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5 Tips for Celebrating a Special Occasion at Walt Disney World ~ by Guest Author James Hare

Published January 26, 2017 by Disneyways.com

5 Tips for Celebrating a Special Occasion at Walt Disney World by Guest Author James Hare

According to the 2015 Global Attraction Attendance Report published annually by the Themed Entertainment Association, over 173 million people passed through the turnstiles at Disney Parks around the world. A lot of those people visited to celebrate a special occasion. Whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, or even a family reunion, there is a lot of reasons to celebrate at Walt Disney World.

While there are no set rules about planning your special occasion at Disney World, you’ll want to remember these top 5 tips to get a head start on your celebration.

 

5. Grab some free celebration buttons

Over the years, Disney have given out free buttons for guests to wear while celebrating their special occasion.

Disney celebration buttons are completely free and can be picked up from many stores around Walt Disney World. However, your best bet for getting one is to visit the front desk at your resort hotel or Guest Services at any park.

The special events that you can currently get a celebration button for are:

  • Just Married
  • Happy Anniversary
  • Family Reunion
  • Just Engaged
  • 1st Visit
  • My Magical Triumph
  • Happily Ever After
  • I’m Celebrating [fill in the blank]
  • Happy Birthday.

One of the biggest reasons to wear a celebration button is that Cast Members at the parks will look out for them and wish you a “happy birthday” or congratulate you on your engagement. Although nothing is guaranteed, I have often received a complimentary cookie from certain vendors on my birthday. These buttons are certainly a must for your special occasion at Walt Disney World!

 

Image credit: Pexels

4. Note it on your reservations

Whenever you make a reservation for anything at Walt Disney World, have the Cast Member make a note about your special occasion. If you make a note of it on your resort hotel reservation, you may be surprised by balloons awaiting you when you check into your room. Likewise, if you let your server know that someone is celebrating their birthday, that person is very likely to be given a small complimentary dessert after their meal.

Walt used to call this “plussing” the guest experience. If you were impressed by a certain aspect of his park, he was always looking for ways to make it even better so that you return again and again.

 

3. Send flowers for a romantic occasion

A lot of people do not know this, but Disney actually have their own Floral Service.

If you’re celebrating a romantic occasion, such as a honeymoon or anniversary, you can purchase a beautiful arrangement of flowers for your sweetheart.

You can even set up a specific place on property for them to be delivered so that your significant other will not suspect a thing!

 

2. Host a birthday party with in-room celebrations

For guests celebrating a birthday at one of the many resort hotels, you can surprise your child with an in-room celebration.

The basic birthday package includes personalized Mickey Mouse ears, a chalkboard shaped like Mickey’s ears for them to write on, two Mickey & friends themed Happy Birthday balloons, a specialty cake plus tons of other goodies and treats.

There are more essential tips here that you’ll want to read if you are planning a birthday at Walt Disney World.

 

1. Make use of Disney’s Memory Maker

Memory Maker is a great add-on option for Disney’s PhotoPass.

For an additional fee, guests get a digital download of every single photo taken in the parks and on participating attractions. You will also get on-ride videos from rides such as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Tower of Terror. You are completely free to print the photos from home, or at a local printer, and you can also use the images on third party services (such as Shutterfly).

The thing that I enjoy most about Memory Maker is that it is a set it and forget it system. All you have to do is wear your Magic Band and the PhotoPass Cast Member will add all the photos and video directly to your account.

 

I want to hear from you!

Have you ever celebrated a special event at Walt Disney World? Share your experience, ask me a question, or just say “hey” in a comment below!

Alternatively, you can visit me on my blog at weloveorlandofl.com

James

Author Bio: James Hare is the owner of We Love Orlando – A website dedicated to providing the very best news and tips for visiting the Orlando theme parks and local area attractions.

Disney’s Latest Film Moana Will Make Your Heart Soar ~ By Guest Author Samantha Lucas

Published November 18, 2016 by samanthalucas23

Disney’s Latest Film Moana Will Make Your Heart Soar ~ By Guest Author Samantha Lucas

Despite declaring herself very firmly “Not a princess” during the film, Moana has easily become one of my favorite Disney Princesses.

The Synopsis, as found on Wikipedia, is as follows – On a mystic island in Polynesia, the 16-year-old strong-willed daughter of the chief of the tribe, Moana from Motunui Island, is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite the Heart of Tehiti. She sets sail in search of Maui, a legendary demigod and hopes to save her people.

I was invited to the press screening for Moana and let me say there isn’t anything I don’t love about this movie.This is a film about worth and fulfilling destiny, about believing in yourself and not giving up, despite the odds or the appearance of what you’re facing. It succeeded in all the places Frozen failed for me and I’m completely in love with it.

Moana is beautiful in spirit and brave of heart. She answers a calling on her soul and undertakes the daunting task of saving her people despite the fact it meant going against her parents, and especially her father’s wishes. I loved the way the movie handled the relationship between father and daughter, doing an excellent job of humanizing her parents and helping us understand why he was so determined to keep her from the ocean, while showing us a lineage of leaders and a history of a people who changed over time into something that was never meant for them to become.

Yes, of coursepua-n-hei-hei, it is charming and funny in all the ways we’ve come to expect from Disney. The animal sidekicks are an adorable puppy-like pig named Pua and a dimwitted chicken named Hei-Hei, who I found absolutely loveable despite the poor chicken being as close to an inanimate object as you could think.

As we’re coming to see more and more, of late, there is no “bad guy” per se to fight against, no defining villain. It is a film about overcoming the obstacles we carry within.

One other nice thing, the 3D was used perfectly to add depth and dimension to scenes, rather than to shock us by throwing things at our faces.

This is, of course, yet another film in the new land we’ve come to where there is no prince or love interest, but in this film it very much works. Moana is not a heroine out to prove she doesn’t need a man, she’s simply a girl chosen for a destiny greater than she knew she was capable.

moana-and-maui-e1473954569707The relationship between Moana and Maui is fantastic because they come to respect and need one another as they share this journey, each having their own lessons to learn and obstacles to overcome along the way.

The demi-god Maui is a culture hero in both Polynesian and Hawaiian mythology. Although his origin story is tweaked and made a bit more kid-friendly for this Disney tale, he is an important figure in many of the island cultures.

Moana is entirely entertaining from beginning to end. What pushes this film over-the-top straight to my heart is the theme of someone having a calling on their heart or soul all of their life and the need to answer that call and that is the story of my own life so to see it played out in a Disney Princess was more than I had ever hoped to see.

I recommend this one wholeheartedly! Don’t miss Moana’s journey. Go with an open mind and heart and let yourself be inspired.

If you enjoyed my review and want more of my own Disney writing, which currently has a heavy focus on Disney World, please visit me at www.disneylovin.com

And one more thing, as is the case with all the best films, you do want to sit through the credits for your little treat at the end. 😉

(Side note from Krista: Thanks Samantha for attending the media preview with me! I am so glad you enjoyed the movie as much as I did!! )

 

The Best Walt Disney World Quick Service Restaurants…FROM THE EXPERTS!

Published October 22, 2016 by ltdjosh

Good morning everyone. In honor of EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival, we thought that we’d share an amazing article written by our very dear friend Karyn Locke from www.sandandorsnow.com. The title of the article is “The Best Walt Disney World Quick Service Restaurants From The Experts!” and showcases some of the most amazing quick service restaurants found on Walt Disney World property, from the mega-sized Restaurantosaurus at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (submitted by Terri Miller from WDWHints) to the simple yet delicious Earl Of Sandwich at Disney Springs (submitted by Tania Lamb at Lola Lambchops), you can find something for every appetite. And the best part? These are all submitted by experts in the area of WDW Quick Service dining locations…BLOGGERS! To check out this great article (and to get inspired to try new things while dining on the quick at Walt Disney World) head over to the article here. Thanks again for such a great article Karyn! We’ll see you all in the parks.

Retro Station Italian Food – Traveling back to the 50’s – Guest Post by Jacquie Montes de Oca

Published August 25, 2016 by Heidi Strawser

As part of the Central Florida Lady Bloggers, I was invited to attend a meet up at this new Italian restaurant in the Kissimmee, FL area.

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The moment I parked and saw the sign I knew I was going to be taken back in time to the 1950’s. As I walked in the restaurant I was greeted by two smiling faces, those of the owners, Renata Rabello and Giuliano Garbi, who owned a 50’s restaurant and club for over 10 years in Brazil, and now they’re bringing their knowledge and flavor to Central Florida!

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The restaurant is decorated with a 50’s flair, the details of the items are very tasteful and fun.

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14063915_10154676512007985_8825155029811249884_n(Photos Property of Jacquie Montes de Oca)

For this meet up we were given a special menu in order for us to try their most popular items from the menu. We had no idea what to expect and let me tell you… it was glorious!

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First they brought us what looked like crackers, but it was thin pieces of pizza crust with their homemade Marinara sauce. The crust was outstanding! So flaky and crunchy and yummy! The sauce you can tell is homemade, the combination of spices and just enough sweetness was amazing.

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Then came the Cheese Garlic Bread. Wow! The bread was so soft with the right amount of garlic/cheese ratio which made it so delicious!

garlic bread(Photo Property of Jacquie Montes de Oca)

Next, I must admit, one of my favorites of the night. The Italian Bruschetta. Now, I make this at home… but Retro’s is so much better! The bread was crunchy on the outside and oh so soft in the inside and once again, the combination of the tomatoes, basil, spices… I could’ve eaten the whole tray!

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The Soup of the Day – this time was Mushroom. Needless to say, I had two bowls. It was so creamy yet light and the flavors… it reminded me of my childhood so it made me very happy! I would’ve liked if it had just a bit more pieces of mushroom, but that’s just my preference. When I go back I need to make sure is on Mushroom Soup Day!

soup(Photo Property of Jacquie Montes de Oca)

At this point I was already full from all the goodies… but there was more… oh so much more to come!

Spaghetti with Homemade Marinara Sauce. What can I say but heavenly. The pasta cooked just right with their signature sauce was delicious. The lasagna… so cheesy and meaty and oh so good!!!

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And because we didn’t have enough to eat, they brought 2 pizzas! One was thin crust, the other New York Style. The thin crust is made without butter, which is great for our vegan friends. My favorite, the NY Style. The crust was so flaky and light and the flavor was just awesome! We had the plain pizza, so I can only imagine when toppings are added!

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For dessert we had Homemade Cheese Cake. There’s always room for dessert, right? Well, this cheesecake was out of this world! So light, not overly sweet, on a bed of chocolate sauce. I was in heaven!!!

cheesecake(Photo Property of Andrea Kuczynski)

All of the food was so delicious and in the words of the amazing & talented, Chef Judy, “made with love”!

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One of the events they like to have at Retro is a Rockabilly dance. So, after dinner, Renata and Giuliano gave us a sample of what Rockabilly dancing is like. It looked like so much fun, I had to join in! Now, I’ve never danced Rockabilly, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. However, Giuliano was a great teacher and I had so much fun! Can’t wait for their next dance!!!

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14046157_10154676513017985_1540610983214270587_n(Photos Property of Jacquie Montes de Oca & Andrea Kuczynski)

Overall it was a fabulous evening of delicious food, fun dancing and amazing people!

About the author – Jacquie is a freelance contributor for Living the Dream Podcast; freelance contributor to Peter Alden Entertainment and freelance assistant, social media coordinator & roadie for Armando Diaz, Frank Sinatra Tribute Artist.

Disney World On A Budget – Guest Post by Krystel Seijo

Published April 19, 2016 by ltdjosh

Disney World On A Budget – Guest Post by Krystel Seijo

Three Money Saving Tips that will save you thousands off of your DISNEY VACATION

If you think the Disney Vacation you want is out of reach then think again.  This trip does not have to become a financial nightmare.  Use these tips to save money on your Disney Vacation.

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Tip #1 – There is more than the theme parks.

I know most of you are visiting Walt Disney World for the major theme parks.  I don’t blame you…we all do.  Keep in mind that the 4 main Disney World theme parks are the most expensive thing to do at Disney but not the only thing to do.

If you didn’t know already, going to Disney World is tiring.  You almost need a vacation from that vacation.  It doesn’t have to be though and that can be an approach that is better for your pocket, family, and sanity.   Here are some things that are free, easy, and fun.

  1. Disney Springs (Disney’s dining, shopping, and entertainment district) – Take a stroll through Disney Springs and do some window shopping. It is a totally different ambiance during the day and at night.
  2. Resort Hopping – It is “adventure” like to go exploring other resorts. You can couple that with a meal at a resort restaurant.
  3. Disney’s Boardwalk 

Tip #2 – Luxury Accommodation 35% off

Welcome to saving at least 35% off your room rate at Disney World.

Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is Disney’s version of a timeshare. You can find out more about that here.

You can occasionally rent DVC points for a one time use either from an individual owner or a store/brokerage.

I just priced out what it would cost to rent points and stay at the Boardwalk Villas studio for one week.  Here is what it would look like:

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This chart is from David’s Vacation Club Rentals which is a BBB Accredited company that helps connect DVC members, who are renting their points, with renters.

Here is what the price for the same room, same dates, looks like from Disney.

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Disney is expensive enough on its own. This tip will help you get the most bang for your buck.  If you are interested in renting DVC points I suggest reading this article.

#3 – Getting Around

I do not suggest renting a vehicle while at WDW.  You don’t need it.  While this tip is not going to save you thousands of dollars, it will save you hundreds and even better, a ton of effort.

Take advantage of Disney’s free transportation systems.

Use these options in any combination and stop worrying about rental fees, liability, tolls, gas etc.

  1. Disney’s Magical Express – Airport (MCO) transportation
  2. Uber – a non-metered, inexpensive taxi service
  3. Disney’s Transportation System – Bus, water taxi, and/or monorail transportation throughout WDW

Thanks for tuning into and visiting Disneyways.  What tricks/tips do you use to save money on your Disney vacation?

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Krystel Seijo is a Disney addict and DVC member who loves helping people get to the magic.  She is also the author of Disney World on a Budget eBook and founder of ConsideringDVC.com

Disney Cruise Line 101 ~ by Guest Author Kendra Trump

Published March 3, 2016 by fromfirstkisstorockingchairs

Disney Cruise Line 101 by Guest Author Kendra Trump

Disney does cruising! The Disney Cruise Line has a fleet of 4 magnificent ships, the Wonder, Magic, Dream and Fantasy. Aboard each of these ships is a fun-filled, magical, experience just waiting for you and your family. Disney knows how to keep guests happy no matter if it’s on land or sea. Disney Cruise Line is a way to enjoy a luxurious vacation with the whole family.

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Disney Dream docked at Castaway Cay

Disney definitely puts a spin on cruising, the design of the ships will have you reminiscing of sailing times from days gone by. The clean sleek lines, colors, and beautiful boats will capture your attention the first time you see them. The ships have 3 pools, a splash zone, the Dream and Fantasy have a water roller coaster slide onboard called the AquaDuck, sports area where you can enjoy a game of basketball, shuffleboard, and a jogging track, exquisite spas, clubs, movie theaters, and beautiful theaters that produce Broadway style shows at sea! There is something for everyone onboard a Disney ship. (One thing you will not find onboard is a casino.)

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AquaDuck- Water slide onboard the Disney Dream

Aboard the 4 ships are areas for every age young and old. Nurseries for your little ones who aren’t potty-trained as well as a splash zone for those still in swim diapers, diapers swim or regular are strictly not allowed in any of the pools. Amazing kids clubs that make me wish I was a child myself, with fun age appropriate activities. Tween and Teen only clubs, which will keep your older children so happy you will want to know what they did with your real teenagers! And of course the elusive adult-only areas, (spa, pool, hot tub, bar, quiet areas, and adult only dining experiences) yes even though it is Disney there are areas where adults can be adults where no children can be seen or heard.

Worried about keeping track of all the activities onboard or where your children/spouse may be? Don’t be, (2) Wave phones (think cruise cellphones) can be found in each room which allows you to stay in contact while onboard. Personal Navigator newsletters are delivered to your stateroom every evening so you can keep track of all the fun activities onboard and at the port of calls, as well as where and when characters will be meeting! There’s an app for that too, be sure to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App to keep you up to date on the happenings of the ship as well!

Not only has Disney outdone themselves on the general areas, the staterooms are top of the line as well, in size and features. Disney’s standard staterooms are some of the largest at sea right now with innovative storage areas to make the most of every square inch in your stateroom. They also have split bathrooms in select categories of rooms, meaning Mom can relax in a hot shower after a day of fun at sea without being interrupted because someone has to “go!”

Aboard the Disney ships you will participate in rotational dining so everyone has the opportunity to enjoy all the restaurants aboard the ships at dinner time. A part of rotational dining is keeping the same server each night, they will start to remember your drink orders and have them ready for you before you arrive if you are a habitual person like myself 😉 Not interested in participating in the main dining option? You are more than welcome to enjoy a quick service meal or the same food everyone else is enjoying in a less time constricted manner at one of the buffets aboard the ship.  Dinner’s not the only time for amazing food experiences onboard, be sure to come back soon for an article all about dining with Disney Cruise Line, it really does deserve its own limelight!

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Even the chairs are part of the fun at Animator’s Palate restaurant!

Disney may have an amazing fleet of ships, but they also have their own private island, Castaway Cay, which is definitely the cherry on top of this magical experience. Castaway Cay is an island about midway between the Bahamas and Florida. It is the perfect island experience, beautiful water, pristine beaches, and of course Disney magic! The island is set up much like the ship with areas for kids, teens, families, and adults only. Bonus Tip: For an extra magical souvenir for loved ones or yourself, Castaway Cay has a Post Office on site where you can mail a postcard or letter with the exclusive Castaway Cay postage mark. You will arrive home well before your letter does so this is a nice idea for when you are feeling “homesick” for the islands and want a pretty reminder to magically appear in the mail. The post office does only accept cash, so bring along some small bills when you disembark the ship!

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Mail a note from paradise at the Castaway Cay Post Office!

Disney Cruise Lines is a magical vacation for the whole family, stay tuned for more exciting information about sailing the high seas with Disney!

kendraKendra Trump is a busy mama who loves to travel! With countless trips to Disney Destinations under her belt she found her true passion for helping people experience the magic of travel as a consultant with Simple Luxuries Travel. Kendra currently resides in Northern Virginia, with high hopes of moving to Castaway Cay one day soon! You can follow her blog from first kiss to rocking chairs for more travel fun.

Dining Review: The LakeHouse at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Published February 24, 2016 by Disneyways.com

The next time you are in the Walt Disney World area and need a refreshing break from the Parks – we hope you will consider dining at the newly opened LakeHouse at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress! It is super close to Disney Springs. They specialize in highlighting healthy, locally-sourced, farm-to-table cuisine. You do not have to be staying overnight at the Hyatt to enjoy this restaurant – and you can stop in any day of the year.

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When you enter this glorious space you will realize quickly that the $2.8 million redesign was a wise investment on the part of this resort. During the daytime you are immediately surrounded with light, and the vibrant setting is also very lovely in the evening. The vibe is totally modern and sleek – yet you will still feel very cozy and welcomed at the same time. Just look at this lovely booth where they seated us!

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Chef Max visited with us once we were seated to introduce us to the menu. There was a wide variety of dishes from appetizers, soups & salads, entrees & desserts! There were even several vegan and gluten free options for my friend and dining companion – the fabulous Sarah Norris of Gluten Free Diary Free WDW!

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There is a full bar available too, so we kicked it all off with sipping on some cocktails to get the full experience. Everything we tried was wonderful and The LakeHouse version of the Moscow Mule had a nice presentation in a copper mug.

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I’m not usually a sushi person but the Rainbow Roll and the Caterpillar Roll were gorgeously presented and I am so glad I gave them both a try. We went back and forth trying to decide which was our favorite, as they were both so delicious and fresh!

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Next came the appetizer course. Chef Max and the team brought out Grilled Shrimp Cocktail and French Onion Fondue. Both sounded great but to actually taste them – was incredible. If you’re a fan of shrimp like I am, you will enjoy the grilled shrimp cocktail served with Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce, shaved horseradish (which added a unique twist), and sliced cucumber. The shrimp was perfectly grilled and was complimented with the Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce. I loved this unique take on one of my traditionally favorite appetizers.

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The French onion fondue was also a highlight of the evening. Served with warm bread, this rich and decadent fondue combined everything I love about French onion soup in one dish. Warm gooey, savory and even a little sweet – I found it hard not to eat every bite of it! The little cast iron skillet was adorable too.

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For our soup and salad course, our group sampled the Warm Spinach Salad, the Salad Bowl, and the Manhattan Style Shrimp Chowder. Both salads were big hits, and if you’re a beet fan, you’ll love the warm spinach salad served with golden beets.

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If you enjoy a bit of texture in your salad, order the salad bowl with spicy pecans, pecorino cheese, and figs.

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If soup is more your taste, the Manhattan Style Shrimp Chowder is a must order. Normally I enjoy a creamier based soup. But again the LakeHouse rocked my world with this one. It had a hint of spice, lots of shrimp, and before I knew it I had eaten the entire bowl. I will go back just to order this soup alone!

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For entrees, Chef Max brought out 4 dishes. First, the Cauliflower Steak – featuring fresh grilled vegetables and a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. The grilled cauliflower had tons of flavor, making it the star of this dish. Chef Max noted that you can add chicken or steak to this dish for some added protein.

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The second gluten free entrée was the KC Bone In Strip Steak served with steak fries, grilled tomato, and watercress salad. The steak was expertly cooked and very flavorful.

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My favorite entree of the evening was the filet mignon with herb bread pudding, red wine sauce, mushrooms, and asparagus. The herb bread pudding reminded me of my Mom’s homemade stuffing. Dipping it in the red wine sauce was especially divine. The mushrooms had a delightful meaty flavor and I have never had asparagus that tasted so delicious before. The star of course, was the filet. We cut it with a fork – and the incredible flavor was like a party in my mouth.

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Normally I am not one to order fish – but even I had to admit – another highlight of the entrees was the Sea Bass in citrus butter and served on lemongrass orzo. Everyone agreed the fish was beautifully cooked. There was a very light crunch on the outside and the flaky white fish inside was beautiful, moist and savory. The citrus butter sauce was delightful.

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Finally, Chef Max served a variety of desserts that included: Hot Roasted Apple Tart, Key Lime Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Brownie Sundae, Sticky Toffee Date & Fig Bread Pudding, and Classic Double Fudge Cake. Save room for dessert – you will not want to miss this. Everything we tasted seemed better than the last!

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Overall, those visiting the LakeHouse will find the food delightful and delicious and the ambiance inviting. We loved sipping drinks, enjoying our dinner, and looking at the views of the lake. We timed it just right and got to enjoy a perfect Florida sunset. We hope you’ll give it a try. While you are there say hello to the little pink flamingo for me.

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We can’t wait to go back to the LakeHouse again for another delicious meal and thank the LakeHouse at the Hyatt Grand Cypress for inviting us to experience all that the newly opened restaurant has to offer.

**Disclaimer: The LakeHouse at the Hyatt Grand Cypress invited the team and I to enjoy dinner at no cost to us. This did not influence my honest opinion.

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