a couple of Dining Options Boatwright’s a table service restaurant as well al the Riverside Mill Food court a quick service dining location. Both of these serve up pretty good food not world class by any means but both are very convent options.

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By far the best building at Port Orleans Riverside is Building number 14 in the Alligator’s Bayou it costs around $10 per night more than a standard room but its well worth it you are literally a 3 minute walk to both the main building as well as the bus stop. The rooms were renovated in 2012 and they were done extremely well they are incredibly beautiful! I love all of the nods in the Room to Princess and The Frog one of Disney’s Best movies! I have always experienced exceptional “housekeeping” at Port Orleans Riverside as well! I mean look at the towel animals below!

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Overall:

There are a lot of positives about Riverside from the beautiful layout, boat transportation to downtown Disney and Beautiful rooms riverside really is fantastic! On top of all of the wonderful things listed Riverside has pretty good food options with Boatwright’s and Riverside Mill Food Court! They also have an amazing amount of recreational activities and you cannot beat the entertainment provided by Yehaa Bob Jackson!

Rating:

My score for Port Orleans Riverside is a 9 / 10

Port Orleans Riverside is absolutely beautiful from the rooms to the resorts overall atmosphere it is incredibly well themed! I have always experienced fantastic service throughout the entire resort as well, from housekeeping to the Concierge and Check in Desk and even in the restaurants everything has been pretty superb at Port Orleans Riverside! This is far and away our favorite Moderate Resort and one of our favorite resorts in all of Walt Disney World.

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Top 5 Disney World Steak’s – by Chuck Blades

Top 5 Disney World Steak’s

Walt Disney World has a wide variety of restaurants, rides, resorts, shows one of my favorite things that Walt Disney World has a lot of is…. Steak! Who doesn’t love a big cut of tender, flavorful beef! I have had steaks all around Walt Disney World which lead me to create a list naming my favorites!

*Honorable Mention 12oz Premium Filet Minion – Shula’s Steakhouse – Dolphin Hotel

How can you go wrong with a 12oz wet aged SHULA CUT®, this is a great piece of meat tender flavorful if your looking for a traditional piece of steak this is what your looking for. It comes without any sides just the meat itself no fat just a plain piece of beef!

(Forgive me for the photo quality Shula’s is a very dark restaurant)

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#5 12oz Char Crusted New York Strip – Flying Fish Cafe’ – Boardwalk Resort 

This New York Strip is excellent! So good in fact Chef Tim refuses to tell who his supplier – rumor has it that its a local meat company but who actually knows! This Strip is Char Crusted which adds to the excellent flavor, however this steak is not overcooked ever! I have ordered this dish with my grandfather who was very hesitant to order the Strip because of the char crust fearing it would be overcooked and flavorless I assured him it wouldn’t be an of course I was right! This steak always comes out how its ordered (Medium rare the correct way to order a steak)! On top of the great steak I wholeheartedly recommend the Truffle Laced Mac and Cheese it is superb and together this dish is wonderful!

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#4 7oz Oak Grilled Filet Minion - With South African Red Wine Sauce and White Cheddar macaroni and Cheese  - Jiko the Cooking Place Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House 

This filet is no longer on the menu with the Mac and Cheese and Red wine however it can be requested and it should! Every time I’ve had this dish it has been excellent. Normally you would not think of Mac and Cheese with a Filet however this is not your average mac and cheese by any means! It is a little sharp and the red wine is a little dry but the combination of them with the steak leads to absolute perfection!

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#3 7oz Oak-fired Filet of Beef with Heirloom Tomato Risotto and Tomato Butter –        California Grill Contemporary Resort 

This steak has only been on the menu for a few moths. In the past California Grill had a Filet with a Teriyaki BBQ Glaze. It was always well received but I never got the hype, this filet however is a completely different story! Chef Brian the head Chef at California Grill created the ever popular Filet Minion with Truffle butter and Mushroom Risotto at Le Cellier Steakhouse. In my honest opinion I think this filet tops that one! Making the new California Grill Filet the best Filet on Disney Property!

Oak Grilled Filet of Beef

Filet with the Risotto

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“Original” Filet with Teriyaki BBQ Glaze

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Le Cellier Filet with wild mushroom risotto and white truffle butter sauce

#2 Dry Aged 22oz Bone-in Ribeye - wild mushroom risotto and white truffle butter sauce       Le Cellier Steakhouse – Canada Pavilion Epcot

Savory, Succulent, and Scrumptious are the three things I think of when I think of this steak! This steak is seasoned perfectly and dry aged to perfection! This steak doesn’t normally come with the risotto and truffle butter (these are generally reserved for the Filet) however if you ask they will add them to the ribeye! The combination of these three parts is incredible! I will never forget my first bite of this steak it is absolutely exquisite! It was very very hard for my not to put this as my number 1 so you know that the #1 steak must be amazing!

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#1 28-oz Dry Aged Porterhouse - Yachtsman Steakhouse – Yacht Club Resort

When you think of a steak you think of big juicy, tender, flavorful amazingness and this is what you get when you order the Porterhouse at Yachtsman Steakhouse! When you order a Porterhouse you get both the Tenderloin and a Strip both of these are dripping with flavor when you cut into this steak!  This steak is incredibly large however I couldn’t help but eat it all! Every bite was fantastic! If you are a true carnivore or someone in your party is then this is the Steak to order!

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So there you have it my Top 5 Disney World Steaks!

Do you agree or Disagree have you had any of these?? Comment below or connect with us by using the links below!

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Sarai’s Favorite Vacation Memories

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My favorite family vacation by far is Disney World. Seeing the wonder and amazement in my childrens eyes when they see their favorite Disney charters is priceless. To be able to give Bell a hug or high five Mickey is an amazing thing. Around every corner is something new to see or ride. We loved everything from the tea cups at Magic Kingdom to the Rockin roller coaster at Hollywood studios.

All of the Disney parks have fun things that we all enjoyed very much and just could not get enough of. We were dancing in the streets at the Hollywood studios parade and in awe over the night time firework show and parade at Magic Kingdom.

Disney has so much to offer and we loved so many things that it is hard to pick a favorite thing. I can tell you that we loved the shows at Hollywood studios and Epcot. We also loved the family rides that we could all get on even with our 2 year old. But, if my husband had to pick his favorite it would be the tower of terror and mine is the Rockin Roller coaster. My girls would rattle off a full list including the Haunted Mansion, Dumbo, The Safari tour, and the list goes on and on. I loved that a smile never left our faces while were visiting the parks.

Disney has wonderful park hotels. We fell in love with the atmosphere of the hotel. It was slayed back and fun. The pools are great and very large and very family friendly. The rooms are clean and fun. The girls loved the fun décor in our room and hotel.

We had lots of great food on our trip. We always could find something that everyone would like to eat no matter where we were at. We loved the character restraunts were the girls could get some one on one time with their favorite characters. I loved taking the girls for a taste around the world at Epcot. We were able to have a few snacks and meals at the different countries. It was a fun was for the girls to get to see a glimpse of what another Culture is like.

 

By far this is one of our must do again trips as our family gets older. Every different age you get to take something different away from the wonderful parks that Disney has to offer. Besides I still need to get my hug from one of my favorite Disney princess Pocahontas.

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Nikki’s Favorite Vacation Memories

Nikki’s Top 5 Disney Vacation Memories

How do I narrow it down to just five favorites?

5.  First trip to Walt Disney World: My parents took us to Disney when I was in 4th Grade and memories from that family trip created the foundation for my love of all things Disney!  I still remember walking down Main Street USA and being blown away by Magic Kingdom.  I especially loved riding Dumbo and the Teacups.  Taking my four year-old sister on Space Mountain is a family story we still laugh about years later.  I distinctly remember having a great quick service dinner in EPCOT’s Mexico before watching those amazing fireworks!  These are just some of the memories I looked forward to recreating for my own children.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

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4.  Experiencing WDW with our Moms:  Two separate trips, one with each of our Moms.  Our kids absolutely LOVED sharing their favorite parts of WDW with Grandma and Nana!  Watching my Mom ride Dumbo with my girls and get excited to see characters with them was truly special.  Our girls still talk about how cool it was to have a room together, my husband and I also enjoyed some alone time in the parks.  There is nothing like being at WDW with the people you love most!

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3.  The trip that I didn’t have to worry about taking pictures:  Last February we spent 3 days at WDW and indulged in the Memory Maker.  Totally worth it!  I felt like I was on a scavenger hunt to find Disney photographers to capture every available moment.  If you walk along the “main” street of each park, you will eventually find a couple who have fun props.  When you take pictures during the day, be sure to ask if they can add some “magic” and you can find Tinkerbelle or Simba in your hands!  We got pics on rides, with characters, and the ever-important pic of my oldest daughter “holding up” the EPCOT ball.  We had a blast!  It was nice to be in a few pictures and know that there will be good ones.  The best part was downloading every picture when we got home.  These people know how to make us look good!

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2.  Cinderella’s Royal Table: The first time we brought our daughter to WDW, we were with dear friends, who insisted that we try Cinderella’s Royal Table.  The price freaked me out, but I caved-in to peer pressure and went for it; now it is one of my favorite memories of Disney Vacations.  I feel the need to note that I was 6 or 7 months pregnant and a tad sentimental at every attraction I remembered from childhood; there were many happy tears on this trip!  I was not prepared for the Royal Table treatment.  We were called in, took a picture with Cinderella herself, and then whisked up to a gorgeous dining room where we enjoyed a fantastic meal.  Grace was dressed as Cinderella and it was a photographer’s dream each time a princess came to our table.  She was delighted at every princess.  She asked for autographs, hugged, and talked candidly with each one.  I was so impressed with how the princesses stayed in Character, for example, Jasmine was at our table and Grace asked where Sleeping Beauty was; without missing a beat, Jasmine launched into a story about how Aurora was off with Prince Phillip, after enjoying a long nap.  My other favorite memory from this meal is the wishing ceremony.  Each child was given a wand and a wishing star.  The lights went low, and the Fairy Godmother spoke about the power of magic and wishes.  Grace closed her eyes to wish and waved her wand over the star.  When her eyes opened, she found glitter in the air and Snow White at her side, helping her with her wish.  I was moved to tears.  It was a really beautiful moment.  We have been lucky enough to go back with Grace and her little sister, Sophia.  It has lived up to our memory each time.

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1.  Sailing one the Disney Magic:  When I spoke to my family about this blog entry, everyone mentioned the Disney Cruise, and for different reasons.  My husband insisted that I mention his favorite part was every single meal.  He loved ordering multiple appetizers and entrées in the fantastic restaurants.  Grace, age 10, says her favorite going on the Aqua Dunk with her best friend, Gavin.   Sophia, age 6, says it was hanging out in the Kid’s Club with her sister, buddies, and the awesome staff.  She still talks about staff members Matt and Brittany.  The kids felt like MVPs every time they walked into the kids’ spaces.  My favorite memories are harder to pin down.  I loved having my family and dear friends all in one place.  It was the most relaxing family vacation we’ve ever had.  There was something to make everyone happy, which is all this Mama wants.  My personal favorites were playing Bingo with the family and doing the Bingo Boogie!  I also loved the adult spaces and relaxing time I spent with my husband and friends.    Our family’s combined favorite DCL memory: Castaway Cay!  This gorgeous island is everything you’d imagine Disney’s private island to be.  Hanging on the beach and cheering for Bob and Grace as they ran a 5K was amazing.  If only Disney had a resort on Castaway Cay…

Jan’s Favorite Vacation Memories

Top 5 Vacation Experiences By Jan Kiino

As I began thinking about what I felt were my top 5 vacation experiences, I realized how blessed I am to have so many experiences to choose from. Here is what I came up with~

1

~Polynesian Cultural Center-

Taking our first trip to the Hawaiian Islands was so exciting, and we wanted to learn as much as we could about this amazing place. Our first stop was Oahu. On our first full day we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center. From what we had read, this sounded like a great way to begin our Hawaiian adventure, and educate ourselves on the cultures of Polynesia.

We visited each of the simulated tropical villages that included Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, Marquesas Islands, and Aotearoa (New Zeeland) and watched as performers demonstrated arts, crafts, food, dance, and games of each of these cultures.

There was a canoe pageant with colorful, traditional costumes, music, and signature dances that showcased each of the Polynesian cultures. I thought this water-borne show was spectacular.

This full day experience helped us gain an understanding and appreciation for these Polynesian cultures, and was a great beginning to our trip.

5

~Old Lahaina Luau-

One must, on a trip to Hawaii, is to attend a luau. We chose the Old Lahaina Luau, which is regarded as Hawaii’s best luau. What a great choice we made! As you enter the grounds, you are served mai tais or fruit punch as you wait to be seated. You are then greeted by one of the luau hosts with a lei, and led to your assigned seating. There is a choice of traditional (on the ground) seating or chair seating.

The oceanfront grounds are modeled after an old fashioned village. There are areas for demonstrations and participation in games, hula dancing, crafts, and the Imu pit. All guests are encouraged to participate in the activities and to gather to watch the unearthing of the Imu.

There is an amazing buffet filled with traditional Hawaiian foods such as Kalua Pua’a (pork roasted in the Imu), Ahi Poke, Lomi-Lomi Salmon, Maui style Mahi-Mahi, and Laulau (pork wrapped in Lu’au leaf), and poi.

The show is filled with music and hula that takes you on a musical journey and tells the history of Hawaii and its people. This was certainly one of my favorite experiences.

2

~Day Visit to Maui and Classroom-

My husband and I had made a trip to Hawaii and had spent a few days in Oahu and the remainder of our trip was spent on the Big Island of Hawaii. On the last day of our trip, I took a communter flight to Maui where I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the day in a first grade classroom. I am a first grade teacher, and my students

had ben pen pals with this first grade class at Kamehameha School all year. The classroom teacher and I had been having our classes write for many years, and still do. I have met and visited with her each year we visit Maui. On this visit, she invited me to spend a day in her classroom. What a treat! I got a first-hand look at this wonderful, prestigious school that is designed to educate the children of Hawaii. The commuter flight with locals, and the day spent in the classroom made this a truly memorable experience.

4

~West Maui Treasures-

The summer of 2013 was memorable because we took our entire family to Maui. We had a great time with many wonderful activities and adventures. One day, we decided to go exploring along West Maui’s Highway 30. We decided to hike out to the Olivine Pools and Nakalele Blowhole.

The Olivine Pools are natural lava pools ensconced in an ancient lava shelf. We were able to see and carefully walk around all kinds of sea life in the pools. From here we decided to travel about five miles back toward Lahaina, and hike to the Nakalele Blowhole.

This was quite an interesting hike. We climbed down huge boulders to see the blowhole that was 205 feet below us. The landscape here is amazing and the blowhole was shooting every few seconds. It was a very different look at this tropical paradise we love so much.

3

~Disney World-

I think my top vacation experience is from years ago when our daughters were small. It was the first time that we took them to

Disney World. I had been to Disney so often as a teenager and loved it, I knew I wanted to share it with my daughters. Taking our children to a place I loved so much, and seeing that it was as magical for them as it was for me, touched my heart. Our favorite attractions included, It’s A Small World and The Haunted Mansion. Watching the girl’s faces as they saw Cinderella’s Castle for the first time, was priceless.

I loved the opportunity for a trip down vacation lane, and although it was difficult to choose, those are my top 5 vacation experiences. So far that is. Who knows what this next year may bring!

I would love to help you make some wonderful vacation experiences. Please contact me for a free quote.

jan@goofygetaways.com

269-330-4777

Chuck’s Top 5 Vacation Memories

Top 5 Vacation Memories

Throughout the years I have been fortunate to have experienced some incredible vacations however my favorites have always been involved with Disney. From spending Christmas in Animal Kingdom to my first Disney Cruise and so many more I have been extremely blessed to have had Disney in my life for so many years!

Now without further ado My top 5 Disney Vacation Memories!

#5 First visit to Narcoossee’s for Gavin’s Birthday

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For my little brothers 8th birthday we decided we were going to do a trip to Walt Disney World we were going with my Grandparents, my Aunt and Uncle and their two children.To celebrate my brothers birthday we wanted to do a nice dinner. We decided that one of the fanciest restaurants in Walt Disney World Narcoossee’s would fit the bill!!

The meal itself was a lot of fun! We had great service, food was above average and the meal itself was uneventful it was just a regular meal with fantastic views in an amazing place…

However that was about to change… Just as we were getting ready to leave my cousin who was 14 at the time went to go get his mothers ECV as he was heading back with it vehicle we heard a loud THUD and if I remember correctly someone even yelled… Yes he had run into someone sitting at the bar… right in the middle of one of Disney’s most upscale restaurants…I was absolutely mortified at the time however looking back I can’t help but smile. It seemed like such a big deal but nobody was injured (the guy started whining and I believe he received a free meal) but in actuality it was not a major problem at all.

The meal itself was fun seeing at it was my brothers birthday and I had a view of Cinderella’s castle from my seat but really the thing that made it was family bonding time. I was able to laugh at my family and it gave the entire evening a different mood. I’m sure the waitstaff was ready to have us leave the restaurant and for a couple years there was even a sign saying “No ECV’s up this ramp” (it is gone now) But now every time we bring up Narcoossee’s I can’t help but think about my cousin running into some guy on my brothers 8th birthday… It is a running joke with our family and I can’t help but laugh about it. I have had many experiences at Disney but for whatever reason spending the evening with my family and having my cousin run into someone in the middle of Narcoossee’s ranks #5!

 #4- First Time on Castaway Cay

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Whenever someone asks me where is paradise I can’t help but think of Castaway Cay! The island itself if beautiful and incredibly magical! I had seen it featured on a million TV specials, on the TV’s throughout the Cruise ship and so many other websites and such that I was incredibly excited to visit Castaway Cay!

To start the day I was one of the first people off of the ship, with my camera in hand I ran across the island like a mad man, snapping photos of restaurants, beaches, palm trees, cast members, my family and so much more! The island was better than anything I could have imagined it is the magic of Disney in the middle of the ocean it was truly paradise! Once settling down from all of my running across the island I met my family for lunch at Cookies BBQ buffet we had an awesome meal again I took many photo’s and then my little brother and I rented bikes and rode around the island. I can quite honestly say spending this time exploring the island with my brothers was one of the best moments of my entire life! I mean how blessed am I to have been able to experience paradise with one of the most important people in my life. Once we finished this we hung out at the beach for a little longer and then went back onto the ship with the rest of the family.

My first visit to Castaway Cay was honestly one of the best days of my entire life. Castaway Cay was incredibly beautiful and I recommend for every Disney fan to visit this place at least one time in their life! The island is in my opinion the most magical place on earth! (Sorry Magic Kingdom but Mickey’s Island is even better than Cindy’s Castle)

#3 Animal Kingdom Lodge – First Time 

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As I was trying to narrow my list down to 5 favorite memories my first visit to Animal Kingdom lodge kept creeping up in my memory. My First visit is one of my first (if not my first) memory of Walt Disney World.

I just remember walking into Animal Kingdom Lodge for the first time. The lobby was breathtaking and it seemed massive! The resort had only been open for a few weeks when I had the change to stay there and it was honestly the coolest place I had ever stayed. From the lobby and the service to the food at Boma everything was simply amazing! However my favorite memory is when we went into our room opened our curtains stepped out onto our balcony and had 4 giraffes standing there 25 feet away!!! I will honestly always remember standing there with my mouth wide open! This was going to be our view for the next few days! I was literally the luckiest kid in the entire world! I can remember my parents having to force me to leave the balcony to head to dinner because I loved it so much. I can remember just sitting out and playing with my action figures looking at all of the amazing animals.

This memory is always special to me because I will never have another “first memory of Disney” this memory is special and something I so thankful for. I try and take a trip to Animal Kingdom on every vacation and love to show it to friends or family when they are traveling with us. Everything about this resort just feels like home to me!

#2 September 21st 2013 / Dapper Day at Hollywood Studios and California Grill 

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Over the years I have had some incredible experiences in Walt Disney World however September 21st was honestly the best! It is hard for me to say anything in life is perfect but I could not have imagined anything to make this night better! To start out the evening my and my very dear friend Lauren went to Dapper Day its an event that was held at Hollywood Studios where everyone dresses up like the mid 1900′s! We had an absolute blast and it was a nice “appetizer” for the rest of the evening.

Following Dapper Day we headed to the newly renovated California Grill. As soon as we stepped off of the elevator I knew we were in for a real treat! With beautiful decor inspired by Mary Blair and views of all of Walt Disney World California Grill is a special restaurant! We were celebrating my birthday so the waitstaff surprised us with a table with views of Cinderella Castle! We had a 4 hour meal and literally didn’t have to get up once we sat there as we received near 10 courses with some incredible Sushi, Desserts and so much more! To top the evening off we were able to watch Wishes from our seats! The food was fantastic quite possibly the best meal I’ve ever had in Walt Disney World and the views were phenomenal! However the thing that made this evening my #2 vacation experience was my was my wonderful company I could not have asked for a better person to spend the evening with and look forward to the many experiences we will have as time goes on!

#1 Palo Dinner

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As I was getting down to my last couple choices I was really struggling with where to put what any of my last few could have been interchangeable however my favorite memory is my very first visit to Palo on the Disney Magic!

Family is something that is extremely important to me so I was struggling with what to rank my #1 memory I wanted to put something that I shared with my entire family however after going back and forth I couldn’t help but think about my meal at Palo I was able to experience with my parents in March on the Disney Magic…

It is hard to say anything is perfect (like I said above) but I really cannot see how anything could top the experience we had (except maybe a Disney Proposal or wedding my child’s first trip or something of that magnitude) from the moment we walked into the restaurant we were treated like celebrities, we were greeted by the maître d’ and our waiter who said oh I’ve been waiting for you (we were right on time if not a little early) but because we were staying concierge we were one of his only tables! He introduced himself and told us we were in for a treat. He was not kidding! The restaurant itself was incredibly beautiful with views of the open kitchen as well as the open ocean it was spectacular honestly something you would see in a movie on top of that we were seated directly in the middle of the restaurant! It was honestly the best table providing views of the kitchen and the ocean! Halfway through the meal we even had our concierge come up and join us to check in on the meal and make sure we had no complaints. It made me feel incredibly special honestly like a celebrity! Following our main course as we were waiting for our dessert the Head Chef came over and asked how we liked our meal we gave him our greatest compliments, he stood there and talked to us for 30 minutes! At a certain point I was worried about the kitchen but he insisted that it was alright he trusted his sous chef’s! I am a foodie myself and I also love other cultures so to have to opportunity to speak with a famous chef from Italy was sooooo cool!

As you can see I loved this meal and will go to Palo every time I am on the Disney Magic! This memory will be hard to top because of the level of service we received as well as the food and overall atmosphere!

As I finish up this blog it makes me feel incredibly thankful for the experiences that I have had throughout the years. I am very blessed and cannot wait to have more experiences! In the next year I have trips planed on Disney Cruise Line, a stay at the Contemporary a birthday celebration and more! I can’t wait to see how this list changes over the years and look forward to sharing it with you guys!

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