Search Results

Search Results for: downtown disney

Top Picks for Doing Disney on a Special Diet ~ By Guest Author Laurie

Published April 15, 2013 by
We LOVE our guest bloggers here at Disneyways. Laurie Smith is no exception. I really appreciate her perspective on not only great restaurants for special diets – but also for guests who have special needs. Thank you Laurie for sharing!

My top picks for Special Diets at Disney World ~ by Laurie 

Today I wanted to share with you my top picks for Disney restaurants for guests on special diets, and in wheelchairs. You will notice I also prefer quiet and well-lit dining areas so you will see some information on that as well.  I decided to limit my list to those restaurants that can handle special diets beyond the top 8 allergens.

To begin, I had a long informative talk with the manager at Artist’s Point.  He told me Wilderness Lodge has an extensive pantry that can meet almost every diet possible including PKU, diabetes, Atkins, low carb, low fat, no added sodium, allergies and sensitivities, religious, medical and vegan diets.  Sometimes guests will have to call ahead to make sure items are in stock.  I have chosen two restaurants from Wilderness Lodge because of their ability to handle special diets as well as quality of food and service.

whispering canyon

Whispering Canyon Cafe: There are three dining areas that have good lighting and seating.  The main area is where the fun happens.  The middle area is next to the kitchen door and offers a bit of privacy away from the antics.  I was lucky to sit next to the fireplace in this room.  The third room is an indoor patio that overlooks the ramp leading downstairs and the outdoors.  They started me off with gluten and soy free cornbread with real butter then came the buffalo chili, cheese dip, and fresh salsa.  OMG, I have not had chili in a decade, awesome. They give you a choice of 3 meats but you can do vegan if you wish.  The reason this is one of my top restaurants is the cheesecake in a glass. Sheer bliss for me as I never get to eat cheesecake but they make this without the crust.

Artist Point:  The menu is based on what is available in the markets so it changes often.  The seating is in well lit areas overlooking the outdoors.  I like that there is good lighting and that guests are not packed in tight but instead are allowed to quietly savor their food.  I started the night with quail eggs and the Smokey Portobello Soup with chive oil that rivals Napa Rose for the best mushroom soup I have ever had.

mushroom soup

Hoop Dee Doo Review:  Disabled guests can use a side entrance.  I was assigned upstairs which is hard for me so they had to find me a table downstairs in the back.  Seats in the last rows are on stools that may be a bit hard on some guests like sitting on a bar stool   Some guests may find the ending a bit loud as people are encouraged to clang on washboards with their spoons.  Sensitive folks should watch a video and exit if it gets to loud.  This is a top pick for me because of service, lighting and seating as well as ability to handle special diets.  They served me gluten free corn bread with honey butter, tossed salad, baked chicken with side of barbecue sauce, barbecue pork ribs, meaty baked beans, mashed potatoes, and a bowl of whipped cream slathered strawberries.  I have also seen the vegan offerings – which looked delicious.  They have plain items ready for special diet guests like baked chicken, plain ribs, plain corn, salad without cheese and dressing, and vegetarian beans.

Kona Cafe:  Kona offers gluten and soy free sushi, delicious chorizo soup, and chocolate fondue but the one dish that shocked me was the Pan Asian Noodles.  I was served gluten free rice noodles with wok fried vegetables and shrimp. That was a rare treat for me as I rarely can eat Asian food because of the soy and wheat.  The comfortable seating may be is a a bit close together and adjacent to the main walkway. I love this place for the awesome food and staff. Kona Cafe is pictured below.

Kona Cafe

Portobello: Portobello seems like a small store front until you walk inside.  They have good lighting and seating with an outdoor patio. I do not feel the seating is packed in but there have been online complaints online seating being too close for comfort.  I had sambuca shrimp with potato slices that were set on fire at the table-side   They made me gluten free penne pasta with Bolognose sauce and for dessert a heavenly panna cotta.  After talking with the chef I feel that this restaurant can handle most dietary limitations.

Downtown Disney also has two restaurants with patios, good lighting, live nightly entertainment, and comfortable seating.

Bongos: Bongos Cuban Cafe offers Cuban food that is very mild compared to Mexican cuisine.  They other lots of food for the dollar and can easily handle special dietary requests and disabled seating.  I love their Masitas de Puerco which is a milder version of carnitas.  They offer beans and white rice with grilled onions and plantains.  They have a walk up window for quick service meals.

Ragland Road:  Raglan Road has some private booths – but there can be a wait for those.  I love their gluten free/soy free onion rings, scallops, shepherd pie, and fish with chips.  They are very friendly folks who treat you like family.  They have Cookes of Dublin next door for additional allergy friendly dining.


Raglan Road

Inside the theme parks, Tusker House and Crystal Palace are outstanding buffets that have good lighting and seating with dedicated chefs who work hard to meet the special dietary needs of guests.  They will make special dishes like plain meat and potatoes, batter free fish, and allergy free baked goods.  These are family restaurants so talk with staff if you need a bit of privacy.  They will go backstage and make dishes from scratch or get a freshly made batch of food that the public has not touched.  They both have chefs that try hard to handle a wide variety of special dietary requests and both have friendly staff.

Sunshine Seasons is in the Land pavilion in Epcot – and Landscape of Flavors at the Art of Animation resort.  Both are well lit, have helpful staff, and can deal with vegan, allergies, and other dietary requests.  There are a few nooks but overall you will at times be packed in tight.  I would never try to take my scooter to a table at either restaurant.  Art of Animation carries babycakes gluten/vegan/nut/soy free cupcakes in the refrigerator section.  I could spend my life eating Mongolian beef at Landscape and the pork chops with rice and beans at Sunshine Seasons.


I hope you have enjoyed my top restaurant picks for special dietary needs at Walt Disney World. What are some of yours?

About Laurie: I have lived in Kissimmee, FL since March, 2012, so that I could learn about WDW and help people enjoy WDW.  I love to watch cooking shows so I can learn about food.  I love exploring new places, eating out, cooking, helping people, and playing online games.  I have been going to Disney parks since 1960.  I cannot have wheat/gluten and soy at all.  I am familiar with disabilities in Disney parks since I am disabled and I used to take my mother to Disneyland in a wheelchair.

A note from Krista – unrelated to this particular blog post – if you or someone you love has special dietary needs at Disney you may also want to check out Gluten Free and Dairy Free WDW!


Disneyways, Theme Park Concierges and Mouskejournals are proud sponsors of the 2nd Annual Special Diets Illuminations party coming October 13, 2013!

Click here for your very special invitation!

dessert party


World Secrets! Beyond the Birthday Basics: Grown-ups Like to Celebrate at Disney too!

Published April 5, 2013 by

Alicia is a Disneyways subscriber and avid reader who has a WONDERFUL “predicament”. She is celebrating her 27th birthday in Walt Disney World this year. This is her first time ever to blow out her candles in the most magical place on earth. Alicia was so sweet and persistent in asking me for some tips that might help her to make the day extra wonderful.

So…Alicia…this one’s for you…and everyone else reading this post who has wondered the same thing!

Thanks for your great question!


Can you tell Alicia is just a kid at heart?

This is definitely one of our longer posts, and I want to respect your time. If you are too busy to read all this – stop right here and call my friend Ramon from (407-257-9973)

Ramon has been helping families and individuals create magical Disney birthday moments for years and he is VERY affordable for the amazing value he provides. Like some sort of Disney wish granter – Ramon has access to special meet and greet opportunities, VIP seating, holiday tours, and all sorts of things that he can customize just for you, and that are probably not even listed here. He can save you a ton of time and make your birthday celebrations a breeze!

Now let’s get the ball rolling and think out side the box for a little inspiration! We’ve got free, cheap and pricey ideas for grown-up birthdays!

Drinking or Snacking Around World Showcase

Planning is crucial here – so be sure to check out THIS LINK before you attempting this idea. Now take it a step further. Create something tangible before you leave for yourself or the person who is celebrating their birthday. Look up the drink and food menus at the World Showcase pavilions and think about the items you or they would most prefer. Print a map of Epcot and write your choices on each country to represent your plan of action. Create t-shirts with the countries and all the drinks or snacks listed. Bring a sharpie to mark each one off as you go! You can buy alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks, snacks and food at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom if you like those parks better – or do a snack crawl around Magic Kingdom!

Wear a HAT!

Any silly or customized hat can also be a great way to celebrate your birthday trip around the world, or any occasion really. Check out this photo my hubby took of Mike from (and me!) from our last Disneyways meetup. Nothing beats a fashionable set of Mickey ears.

By the way…if you weren’t at the meetup these are the sort of shenanigans you missed. You need to come to the next one. The details will be revealed soon! 🙂


Watch the Fireworks during Dinner 

Again, some planning ahead is important here. You’re going to need a list of restaurants where this is possible. Stay tuned to Disneyways for those. Better yet subscribe to get updates by email so you’ll never miss a post! Advanced dining reservations are also crucial! The good news is – fireworks viewing won’t cost you any extra if you are lucky enough to be seated for dinner in a good spot.

Take a Specialty Cruise 

Check out the options for specialty cruises at Walt Disney World here. Check out this page for the phone numbers to call. Don’t want to sit on hold? Hire Ramon to do this for you.

Pick the Plan

Here’s one that won’t add any expense at all. You or  the person celebrating their birthday gets to pick the general schedule for the day and maybe even invite a surprise guest.  The attraction and show choices are endless, and giving or having this kind of power is fuel for some wonderful birthday memories.

Set up a Small Private Event

There are a couple of ways to set up a small private event at Walt Disney World.

One is to call Private Dining at the Grand Floridian (407-824-2474) and arrange to have dinner somewhere in the hotel or at the marina during the Wishes fireworks. If you are staying in some other Disney resort – then the way to do a small private event at Walt Disney World is to work with Disney Catered Events (321-939-7278). My recommendation? Use a travel agent or hire Ramon to do all of this for you.

Beyond Birthday Cake

Sure you can get cake at Disney, if you prefer. But I hope you will go to Norway for School Bread. Get Zebra Domes from Boma or Mara in Animal Kingdom Lodge. Order Crepes from Chefs de France, ‘Smores from the ’50s Prime Time Diner, or the Tonga Toast at Kona Cafe. Bring your own birthday candle and your server will bring it out singing. Try to conquer the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream. Have Dole Whip or Mickey Bar at breakfast, lunch AND dinner. Sample every kind of fudge at the Main Street Confectionery. The more off-the-wall your sweet treat is, the more you or your special someone will remember the celebration.

Book some Extra Birthday Fun

Take the Characters in Flight balloon ride at Downtown Disney. Spend a day at the Saratoga Springs Resort spa or the new Senses Spa at the Grand Floridian. Take a backstage tour at the Magic Kingdom. Book a suite or stay in a different or nicer resort than usual. Plan a shopping spree. Stay at the park until it closes. Go parasailing or waterskiing at the Contemporary. Get tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Downtown Disney.

Decorate Your Room

A great way to add oomph to your celebration is to decorate your hotel room. You can do this with streamers and balloons brought from home. Don’t want to do it yourself? Enlist the help of the Disney Floral and Gift Basket team. Find them online or give them a call at 407-WDW-GIFT. They have a bunch of room decorating packages available. They can also customize a basket for you. If you have something very specific in mind, get on the phone and speak to someone directly. OR save time and money by…you guessed it…hiring Ramon to do it all for you. Do I sound like a broken record yet?

Another Freebie

Grab a blanket or extra towels and watch the Wishes fireworks presentation from the beach at the Polynesian.

Do the “Usual” but still Pretty Fantastic Disney Celebration Stuff

Of course Disney has their own official ways to make birthdays a little more magical in the World. Click here for more on that. Just don’t forget to come back to this page to reference all the cool extra stuff we’ve mentioned already.

I hope one or more of these ideas will help you get started. Let’s face it, you actually may not need to jump through any magical hoops to make a Disney celebration special. A trip to Walt Disney World is pretty special all by itself. Life really can’t get much better than feeling the wind in your hair on Test Track –  or getting a hug from Mickey Mouse. I promise, you aren’t the only one who gets sentimental at Disney.

Please send me your ideas, dreams and memories of your favorite Disney birthdays! We would LOVE to hear from you!

World Secrets: Jellyrolls Dueling piano bar near Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

Published March 1, 2013 by

Our latest edition to our World Secrets Series is taking us to Jellyrolls! This adult-oriented facility provides a noisy – yet very FUN retreat for the 21 and up crowd.   Jellyrolls  is named after Jelly Roll Morton, a legendary jazz pianist, not a desssert. His real name was Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe – but that probably wouldn’t fit on the marquee quite as well.


Depending on where you start out on Disney property,  you can get to Jellyrolls Piano Bar by boat, a bus, or even on foot. More on that later.

So what’s Jellyrolls like?  Well, it reminded me of Howl at the Moon, which is a similar piano bar located here in Orlando, and in 15 other locations across the country. What makes this different is it is at Disney, perhaps the only place in the world where you will hear a gritty-voiced piano man sing a song like “You ain’t never had a friend like me.” from the movie Aladdin. Just write your song request on a little piece of paper, add a tip, and *poof* your wish for nearly any song is magically granted.

They’ve got all the typical sing-alongs too like Sweet Caroline, Livin’ on a Prayer, even some Justin Beiber songs can be thrown in for good measure.When my friends and I approached the bar we heard an Elvis song playing, and a singing voice that sounded much like Billy Joel’s. I am a big fan of both – so I was thrilled.  The place was packed and everyone was having a great time. Our piano players for the evening were amazingly talented and even managed to entertain us with jokes without missing a note on the ivories. Guests who love music, cocktails, and people watching – will really enjoy this place. I sure did, and judging by this photo, my friends had fun too.

Here’s what you need to know before you go:

  • Jellyrolls has a $12 cover – and they only take cash at the door.
  • This is a fairly intimate establishment with somewhat limited seating. Doors open at 7pm and you may want to arrive early to guarantee yourself a seat.
  • This is a great place to go solo because the music is so loud. Got a blind date the maybe isn’t going so well? Great place to go for that too. You can also take that friend that talks too much, or the friend that wants you to carry on the whole conversation – just don’t take someone you want to get to know better. Talking to each other is nearly impossible without screaming. At one point I typed words into my iPhone’s notepad app – so my friend could read them. 
  • Most live bands take a break between sets; that doesn’t happen at Jellyrolls.  They have two duos who take turns working in shifts, so that there is music playing up until closing at 2am! I think this helps ensure they get to every single requested song that comes in. Pretty awesome if you ask me!
  • Don’t arrive too hungry. There is no appetizer menu. They do offer complimentary buttered popcorn, however.
  • Bring extra dollar bills and even $5 bills to hand to the pianists when you turn in your song requests. These guys are worth every penny!
  • The servers and bartenders will accept credit cards and key to the world cards for your drink orders.
  • Photos are allowed but they won’t allow you to take video.
  • Dress is completely casual, but you could certainly dress up a bit if you wanted to. It is not uncommon to see patrons wearing their Mickey ears and tiaras!

How to get there:

black monorail good camera

If you begin your journey in…

Magic Kingdom Park: Guests can take a bus directly to the Magic Kingdom Park or walk to Epcot, take the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center and transfer to the Magic Kingdom Park monorail.

Epcot: Guests can walk to the rear entrance of Epcot, the International Gateway in less than 10 minutes. Besides walking, the Friendship water launches can provide you with a leisurely, air-conditioned shuttle to Epcot. Leisurely, in that it could take up to 20 minutes, as the launch stops at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts as well as the Swan and Dolphin hotels.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: The Friendship launches transport guests to Disney’s Hollywood Studios with stops at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts dock and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts dock as well.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park: Take the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park bus

Downtown Disney Marketplace, Downtown Disney West Side: Take the Downtown Disney bus

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park: Take the Downtown Disney bus

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park: Take the Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park bus

Jellyrolls has a great fan-based site, an official Disney site, and even a facebook page that will keep you updated with their latest information and coming events.

Check out more posts in our World Secrets series!

So what are you thoughts? Have you been to Jellyrolls?

Holiday Highlights at Walt Disney World!

Published November 7, 2012 by

Disney elves blend yuletide traditions and Christmas cheer to create a wintry wonderland ready for holiday revelers at Walt Disney World Resort as early as November 9.  There’s an extra night of merry at the Magic Kingdom with 20 nights of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party; and at Epcot, Candlelight Processional.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Magic Kingdom

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will have its longest-ever run with 20 magical nights from November 9-December 21. For a quarter century, Walt Disney World guests have been mesmerized by this must-see event, a grandly festive tradition immersing families in the holiday spirit.

Dates for 2012:

Nov. 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, 30

Dec. 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21

Beginning at 7 p.m. (after regular park hours), guests with special event tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party can enjoy all the holiday splendor with lively stage shows, spectacular fireworks, a unique holiday parade and favorite holiday traditions including complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, and snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A. For more information, visit  NOTE: this is a hard ticket special event after regular park hours; purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended.

Entertainment, Fireworks and More: Santa’s elves have transformed the Magic Kingdom into a winter wonderland with festive wreaths, bows, garland, sparkling lights, parades and towering Christmas trees.  The fun includes the Holiday Wishes nighttime spectacular: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks, plus live entertainment with Disney characters all dressed up for the holidays.

Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle: Cinderella Castle transforms into a glimmering ice palace for the holidays — thanks to a special effects spectacle bathing the castle in 200,000 shimmering white lights. Magic Kingdom guests are treated nightly to the dramatic castle celebration and stage show.


Candlelight Processional is a timeless holiday offering at Epcot that combines seasonal music with the poignant reading of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a mass choir performing seasonal melodies, and a 50-piece live orchestra nightly November 23 – December 30, at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. Crowd favorites Neil Patrick Harris and Gary Sinise return to America Gardens Theater stage on select nights.  Guests can purchase a Candlelight Dining Package, which combines lunch or dinner at select Epcot restaurants with guaranteed seating for the Candlelight Processional and VIP viewing of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  For more information and reservations:

Holidays Around the World: Storytellers from around the world share traditions and lore from their homeland throughout World Showcase.  The merriment continues with meet and greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus, plus the nightly “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” laser, light, fireworks display capped with a seasonal finale.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights: This massive seasonal display features millions of dancing lights, plus animated displays and 3-D effects perfectly synchronized to electrifying holiday tunes amidst snowfall.  The rich tradition takes place on the Streets of America, dazzling guests from Nov. 9, 2012 to Jan. 6, 2013.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Celebrate safari style as Disney’s Animal Kingdom is wilder than ever this winter season. Mickey and his pals rejoice in traditional holiday music with a world beat twist during the daily “Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade.”

Downtown Disney

Get all your Christmas shopping done at Downtown Disney during Festival of the Seasons. The shopping mecca is draped with yuletide cheer, plus live entertainment, holiday carolers, a lively street party, plus photo ops with Santa and Santa Goofy.

Walt Disney World Resorts

The resorts are dressed up for the holidays with festive décor, gingerbread houses and more.

Video! 2013 Disney Dining Plan Entitlements Explained

Published July 29, 2012 by

Here is a pretty good 5 1/2 minute video that Disney released to help guests understand the differences between the quick, basic, and deluxe dining plans. Prices are not included but it helps with understanding why some people choose which dining plan is best for them. Remember the Disney dining plan is exclusively available to guests staying in Disney resorts.

Click here to watch the Dining Plans explained in 5 1/2 minutes

The Disney Dining Plan has become a Guest favorite to include as part of Magic Your Way Vacation Packages. The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) for 2013 mirrors the 2012 program, with a new option for table-service restaurants to offer menu add-ons and prix-fixe menus.
• Prix-fixe menu: Table-service restaurants may offer a separate prix-fixe menu that is available for a retail price. DDP Guests can choose this option with payment of a surcharge in addition to the table-service entitlement redemption. Separate surcharges for Disney Dining Plan Guests and Deluxe, Premium, and Platinum Dine Plan Guests will be noted on menus.
• For restaurants that offer only a prix-fixe menu (such as Cinderella’s Royal Table) or have a prix-fixe menu included on their regular a la carte menu (such as Captain’s Grille): the prix-fixe menu is fully covered by the required DDP meal entitlements.
• The new offering is a separate prix-fixe menu that is available in addition to the regular a la carte menu. DDP Guests who select the separate prix-fixe menu will be required to pay a surcharge in addition to the table-service entitlement redemption
• Menu add-ons: Table-service restaurants may offer menu add-ons, the ability to add another protein component to their entrée selection (e.g., option to add sea scallops to entrée). This option will be listed on the menu and requires payment of a surcharge by Guests who choose this option. DDP Guests can choose the menu add-on with payment of the surcharge in addition to the table-service entitlement redemption.
• Be Our Guest Restaurant: Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom Park offers fast casual service for lunch (requires one quick-service entitlement); however, for dinner, it operates as a table-service restaurant (requires one table-service entitlement).

Key reminders about the Disney Dining Plan
• Participating locations: Most Walt Disney World Resort theme park, resort hotel, Disney water park, EPSN Wide World of Sports Complex, and the Downtown Disney Area restaurant locations accept the Disney Dining Plan, including Operating Participants.
• Eligible snack items: The list of eligible snack items includes a large variety of food and beverage items available at carts, kiosks, quick-service and select merchandise locations across property. A complete list of eligible snack items will soon be available on The Hub >> Food Tools
• Refillable Mug: All Disney Dining Plan packages include a Resort Refillable Drink Mug allowing Guest to refill at Quick Service locations and select Merchandise Shops at the Walt Disney World Resort Hotel at which they are staying and throughout the length of their current stay.
• Dining reservations for table-service restaurants can be made in advance or cancelled online at Guests can also make or cancel a reservation by visiting any Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Front Desk, Concierge or Guest Relations, by calling 407-WDW-DINE, or by pressing 55 from any house phone.

American Q the Place to ‘B’ for BBQ!

Published October 9, 2014 by

B Resort & Spa at Lake Buena Vista is home to American Q – THE new hot place in town for anyone who craves a modern take on classic barbecue.


It all begins in this beautiful resort – formerly occupied by The Hotel Royal Plaza just outside Downtown Disney. Join me as we relive this wonderful culinary cowboy adventure, won’t you?


Upon arrival to the the B Resort – the wonderful smell of smoked meat coming from American Q was already beckoning us inside – and we knew we were in for a treat.


First, it was time for cocktails!


Normally more of a gin and tonic kind of guy – my husband went with the Moscow Mule. Ingredients included Russian Standard vodka, pickled ginger juice & ginger beer – and he really enjoyed it. What they don’t mention on the menu is how it comes in this awesome little copper barrel shaped mug. It was really unique, and added a special touch.


I went for the Strawberry Slush. Made with Fifty Pounds gin, Carpano Antica, fresh strawberries and lime with shaved ice. I was expecting a frozen drink, but this had a nice light, refreshing taste. Yummy!


Do not adjust your computer – what you are about to see is pretty amazing – and very real. This Bar Snack is called Swine Candy – and this photo made a pretty big splash on my facebook page! Take some smoked bacon, roast it with molasses and spice until crunchy… and you have yourself a little piece of salty, sweet, (and at times spicy) heaven! The spice is subtle and it will sneak up on you. Wait for a glass of water before you take your first bite – just in case you may need it.


Our next Bar Snack was the House Made Tater Tots. Creamy mashed potatoes fried to perfection in little bite-sized pieces with flavorful ketchup on the side. I think I am in love…


How about some Deviled Crab Stuffed Eggs? Deviled eggs with blue crab and remoulade…what’s not to like?


If this was all I got to eat for the rest of the night – I think I would have went home happy and satisfied! But we are still on the Bar Snacks, and there’s so much more!


Next up were the Starters – maybe you thought we “started” already? Think again!



The only thing I like as much as BBQ – is probably SIDES. I was very excited for the next portion of our evening, when we indulged in the all-you-can-eat FLATBED BUFFET served from the back of a cherry red ’51 Ford F1 pickup truck! Favorites included homemade soups and chili, a baked potato bar, peel and eat shrimp, a selection of hot and cold seasonal vegetables, pasta and potato salads, and a 20+ item salad bar all served from the flatbed! You can order the Flatbed Buffet for $34.95 $10 for kids age 7 and under – ala carte! This is an amazing value. Photo courtesy American Q!




Not from the Flatbed Buffet – but just as lovely – this wonderful sampling of various meats…


Next up was the star of the show: something American Q has creatively named Tableside Cowboy Carvings! Yep, they come to your table with 8 different meats and even vegetable brocette – all sliced to order! Turkey legs, bacon wrapped boneless chicken thighs, brisket of beef with Texas Bark, House made sausages…and more.


Photo credit American Q




I think there’s a lot of truth to the American Q saying that there’s smoke in their bones, vinegar their veins and the cowboys really do keep carving  until your tank is full! Endless options and great kids menu takes barbeque to at a whole new level here in Orlando.  Last but not least – self and valet parking are FREE if you are driving. If not, why not take a cab and break up your Disney vacation just a hop, skip and away at this amazing restaurant?! You won’t regret it! In the meantime you can follow them on facebook , Twitter, and check out their gorgeous website including full menus here.

Disclaimer: Recently my husband and I were treated to a complimentary dinner by the wonderful people at American Q – so that I could bring you photos and  an honest review. This did not influence my opinions. Our thanks to Jason at for the invitation!

Megabus Trip ~ Written by Tamara Botzum

Published April 10, 2014 by

Let’s face it, a vacation to Walt Disney World can suck your wallet dry. Or does it have to?  I decided to try to find the least expensive way to get to Walt Disney World, spend two nights, and visit one park.  It’s cold in northeast Ohio and I need to see some palm trees. I even found a friend who can take the time to travel with me.
First, the transportation.  Flying is out because that would be around $200 round trip.   Amtrak isn’t an option either because that is more than the flight!  $376 to be exact.  Then I remembered a very affordable bus line called Megabus.  I can go from Cleveland to Atlanta Georgia, then hop another Megabus to Orlando.  The total round trip cost will be $98 per person. Now I’m getting somewhere!
I checked out the Walt Disney World website and found a discount on a room-only reservations. The cost of a Value resort is within my budget.  I booked a room at Pop Century resort and added a ticket for one park, Magic Kingdom.  The cost per person is $275.
So right now, my costs are $336  for the entire trip.  I anticipate the cost of a public bus to be under $10 as we will need to take one to Downtown Disney so we can get a Disney bus to our Value resort.
This isn’t going to be the fastest way to get to my resort. It will take approximately 16 hours on the Megabus to Atlanta. Then, the 6 hour layover until our Orlando bus arrives.  The ride to Orlando will be approximately 9 hours. It will be a long trip.


Long doesn’t begin to describe it. Sitting for endless hours on a bus with sketchy or non working wifi isn’t easy. There was a bus change in Cincinnati, Ohio.  For 45 minutes we transferees huddled together on a dark and dirty street. Fortunately, the next bus arrived on time.

This Megabus took us to Georgia with stops in Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.  We finally arrived in downtown Atlanta at 6am. Now, much isn’t open at this time of day.  Upon the suggestion of a local, we found our way to a nearby hospital and chose to rest there. The time here passed quickly and pleasantly.  We even had breakfast and then a light lunch.

We finally arrived in Orlando at 9:30pm at the Orlando Lynx transportation center where we caught a local bus to Downtown Disney for $2.    From there, we took a Pop Century resort bus to check in.  By midnight, we were fast asleep.

Total travel time ended up being 32 hours of bus travel one way.

The time at Walt Disney World was delightful. But not perfect. My issues of MS, lack of proper sleep on the bus, and a disagreement with my stomach, I began to feel the toll of my long bus ride.  I wish I could say I endured the long tortuous Megabus ride back to Ohio, but I didn’t. I became so ill, I chose to fly home after we checked out.  This added $450 to my inexpensive trip including the cost of a hotel room, taxi ride to the hotel, and my one way flight home.  No cheap trip goes unpunished.

Would I ever take such a bus trip again?  No. I prefer not to.

Tamara Botzum is a graduate of The Disney College of Knowledge and is happily selling Disney travel through Tamara and husband Spencer have visited Walt Disney World over eight times so far. Their first trip together was in 2006.  They have also visited Disneyland twice.  When Tamara is not selling Disney vacations, she enjoys reading, interacting with Disney friends on Facebook, traveling, writing short stories and crafting.


Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2014 at Raglan Road

Published March 2, 2014 by

Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival – March 7-17, 2014
Wouldn’t it be fun to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Raglan Road? Downtown Disney is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with live music, a step-by-step Irish jig workshop, classic Irish food and drinks, Irish storytellers, Irish history and merchandise at Raglan Road’s Shop. The luck of the Irish is sure to be with  you!

Featured musical performances:
Elevation – U2 tribute band: 3/15 and 3/17/14
We Banjo 3 – combination of Irish sounds and old-time American bluegrass: 3/7-3/9 and 3/15-3/17/14
3 Dollar Band – folk music: 3/14-317/14
Goitse – 5-piece band playing Irish melodies: 3/11 – 3/17/14
The Raglan Rebels – Raglan Road house band: daily
The Brayzen Heads – This duo plays traditional Irish and modern music: daily
Creel – Raglan Road house band: daily
West Coast Trio – Trio from Ireland’s West Coast, accompanied by accordians, flutes and whistles: daily

Featured Dance Offerings:
Raglan Road Dancers – 15-minute pop-up performances will take place daily all around Downtown Disney
Irish Dance Workshops – Taught by Ronan McCormack and the Raglan Road Dancers: 3/15 – 3/17/14

Featured food and drink offerings:
Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant – Irish, European and American beers, plus modern cuisine from Master Chef Kevin Dundon. Raglan Road pop-up locations will be throughout Downtown Disney.
Paradiso 37 – Irish cocktails, like The Giant Leprechaun
Planet Hollywood – Festive foods and specialty drinks
Bongos – Seasonal food and beverage items
T-Rex – Featured food items and specialty beverages, like the Candy Apple Cotton-Tini
Portobello – Fiddler’s Dream (mixed with Jameson honey simple syrup, Fever Tree ginger beer and a splash of lemonade)
Fulton’s Crab House – Limey Leprechaun (Cuervo Gold, Midori, pineapple juice, sour mix and ice)
Wolfgang Puck Cafe – Shamrock Martinis (mixed with Midori, green creme de mint, ice cream and a chocolate swirl)
Food trucks – Fisherman’s Pie, St. Patrick’s-themed cupcakes with shamrock sprinkles
Forty Thirst Street – Irish Coffee

World Secrets: How to Get a Last Minute Dinner Reservation at Be Our Guest

Published January 9, 2014 by

Does anyone else find it a little ironic that a restaurant that is literally named, “Be Our Guest” can be so hard to get in to?

Anyone who has ever called 6 months in advance just to find out they are completely booked knows what I am talking about here. But guess what? Last night I got a seemingly impossible dinner reservation at Be Our Guest and you can do it too. In fact, you can use these tips for any popular Walt Disney World restaurant.


Now please don’t hold it against me that I have had a little practice with this process. If you called Disney Dining at 407-WDW-Dine at any time between 2008 and 2011 or so – I might have been the one that answered the phone and got you in at your favorite Disney restaurants. However…I wasn’t a miracle worker then and I am certainly not one now. Anyone has a chance to get into the most popular Disney restaurants at the last minute by utilizing these simple tips I am about to share with you today.

I’m going to start by stating the obvious. You best bet is to plan way in advance. There are lots of articles out there with tips on how to go about doing this. However, this particular blog post is for those of you out there who for whatever reason didn’t have the luxury of planning so far ahead.


So here is step one: try getting in 2 days before and even 1 day before you want to dine. First go on-line to and if that doesn’t work, make the phone call to Disney dining reservations at 407-WDW-Dine. In training we were always told that table inventory was exactly the same on-line and over the phone, however, for whatever reason, the system CAN show different times of availability. I have seen it happen with my own eyes. So go ahead and try both methods. You can book dining as late as 3 hours in advance but either 2 or 1 day before you are wanting to dine is your best bet. Why? Because guests will cancel either 2 or 1 day before their reservation so that they don’t get hit with the $10 per person penalty depending on the policy of the respective restaurant. That is when you can hit the jackpot, swoop in, and score your dream dining reservation.

Even if you aren’t able to accomplish your booking with step one, there is still a glimmer of hope in step two. Don’t go out of your way, but if you are close to a restaurant that you would really love to try, ALWAYS walk up to the hostess stand and ask politely if they are taking walk-ins. You just never know. This works best if you are in a smaller party of 1 to 4 people. When we dined at Be Our Guest for our late dinner, we were told they had been taking walk-ins all evening. Please be nice and be understanding if they are completely booked. They can’t give you what is not there…but it never hurts to ask…especially if you are very nice about it.

It’s OK to keep asking too. Don’t be annoying and keep bugging them every hour – BUT do try again later if you are close by and notice there aren’t a lot of guests waiting around with pagers. I have experience with working at a hostess stand at Disney as well — and I can tell you there were many days where one hour we could not take walk-ins and then an hour or two later on that same day – we were able to. It all depends on how busy the parks are and how many people just didn’t show up for their dining reservations.

Finally, if all else fails, remember you are still at Disney World! All the restaurants are special in their own ways. Check the internet for those hidden gems that often have availability at the last minute, simply because they don’t get as much “hype.”

Just a few examples:

I have found a real treasure in Biergarten! The food is terrific and they’ve got a German polka band! Restaurant Marrakesh has belly dancers! Don’t forget about the Lava Lounge in Downtown Disney. It shares a kitchen with the Rainforest Cafe – and you never need a reservation because they only take walk-ins. Many Disney resort lounges and bars serve appetizers and even full meals. You can walk right up and order fast.

Best wishes in your last minute search and “Be Our Guest” to use these tips and score some great dining! If you enjoyed this post be sure to check out our next WORLD SECRET: HOW TO GET A PRINCESS MAKEOVER WHEN THE BIBBIDI BOBBIDI BOUTIQUE IS FULLY BOOKED! 

There are even more World Secrets to be found HERE. Have a magical day!

Festival of the Masters ~ Activity Times, Locations and Bonus Tips!

Published October 24, 2013 by

Festival of the Masters

At last, fall is in the air, and the 38th annual Festival of the Masters is back November 8-10 in 2013. Festival of the Masters is one of the premier gatherings of artists in the Southeast with it’s one-of-a-kind and limited-edition paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry and more.
Listen to the live music and enjoy hands-on fun for all ages. And this year, artistic cocktails take a front seat with a new twist called “Mixers and Masters,” with dining locations featuring specialty drinks for sipping and strolling. Look for feather banners to indicate which restaurants will be participating, with each cocktail priced separately.
Three times a day you can stop by “The Art of Mixology” at the Waterside Stage, with experts showing what goes into making an artfully delicious cocktail during each 10-minute demo.
Festival hours are 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. November 8 and 9, and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on November 10. Admission and parking are free. Valet parking will be offered for $15 or if you are a Tables in Wonderland cardholder, you can valet for free with a qualifying meal receipt. Don’t forget to tip your valet!



CHALK ART: Chalk Artists will transform more than 1,000 square feet in the Marketplace and West Side into a colorful display of art.

FINE ART MASTERS: Throughout Downtown Disney® West Side, you’ll find over 150 award winning Fine Artists, including original, one of a kind, and limited-edition painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, glass, wood, and more.
Emerging Masters: Come see more than 20 up-and-coming artists located in the Marketplace.

HOUSE OF BLUES FOLK ART FESTIVAL: “Where the Art Meets the Soul” Featuring more than 30 local and national folk artists, located on the West Side near House of Blues®. In addition to the art displays, guests can enjoy live musical performances by regional blues musicians Friday and Saturday night in the restaurant, as well as a variety of Southern dishes whipped up from the House of Blues kitchen daily, opening at 11:30am.

ART OF DISNEY: Come visit the flagship art gallery at the Marketplace full of art from the Disney Masters! Artist appearances will be scheduled throughout the weekend.

DISNEY ARTIST VILLAGE: Visit  Disney Artist Village on the West Side where you will find a wide array of art featuring your favorite Disney characters. Meet the artists behind these works of art throughout the weekend. The Disney Artist Village is located between Cirque du Soleil® theater and House of Blues®.

D STREET at Downtown Disney® West Side: Celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Vinylmation™ all weekend long at D Street with the new, limited edition figure celebrating this milestone event. Disney Design Group Artist, Thomas Scott, will appear on Friday, November 8, from 10:00am – 12:00pm to sign the latest Vinylmation™ figure.


ART CHATS at the WATERSIDE STAGE!: during the day at the Waterside Stage, located in the Marketplace, there will be fun interactive chat shows about art and what art can be. Get exclusive behind the scenes details on the design development of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with a Disney Artist.

LIVE PERFORMANCE ARTISTS!: Art comes alive as artists create a masterpiece on stage before your eyes, bringing their inspiration to life! Live shows with Disney Artists will be performed throughout the weekend at the Waterside Stage, located in the Marketplace.

CHILDREN’S CHALK ART: Back by popular demand, Children’s Chalk Art. Visit the Marketplace to find a section of walk to creatively chalk.

FAMILY ACTIVITIES: Enjoy family friendly activities provided by: Michaels®, LEGO®, Little MissMatched™, Rainforest Café®, Disney Interactive, and Festival of the Masters Children’s Chalk Art.

MICHAELS: The Michaels Design Team is excited to entertain and inspire you with fun interactive art and crafting experiences for the whole family located on the West Side.



Friday- 2:30pm-4:00pm and 5:00pm
Saturday- 11:00am-12:00pm, 2:00pm-3:30pm, and 4:30pm-5:30pm
Sunday- 11:00am-12:00pm, 1:00pm-2:30pm and 3:30pm-4:30pm

Enjoy appearances on the plaza between DisneyQuest and Cirque du Soleil by performers from La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil on Friday and Saturday between 4:00pm-4:15pm

Live Entertainment on the Front Porch throughout the Weekend

Live All Day Entertainment on Outdoor Patio throughout the Weekend

Live Entertainment Saturday and Sunday from 12:00pm-4:00pm on the Outdoor Patio and inside the restaurant on the Main Stage


  • Be on the lookout for special outdoor demonstrations of acrobatic artistry by performers from Cirque du Soleil.
  • Don’t forget your camera so you can create your own artistic photo memories.
  • Stop in the House of Blues Folk Art Festival – where there will be more earthy creations on display
%d bloggers like this: