Which Disney Dining Plan is right for you?

If you have been or are planning to go on a DisneyWorld vacation I’m sure you have heard all about the Dining plan option. This may seem like a good idea when booking, it may even seem like a deal. But is it really a deal, and is the dining plan worth it for you and your family? And which Dining plan is the right one for your family. To start off let’s look at the basic dining plan options:(all prices listed are for 2017)

Quick service plan $48.19 per adult: With this plan you get 2 quick service credits and 2 snack credits. A quick service is a place such as Cosmic Ray’s or Casey’s corner in the Magic Kingdom. These are usually quicker Dining experiences with a  lower quality menu and usually not a sit down Dining. Usually order it at a kiosk type location and pick the food up yourself. You also receive 1 Resort refillable mug.

Regular Dining plan $69.35: With this plan you get 1 quick service credit, 1 table service credit, 2 snacks and 1 refillable resort mug. A table service credit is good for a meal at designated sit down style restaurants and buffets. Places such as Chef Mickey’s, Coral Reef on Epcot and O’hana’s in the Polynesian are valid table services.

Signature Dining Plan $106.68: this plan give you 3 table service credits, 2 snacks and a refillable resort mug. With this plan you can use 2 table service credits to use for the phenomenal signature restaurants throughout WDW such as Narcoosees and Citricos in the Grand Floridian or the California Grille atop the Contemporary. These are more formal Dining experiences than the normal table service restaurants. With those you just get an entree, non alcoholic drink and a dessert. At the signature restaurants you get an appetizer, entree, non alcoholic beverage and a dessert. The menus at the signature restaurants are amazing and the food is top notch. Then you can use the third table service on a regular TS for breakfast or dinner.

Ok, you are probably thinking which one of these is for you? Well I guess it depends on your family’s Disney style. If your family is always on the go and want to do as much in the parks as possible, the quick service plan is probably for you. If you like to take your time sand take breaks from the parks and try other experiences and have a nice sit down meal or character buffet, then maybe the regular plan is for you. Or maybe you are traveling alone as a couple, no children, and want to some of the best Dining experiences available at WaltDisneyWorld, then definitely do the signature plan. You will have access to some4 star restaurants and it is probably the best value of the 3 plans.

One thing to remember is that having the plan, no matter which plan it may be will be a lot of food. After a week of the plan I sometimes don’t want to even think of food, so take that into consideration. Also if you have a plan and need to make ADR’s for your restaurants, you will see that everyday rotates around your dining reservations, so if you plan to have dinner at O’hana’s in the Poly, don’t plan on spending the day at Epcot. It can take a lot of time traveling back and forth, it can take some smart planning, and some may not be bothered which then the quick service would be better.

There are so many things to look at in regards to the dining plans, which is one reason why some people decide to go to Disney vacation planners. But what those planners won’t tell you is that whether or not the Dining plan is worth it at all and if it’s economically the best decision. My post tomorrow will look st that question exactly… Have a magical day!

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Cape May Cafe seafood dinner buffet at the Beach Club review

Located in the lobby of the Beach Club hotel you can find the Cape May Cafe. This restaurant holds an all you care to enjoy breakfast buffet with some great Disney characters, and also holds a seafood clam bake style buffet for dinner which is character free.

This buffet is usually a must do for my clan whenever we stay at the Beach Club, which is most of the time we visit Walt Disney World. But on occasion we will stay at a different DVC resort which makes getting to the Beach Club too great of a chore sometimes. But if we can get there we will. Dining reservations aren’t usually too hard to get for Cape May Cafe but reservations can fill up for the prime dinner hours.

One of the best parts about staying at he Beach Club is walking out to the pool in the evening and walking by the Cape May Cafe and taking in all the aromas from the dinner buffet. If you like seafood then this is for you. Don’t like seafood? Then maybe try a different location, but there are still lots of non seafood offerings at Cape Nay Cafe.

The highlight of the buffet, at least for me, are the crab legs available on the buffet. Now these aren’t king crab legs, but the singleness style, but still very good. If you have the patience to break them Open and clean them then you are on for a tasty treat. There is peel and eat boiled shrimp, depending on he night fried shrimp, mussels and other shell fish.  They have pretty good New England Clam Chowder and other seafood offerings. Also on certain nights there are bbq pork ribs. They have always had them on the buffet only on Wednesday and Saturday, but that schedule has changed to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for them being offered. I just think he ribs are just ok, but other seem to like them and will make reservations for Cape May only on days the ribs are available.

Other offerings on a daily basis Are mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, Mac and cheese, a carving station, an array of salads, fruits, and other seasonal vegetables. For children there is a children’s area with chicken nuggets or tenders, pizza and string beans. They also have an area with a vast assortment of rolls and cornbread which is pretty good.

So there is lots to choose from for those who don’t care for seafood, but this buffet is made for the seafood lovers out there. With the shrimp, crab legs, mussels and other great seafood dishes this buffet is well worth it for you.

 

 

Via Napoli in Epcot, my new must go to Reataurant in DisneyWorld

I am from New Jersey, a short car ride or train ride into the city, and this area has some of the best pizza in all the world outside of Italy. I’ve been all around the country, and no one can beat NY/NJ pizza. So we are pretty serious about our pizza. But I’ll say Via Napoli in Epcot has pizza that can match it, if not surpass it.

A little background of Via Napoli. Almost Everything used in the restaurant is shipped from Naples. The tomatoes, the mozzarella, flour, yeast, everything except the water. Now it’s been a while since I have gotten something other than pizza here, but I assume the pasta, spices are shipped from Naples also. Everything for the pizza is from Italy except for 1 item, the water, and even the water is specially shipped from someplace in Pennsylvania because the ph levels are almost identical and exact to the water used in Napoli. They make sure any small detail is not overlooked(which is a very big thing with Disney).

On our last visit to Via Napoli we had a party of 7, and ordered 2 Large pizza pies, one Margherita and one Pepperoni. First the pepperoni pizza, and this is real pepperoni, not the packaged stuff you see in stores or pizzerias. This was fresh pepperoni, the taste was different and just better than the normal pepperoni you normally get. The crust on the Via Napoli pizza is so light and not heavy like you normally get in the states. The pizza doesn’t feel heavy and sit in your stomach. I really is amazing how light it is and you don’t walk away with a heavy feeling in your stomach, it is quite a good feeling. The sauces on the pizza a very good also, you don’t get a very overbearing flavor from the sauce, they don’t pound the pizza with spices like oregano or and other seasonings. It’s a light flavored sauce that compliments the pizza very well, it doesn’t take over the pizza with flavor.

With the Margherita pizza, it’s your standard Margherita, mozzarella, basil, light on the sauce. Another big diffeeence with normal pizzeria pizza and this pizza is the fact the mozzarella was so much fresher, and was “real” mozzarella. It wasn’t shredded mozzarella your normally see here on the United States. The flavor was quite different and again the mozzarella seemed lighter.

I had maybe four slices of pizza, and walked away not feeling full at all. The crust was thin but not too thin, honestly the thickness was perfect. I didn’t walk around Epcot with a heavy full stomach, it was a great feeling.

There are other entrees to order at Via Napoli, pastas and other Italian enteees and appetizers, but I come mainly for the pizza, and you can feed your family and not spend as much. We had 7 people and paid roughly $70 for everything including tip, $10 a person is pretty good if you ask me.

Next time you go to Walt Disney World make sure you make it a point to get a reservation for Via Napoli, and make sure you do because the restaurant was completely packed for dinner, and from what I can see on the my Disney experience app it is getting harder and harder to find reservations and the popularity of this true Italian pizzaria is growing and it’s not hard to see why

 

My Review of Akershus Breakfast in Epcot

I’ve had people tell me for a while that one of their favorite breakfast meals in Walt Disney World is The Princess breakfast experience at Akershus in Norway at Epcot’s World Showcase. I have never been to Akershus, and with having a 4, almost 5 year old daughter who just loves the Disney princesses I figured now was a good time to try it.

I had an 8:10am reservation, there were EMH starting at 8am for Epcot that morning. Normally at the Magic Kingdom if you have an early morning breakfast reservation they would let you in early to get to your reservation. That was one of the added perks of waking up super early for Crystal Palace until they started letting everyone into Main Street early. At Epcot, they did not let us in early to get to our reservation. Now I’m pretty sure the first reservations were for 8:05, so those people were not allowed in either. My question is, why offer these early ADR’s if you can’t get in the park to get to them? Maybe it was something with EMH’s, or maybe just a one time thing where there was a miscommunication? I am not sure all I know no one was allowed in as we were told “there is no authorization for breakfast reservations to be let in early.”

As we were let in( by the entrance in the UK Pavilion) we had to walk around through Canada, to Mexico and then to Norway and finally arriving at Akershus. Now the problem with being let in all at the same time, is that you had everyone with an 8:05 reservation probably until 8:25 showed up at the same time so there was a very long wait to get in. You also had people who were waiting a while being bypassed by people who had been here a short time making some people very angry. I’d assume it was due to people with earlier ADR’s getting there later. So our 8:10 reservation turned into an 8:45.

Ok so we finally get called and you have to wait in line to have a picture taken with Belle. Me personally had no interest as I just wanted to get in and eat. But, my daughter was excited as a Belle is her favorite princess. It didn’t take too long to get to her. I was very surprised as the cast member who was Belle seemed to be a young teenage girl. She looked no older than 16-17 years old. She as great with my daughter, I was just surprised she seemed so young.

Finally we were seated. Now for your meal, your are brought out a plate served family style consisting of four items, scrambled eggs, a potato casserole, and sausage and bacon. You then have a buffet area with pastries, fresh fruit, and other items such as Norwegian smoked salmon and other local breakfast items. I was pretty disappointed in the breakfast food quality as a whole. The scrambled eggs were bland and just poor quality. The sausage and bacon were ok, but how can you really screw up that? The potato casserole was very good, probably the best item I had. The buffet area had very good fresh fruit, small little munchkin like donut holes, and some good cinnamon rolls which my son and myself inhaled. The other items on the buffet I had no interest it, wasn’t my normal breakfast items, and really just didn’t look appealing.

The princesses came around to each table. You had Snow White, Aerial, sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel come around. My daughter loved it and soaked it all up, my son could care less and refused to take pictures.

So the experience was worth it just for my daughter seeing her so happy and I’m her glory, but I wouldn’t do it again especially for the price tag. Now I guess we were still in the spring break prices, so for an adult it was $45 each, and it was $28 for each of the kids. That pricing is a little ridiculous and really not worth it. It was good to experience it once especially if you have a young daughter who is infatuated with the princesses like my daughter is. But we will not be coming back to Akershus. The food was just average, and we can take pictures with the other princesses other times they are out.

My review of O’hana dinner at the Polynesian

Easily one of my favorite restaurants in all of Walt Disney World is O’hana’s locates in the Polynesian Resort. For years I never wanted to eat here, not sure why that was really but my sister finally talked me into trying this out a few years ago and it is one of my must do restaurants every trip.

O’hana means family, and they treat you like it here, the waiter even calls you “cousin”, well because there you are family. You start off with an Asain slaw served family style. Now it’s been a little while since I’ve been here but it used to be served as a salad which was much better than the slaw. There wasn’t much flavor to the slaw and it was very mediocre, but I didn’t come here for the salad.

Next up is a platter of sweet and sour noodles, coriander chicken wings and pot stickers. They give you 2 separate sauces for dipping, both are very good. The chicken wings are amazing, the sauce on them is phenomenal. The noodles are very good, light sweet flavor on them. The potsticker are lightly fried and dipped in the sweeter of the 2 sauces(my preference) is the way to go.. this is all served family style, and don’t get nervous, O’hana is all you care to enjoy, so if you need more of anything just ask. We went with wings and potstickers, they were so good.

As you are munching on those 3 you have a server come around with three separate grilled items, steak, chicken and shrimp… I am not a big steak fan but the steak is nicely marinated, as are the other 2 meats. The chicken is my favorite, the grilled flavor to it along with the marinade is fantastic. The shrimp would be a lot better if the shell weren’t still on them, but it’s just a little bit of work to get the shell off. Again they will come around again if you want more, but by now you should be getting stuffed.

A good touch is a plate of hot wet towels to clean off your hands from the stickiness of the wings and potstickers, it’s surprisingly comforting.

After all this, you better make some room for the banana pudding dessert with a caramale sauce reduction. I am not a dessert person, I rarely eat dessert so I leave no room for dessert, but my wife, sisters all tell he pudding is the best dessert in Disney… they leave room just for this.

There is a performer playing Island music for entertainment and there are coconut races for the kids during dinner keeping them entertained, also if you have little picky eaters who don’t care for what is offered, they have a kids menu with chicken fingers, Mac and cheese and a few other items that are more kid friendly.

Add all this up plus there is a pretty spectacular view of Cinderella’s Castle makes this my favorite spot to eat at in any park or resort there in Walt Disney World. If you want to eat here, you better make your ADR’s early, reservations go quick here for dinner and are hard to come by. So make sure it’s on your plans and book right at your 180 day mark to make sure you get a reservation for this great restaurant.

 

 

Top Buffets or family style restaurants at Walt Disney World for food quality

One of the things I look forward to the most on my Walt Disney World Vacation is the dining and the dining experiences. Admittedly not every Restaurant at Walt Disney World has the best tasting or quality food. Some have very good quality, and some you are just paying for the atmosphere and experience more so than the average quality food. In this post I am going to look at what I believe are the top 5 TABLE SERVICE buffet style or family style restaurants on property in terms of food quality. If you do not know what a table service is. It is a sit down Restaurant that is worth 1 table service credit if you were on the DDP.  Now this is just my opinion, and you may have different tastes than me, but if you disagree or agree, let me know and leave a comment or tell me on twitter @vacaasistant.

5. Whispering Canyon- I love BBQ, just love it, and Whispering Canyon does a pretty good job at it. They have a pretty good a la carte to choose from for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For lunch and dinner the smoked pulled pork sandwich and the St. Louis style ribs are very good and the Bison Burger was good also. But for lunch and dinner, what I usually get when I am with a group is the all you care to enjoy skillet. For lunch and dinner you get the pulled pork, ribs, roasted chicken with sides like Mashed Yukon Potatoes, corn on the Cobb and baked Beans, all served family style. With dinner you will be served a mixed green salad and corn bread. But best item on the skillet is the western style sausage, this is absolutely amazing and one of my favorite items at any Disney restaurant. Add all this in with the very unique atmosphere and this is a special restaurant, just wait until you need ketchup.

4. Boma(dinner)- This all you care to enjoy buffet located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge is a real hidden gem. Animal Kingdom Lodge is a little out of the way so some don’t bother trying this place out. Well, get on a shuttle or get in your car and head over to Boma.

Like I said I am a real big fan of BBQ, and Boma had very good BBQ ribs and chicken. The thing that really makes these items is the BBQ sauce they have at Boma. I’m not sure if it’s cinnamon or coriander or whatever it is in the sauce, but it was very good and nothing like I have tasted before.

Another unique quality about Boma is the vast array of salads and soups offered. These give you very unique mixture of flavors that you don’t see offered in regular restaurants.

There are other meats and vegetables offered on the buffet which are cooked and seasoned in conjunction with the flavors of Africa. This buffet will truly be a unique experience for your taste buds.

3. Cape May Cafe(Dinner)- Cape May Cafe is located in my home DVC Resort the Beach Club. Themed after a New England/Cape Cod style clam bake, this buffet is a must do for all seafood lovers. Now, I am not the biggest seafood lover out there, but one thing I do love is crab legs, and you can find steamed crab legs every night. You can also find peel and eat shrimp, mussels, clams, and fried shrimp. Also you have steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, fresh rolls and cornbread, a meat carving station, assorted pastas and salads and fresh fruit. Only on Wednesdays and Saturdays does the buffet have as a choice BBQ pork ribs which are good but not great, but many people I know seem to love them.

The buffet for me is worth it just with the crab legs,  but then add some of the other items and it’s well worth it. You just have to realize that with a buffet marketed around seafood you will have to pay a little bit higher than average price but it is not too expensive if you go by Disney standards. This is definitely someplace where I have to eat at each trip.

2. Crystal Palace(breakfast)- By far my favorite location for breakfast is Crystal Palace. The food is just absolutely great. Now if you go for dinner or lunch, the food is probably below average, but breakfast is amazing.

The Star of the buffet is the Pooh French Toast. This French toast needs no syrup whatsoever, and the best way I can describe it is that it is like eating a zeppole, it is amazingly good. Of course that’s not the only reason, you can find yogurt, fruit, lox, pastries, breakfast cereals and of course the usual things like sausage, bacon, eggs,  regular French toast, Mickey waffles, and my favorite, biscuits and sausage gravy. Also there is an omelet station where you can have eggs made any way you desire or have the chef whip up an omelet of your choosing.

This is another must do for my family each trip, it is 100% worth it just for the food, which seems to be getting better each time I go as other places seem to be getting lower in quality and higher in price(cough cough, Chef Mickey’s, cough cough).

1. O’hana(Dinner)- My top spot goes to this restaurant located inside the great ceremonial house inside the Polynesian Resort. My only issue with O’hana’s is the fact I wouldn’t go eat here for years. I figured I wouldn’t like the food so I never tried it. I decided a few years ago at the urging of my sister to try O’hana’s, and now it is by far my favorite table service location at WDW.

You start off with a salad with a mango dressing served family style, then the real fun begins. Your server then brings out a platter of Asian style sweet and sour noodles, pot stickers and chicken wings. Don’t worry when you finish all this you can ask for more. As you are choking down on these specialties, servers will be coming around with metal skewers filled with marinated shrimp, chicken and beef. I am not a big steak person but I even liked the beef. The  and shrimp were out of this world. They will be walking around waiting to fill your plate up again so bring your appetite.

After all this make sure you still save some room for dessert. Many people have told me the bread pudding with bananas and caramel sauce is the best dessert on property. Cannot disagree with them. Your server brings out the pudding and then drenches it with the caramel sauce right before your eyes. It looks as good as it tastes.

O’hana takes the cake as the top table service restaurant on Disney property. Again, if you disagree or feel I missed your favorite, let me know in the comments or check me out on twitter @vacaassistant

 

Which Disney Dining Plan is right for you?

If you have been or are planning to go on a DisneyWorld vacation I’m sure you have heard all about the Dining plan option. This may seem like a good idea when booking, it may even seem like a deal. But is it really a deal, and is the dining plan worth it for you and your family? And which Dining plan is the right one for your family. To start off let’s look at the basic dining plan options:(all prices listed are for 2017)

Quick service plan $48.19 per adult: With this plan you get 2 quick service credits and 2 snack credits. A quick service is a place such as Cosmic Ray’s or Casey’s corner in the Magic Kingdom. These are usually quicker Dining experiences with a  lower quality menu and usually not a sit down Dining. Usually order it at a kiosk type location and pick the food up yourself. You also receive 1 Resort refillable mug.

Regular Dining plan $69.35: With this plan you get 1 quick service credit, 1 table service credit, 2 snacks and 1 refillable resort mug. A table service credit is good for a meal at designated sit down style restaurants and buffets. Places such as Chef Mickey’s, Coral Reef on Epcot and O’hana’s in the Polynesian are valid table services.

Signature Dining Plan $106.68: this plan give you 3 table service credits, 2 snacks and a refillable resort mug. With this plan you can use 2 table service credits to use for the phenomenal signature restaurants throughout WDW such as Narcoosees and Citricos in the Grand Floridian or the California Grille atop the Contemporary. These are more formal Dining experiences than the normal table service restaurants. With those you just get an entree, non alcoholic drink and a dessert. At the signature restaurants you get an appetizer, entree, non alcoholic beverage and a dessert. The menus at the signature restaurants are amazing and the food is top notch. Then you can use the third table service on a regular TS for breakfast or dinner.

Ok, you are probably thinking which one of these is for you? Well I guess it depends on your family’s Disney style. If your family is always on the go and want to do as much in the parks as possible, the quick service plan is probably for you. If you like to take your time sand take breaks from the parks and try other experiences and have a nice sit down meal or character buffet, then maybe the regular plan is for you. Or maybe you are traveling alone as a couple, no children, and want to some of the best Dining experiences available at WaltDisneyWorld, then definitely do the signature plan. You will have access to some4 star restaurants and it is probably the best value of the 3 plans.

One thing to remember is that having the plan, no matter which plan it may be will be a lot of food. After a week of the plan I sometimes don’t want to even think of food, so take that into consideration. Also if you have a plan and need to make ADR’s for your restaurants, you will see that everyday rotates around your dining reservations, so if you plan to have dinner at O’hana’s in the Poly, don’t plan on spending the day at Epcot. It can take a lot of time traveling back and forth, it can take some smart planning, and some may not be bothered which then the quick service would be better.

There are so many things to look at in regards to the dining plans, which is one reason why some people decide to go to Disney vacation planners. But what those planners won’t tell you is that whether or not the Dining plan is worth it at all and if it’s economically the best decision. My post tomorrow will look st that question exactly… Have a magical day!