Monday, January 31, 2011

Money Saver Monday!! Lunch for about a buck

Happy Monday!!! 

Traveling to Walt Disney World is an amazing adventure, but it does not come cheap. If you are like me, you are always looking for a way to save a buck or two. 

While at your Disney resort food court you can purchase 2 slices of bread, either white or wheat for about $.75. You can purchase peanut butter for about $.60 or it can even be free at some food court locations at the condiment counter. Last, you can get the jelly for free as it is considered a condiment. This is a great cheap lunch option for families that are trying to save some money while on vacation. Even though my family and I always opt for the Disney Dining Plan, I find myself making a PB&J sandwich for my two younger children that are ALWAYS hungry!! It saves me a ton of money!!

We are looking for more fans on our Facebook Page. We would be honor if you became a fan!! Plus starting Wednesday we will be holding some fun contest on our page. Are you ready to win some gift cards??? :0)

See ya real soon!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dine with a Stunning View at San Angel Inn

San Angel Inn
Mexico Pavilion, Epcot's World Showcase

Location: Epcot's Mexico Pavilion 
Cuisine: Mexican 

Experience: Casual Dining
Price: $15-$35

Expereince: Casual Dining
Price: $36-$59

The Disney Dining Plan is accepted at this location 

Google Images Photo

One of the most breathtaking sites I see when I do my walk-through at Epcot's World Showcase is the Mexico Pavilion. Upon entering the pavilion you are warmly greeted by the sights, sounds and smells of all things Mexico. From the quaint market place, to the cozy glow of the candles on the dining tables, you are sure to feel right at home. 

Market Place photo from  via Google Images

As you make your way over to the check in podium take in the beautiful pyramid in the back of the restaurant. This is a true symbol of Mexico. The dim lights and quiet sounds of Mexican music can be heard and are significantly placed to get you relaxed and ready to dine. Take note of the Grand Fiesta Ride that features Donald Duck. Don't be shy ask your hostess if you can be seated along the water for a very romantic view of the pyramid and ride. 

Upon being seated you are greeted by a waiter and chips and salsa. The chips and salsa are very yummy!!! Beware, if you do not like onions or strong spices, this may not be the dish for you. If you happen to be a guacamole fan, you may want to give that a whirl as we found it quite tasty. To mix it up after a long day at the parks it would not hurt to add an adult beverage to your order....can we say frozen margarita yummmmmy!!! 

Personally, I have dined at San Angel Inn 4 times and every single time the food has been fantastic!! What I can say is that being married into a Hispanic family I have the pleasure of dining on homemade Mexican food quite often, I am not sure that I would call San Angel Inn the most authentic, but believe me it is yummy!

Some of my personal lunch recommendations are:

Cochinita Pibil - Slowly cooked pork, marinated with achiote seeds, beer, garlic, red onions, and orange juice. (lunch only)

Puntas de Filete en Salsa Guajillo - Beef tenderloin tips sautéed with fresh onions and chile Guajillo sauce, served over corn tortillas, black beans, and fresh cheese.(lunch only)

If you are looking for a combination so that you can sample a few items you could do the traditional Mexican lunch:

Traditional Mexican Lunch

Sopa Azteca - traditional tortilla soup
Cochinita Pibil - shredded pork with achiote seeds
Flan - vanilla custard in caramel
Includes soft drink or iced tea. 

Some of my dinner recommendations are:

Corvina en Mole Verde - Fresh corvino served with mole verde and Mexican cream rice, and slices of serrano ham. 

Mole Poblano - Grilled chicken breast served over a bed of chicken morsels, carrots, chayote chiles, with the classic sauce of spices and a hint of chocolate.

If you are looking for a combination so that you can sample a few items you could do the traditional Mexican dinner:

Traditional Mexican Dinner

Sopa Azteca - traditional tortilla soup with avocado, cheese and pasilla pepper
Grilled Skirt - Grilled skirt served corn kernels, nopales, spring onions, and black beans
Flan - Vanilla custard in syrup, topped with roasted almonds
Includes soft drink or iced tea. 

If you are traveling with small children you will be pleased to know that they can get away from the traditional theme park foods while dining at San Angel Inn. Your little travelers will have the opportunity to try the tastes of Mexico!! 

 Kids' Menu:

Cheese Quesadilla - Grilled flour tortilla filled with cheese
Beef Taco - Soft flour tortilla with ground beef
Chicken Tenders - Chicken tenders served with Mexican rice

After the wonderful Mexican dishes you must not forget that in Mexico they have some wonderful dessert options. My very favorite desserts at San Angel Inn are:

Flan de Vainilla - vanilla custard in syrup, topped with roasted almonds. 
Capirotada de Chocolate Blanco - white chocolate golden raisin bread pudding served with Mexican milk caramel.

Flan de Vainilla photo from via Google Images

Capirotada de Chocolate Blanco photo from via Google Images 

Now I do have to say that while I love those two dessert options my husband and I are very disappointed to see that San Angel Inn does not offer fried ice cream. In addition, it would be nice to see horchata added to the menu. This is a very traditional Mexican rice water drink and can be found at almost all authentic Mexican restaurants. 

While the ambiance is quite romantic, service always up to par and the food quite tasty, I am going to rate San Angel Inn a 7. I do this for the lack of a few Mexican traditional menu items as well as the authenticity of the Mexican cuisine. 

We are looking for more fans on our Facebook page. We would be honor if you became a fan!! Plus in February we will be holding some fun contest on our page. Are you ready to win some gift cards??? :0)

See ya real soon!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday's top 10 things I miss at Disney World

Happy Tuesday!! Well folks it is the middle of winter and yes, this is when my Disney crave is at its fullest. I eat breath and sleep Disney more now than ever!!!! This got me thinking about all of the things that I love and miss about Walt Disney World. :0)

10.  The anticipation of dining at a new location that you worked really hard getting into....the best feeling in the world!!!

9. Checking in when you first arrive at Walt Disney World is by far one of the most magical feelings I have. The distinct smells of the lobby makes me feel at home. 

8. The exciting details that World Showcase has put into each country ie....impromptu plays such as Chinese jugglers and skits in the UK. I love feeling like I have literally traveled the "World" all in one trip. 

7. I love looking for secrets with my kids and having people look at us like we are crazy loons. On this last trip we were looking for all of the phones throughout Magic Kingdom that you can pick up and hear a phone conversation on. Well needless to say that when we did the Main Street Party Line...a gentleman in the store could not believe that we were picking up the I politely let him know it was part of the magic!! 

6. I LOVE the Great Movie Ride!!! From the cheesy ride host to the wonderful movies that are featured on this ride I just miss it and love going on it every time we visit Walt Disney World. Oh yeah and don't forget, there are "Two Sides to the Great Movie Ride." 

5. Come on.... we all miss the monorail. You knew that would be one of my ten, well it actually falls into the category of top 5 for me. I have some wonderful memories of staying at the Polynesian with my best friend in the whole world!! We would ride the monorail again and again!! Let's not forget, "Please stand clear of the doors...Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas." 

4. My family and I LOVE Disney during Halloween!! We love riding the Haunted Mansion while at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and seeing the Madame Leota reenactment on the hill. We just love her!!!

3. Pirates of the Caribbean is a personal favorite of mine. It has a smell that I love!! It is amazing to me when my whole family can go on a ride and fully agree that it is just plain wonderful. As a mom of three kids that are not at all close in age, agreement is priceless!

2. I know it is cliché but walking down Main Street for the first time each trip is the one thing I look forward to more than anything else. It lets me know that I am home. I feel most relaxed once I get to this point in my trip. 

1. The number one thing I miss about Walt Disney World is experiencing an attraction for the first time with each one of my kids! Every time we go, we do something new. I love hearing them ask to do it again, the excitement is priceless. 

We are looking for more fans on our Facebook page. We would be honor if you became a fan!! Plus in February I will be holding some fun contest on our page. 

See ya real soon!! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Money Saver Monday!! Get More Bang for your Buck at Character Breakfasts

Happy Monday!!! I truly hope that everyone has been able to stay warm. :0)

If you are traveling with small children or if you are character lover, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to dine with the characters at breakfast. While the breakfasts can be a bit pricey, if you plan properly you can actually save yourself some money for the day. 

Here is the best way to get more bang for your buck at a character breakfast:

On a day when Magic Kingdom has Extra Magic Hours in the morning, schedule a character breakfast at one of the lower cost locations below. The key is to schedule that breakfast at the latest time possible (this is usually between 11:15 and 11:30), this way you can go to Magic Kingdom for the morning and take advantage of the lower crowds. By the time you have hit all of those attractions, you will feel ready for lunch...but you will be doing it breakfast style!! :0) via google images 

Another great thing about choosing a character breakfast at the latest time possible is that the restaurants are not open for lunch. This means that it really starts to slow down; hence you are getting one on one time with the characters rather than having a mad rush for food and character greetings. Being that you are using this as a breakfast/lunch it may be a good idea to get yourself a light snack to hold you over for the morning...for me that would be coffee. :0)

Here is a list of some of the more reasonably priced character breakfasts: 

Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
1900 Park Fare at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
'Ohana at Polynesian Resort 

Each of these locations will cost about $22.99-$24.99 for an adult and about $12.99 for a child.  These are all buffet options that will allow you to get a nice hearty meal in the middle of the day to keep you going. Last, keep in mind you are getting lunch but paying the breakfast price...yay!! 

See ya real soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hang loose at 'Ohana

For those of us that LOVE Lilo and Stitch, we are well aware that 'Ohana means family. When you dine at 'Ohana located at Disney's Polynesian Resort, you can expect to feel like one of the "family". In fact you are told that you and everyone else in the restaurant are "cousins".

Like everything Disney, the attention to detail is very evident in this dining location. It is not just the decorating here but the central purpose that surrounds what you are at 'Ohana to do. This restaurant was designed to bring people together. Everything from the way the food is served to the activities that go on throughout the meal will allow for families to be brought together.

*This is a review of dinner at 'Ohana.

Hours: 5 PM to 10 PM Daily 
Location: Disney's Polynesian Resort
Reservations: Strongly Recommended
Prices: $34.99 Adults, $15.99 Children ages 3-9 
Dinner served family style

Photo Courtesy of Facebook 

 Relax and enjoy....

While reservations are a must at 'Ohana, from the time of check in to sitting you can expect to wait about 15-20 minutes on average. This is a hot dinner location; do not expect to do a walk up. While one may think that waiting would be an annoyance, think again. There is a ton to do while you are waiting. Feel free to enjoy a Hawaiian beverage, shopping or enjoy the cascading waterfalls in the Polynesian lobby area. Fortunately, you are given a buzzer when you check in. The buzzer will work throughout the top floor of the lobby, so browse away. :0)

The Ambiance....

The dining area boasts floor to ceiling windows which offer a beautiful view of the Magic Kingdom. In the middle of the restaurant is a huge oak fire pit which is where you food is prepared for the evening. As you are escorted to your table your host/cousin will take you on a mini tour of the restaurant, with a quick stop at the bar to pick up your pineapple coconut bread...yuuuuummmy! Then a short trip past the fire pit where skewers of shrimp, steak, chicken, pork and more are being prepared just for you. Your table is accented with large comfy chairs, perfect after a full day at the parks. Your server will greet you shortly after you are seated. He/she will be responsible for getting your drinks and most of your food.

The fun.....

As you dine you will notice that there is entertainment...yay!! 'Ohana has an entertainment director that is in charge of facilitating a fun night for you and your family. The fun includes (but not limited to):

  • leis
  • teaching hula lessons
  • Pampering honeymoon and anniversary couples with a slow dance
  • leading the restaurant in Hawaiian Happy Birthday
  • Coconut races and hula hoop contests for the kids
  • Hawaiian Songs on the ukulele 

Time to eat.....

I have traveled with many first time visitors to 'Ohana and they always say hands down that 'Ohana is their favorite place to eat. Not only do you get a plethora of food choices but the food is good!!! All of the food is Polynesian inspired and includes plates and bowls full of food. Do not worry, if you run out, just ask for more.  The meal is served in courses as follows:

Each course:

  • Pineapple Coconut Bread aka Welcome Bread. 
  • Mixed greens salad with honey lime dressing. This is by far a favorite of my families. My husband does not even eat salad, but he eats this one. The dressing is fabulous!! 
  • Teriyaki lo mein noodles with vegetables and stir-fried broccoli. This broccoli is just stellar!!
  • Honey-coriander chicken wings
  • Pork Dumplings with sweet and sour sauce
As you dine on your delectable feast your "cousin" comes around with skewers of grilled meat!! One meat comes to your table at a time. No worries is quick. :0)

  • Asian BBQ pork loin 
  • marinated sirloin steak
  • peel and eat shrimp

Photo Courtesy of 

Last and certainly not least is the dessert. You must try the dessert!! 'Ohana bread pudding a la mode with banana foster sauce...this is succulent. Many are too full to enjoy it but pace yourself to allow time to enjoy will not be sorry. 

My rating: 
I give 'Ohana a 9 out of 10. While this restaurant makes for a wonderful family gathering over a perfect feast, I often feel a bit rushed and unattended to by my "cousin".  A few tips to remember when planning to dine at 'Ohana:

  •  Make a late night reservation around fireworks will be able to watch them as you enjoy your meal. 
  • Be sure to make a reservation as walk-ups to this location rarely get a table. 
  • Entertainers change on various nights some are better than others.
* Visit for the complete menu. 

I would like to thank Jamie at for providing me with fantastic photos!!!

See ya real soon!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday's top ten reasons to stay at Pop Century

Happy Tuesday!!! To go with my very first article on The Affordable Mouse, I thought it would be fun to list my top ten reasons I think you should save money and give Pop Century a try!!

10. Head on over to Fast Forward arcade. This arcade is centrally located in Pop Century's Classic Hall. Enjoy family time on a rainy day or even after a long day at the parks.

9. Everything Pop shopping and dining area is by far the best food court/shopping resort experience on Disney property. You are sure to find almost anything you need in this shop and more. Most likely if you see it at the parks you will find it at Everything Pop.

8. The larger than life pop icons make Disney's Pop Century Resort unique. From the 1950's through the 1990's you are sure to find popular slogans and memorabilia from an era that you can relate to.

7. The pools at Pop Century resort are themed in a way to get the whole family grooving. Enjoy one of the three themed pools, 1950's has a bowling pin pool, 1960's has a flower power themed pool, and the 1990's has the computer themed pool. Young children will enjoy both the wading pool and the splash pad.

6. The busing system at Pop Century are much appreciated by those that stay there. It is really nice to know that while you stay at Pop you do not share a bus with any other resort.

5. The Food Court- I have mentioned this several times but the food court at Pop Century is like no other.

4. Mousekeeping- For some reason I feel that the mousekeepers at Pop are much more attentive than what I have experienced at other resorts. Not only was I surprised to see that upon arrival we had towel creatures waiting for us, but nightly it seemed that there were little magical touched added to our room to enhance our stay.

3. Newly Remodeled Rooms- Wow!! Not only is Pop one of the newest resorts on Disney property, but it already went through a remodel. You can expect some nice space saving features along with some sprucing up to your room.

2. Fun at any age- My mother and my mother in law travel with us to Disney on a regular basis. They thought that I should add that no matter what the age, you are sure to have a rockin time at Pop Century. People of all ages will find a connection with the pop memorabilia featured throughout the resort.

1.Savings!!!!! While you are in for a huge savings when you stay at Disney's Pop Century Resort, the magic is in full swing.

*Check out Pop Century Fan Site for tons of pictures and info all about Pop!!

See ya real soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Money Saver Monday!! Check out the Bobble

One thing is for sure, when you travel to Walt Disney World, you need to stay hydrated. If you are traveling with your family you can very easily spend $20-$25 per day on water, this is of course depending upon how much water your family drinks. I have to admit, I do not like the taste of Florida water, there is something in it that does not agree with me. We have always opted to ship water in from Staples or Costco, which I still think is a wonderful money saving idea.

On a recent trip to Target, my daughter pointed out The Bobble. The Bobble is a patented filtered water bottle that is reusable. It will cost you about $9.99 and the filter is good for about 300 uses. Not only can this bottle save you a ton of money both at Disney and at home, but it is also great for the environment. We are in the age of water bottles, I know my family goes through about 10-15 per day. I did purchase one Bobble to see what I thought about the taste and to my surprise it was great! I do realize that if you have a family of 3 or more, this can pose an up front cost to you...this option works for me because not only do we go through a ton of water at Disney but we do at home as well.

Facts About your bobble filter:
Bobble has an activated carbon filter which has a slight electro-positive charge, making it attractive to chemicals and impurities. As the water passes over the positively charged carbon surface, the negative ions of the contaminants are drawn to the surface of the carbon granules.
Carbon filters require very little maintenance, and are perhaps the most powerful chemical absorbents known to man. Bobble's carbon-based filter removes organic contaminants from regular municipal tap water and meets or exceeds NSF international Standard 42 for chlorine, taste and odor reduction.

Bobble BPA Free Water Bottle,18.5 Ounce, Blue

See ya real soon!

Friday, January 14, 2011

 I am thrilled to announce…..

That starting today, I will be a frequent guest writer on The Affordable Mouse. Check out my first article all about Disney’s Pop Century Resort!!

Visit The Affordable Mouse for great tips on how to save money on your next Walt Disney World Vacation!!!

See ya real soon!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Enjoy retro dining at Hollywood Studios

Amongst the streets of Disney's Hollywood Studios, lies a place where you can transport back in time. A time period when cheesy movies, far fetched inventions, and drive-ins were the things that were most talked about. Take a stroll back in time when you dine at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Despite the fact that the restaurant is indoors, Sci-Fi Dine-In gives you the feeling that you are outdoors under the twinkling stars. While patrons dine on salads, burgers, ribs and more, they sit in a vintage car straight out of the 1950's.  In addition, to all of the great food you also get to enjoy the creature feature on the big screen, just like you were at a drive in theater.

Upon entering the restaurant you are unable to see the theme quite yet as the lobby area is sectioned off from the drive-in theater. The actual restaurant is full of vintage style cars that you can eat in!! Each car holds up to 6 people, three rows of 2. In front of your seat is a counter/table for you to eat on. Due to the way the seating is set up, if you have an odd number of guests in your party one person may need to sit solo. Parents traveling with children may want to sit in the back row so that they can see the children while they are eating.

Just as the theme states you can expect to view movie clips on a big screen. While the clips are unintentionally funny, they loop about every 20 minutes. This means that you are viewing the same clips about 3 times during your meal. It would be great if they could add some more clips.

The theme gets and A+ every time from my family. What about the food? While on many discussion boards Sci-Fi gets very mixed reviews, I personally have never had a poor meal there. On this past trip I got the Shrimp and Penne pasta and thought is was fantastic. The dish had a TON of shrimp in it!! My husband ordered the Angus Chuck Burger with cheddar cheese mushrooms and bacon. He said the burger was yummy!!! By the way, the burger is not on the dinner menu but can be ordered if you ask your waiter. My daughter ordered the Butcher Steak and said that she enjoyed it. Both my mother in law and brother in law got the ribs as usual and loved them!! Just an FYI, the ribs used to be called Coke Ribs, they no longer have that name, which leads me to believe that the recipe has changed.  In addition to our meals, we of course ordered milkshakes. You cannot leave Sci-Fi without getting a milkshake. They are just fantastic!!! Quick tip, if you are on the Disney Dining Plan, you can ask your waiter to swap out your pop for a milkshake, this way you can still order a dessert at the end of your meal. The only thing I was not too happy about was that the waiter would not give my 5 year old son a milkshake, he said that the childrens' dining plan was not set up to swap the pop for a milkshake.

The dessert options are probably a favorite of most Sci-Fi regulars. In fact, many people visit Sci-Fi just for the atmosphere and dessert. I get the Warm Apple Crumble every time and love it!! The rest of my party always opts for the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake option....if you are a chocolate lover this is where it is at! My husband has been known to order the fresh fruit and have them box it up. Then we take it back to our room and eat it for breakfast....yummy!!!

                                                   Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
                                                          Warm Apple Crisp
                                                             Fresh Fruit Plate

All in all I give Sci-Fi a 10 for atmosphere and an 8 for food. I am not comparing this place to anything but itself. It is a diner and that is how I would rate it. In addition to atmosphere, another great thing about it is that the cost is pretty reasonable. If you are looking for a place with all American affair and a fun time give Sci-Fi a try!! 

I would love to hear your reviews of Sci-Fi. Comment below or on our Facebook page

*Check out for the complete menu. 

See ya real soon!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday's top 10 things I learned while at Disney World

The beauty of Disney is that there is so much to see and do, you could not possibly do everything all in one trip. Every time we visit, we learn new things. Check out what made my list of top 10 things that I learned on my most recent trip to Disney World.

10. You do not need to sit through the animation show,  “Drawn to Animation”  located in The Magic of Disney Animation  building  in order to get to the character greeting area in the back of the building.  Not that we do not enjoy this show but our younger son just does not sit well through these types of shows. It was nice to know that we could go through the animation store and enter the character meet and greet area though there.

9.  We need to make more pool time for our kids. We find that we become park commandos when really sometimes it is ok to just stay back and relax for a half of a day.

8.  That I actually need a mid-day break. I never thought that I would say that. Maybe I am getting old… I am only 31. :0)

7. I learned that Disney is the only place you will catch me in matching T-Shirts, Crocs and Mickey Ears and actually feel cool.

6.  I just love Biergarten in Germany!!! This was our first time eating there…our children had so much fun watching the show while we dined. In addition, we love that our kids were able to try some new foods and us some new beer. :0)

5.  I learned that when Mousekeeping cleans your room they have to enter in a code on your room phone. If that code is not entered their boss will come and check to see if your room was cleaned, if not if will be done immediately. 

4. Did you know that Pop Century food court has a bakery that carries cappuccino and lattes. Not that it was the best cup of coffee I have ever had but it gave me a good boost of caffeine…much better than the stuff you fill in your resort mug, no offense but yuck!

3.  I found it amazing that when my 5 year old son raved about the lobster cream soup at Coral Reef the waiter handed him the recipe.  The waiter then proceeded to explain that when Logan (my son) was missing Disney and craving that soup he could help me make it at home. That was a magical Disney moment.  By the way….you can ask for recipes at any of the Disney restaurants on property.

2. Well it finally happened to me…..we lost a Key to the World Card. Now before getting upset, I should have taken a moment to realize that I am at Disney and that no CM could ever let me feel hopeless in this situation.  We went to the front gate at Animal Kingdom and let them know we lost our key…within 3 minutes we had a new one. The CM did let us know that if we found the old one we were not to use it. I guess the key was coded as stolen.  Lesson learned do not panic and report asap to cancel the key and charging privileges.  FYI….the key was never found.

1. I am getting much better at this but with each and every trip I am slowing down…and in a good way. I am learning to stop and smell the roses. I want to see all of the magic and detail that was put into creating the most magical place on earth.

See ya real soon!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Money Saver Monday!! Deluxe dining and value resorts

Happy Monday!! I hope that everyone is having a wonderful start into 2011!!

Disney has been so generous as to offer the free dining plan during numerous times of the year. This is a great promotion especially when you have a larger family. One problem with the free dining plan is not only have they been adding a ton of blackout dates but now the free dining plan is tiered.
See below for an explanation:

If you stay at value accommodations you get the quick service dining plan free.

If you stay moderate, deluxe or villa accommodations you can get the deluxe dining plan for free.

For my family this was quite a disappointment because we financially could afford to stay at the value category but we love the deluxe dining plan. So with that said in 2009 we splurged and booked a trip at a moderate resort in order to take advantage of the free dining that we wanted. Needless to say, we missed our stay at Pop Century.

After doing some research I found out that during free dining you can stay at the value category and still get the deluxe dining plan as long as you are willing to pay an upgrade fee. I did the math and found that even with the upgrade fee I was still saving money by staying at a value resort.  

The fee to upgrade is $10 per adult per day and $2 per child per night.

See ya real soon!