Contempo Cafe: A great counter service option

On our recent trip to the World, we were lucky enough to be on the monorail.  This gave us many options for counter service meals. We ended up at the Contempo Cafe twice during the week.  One time was for breakfast and one time was for lunch.  Here’s our experience:

Our first trip was not planned well.  We ended up at the Contempo Cafe at 9amish, peak breakfast time.  We were handed a menu from a cast member standing at the entrance and were told to go to the register to order.  That was it.  We didn’t know if we should get a drink first or a pastry before proceeding to the check out.  I know that you used to order on a touchscreen, so I guess this is better, yet it was still confusing.  My mom ordered the french toast with fruit topping and either sausage or bacon.  She was not asked any questions, but ordered, paid, and was sent on her way.  I ordered the oatmeal and a chocolate milk.  It took us awhile to find a seat as it is not that large, and again it was prime time.  We finally found a seat and within five minutes, our meals were brought to us via the RFID chip in our magic band.  My mother’s french toast

 

with fruit had no fruit and it came with bacon and sausage slapped on it.  I think if she had inquired at the check out, it could have been rectified.  It was average, but not terrible.  The star of the breakfast was the oatmeal.  It had a nice bite to it and wasn’t too mushy.  The brown sugar and fruit was awesome on top.  I ate the whole thing!  I think it should be a staple on ALL counter service menus!

I ended up at the Contempo for lunch on one of our last days.  I was exploring the monorail resorts, and I knew I wanted to try lunch at Contempo.  This time there was no cast member standing out front with menus, so I just proceeded to the bakery case; I am glad I did.  One of the best things about the contempo is the variety of cupcakes they have.  It was awesome.  Their specialty cupcake was a churro cupcake and I was immediately drawn to it.  I also ordered an italian sub and an arnold palmer iced tea.  I found a seat with no problems as it was 1:30 and not a peak time.  I got to overlook the beautiful Mary Blair mural and enjoy my lunch.  My food arrived via a castmember tracking my RFID chip, and when it came I was smiling.  The bread was crunchy and all the cold cuts really complemented each other.  I polished off half of the sub, and then made way to the cupcake.  It was stellar.  Cinnamon-y and not too sweet.  It was moist cake, and nice whipped frosting.  I was in heaven!

Overall, I would totally recommend going to the Contempo Cafe.  If you are in the Magic Kingdom and want to take a mid-day break, jump on the monorail or take the short stroll to the Contemporary and enjoy a leisurely lunch.  There is also AWESOME shopping over there!  Enjoy!

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Contempo Cafe: A great counter service option

The Boathouse at Disney Springs–A lunch review

On Wednesday, June 23 I found myself at Disney Springs with my mom.  It was my first time to the new Disney Springs and I was elated with what I saw.  I had made an early lunch ADR at a restaurant I had heard a great deal about, the Boathouse.  Being from Cape Cod, the menu was something I seemed familiar with.  It had a nautical vibe, and lots of fresh looking food on the menu.  Our ADR was for 11:30am, and we arrived to that area of Disney Springs at 11.  I was elated to be early so that I could look around at the restaurant across the amphitheater, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar.  I took so many pictures, I became dizzy.  I also got to look at the amphicars.  This is super cool.  There are brightly colored cars that can be driven in the water and on land.  You can reserve one and a captain will take you on a tour of the springs via the water.  Each tour is 20 minutes, and the Boathouse offers Lunch and Launch specials.

After watching a launch, we headed in.  We walked into a really cool bar.  You felt as though you were definitely in a yacht club.  The very kind hostess asked if we wanted inside or out.  Since it was June, we opted for inside.  There were barely any people seated, as most of the people worked there.  It is bright and airy, and the decor is beachy and cool.  There are lots of nautical touches and lots of flowers.  The bright turquoise colors are offset with lots of silver accents and cool lights.  We were seated right next to a window by the water.  It was perfect.

Our server was Christina and she was on point.  She was kind, knowledgeable and knew a lot about Disney and the restaurant.  She said that the servers there are hybrids and work for the restaurant company as well as are cast members.  She said it’s the best of both worlds.  She pointed out some awesome seafood on the menu, and was very knowledgeable about the types of fish they used.  She said it is off the boats daily, which is a great thing in Florida.

Christina started us off with two really soft rolls that were delicious. I want to say it was flavored butter, but I honestly don’t remember I then decided what I wanted to order. I went with my tried and true chicken Caesar Salad. It was awesome. I love a good anchovy bite in my dressing, and that’s exactly what I got. I do believe it was one of the best chicken Caesar salads I’ve ever had. I went with unsweetened tea and it was fine. Mom went more adventurous and had the fish and chips. It was the perfect size, not too big and not too small. It was cod, which we are used to and it looked great. Mom said the breading was almost corn flakey. Neither of us went with dessert as there were so many options at Disney Springs we wanted to try. Thank goodness Christina was on top of her game and asked if we were paying with our magic bands as this could cause a problem with their system. She said that their restaurant(not owned by Disney) and the Disney server don’t always communicate. She took the numbers right off the back of our bands, and when it was time for the check it was easy peasy. Such a WONDERFUL experience. It was cheap too, based on what we got. We both payed exactly the same. Just over $20 with tip. I would definitely go back to the Boathouse.

I look forward to coming back here again and trying more of their dishes.  It was just so hot that I wasn’t into eating too much food.  I was nervous about this restaurant because it seemed really pricey, but as with many other restaurants, it’s all in what you order.  I would definitely recommend the Boathouse to anyone!

The Boathouse at Disney Springs–A lunch review

Polynesian Village Resort Studio Villa

My mom and I just got back from an awesome visit to the World. I had a return to the magic pin code, and when we were booking, we saw that we could get a Poly Studio Villa for$350 a night when the standard rack rate at that time was $505 a night.  Since we had not stayed at the Polynesian for over 20 years, AND we had never done DVC there, we figured sure!  Now I LOVE the Polynesian.  It’s location is ideal, and it’s setting is beautiful and lush!  It’s a win/win. I did all of my research and saw that standard Studios were housed in three buildings, Tokelau, Morea, and Pago Pago.  After looking over the map and coordinating wants and needs, we decided on Tokelau and 5 days out we faxed our request to Disney, Tokelau(3rd Floor).

We arrived from Magical Express to the Great Ceremonial House at 9:45. There was no line for check in, and we had a very nice cast member check us in.  She was a little slow on the check in, but still super sweet. We asked that each of us have our own credit card on our magic bands.  This seemed to stump her, but she figured it out.  She then assigned us our room, Pago Pago 1st floor.  I politely asked if it could be switched, and I informed her that I had faxed in a request for Tokelau five days prior.  She made a call and got us into Tokelau, 1st floor. I was psyched. We then went to Cap’t Cooks for a quick bite before going to room 1945!  We each got our meals and found our magic bands were declined.  I assumed it hadn’t updated yet. Before we left to go to the room, mom bought a cookie on the magic band and it worked! Score. Little did I know that it wasn’t really fixed which we did not learn until trying to pay for our Crystal Palace breakfast the next morning.  The resort was GORGEOUS, even better than I remembered! Our building was no more than a 3 minute walk from the Great Ceremonial House.  We were exactly between the front entrance of the building and the middle entrance. The building was a two minute walk to the bus and a 5-8 minute walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center. We were a 5 minute walk to the boat launch.  It was PERFECT.  We were there four days after the tragedy with the poor little boy at GF, so the beaches were still not open yet.  Our room was nice, but I think I expected more. I know that sounds so bratty but I did.  It was nicely appointed, but lacking. Our room seemed to not have been used for awhile.  There were white moths in the room the entire time we were there.  They didn’t bother us, but they were there.  I am a fan of the dark wood in the room.  There is a plush queen sized bed, not firm at all. There is a queen size pull our couch, uncomfortable for my taste, and a pull down murphy bed for a child, super cute.  I did love all the tiki touches and bright oranges and teals.  My biggest complaint of the room was there was no dresser/bureau of drawers.  The murphy bed was where traditionally it would have been.  There were only two drawers under the queen sized bed, which just seemed strange to me.  Also, the sliding barn doors for the two bathrooms never really closed.  I actually got stuck unable to open one when I was coming out of the shower!  The other complaint was that we had safe issues the whole time.  We had to call for help on three separate occasions for them to open it, and even they seemed perplexed as to why.  One day we had to wait in our room for 5 hours.

My favorite part of the room was the rain fall shower.  I took three showers a day in this!  I loved it and am trying to figure out how to get my husband to put one in our house!  I love this resort, but I don’t know if I would stay DVC again.  I may just stay in one of the non DVC rooms.  The building was perfect and was RIGHT ACROSS from the awesome Oasis pool.  It had cabanas, a bar(yes) and it’s own quick service location. I was psyched. We did have ideal location to everything as well.

Food/Drink

We LOVED Trader Sams. It is cool inside, but we really loved the outside.  We had a wonderful afternoon there, and if I was there with my husband I am assuming I would have had more days there.  We also loved Tambu Lounge, Kona Cafe and Kona Island Coffee.  Honestly the best iced caramel macchiato of my life.  We did NOT care for Cap’t Cooks.  I found the selection basic and the food quality mediocre.  I was especially disappointed in their dessert selections.  I guess I am used to a moderate food court with it’s own bakery, and I needed to adjust my expectations.  We had two dinners and a breakfast there, and we were underwhelmed by all of them.

Shopping

Moana Mercantile was wonderful.  I had a cold when there, and they had a great selection of cold medicine which was actually well priced.  I also am a HUGE fan of the Boutiki.  I go our of my way, even when not staying here, to come to this store.  It’s one of my favorite on property.

Overall

All the common areas are clean and beautiful here. We loved all of the transportation options here, and we used ALL of them!  We even got a taxi twice, and we had no problem with that.  I love the signage, the new lobby, and everything else that this has to offer.  I was meh with the room, but I would definitely stay here in one of the other rooms.  We were here to see the fences go up on the beach, and I honestly think it looks great.  If you didn’t know it hadn’t always been there, you wouldn’t have given it a second glance.  We loved watching the fireworks and the electrical water pagaent from the beach, it is something so special about this resort.

Polynesian Village Resort Studio Villa

Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, a review

So just under two months ago, I was awake before 6am hoping to get some coveted new fast pass pluses for the summer shows/attractions that were opening.  I knew that I was going in June with my mom, and I knew that Frozen Ever After, Soarin Over the World and the Jungle Book: Alive with Magic would need to be acquired.  I first thought I would get a dining package as they had not mentioned if FPP would be available for JB.  Since I am NOT a huge AK fan, a breakfast at Tusker House would not work for me.  The thought of spending an entire day in the AK fills me with dread.  Also I couldn’t do a Tiffins dinner because my mother is the least adventurous person in the world.  Then to my delight I saw they would be offering FPP for it.  I snagged one for the first show and it said to que up between 8:25-8:45 for a 9pm show.  This was GREAT!  I was THRILLED.  Then the show began on Memorial Day weekend-ish and I read the reviews.  It was horrible.  I did not lose faith though, for often I do not agree with the ‘pundits’ and their jaded views.  I figured it would be GREAT. That day, June 21, we arrived at AK in the 93 degree heat at 5:30pm.  Why, for the love of God, is it always so hot when I go to this park? lol  So we got there and immediately made out way to Harambe. We wanted to look around and enjoy the park before our 7pm FPP for the safari.  We made it there and soaked in all Harambe had to offer.  It was charming and the safari was great. We then met up with one of my former students, a safari guide, to catch up.  It was then 8:30 and we had to make our way to the FPP que for JB.  The question was….where was it?  Let me just tell you it was harder to find that que than it is to find a shady space in that park.  We finally found it and every time we got to the ‘entrance’ we were sent further up by a cast member.  We felt like we were being tricked or duped.  I mean three times to get sent up?  Crazy.  We finally got in and it looked promising.  It was over looking the water and there were barges that were not at the bottom of the lake.  Score.  The cement benches had no back and no one was being friendly.  The cast members were trying to get people to move down, but it was to no avail.  Well here we go.  We then waited for an interminable  30 minutes until the show.  They had some fluffers(pre show hosts) trying to get everyone psyched up as we waited.  They played games and sang(yikes).  What I loved most was the decorations in the theater.  Since we entered in Asia, it was very fitting.  The prayer flags and the lighting was gorgeous.  That was about as good as this show got.

Once the show started, so did the confusion.  You couldn’t see what was going on and there were many people singing, dancing, and playing instruments.  It was someone with focus’ issues worst nightmare.  The signing was fine, and the dancers on the barge in front of me were decent, but it was just too much going on.  Out in the water, they had streams of water shooting into the sky and were trying to project the scenes of the JB onto them.  The problem was….you couldn’t see them.  The next 20mins of the show were poorly done.  They tried, they really did, but to no avail.  The traditional JB songs were good, but the story was so lost because of the boats moving around and the poor projections.  It got so bad that people were streaming out of the theater within the first 10 minutes.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Literally , groups of people were getting up and walking out in the middle of the show.  There were performers in the aisles of the theater holding fire and other props and these people were pushing by the performers to get out.  Not a good look for Disney.  Overall, it was a disappointment.

Once the show was over, getting out of the theater was the real nightmare.  The park is not made for nighttime, so the lighting is bad.  My mom’s vision isn’t really great, and the lack of lighting did not help.  It was confusing to say the least.  I then realized that I sat to wait for the show longer than the show ran, what a waste.

In the end, I hope that Disney learns from this and makes sure that Rivers of Light does NOT have the same dismal fate.  I love that they are trying new things, and I know that they threw this show together in 42 days, but if it’s not good Disney, don’t show it.  Figure out how to make it better and up your game…especially by the time I come back in late October!

Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, a review

Jungle Navigation Company Skipper Canteen Review

On my recent trip to WDW(6/18/16-6/24/16) I was lucky enough to eat in the Skipper Canteen before the upcoming menu change.  I was nervous about the food that was so adventurous, but I had hear amazing things so I booked it once you could make advanced ADR’s.  I am so glad that I did.  You walk in to the open and airy waiting area that has trunks and lots of other touches that make you feel like you are in the turn of the century setting waiting to go on an adventure. All of the Skipper’s are campy and give you tons and tons of puns to ponder.  We were seated in the crew mess hall right as you walk in.  The decor was spot on.  Imangineers went full out on this.  We sat below a sign for Albert (Sweitzer) Fall’s office.  We were presented with the menu, and I was nervous that my mom, the most unadventurous eater in the world, would find nothing to try.  She went out on a limb and ordered the lamb chops with green lentils.  I was dying to try the Skip’s Mac and Cheese.  It was so interesting with the “Egyptian” spiced meat.  I was boring and got a Perrier and mom tried the punch!  We began with some very dense bread.  It wasn’t bad, but I’ve had better bread. The sauce they gave you to dip it in was almost like molasses or maple. I wasn’t a huge fan, but we were trying new things.  When our meals arrived, we couldn’t have been happier. Her lamb was cooked perfectly and her lentils had a slow burning spice to them.  The star was the mac and cheese.  I loved the spiced meat in it.  It was so earthy and delicious. I wanted to eat the whole thing, but it was huge and I just couldn’t make it happen.  We both then turned to the desserts.  We shared the kungaloosh.  Um…..do yourself a favor and eat this.  It was chocolate and saltiness and crunchy.  It was all you’d want and more.  Our server was not overly pushy, and had great comedic timing with his puns. I asked him about the upcoming menu change and he said he was excited to get some of the ‘clunkers’ off the menu.  He said it was about time.  I can only imagine how many complaints he hears from unadventurous guests(like the table next to us) who were not fans of the menu.  In the end, I would totally return to the Skipper Canteen.  I am interested in what the menu change will hold, but the setting is gorgeous!  Next time you are in the Magic Kingdom, get on in there!

Jungle Navigation Company Skipper Canteen Review

Persistence is Key in Planning a Perfect Disney Vacation

I know people say that persistence is key in life, but I don’t think it is as true as it is when planning a Walt Disney World vacation.  Planning the perfect Walt Disney vacation is not merely a sprint, ladies and gentlemen; it is a marathon. If you want to make sure you get the perfect ADR’s, FPP’s and still have a cost effective stay, you need to begin planning and continue planning up until the day you leave.  Our May episode of the Disney Dreaming Podcast is all about how to save money on your next Disney vacation, but it is also about staying persistent to get the experiences you want.  Here is, in my humble opinion, the best strategy.

I check the WDW website at least three times a day.  I know…I’m a lunatic.  Don’t judge, it’s my vice.  I am always seeing what deals they have on hotel rooms.  Disney almost always, unless it’s a major holiday season, has discounts.  Sometimes they are room only discounts of up to 30% deluxe rooms or even sometimes they are the coveted unicorn of free dining.  NO mater what, though, there is always some sort of discount.  It is a fool’s errand to pay rack rate.  I’ll just say it.  Have we all done it at least once, yes.  Have we all smarted in the kiester from it, yes.  90% of the time you want to visit WDW, you will not have to pay full price.  Disney over inflates their room rates so that we feel as though we are getting a deal.  You could be staying at Caribbean Beach resort with 500 other families.  I’ll bet dollars to donuts there are few families that pay the same rate.  Between pin codes, bounce back offers, and other Disney generated discounts, everyone pays a different rate.  So how do you make sure that you are getting the best discount?  Be persistent.  Keep checking the Disney website and keep pricing out your vacation.  Try many times and don’t be afraid to change your dates.  Try a day ahead or a day behind your wanted check in day, and you may be rewarded with a better rate.  I don’t know why it happens, but in one day I can be offered three different room rates on the same room.  It’s wacky, but it’s Disney.

Once you get the resort you want and you are 180 days out, begin making your Advanced Dining Reservations(ADRs).  Snag all the ones you want. What if that pre rope drop Be Our Guest isn’t available to you,  yet a 9:30am is, still take it. The reason I say this is because you can keep checking your My Disney Experience(MDE) and change the time.  It is easier to change your ADR time as your vacation approaches than it will be to secure a new ADR.  As time gets closer if you want to dump that ADR because you no longer need it, no harm no foul. Someone else will be rewarded.  It’s all about karma in the Disney Universe.  Your loss is someone else’s gain, etc.

The last tip is much like the previous one.  If you are staying on property, 60 days out you will be able to make your Fast Pass Plus(FPP) reservations.  If you are not staying on property, you will be able to make those FPP’s 30 days out.  Again, snag what you want. Try to get morning ones so that you can use them and get more.  What if 7 Dwarfs Mine Train only has an 8pm available instead of a 945am?  Take it…keep checking, being persistent, and waiting.  As time approaches, someone might drop that coveted time slot and you can snatch it right up!

So that’s our advice to all of our fans…be diligent and be persistent.  Your persistence will pay off when your family is reaping the rewards in your happy place!

Persistence is Key in Planning a Perfect Disney Vacation

Changes to Fast Pass Plus

So many people have been grumbling since the Fast Pass Plus(FPP) rollout a couple of years ago.  Many returning WDW visitors were huge fans of the paper fast passes that were of old.  We loved getting into the park and rushing to the hot commodity of the park’s Fast Pass kiosk.  People still miss this old way of doing it.  We even miss the hidden kiosks that were not on the main frame that would allow us extra fast passes.  But then FPP was rolled out, and with it new rules and new restrictions.  On your MDE, one could set up three fast passes for a day.  Sounds easy enough, but the problem was that they tiered the attractions.  In Epcot, you couldn’t get a Test Track and a Soarin’ fast pass together.  And even more, they made you get 3!  What if I only want 1 or 2?  Sorry, you must get three.  Therefore, we were in essence wasting a FP for something we would never see.  You were able to get a 4th, but you had to do it in the park, not on your app.  Well Disney finally has changed FPP.

As of April 10, here are the changes:

  1. Guests will no longer need to use a kiosk to make additional Fastpass+ reservations. Guests will now be able to book an additional and even further FP+ reservations through the MyDisneyExperience app.
  2. Guest will be also be able to choose between 1-to-3 Fastpass+ reservations in advance. They will no longer be forced to pick 3.
  3. Additional Fastpass+ reservations can be made one at time after your initial advance reservations have been used up. Each additional pass can be made yourself through the mobile app or website, and even booked for another park if you plan to park hop.
  4. With the new system, guests will be able to choose and attraction and time simultaneously. This should allow for better customization of guests schedules.
  5. Another cool feature being added is the ability to remove individual guests from a Fastpass+ reservation and the ability to cancel a single reservation instead of all of them. (disneyfanatic.com)

So will this be the change that makes many doubters in FPP believers?  We will have to wait and see.  Personally…I’m super excited about these changes!  I can’t wait to see what I can book now!fastpass-400

Changes to Fast Pass Plus