Mickey and Mommy

Reviews & tips for traveling to Walt Disney World with young kids

Month: February 2016

Disney Dining: ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) Explained

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ADR stands for “Advanced Dining Reservation,” and here is everything you need to know about them.

Walt Disney World offers two main types of restaurants: Quick service and table service. Quick service is either counter service or cafeteria style. You do not need ADRs for quick service restaurants. At table service restaurants, your food is either brought to your table by wait staff or served buffet style.

Although Disney states that “Advanced reservations are highly recommended” for table service restaurants, you REALLY do need an ADR.

Although walk ups are occasionally seated, your chances are slim. Many table service restaurants flat out won’t be able to take walk ups, or you may end up having to wait a while. With an infant or toddler, why chance it? Do you really want to spend your vacation trekking back and forth across a theme park trying to find some place for your hungry child to eat? Make your ADRs ahead of time.

Here is some important information about ADRs:

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Character Meet: Star Wars Launch Bay

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Inside the Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you have the opportunity to meet everyone’s favorite Wookie, Chewbacca, and Star War’s latest villain, Kylo Ren. The Star Wars Launch Bay is located in the former Magic of Disney Animation building in the Animation Courtyard and also features the Star Wars Launch Bay Theater with a continuously running 10-minute behind-the-scenes Star Wars video and special exhibits featuring replica props, costumes and artwork. You may even encounter some patrolling Stormtroopers or trading Jawas in the area…

Our trip to the Star Wars Launch Bay, however, was solely for character meet purposes.

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Food Review: Kids Meal at La Cantina de San Angel

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La Cantina de San Angel is a counter service restaurant located across from the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase that specializes in tacos, nachos, empanadas and other similar eats.

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Originally, we were on a quest for some grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup from the ever-elusive Taste Track. It was a cool (for Florida) winter day, and Tater will never say no to a grilled cheese.  But when we arrived, it was closed! I have attempted to get food from Taste Track on at least three separate trips, and it has been closed every single time (including 1:30 p.m. on Presidents Day). I have come to the conclusion that I will never get my Canadian Cheddar and Granny Smith apple deliciousness.

Anyway, without an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation), we needed a quick grilled cheese replacement. Where else in Epcot could we find some cheese melted between carbs?

Off to Mexico!

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Important things to know when visiting Walt Disney World with an infant or toddler

If you are visiting Walt Disney World for the first time with an infant or toddler, here are some of the most important things you need to know.

Kids under 3 get into the parks for FREE.

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Yes, you read that right! If your child is under three years old, you do not have to pay theme park admission for them.

Tip: Kids don’t age at Disney. If they celebrate their third birthday during your trip – but you start your Disney vacation when they are still two – they remain two in the eyes of Disney throughout the duration of the trip (so you won’t have to start paying for their tickets halfway through). If you are going on a third birthday trip, just make sure you start it before their actual birthday.

Kids under 3 eat free at Walt Disney World buffets and all-you-care-to-enjoy restaurants.

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Technically, they are free to “eat off your (adult) plate,” but they can still have their own individual plate and enjoy the meal at no additional cost to you. If drinks are included, they will also usually bring a drink for your under 3 child as well, and Tater has even gotten his own special dessert at no extra charge.

Tip: The majority of Disney character meals are buffets or all-you-care-to-enjoy, so you may want to take advantage of that while they are still young/free. Also, even though they will not be charged for the meal, you still need to include an infant/toddler in your total party number when making an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation).

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Attraction Reaction: Dumbo the Flying Elephant

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I thought I would write my first “Attraction Reaction” to Tater’s first-ever Walt Disney World ride – Dumbo the Flying Elephant.  Dumbo, based on the beloved Disney movie of the same name, is a slow moving spinner ride which proves that, yes, elephants can fly.  Each individual Dumbo has a handle inside that allows you to fly higher or lower, and each Dumbo fits two people, or two adults and an infant/toddler on a lap, or one adult and two small children. Dumbo is located in the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland, and carnival organ music appropriately plays in the background. FastPass+ is available.

For those of you who haven’t been on Dumbo for a while (or ever), I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there are now two side-by-side identical Dumbo rides. The bad news is that it remains as popular – and busy – as ever.

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Where to find Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World

We’ve all seen the commercials – the cute little kid spots Mickey Mouse and runs into his arms for a truly magical moment.

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Those magical moments do certainly happen, but what a first-time visitor may not know is that Mickey Mouse does not randomly roam the parks.  However, with a little planning, you too can have picture perfect Mickey moments.  And let’s face it, a trip to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without seeing the Big Cheese himself.

Here is where to meet Mickey at Walt Disney World.

The Magic Kingdom

Character Meet:

Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater (located on Main Street immediately to your right after entering the park)

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If you only plan to meet Mickey once on your trip, go here!  Through the magic of Disney, Mickey actually speaks and interacts with guests. Only a few groups at a time are admitted into Mickey’s meet and greet dressing room (so your child doesn’t have to wait long once Mickey is visible), and PhotoPass photographers are present. Mickey will also sign autographs here. This meet and greet is open continuously during park hours, and FastPass+ is available.

Tip: If meeting talking Mickey is high on your list and your little one is low on patience in line, get a FastPass+.  Fourth FastPasses are also frequently available, though they are usually for later in the evening/night.

Shows/Parades:

Magic Kingdom Welcome Show – Every morning, 20 minutes before the official opening time, a Main Street official comes out on the train platform in front of the park to welcome guests for the day.  He/she is then joined by other Main Street citizens/dancers, and after a couple of songs, Mickey himself makes a grand entrance via train with a variety of other Disney characters to officially open the park for the day. He is also joined by the Family of the Day, who get to be up on the platform with him. There are no posed photograph or autograph opportunities during the show. If you can make it to the Magic Kingdom that early with your little ones, though, it really is a magical way to start off your day. (Note: there are different versions of the Welcome Show, for example, if the train isn’t running, but the show always goes on.)

Dream Along with Mickey – A 20-minute show with Mickey and friends that takes place on the stage in front of the Cinderella Castle.  This show is offered several times throughout the day, so check the Times Guide (pick up a copy near the park maps at the front of the park on your way in), official Disney website or the MyDisneyExperience app. Mickey does not directly interact with guests, and there are no posed photograph or autograph opportunities.

This show will be replaced with Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire this summer, which will still feature Mickey, but with additional characters from The Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Frozen.

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Hey there! Hi there! Ho there!

You’re as welcome as can be!

Welcome to MickeyandMommy.com, my guide to visiting Walt Disney World with a small child/children.  I look forward to sharing my top tips, food reviews and attraction reactions, all with a special focus on infants and toddlers.

So who am I? And why am I qualified to discuss such things?

Well, this is me:

image My name is Jess, and I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World every few years throughout my life.  My earliest Disney memory was when I was two or three years old and Dale pushed my uncle out of a booth so he could sit next to me at a character breakfast (but that’s getting a little off track…).

Fast forward a few decades, and I now have a child of my own.  For this sake of this blog, I will refer to him by his nickname, “Tater.”  Tater is almost two years old, but he is already a Walt Disney World veteran.

If you are a lifelong Walt Disney World fan, you are faced with a very challenging parenting decision after having a child – what is the right age to take a child to Disney for the first time?

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Launching tomorrow!

Please come back to join me starting Friday, Feb. 19, as I share my top tips, food reviews and attraction reactions to visiting Walt Disney World with a small child/children.

See ‘ya real soon!

Nate and Mickey

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