Disney Character Dining Ranked by Us for You!

Hi folks! I have been deep into planning mode lately. Our August trip has evolved from just Universal Orlando to a hybrid Disney/ UO trip, but I’ll share more of that later. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of wishing that I was back at Walt Disney World, soaking up the warm temperatures and hanging with my favorite characters.

One of the things we love most is character dining at Walt Disney World. Even though our daughter is growing out of it, she’s still a pretty good sport about it. Character dining is a great way to meet your fav characters and get a great (most of the time) meal! We thought it would be fun to rate each of the character dining meals we have experienced to help out those who may be having trouble deciding where to try. The “location” category is for how convenient or special the restaurant’s location is, while the “atmosphere” category rates the overall feeling of the restaurant. This is, of course, our personal opinion. Yours may differ. With that being said, enjoy our character dining ratings!

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Tusker House— Food: 5 Character Interaction: 5 Location: 5 Atmosphere: 4                                      Characters include: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy

Garden Grill— Food: 4 Character Interaction: 5 Location: 5 Atmosphere: 5                                        Characters include: Mickey, Pluto, Chip, Dale

Akershus— Food: 4 Character Interaction: 5 Location: 4 Atmosphere: 5                                               Characters include: Snow White, Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Belle

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Hollywood and Vine (L, D)— Food: 2 Character Interaction: 4 Location: 5 Atmosphere: 3               Characters include: Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy

(Hollywood and Vine also has a character breakfast with Disney Jr. characters which we’ve never personally experienced. )

Crystal Palace— Food: 3 Character Interaction: 4 Location: 5 Atmosphere: 5                                      Characters include: Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet

Cinderella’s Royal Table— Food: 3 Character Interaction: 2 Location: 5 Atmosphere: 5                    Characters include: Ariel, Jasmine, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle

1900 Park Fare (B)— Food: 4 Character Interaction: 3 Location: 4 Atmosphere: 3                               Characters include: Alice, Mad Hatter, Pooh, Mary Poppins

1900 Park Fare (D)— Food: 2 Character Interaction: 5 Location: 4 Atmosphere: 3                              Characters include: Cinderella, Prince Charming, Drizella, Anastasia, Step-Mother

‘Ohana (B)—Food: 4  Character Interaction: 3 Location: 5 Atmosphere: 4                                              Characters include: Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, Pluto

Chef Mickey’s— Food: 3 Character Interaction: 4 Location: 4 Atmosphere: 3                                       Characters include: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto

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Cape May Cafe (B)— Food: 4 Character Interaction: 5 Location 3 Atmosphere: 3                               Characters include: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy

Trattoria al Forno (B)– Food: 5 Character Interaction: 4 Location: 4 Atmosphere: 4                          Characters include Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, Ariel, Prince Eric

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That about does it. We didn’t rate Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness, as we have not done that experience, and probably won’t any time soon (it’s out of our price range!) I hope you’ve found this post useful, or at least mildly entertaining. At any rate, we had a blast remembering  our past character dining experiences. What’s your favorite character meal? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do Meal Delivery Services Save You Money?

A couple of weeks ago I started getting really curious about these meal delivery services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. My Facebook feed must have felt it because all at once I had adverts for 5 different companies offering $30 off! First 3 meals free! Etc, etc. So, what does a curious-minded budget blogger do? She takes the bait and dives in head first, all for the sake of her dear readers (all 10 of you.)

I got an account with Blue Apron and signed up for 4 family meals a week (each meal serves 4) with a $30 coupon, my total was a little over $100. It seemed pricey to me until I reminded myself that I now had no need to go grocery shopping for the week, except to pick up a few breakfast and lunch items. I tend to buy higher quality meat and produce, which adds up quickly at the old Whole Foods. The other benefit was no meal planning! I was honestly getting in a dinner rut. Mexican night was happening all too frequently and it wasn’t much of a fiesta anymore.

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So when my delivery date arrived and I pulled into my driveway, I was ecstatic to see my meals waiting for me in 2 cardboard boxes. I quickly unpacked everything, looked over my recipes and put all the perishables (kept nice and chilly in an insulated liner and ice packs) away in the fridge. The meals looked delicious, and I immediately picked a Shrimp and Udon Noodle salad to make. These meals are more complicated than what I assume most people with kids are used to making. This is actually a good thing, as meal time has become something to look forward to, knowing I’ll be having a well thought-out, flavorful meal with quality ingredients, with little work on my part. You do still need to prepare and cook these from scratch. The veggies come in their natural state, so get ready to slice, dice and grate.

If you go for the family plan, you will be paying $140 for 4 nights of meals for your family or, just under $9 per serving. Unless you eat at a sit down restaurant almost every night, you probably are paying less than that to currently feed your family. If you would rather receive meals less frequently, it is so easy to change your plan or skip a few weeks. I’m currently trying a couple of different plans to see what works best for us (the 2 person plan might work since my husband rarely has dinner with us, but I like having leftovers)

When you factor in the time you are saving going food shopping every week and meal planning, and the quality of the food, which is probably better than you normally allow yourself to buy if you’re on a budget, it starts to make more sense. I am sticking with Blue Apron for the time being and am really happy with it. Cooking is fun again, and we are eating out much less frequently than we used to. If you use one of these services, let me know what you think! Cover photo courtesy of Basheer Tome via flickr

Meal Planning 101 and a Free Download

A thousand apologies dear readers! I have been away too long. Darn life is getting in the way of what I really want to spend all my time doing, which is writing about the Disney life. I finally realized that, while budgeting is a fantastic way to achieve your financial goals, making more money is an even better way. So, I went out and got myself a job! It’s very exciting actually, as I haven’t worked for someone besides myself since before my daughter was born.

Well, onto what I feel is a very important aspect of sticking to a budget and that is-Food! We all need it, and planning a weekly menu can be a very useful way to keep your food costs down-hey, you want to go on vacation, right? Pick a day every week when you can sit down and work on your menu. Ideally, you want to plan 3 meals a day, but if you can only plan dinner, start with that. I’ve included a very simple download that you can use for planning.img_94161

I use 3 rotating breakfasts, like scrambled eggs with toast on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, oatmeal on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and a special breakfast on Saturday (obviously adjust for your family and daily schedule) then on your grocery list, you would add oats and eggs if you didn’t already have them. If you want to add raisins and nuts like we do, make sure they’re on your grocery list! Lunches consist of leftovers and snacky foods around here- lunch meat and cheese, fruit, crackers, veggies. Dinner is usually the hardest to plan. If you work, it’s hard to come home and cook. And it can also be hard to predict what you’ll be in the mood for on Wednesday if you’re making your menu on Sunday. Make sure you have a few “no-brainers” scheduled throughout the week. For me, that is a pasta night (sub zucchini noodles if you’re doing low-carb) and a “Mexican” night using canned beans and tortillas- just add lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, we even love sweet potatoes with our bean and rice bowls.

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Cooking can be fun!

And that’s that. Just be sure anything you don’t have on hand is added to your grocery list. Pasta night with no pasta is just no fun. Adding snacks is optional. I try to add them, but end up never eating what’s on the menu, so I gave up. We figure for a family of 3 we spend a minimum of $30 to go to a restaurant. A meal at home can be made for a couple of bucks per person. It just makes sense to watch closely where your money is going when saving towards a goal. Good luck and happy planning!

Download your free menu planner here!