November 11, 2015

Restaurant Review: Raglan Road

During my trip in February, my boyfriend Ethan and I went to dinner at Raglan Road. Raglan Road is located at Disney Springs (formerly known at Downtown Disney), and it accepts the Disney Dining Plan for 1 credit. Looking for information about the dining plan? Check out this post. Having eaten here, it is definitely my “go-to” restaurant at Disney Springs now, and I can’t wait to go back.

(from Walt Disney World Website)

(from Walt Disney World Website)

Ethan and I had dinner here after spending the morning and early afternoon at Animal Kingdom, relaxing for a bit at our hotel (Caribbean Beach) and then spending the evening at Disney Springs. You can read what I love about Downtown Disney here. I was very happy we made a reservation, because it was busy. We gave our name and waited a little before we were seated. We were seated closer to the bar than the main stage, so we couldn’t really see the dancing going on, which was about the only negative. You can request a closer view but it cannot be guaranteed. After a couple of days in the parks it was nice to relax at a restaurant outside the parks, which allowed us to eat a little slower. We both had a drink, Ethan had a Harp and I had the Blueberry Mint Lemonade. Our server was great! He kept checking on us making us feel like we were his only table, and actually conversed with us. Definitely one of the better waiters we’ve had at Walt Disney World.

After enjoying our drinks for a while it was time to eat. I ordered the Citrus Salmon Salad, which was really good. It was nice to have something a little lighter after eating theme park food for a few days. Even though it was back in February when we dined, I remember eating it all (which is unusual for me). Ethan had the Fish & Chips, and he really enjoyed them. If there is Fish & Chips on a menu, I can almost guarantee that’s what he’s getting ;). The food was really good, but the atmosphere it what sets this restaurant apart. I have an Irish background, and I remember the whole time I was sitting there I couldn’t help but think of how much my family would enjoy it! I think we will be heading back there on our next trip. The music is fun and energetic, and although I couldn’t see the dancers on the stage, I saw them outside and they are very talented! I did catch a glimpse of some guests up on the stage with the dancers, so I guess you never know if you will end up on stage!

This is the inside of Raglan Road... seriously eat here! (picture from WDW website)

(picture from WDW website)

Even though I had eaten every last bite of my meal, I couldn’t turn down dessert. Ethan and I split the Strawberry and Apple Crumble. We finished every bite of that too! After sitting for a little longer we headed out, and walked around Disney Springs for a while.

If you are on the Disney Dining Plan I think this restaurant it a great use of a dining credit. If you aren’t on the dining plan, I think the prices are worth the quality of food, the service, and the entertainment. With the expansion of Disney Springs there are lots of new dining choices to choose from, but I think Raglan Road will stay at the top of the list for me. If you are looking for a fun night out at a pub, this is the place for you. If you are looking for an intimate place to dine, you might want to choose a different restaurant.

It’s hard to explain just how great the atmosphere is at Raglan Road, so you will just have to go for yourself and find out! It is a chain restaurant (I didn’t know that at the time) so if you have one close to you, what are you waiting for?

Feedback is always great, so let me know if you like these restaurant reviews! I will make sure to take better pictures on my next trip! I’m always open to hear what kind of posts you would like to see next! Have you ever dined at Raglan Road? What did you think? Do you have a restaurant at Disney Springs that is your “go-to”? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading!

Kelsey
November 4, 2015

FastPass+: Everything You Need to Know

Have you been to Walt Disney World in the last few years? Chances are if you have, you have noticed their Fastpass system. You visit a ride, put your park pass into a machine and get a slip telling you a time to come back, where you will enter a line with minimal wait time, for free. It is a nice addition, with no additional cost. While the process has changed in the last few years, it is still definitely something to take advantage of. So how does it work? I will spell it all out for you.

Seven Dwarf Mine Train

What is Fastpass+?

Unlike Fastpass (the old system) where you or someone in your party had to be in the park and able to go to an attraction to get a physical pass with a time to come back. Now, it’s all virtual and can be done up to 60 days in advance. There are kiosks in all of the parks, and Fastpass+ is integrated with My Disney Expreience the app, and the website. You can read all about My Disney Experience in this post. A Fastpass+ is a time to ride with minimal wait. You enter a separate line of a queue, and experience the attraction with less of a wait. For shows, you get prime seating and reserved spaces.

How do you get a Fastpass?

You can select a Fastpass up to 60 days in advance when you book a Disney Resort Package (you can read about staying on site here) and up to 30 days in advance with the purchase of a park ticket. You can use My Disney Experience to book Fastpass+ in advance, or at the kiosks in the park. If you want to book a Fastpass or change your selection you can visit the kiosk (you can find the locations on park maps). Cast Members are on hand with the kiosks to help you make your selections. Availability for each attraction is limited, so there is a definite advantage to book in advance! I usually know which park I will be at on which day according to park hours and dining reservations, so it makes it easier to book in advance. If you don’t want to plan your rides out that far in advance, you can use the kiosks the day of, just be aware that not everything may still be available. When using the kiosks to change a selection or make a new one, you can only make selections for the theme park you are in. This is important if you are Park Hopping, and want to change your selections for the secon (or third, or fourth!) park of the day.

It is important to note that Disney has made a smart decision, and “tiered” the attractions at some parks. At Epcot, you can pick 1 from a tier with Test Track and Soarin’, and 2 from the next tier. The same goes at Hollywood Studios, choosing between Rock n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. It helps to visit the park at opening, and experience the attraction you do not have a Fastpass+ for, with minimal lines!

How many do you get per day?

You are allocated 3 Fastpass+ per day.

Expedition Everest Looms

Can I change my mind?

Absolutely! It helps to download the My Disney Experience App because you can make changes from your phone. The app is laid out and guides you through the process, so it is really easy to use! You can also visit a Fastpass+ kiosk in the park to make changes to your Fastpass+ selections.

Can you get more than 3?

You can get more than three per day, but only once you have used up your original three selections. At this time, you must visit a kiosk to select additional Fastpass+, but hopefully it will be available on the app soon! Once you have used all three of your Fastpass+ *, you can select one additional Fastpass+ using the in park kiosk. When you use that one up, you can get one additional Fatpass+ and so on.

*You must use the Fastpass+, or let it time out. One my trip in February Ethan didn’t want to ride Tower of Terror, and rather than waiting for it to time out before grabbing our Fantasmic! Fastpass+, he had to go through the Fastpass+ line at Tower of Terror, and “use” his Fastpass+ without going on the ride., before selecting his next one.

MISTER SMEE!

MISTER SMEE!

Is it worth it?

Absolutely! It seems crazy to “book” when you ride an attraction 60 days in advance, but with some of the lines during busier times of the year this is a must! On my trip in February the crowds weren’t huge, but I got to experience Seven Dwarf Mine Train with less than a 10 minute wait, rather than a 90+ minute wait. That in itself made such a difference during our trip that I would recommend Fastpass+ to anyone! If you want to take a more laid back approach, you can select your Fastpass+ the day of your visit, just be aware that all attractions may not be available for selection.

Bonus tips!

The park are busiest in the middle of the day, meaning lines are going to be longest during this time. Want to experience more attractions? Book your Fastpass+ during this time!

Want to see a night show? Wishes and Illuminations can be seen from a variety of spots, so a Fastpass+ isn’t a necessity. For Fantasmic!, I would strongly suggest Fastpass+. But here’s a trick: Select three Fastpass+ none of which are Fantasmic, and as soon as they have been used, head to the kiosks by Tower of Terror. Select Fantasmic! as your next Fastpass+, and you are guaranteed a pretty good view. The amphitheatre fills up quickly so I would still suggest arriving 60-90 minutes before showtime to be able to select a great seat!

To follow up with the point above, do not select a Fastpass+ for a fireworks show or parade unless you really want to see the show from the specified location. Using a Fastpass+ for a night show will not allow you to use up all 3 Fastpasses before you can get another. You will have to get your 4th Fastpass+ after the night show, but the parks generally close after the fireworks. To get the most out of a free service, I would suggest avoiding firework Fastpasses.

Distant Tower of Terror

Have you used Fastpass+ before? What are your thoughts on the new system? Let me know in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading!

Kelsey
October 28, 2015

Restaurant Review: California Grill

I have dined at California Grill twice. Once in May 2007, and most recently in February. Ethan had never been there, so I wanted to splurge on a dinner and have a great time. California Grill is located at the top of the Contemporary resort just beside Magic Kingdom. In my opinion, it is worth it just for the view. I figured I would do some restaurant reviews from my most recent trip, to hopefully help those of you looking for where to eat on your Disney vacation.

One of my favourite pictures from the night :)

One of my favourite pictures from the night 🙂

During this trip Ethan and I booked the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom, so we were there earlier the day of our reservation. We were planning on staying all day so we brought a change of clothes with us for dinner and rented a locker outside of Magic Kingdom. We also put the tripod in there so we could get some great pictures of Wishes! I was really happy we rented the locker because it made it much easier throughout the day. When it was almost time for our reservation, we changed in the Magic Kingdom washrooms and walked over to the Contemporary. It is about a 7 minute walk, but it was definitely nice to escape the busy Magic Kingdom, and it was the closest thing to a break we had that day!

We found our way to the check in desk for California Grill, and were asked if we were celebrating anything. I of course said Ethan’s birthday because it was two days earlier. After just a few minutes of waiting we went into the elevator that took us up to the restaurant. The Cast Member is the elevator mentioned that if you bring your receipt back to the desk, you can go onto the observation decks to watch Wishes at night. Our reservation was fairly early, so we weren’t sure if we were going to take advantage of this. I have seen Wishes from the decks before, and it is nice to have a different view. We were escorted to our seat which was sprinkled with Mickey Confetti! The view was amazing. I am obsessed with the Grand Floridian (I think because that is where the Tanners stay in Full House) and I had a great view.

California Grill

Our server was great, and the food was amazing. They have an in-house sushi chef, so I knew what I was getting. Ethan wasn’t as sure, and ended up ordering a seafood dish, with lobster, scallops, shrimp, rice and sweet potatoes. I had he California Combination Roll. We got bread to the table (always great, I went to chef school and has a sweet spot for good bread). My sushi was delicious, and I ate every last roll. Ethan thought his was good, but not necessarily worth the price. California Grill is expensive (it counts as 2 table service meals with the dining plan) but the view alone is worth it. Once we finished our meals, a complimentary dessert was brought to the table! Remember when I was asked if we were celebrating anything? Look at what we got!

It was free!

It was free!

The dessert was really good, and sadly our meal was over. The servers are great and tell you that you can go out to the observation decks, one at each end of the restaurant. Ethan and I got our cameras out and headed outside. It was so peaceful up there, and so cool to see so much of Disney World. You could easily see Spaceship Earth and Tower of Terror, and even closer you can see all of the mountains of the Magic Kingdom! Seriously, go there to see the view. Even if just for appetizers or drinks! You will not regret it!

Ethan and I took our pictures and headed back to Magic Kingdom, We decided to stay in the park for fireworks, and even ended up staying to see The Kiss Goodnight. Hopefully we will be able to Wishes from California Grill sometime soon.

A Look Over Magic Kingdom

The restaurant has recently received a makeover, and I thought the decor was beautiful. I can’t remember much about my first time there, but I definitely liked the new look. I remember being seated near the Pastry Chef when I went with my family, and it soon became my dream to work there. It only took a restaurant-like exam to change my mind!

I had so much fun going to such a nice dinner with my guy, I hope you liked some of the pictures we took!

As you can see, California Grill is a special restaurant for me, and I love having the chance to eat there! Have you ever dined at California Grill? If not, what is your favourite Disney restaurant? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Kelsey