Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beaches and Cream

If you love burgers, fries and a milk shake, I have got the place for you!  This little soda shop is located at the Beach Club right by their amazing pool, Stormalong Bay.

 (many thanks to my friend Christopher for letting me borrow his picture of the restaurant sign.  I need to start remembering to take pictures of those!)

The key word from the previous sentence is LITTLE.  There is a bit of counter seating.

There are three booths and maybe half dozen little tables.

And there are no reservations.  To guarantee a seat with no wait, I suggest you arrive when it opens at 11am.  And that is exactly what the girls and I did when we visited last month.  We were actually the first customers of the day - and got a welcome standing ovation from all the Cast members working there!  We were off to a great start.

First order of business was to get drink orders.  Katie was most excited to find that they could make her a vanilla coke - her most favorite beverage.

Then we perused the menu.

 (To see a full menu, click here)

The girls naturally started planning dessert.  And we have an issue.  My youngest does not like peanut butter.  She's not allergic.  She just doesn't like it.  (Tangent alert!  My favorite ice cream is Blue Bell's Tin Roof Sundae.  And for the longest time you couldn't get it in the Atlanta area, but they had it in grocery stores when we went to the beach.  It was the only ice cream I'd buy.  It's vanilla with chocolate ripples and chocolate covered peanuts.  So, Madalyn would have "MY" ice cream.  And I'd notice little piles of "pellets" wherever she was eating.  She was sucking on the chocolate covered peanuts, and then leaving the uneaten peanuts in a pile!)

So, our first choice of dessert was out - the No Way Jose (A Peanut Butter and Hot Fudge Delight with Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Morsels, Whipped Cream and a Cherry).  And I knew that there was absolutely no way (Jose) that we could even attempt the infamous Kitchen Sink (Eight Scoops of Ice Cream served with all the Toppings in the house and a whole can of Whipped Cream).

We finally decided (we'll keep you in a bit of anticipation!) and placed our orders.  The girls went to check out the juke box.  And about that time, a very large party came in.  They probably had 10 or more people.  The CMs pushed together quite a few tables (and little round tables don't push together well) and got them all seated and settled.  As they started to take their order, the family mentioned that they were on the dining plan.  Friends, take note:  to eat at Beaches and Cream - it will cost you one Table service!

Don't do it!!  Really - you should come to eat here.  It's fun.  Kitschy.  Delicious.  But not worth a table service.  Come.  But pay out of pocket for the experience.  (Our large family quickly realized they did not have table services to spare, and they all left!)

So...this is what we did order:

Madalyn and I split a cheeseburger (they even cut it in half for us!) - and we substituted onion rings for the fries.  But they brought out fries for Madalyn anyway when she complained that she didn't want onion rings.  And the onion rings were fabulous.  I think they are the best on property!

Katie had a grilled cheese sandwich (and this is a grown up grilled cheese with a million different kinds.  Well.  Maybe not quite a million.  But a lot.) with tomato bisque soup.  She said the were fabulous.  I believe her because she quickly had an empty plate and bowl.

And finally, we got our dessert.  We decided to have a two scoop sundae of chocolate and mint chocolate chip.

If you want to see more pictures of Disney - especially of things and places that start with B - be sure to visit Focused on the Magic!
So...what about you?  Have you ever eaten at Beaches and Cream?  Do you think you could/would tackle the kitchen sink?


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Port Orleans Riverside - Royal Rooms - a review

Have you ever seen pictures of the suite that is located inside of Cinderella's castle?  It would be a dream come true to stay there - and actually the only way to stay there is to win the opportunity.  But.  The same design imagineer who created the Cinderella castle suite also designed the brand new Royal Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside. 

With imagineering, there is so much more to designing a room than picking out the carpet and furnishings.  There has to be a story.  And this room is full of story telling details.

Our story begins with Tiana from Princess and the Frog. She is being visited by all her Princess Friends.  They laugh.  Have fun.  Take funny pictures.  And when her friends leave, they all leave gifts to remember them by.

There are over 500 Royal Guest rooms and they are located in the Oak Manor and Parterre Place buildings of the mansions section at Port Orleans Riverside.

We had two connecting rooms - 9925 and 9926 - which were in Parterre Place - third floor - in one of the furthest rooms you could possibly have!

But even with our location, we didn't have to walk far for anything - maybe 5 minutes at the most to get to the main pool.  We used the bridge to go the foodcourt, pool and bus stop - and sometimes we used the bus stop by the mansions. 

When we arrived at our room, I had all our luggage in one room so that I could take pictures of the room before it was destroyed.

First - we have the beds - queen sized - with these incredible LED headboards.

If you push a button on the side, they light up with fireworks!  It runs through about a 30 second cycle and then turn off automatically.  My girls had fun timing it correctly and setting off both headboards at the same time.

Across from the beds is the TV and dresser.

The larger section of the dresser is your hidden mini-fridge.  And to the left of that is your table and 2 chairs.  Part of the table is a letter from Tiana encouraging you to find the special mementos left by her friends.

So...what are those special momentos?

How about the magic carpet:

And the genie lamp faucet:

Or the shower curtain complete with dinglehoppers:

Or the foot stool:

The room just exudes luxury.  I mean, look at the air conditioning unit!

There is plenty of storage in the bathroom area (even though there are only three drawers in the dresser, we used the top of the closet area as a drawer - and hung up all my tshirts).

And Cinderella kindly left a beautiful place to hang your jacket/towel/purse/whatever.

What I love about Port Orleans, riverside:
1.  two queen sized beds
2.  you can take a boat to downtown Disney
3.  you can pool hop over to Port Orleans French Quarter - it's like having 2 themed pools
4.  There are also quite a few "quiet" pools
5.  Entertainment!  Yee-Haw Bob performs Wednesday - Saturday in the bar area by the check-in
6.  A great food court - lots of selections (my favorite is the create your own pasta bar - fresh and made to order!)
7.  Bus stops are not too far away from park entrances
8.  All the different areas at POR - we were in the Royal rooms, and then there are the mansions and even Alligator Bayou - each with their own theming - and a gorgeously landscaped resort!
9.  If you are a family of 5, Port Orleans is your least expensive option - they have pull down beds in the Alligator Bayou section.
10.  Deluxe amenities at a moderate price (from horse drawn carriages to a marina to boat service to a table service restaurant on site and more!)

Things I didn't love:
1.  If you don't go to the main bus stop, the buses could fill and not come to the other depots - so waits could be long.
2.  No ceiling fans in the royal rooms
3.  We had been leaving a tip for mousekeeping each day.  Towards the end of our trip - two days in a row - the tip was gone, but the room wasn't cleaned.  The room was cleaned immediately after we called - but we stopped leaving the tip.
4.  The bedding.  The comforters are gorgeous to look at - but very stiff and uncomfortable.  I wish they'd go to quilts rather than this type of bedding.

I would absolutely recommend this resort - and would encourage you to stay in the luxurious Royal Rooms!

So...what about you?  Have you ever stayed in a room that made you feel as if you were in a castle?  Have you ever stayed at Port Orleans?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Art of Animation: Taking a Drawing Class at Disney

Did you know that you could take a class at Disney and learn how to draw the characters? This Animation Academy is in Hollywood Studios.  The building is in the animation courtyard - with Disney Junior on one side and the Little Mermaid on the other.

The class is offered every half hour - but space is pretty limited (I think there is only room for about 50!) so get there early (and if it's raining - you might need to wait a bit).  And getting their early is actually quite nice.  There are some benches to relax on - it is air conditioned - and on the walls, you can watch animation in progress.  It's fun because you'll see the beginning of a drawing and you try and guess who it's going to be.

When you go into the room, you'll find rows of desks with stools to sit on.

At your desk, you'll find a sheet of paper with lighting under the sheet - and a pencil.

Note that the pencil has no eraser.  I love this - but it can sometimes be frustrating for children.  (One of the best things I ever did for my kids was to sign them up for a drawing class where they only used sharpies.  It taught them that there are no mistakes - and that you could incorporate anything into your drawing - like you meant for that "stray stroke" to be there all along!)  Your artist will explain that you draw lightly in the beginning and then go back and darken things in when you are happy with the shapes.

There are a number of different artists who run the classes - each with different styles.  We had one who didn't tell us who we were going to draw - and we had to guess as we went along - with the first person to guess correctly getting the artists drawing.

We've had quite a few who took polls in the class - finding out who has drawn before and what they drew - and trying to do something new/different.  One of my favorite artists is Corbie.

She is a great instructor and very encouraging.  And after I talked her into posing for these pictures of me, she generously shared her drawing of Flynn Rider with me.  Though my daughter stole it immediately.  Here is my daughter's drawing, my drawing, and Corbie's.  You can still see all of our guide lines in the drawings - but the image is still quite clear.  Love the caption "he's hot" - though I don't believe Corbie suggested that be added!

Another really good artist/instructor is Brian.  In his class last month, he told us we'd be drawing Phineas and Ferb.  We actually had people in the class who didn't know who they were!  As he was teaching, we had a constant stream of Phineas and Ferb triva questions which my girls adored.  And then he asked a triva question - with the prize being his own drawing - "What is Candace's boyfriend's first AND last name?"  And my girls were the only ones that knew the answer!  (What is the answer?  Umm...Jeremy - and the last name - they are not here to ask - but I think it's Johnson)  Here is Brian and Madalyn each showing off their drawings:

The drawing class is a must do activity for us at Hollywood Studios.  Actually, we usually do it more than once.  Here are some of my older daughter's drawings from the class (these are all hanging on her wall in her room!) - so you can see the array of possibilities:

So...what about you?  Have you ever taken the drawing class at Hollywood Studios?  Who would you like to learn how to draw?


And the winner is...

And we have a winner for the Brave Lunch bags:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats!!  Please email me at to claim your prize.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brave Highland Games tournament at Epcot - and a giveaway!

Welcome to day three of our "Brave" celebration!

If you missed it, on Monday we looked at the Brave sand sculpture and yesterday we met Merida.

Today we are upping the anticipation for the movie by talking about the Highland games - and keep reading because there is a giveaway, too!

Now through July 8th, if you go to Epcot, be sure to check out the Highland Games.

These games are located by the rose gardens - on the walk from Future World towards the World Showcase (closer to the Canada side).  Also the games are just on the flip side of the sand sculpture - which is actually two sided - and we got to see someone working on the lettering (very cool to watch!)

When you arrive, you'll spin the wheel to see which clan you'll represent in the games.

You'll then be given a button to loudly proclaim your family ties.  My older daughter just wanted the button!

First up in the games is archery.  It's pretty much the same set up as the archery in the Merida meet and greet.

Next up is the Haggis Flip.  Here, you.  Umm.  Well.  You bang a hammer on this lever-thingy and then your haggis flies through the air and hopefully lands in a basket.  (I didn't want to confuse matters with scientific-y and engineering terms)

Then we have the cake toss.  The cake looks remarkably similar to the haggis.  Though I assure you that there really and truly is no confusion between haggis and cake.  And this game looks remarkably similar to a game we call corn hole.  But.  Anyway.  The goal is to toss the cake into the holes.

And finally there is the mini-caber toss.   Which having actually been to a Highland games festival - actually looks like a caber toss.  You stand up your caber and then.  Well.  You toss.  And great fun is had by all.

Finally, when you are done with the games, you can do a rubbing of your family "emblem."

Just an FYI - these games take place in the direct sun and there is not a spot of shade to be found!

Okay.  Now who wants a giveaway?!

So, last week I heard that Subway is giving away Brave lunch bags with each kids meal - and I knew that we needed these bags.  (Yes.  I said needed.)  And not only did I need all six of them.  But I knew that one of my readers needed them too.  So I have a complete set of all six bags just for you!

Aren't they great?  They are folded flat, but they do open and have a flat bottom with a velcro closure.

To enter, just follow the entries on the rafflecopter below - and if you have trouble with any of it, please just email me at and we'll get it figured out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So...what about you?  Which Highland game looks fun to you?  Have you ever been to a Highland games??  If you want to see more Disney photos - please be sure to check out Deb's website:  Focused on the Magic!