Lamplight Lounge: A Review

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Read my Review of Lamplight Lounge

Lamplight Lounge - what a view!
Dining with a View!

Unlike Walt Disney World, the Disneyland Resort does not have a massive variety of table service restaurants. But the restaurants they do have are fairly popular, and some even have a cult-like following! After spending a ton of time examining menus, we all agreed that we wanted to try the Lamplight Lounge. Inspired by Pixar, of which we are big fans, this location offers lunch and dinner daily, with a brunch added on weekends. Guests can make reservations 60 days in advance. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Hours/Offerings/Cuisine

Lamplight Lounge exterior

The Lamplight Lounge is located, appropriately, on Pixar Pier. You will need valid park admission and a park reservation in order to eat here, IN ADDITION to your dining reservation. Dine on a menu full of American cuisine, including vegetarian and plant-based options. Lunch is served 11:30-4:00 Monday through Friday, with Dinner being served from 4:00 until 8:30. Saturday and Sunday, start off with Brunch from 9:00 to 1:00, followed by Lunch from 2:00 to 4:00, and Dinner from 4:00 to 8:30.

Theming

Lamplight Lounge themed after Pixar

The theming is PERFECT. Every inch of the restaurant has touches of Pixar, both subtle and in your face. As fans of Pixar and all Pixar movies, we LOVED this. And, as it is located on the Pixar Pier, it perfectly suits the area. We ate in the outdoor part of the dining area, with an absolutely “INCREDIBLE” view! (Get it? Incredible?) Aside from it being a tiny bit chilly, it was amazing. There are shared table spaces (where we sat), sofa-seating with a large coffee table, bar seating, a tables. I didn’t think I would like the shared table but it is big enough that we were not forced into uncomfortable conversations with strangers. If ratings were based entirely on theming, I’d give this place a 15/10.

Lamplight Lounge view
INCREDIBLE View

The Food

Lamplight Lounge Lobster Nachos
Lobster Nachos

Where to start? The food is fantastic! Starting with the appetizers, which they call “Bites,” I would describe it as upscale bar food. A Caesar salad, but with Brussels sprouts. Lobster Nachos (which are definitely a meal, if you choose to do so), Salmon Poke, and more. We started off with the Potato Skins, listed on the food allergy menu as safe for gluten/wheat, fish/shellfish, and peanut/tree nut allergies.

Lamplight Lounge - potato skins

These potato skins were CHEF’S KISS! They are described as crispy Yukon Gold Potatoes with brown butter-caper yogurt, smoked paprika aïoli and manchego cheese. I have never in my life had potato skins this good. And that smoked paprika aïoli? DELISH! I definitely ordered more of that!

Regular Menu vs Food Allergy Menu

Regular Menu Left
Lamplight Lounge food allergy menus
Allergy Menu

The menus are identical, and I did not see anything that food allergy diners couldn’t order in some way. There are 2 appetizers and 3 entrees that safe for gluten/wheat allergy diners, but only one kids meal item. I honestly don’t know what they can accommodate for kids on-site, because I haven’t ordered off a kids menu in ages, but Burger Sliders are the gluten/wheat allergy item, for what it’s worth. The availability is consistent with other Disney Restaurants. Always check the menus online and on the app before you commit to a location!

The Main Course

Lamplight Lounge allergy al pastor pork chop

First up, marinated al pastor bone-in pork chop. This had oaxaca cheese polenta, pineapple relish, charred onions, roasted red chili butter, and green chili sauce. Marked as safe for gluten/wheat, egg, fish/shellfish, peanut/tree nut, and soy allergies, this was incredible. The pork chop just fell right off the bone! The flavors were amazing. And don’t get me started on the sauce. The best thing I can say is that the portion size was perfection. It was just right and I felt full, not stuffed and bloated.

Lamplight Lounge salmon PLT

The Salmon PLT is grilled salmon with crispy pancetta, lettuce, roasted plum tomato, lemon-bacon aïoli on toasted focaccia, and served with fries. Husband says the ratio of pancetta to salmon was perfect, and the sandwich was delicious. The fries were well seasoned and not too overly salty.

Cheddar Burger, plain, and fries. I mean, she’s a teenager, so you get it. “It was really good.”

Food gets a 9/10. There could stand to be a few more options to choose from, but supply chain being what it is, we really liked this restaurant.

Drink Menu

Non-Alcoholic Drink Concoctions
Cocktails

The drink menu, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, might be my favorite thing about the menu. Everything is, again, Pixar-themed, and if I could have tried everything, I certainly would have. Instead, I only had the Scream Canister, but it was just what the doctor ordered. There is also a great selection of mostly local beers and wines. You will not only leave full, but you will leave with your thirst quenched!

Final Verdict

From the setting to the decor to the food and drink, I can honestly say this was my favorite restaurant in Disneyland. I would give it 5 stars, 10/10, perfect marks! That waterfront dining was unbeatable. I highly recommend everyone eat here at least once when visiting Disneyland!

Are you ready to book your next Disneyland vacation?! Contact me today!

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The Anaheim Hotel

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Read my FULL REVIEW of our recent stay at The Anaheim Hotel!

The Anaheim Hotel
The Anaheim Hotel

Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland only has 3 on-site hotels. Naturally, that does not create a ton of availability for guests. Also unlike Walt Disney World, there are a TON of Good Neighbor Hotels within walking distance of Disneyland. The Anaheim Hotel is located directly across the street from Avengers Campus, at the corner of Harbor Blvd and Disney Way. It is merely a 10 minute walk to the main gate. In fact, it’s closer than the Disneyland resorts. This hotel offers plenty of basic amenities, including on-site dining, laundry, fitness facilities, and a pool.

LOCATION

The Anaheim Hotel - Guardians of the Galaxy

Like I said, this hotel is pretty close. In fact, there are only a handful of hotels that are closer than this one. Every morning, we could see the Avengers Campus as we set out towards the park. For the price point (depending on WHEN you’re going, it’s usually between $150/$200 per night), you won’t find much better as far as location is concerned.

LOCATION: 11/10

DINING

The Anaheim Hotel - Pizza Press

To be honest, we never ate anything in our hotel. We were so close to Disneyland and Downtown Disney, so it was incredibly easy to just walk across the street. But the Pizza Press is right there in the hotel and it was ALWAYS busy. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the menu looked decent, but as someone with celiac, I don’t like to eat in places like this with shared kitchens. So we avoided it.

The Anaheim Hotel
The Front Room Lounge

Located just outside the Pizza Press, in the lobby, is the Front Room Lounge. Serving cocktails, beer, soft drinks, etc, as well as breakfast nibbles, this seemed a cozy option. But, again, we did not go there because HELLO! Disneyland is ACROSS THE STREET! They also offer in-room dining and poolside service, as well. I found it to have relatively decent offerings but nothing that said “I have GOT TO eat this.” If they offered free breakfast, my rating would be higher.

DINING: 6/10

AMENITIES

Laundry

Is this a 5-star resort? No. It’s a motel across the street from Disneyland. But the Anaheim Hotel does offer a decent amount of amenities for its guests. The on-site laundry, which was available 24-hours, is reasonably priced ($2.75 per wash $2.75 per dry) and clean. There is no detergent available in the laundry room but you can purchase it in the gift shop. Having said that, having the option to buy individual sizes would be nice. We had 2 loads of laundry and did not need a whole bottle of detergent.

fitness center

The Fitness Center is incredibly basic but it definitely has enough to get the job done. There is a good mixture of cardio machines, dumbbells, and free weights, as well as stability balls, pilates, and yoga. You will also find safety dividers between the machines.

pool

The Anaheim Hotel has a BIG pool. They claim it is the largest pool in Anaheim. I don’t know if that’s true, as places like the Howard Johnson have water parks, but nevertheless it is a large pool. They have poolside movies in the summer and the pool is heated for the “cooler” seasons. Much to our surprise, there was also a hot tub, which we happily enjoyed to soothe our sore muscles from walking 10 miles a day! There are no slides or kiddie water play areas, but the large pool gives everyone room to enjoy themselves. There are also games in the area, like ping pong tables, cornhole boards, etc, and poolside food and drink service.

We had daily housekeeping, too, which was fantastic. The room was clean, the lobby area was clean, the grounds were clean, and the staff was amazing. Nothing at all like you would expect in a motel.

AMENITIES: 8/10

ROOMS – Deluxe King Room with Two King Beds

Now for the rooms. They are not fancy. If you want fancy, this is not the hotel for you. This is a motel. BUT they were clean and updated. We were in a Deluxe King Room, so we had 2 king-sized beds. The vanity area is separate from the shower and toilet, and the double sinks were very large. We had plenty of space for everyone to get ready in a timely manner and not be in each others way.

Yes, the beds were king sized. Yes, the beds were uncomfortable. Now, if you like a soft mattress, you may like them, but I need a firm mattress. The first night I didn’t sleep that well. But the rest of the week, I was so tired, I just passed right on out! If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have booked the standard 2-queen room, if only to get the balcony. It would have been nice to enjoy the GORGEOUS California weather on a balcony and/or patio off our room.

All we used our room for was bathing and sleeping. We didn’t need to do anything else, because we were there to go to Disneyland, and that was where we spent the majority of our time. This was perfect. If you are going to be in California for an extended period of time, I would consider something nicer with more amenities, like the Disneyland Hotel or the Howard Johnson Water Park. But for just going to the parks? This is perfect.

ROOMS: 7/10

See my YouTube Review

Overall, I would give this hotel an 8/10. It served the purpose that we needed it for, and didn’t give us any problems. I would definitely consider this for future Disneyland trips!

Are YOU ready to head to Disneyland? Contact me today for more information!!

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Disneyland Review

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The Good, Bad, and Ugly-My Disneyland Review: Is Disneyland the Superior US Theme Park?

Disneyland Review
One-stop Shop!

Let’s get into it, shall we? Now that I’ve returned from the West Coast, I’m ready to give my full Disneyland Review, and settle the “who does it better” debate once and for all! Well, maybe not once and for all, but at least for this moment in time. Ok, maybe you won’t be swayed until you take your own trips to compare. Whatever. So for years, I thought Disneyland was tiny and trashy and not at all interesting after visiting Walt Disney World. But we are big Avengers fans and wanted to visit Avengers Campus, so we decided to head out to Anaheim and check things out. Let’s get into it!

Disneyland Review

HOW TO GET TO CALIFORNIA

First things first, you will obviously need to get to California. You could drive, like the Griswolds, across the country, but we decided the convenience of a flight was a much more appealing option, so we booked our flights on Southwest, our preferred airline.

But first, we had to decide which airline we wanted to fly into. There are five or six viable options in Southern California: Santa Ana/Orange County/John Wayne (SNA), Los Angeles (LAX), Long Beach (LGB), LA/Ontario (ONT), and Burbank/Bob Hope (BUR). There is not really a “bad” airport, per se, but there are some that will be better for your sanity than others. Ultimately, we chose to go with John Wayne.

  1. SNA/Orange County/John Wayne: this is the only airport in Orange County, which happens to also be the home of Disneyland. It is a short 14 miles from Disneyland and, by far, the most convenient. We landed at 10:50 and were in our hotel room by 11:45. It does not get any better than that! John Wayne is smaller, easier to access, has a fast TSA checkpoint, and car rental available right at the terminal. There is also an overabundance of cabs and ride share. Disneyland is a $60 cab ride or $30 Uber/Lyft away! Two thumbs up! Highly recommend!
  2. LAX: if you like big, massive, chaotic airports, or really wanna catch the Hollywood sign, this is where you should go. Located 30 miles northwest of Disneyland, this is the number one origin and destination airport in the world. It is massive, chaotic, crowded, and you have to deal with LA traffic to get anywhere. But it may offer more flexibility with your flights. But be warned!
  3. LGB/Long Beach: a short 22 miles from Disneyland, this might be the second-best option for fans of quiet airports with fast and efficient TSA checkpoints. JetBlue usually offers great deals for LGB.
  4. ONT/LA-Ontario: 33 miles away from Disneyland, this airport is incredibly small, quiet, and, again, a fast TSA checkpoint. About 20% of the time, you will get a deal to fly into this airport, especially with Delta and Southwest.
  5. BUR/Bob Hope: if you REALLY want to see a Kardashian, this is your best bet. This airport is 40 miles away and you will have to go THROUGH the LA traffic to get to Disneyland. I would say this is the airport of last resort.

Where to Stay

While there are not as many Disney properties available, there is no shortage of hotel options. Whether you choose a Disney Resort or a Good Neighbor Hotel, you’re not likely to be disappointed.

disneyland resorts
Disneyland Review - Grand California

Disneyland has three “on site” properties: Paradise Pier, Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, and the Disneyland Hotel. Paradise Pier is considered the “Value” Resort, and rumor has it, it’s being rethemed. Currently, there are no open restaurants and the pool is being refurbished. It is also the furthest from the parks. So right now? I’d say that’s a hard pass.

Up next, you have the Grand Californian. This is as Deluxe as you get at the Disneyland Resort. I would say this is the Wilderness Lodge bumped into the Grand Floridian category. You will have a private entrance into California Adventure (with valid theme park admission AND park pass reservation) and Downtown Disney. This is the closest Disneyland Resort to the theme parks. If you can afford it, I say go for it! This is also home to Princess dining, which you can, of course, attend without a resort reservation.

And finally, the Disneyland Hotel. Not gonna lie, I love it. Even with all the construction currently happening. It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Even the bathrooms are perfectly themed! But, even with this being the flagship hotel and the moderate resort, it’s still a bit of a walk to the theme parks. This hotel is on the other side of Downtown Disney.

Disneyland Review: for on-site hotels, the edge is obviously with Walt Disney World. There are some 27 on-site hotels to choose from, value to Deluxe Villa. HOWEVER, with the hotels ALL within walking distance to the parks? Game changer. The edge in convenience goes to Disneyland.

good neighbor hotels

What if you can’t find a reservation at one of the Disneyland Resorts? Or what if you just can’t afford them? Not to worry, there are a TON of great hotels near Disneyland, and most of them are a short walk away.

Disneyland Review - Guardians from the Anaheim Hotel

In fact, many of the good neighbor hotels are actually CLOSER to the parks than the Disneyland Resorts. We stayed at the Anaheim Hotel, which recently went through a complete overhaul (which is still somewhat in progress) and I can honestly say it’s closer than the Contemporary is to the Magic Kingdom. You can see Guardians of the Galaxy from the hotel and it is LITERALLY across the street. We were able to take an hour break one day that was actually almost a whole hour spent in our room napping, instead of at a bus stop.

Disneyland Review - Anaheim Hotel
Front Room Lounge – Anaheim Hotel

There are literally a bunch of great hotels within the Disneyland area, and, again, many are walkable and closer than the Disneyland Resorts. There are water parks and free breakfast (locations vary, of course) and even views of the fireworks. While they are quite plentiful, they are not nearly as nice as the Disneyland Resorts. But if you’re just looking for a place to rest your head at night? They’ll do just fine.

DISNEYLAND REVIEW: the edge is obvious. With Good Neighbor Hotels, Disneyland wins. While Walt Disney World has much larger and much nicer Good Neighbor Hotels, they are not walkable, the transportation to the parks is very sketchy, and you do not feel like you are “at” Disney. For lodging overall, I put Walt Disney World as the better option. There are nicer, more affordable on-site hotels, and enough of them that you don’t actually need to consider Good Neighbor Hotels. But the WDW point only applies if you’re there for more than just theme parks!

Transportation

I don’t even need to think about it. Disneyland wins AND IT ISN’T EVEN CLOSE. Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland is a pedestrian resort. Other than to and from the airport, I didn’t get in any vehicles at all, and it was amazing. EVERYTHING is walkable. There is only ONE checkpoint to get through for both theme parks and Downtown Disney. The parks are so close to each other we saw the projections from Disneyland Park while getting off of Radiator Springs back in CarsLand. I don’t feel like any time on my vacation was wasted waiting on a bus. GAME, SET, MATCH: Disneyland.

Theme Parks and Downtown Disney

Let’s start with logistics. Disneyland is absolute PERFECTION. Completely walkable. Park Hopping takes SECONDS, not hours. If you want something to eat in Downtown Disney? 5 minute walk, tops. If you want to take a SHORT break midday for a power nap? No waiting over an hour for a shuttle bus. It’s as amazing as it sounds.

Starting with Downtown Disney, and I have no complaints. It is much, much smaller than Disney Springs, but there are plenty of options. For food options, I do give the edge to Walt Disney World, because it has the Boathouse, Erin McKenna’s, Polite Pig, and more. But the dining options in Downtown Disney are nothing to laugh at! We ate three meals here and they did not disappoint. And I don’t remember ever seeing a massive pickle dog at Disney Springs!

Downtown Disney Pickle Dog
Hand-Dipped Pickle Corn Dog

Disneyland Park. Alright, the 100% honest Disneyland Review: it’s the same but so different. But right off the bat, what is that castle? I feel like I’ve built things with legos that are more impressive. Castle hands down goes to Walt Disney World. And, again, it’s not even close. Moving on, though. My first impression was literally awe. I was walking where Walt Disney had walked and that is a bit overwhelming. Problematic as he may have been, without him, we do not have these places. So, thanks Walt.

Next up, can we talk about the SIZE of Main St? Amazing. Even when it’s packed full of people for fireworks or rope drop, YOU CAN BREATHE. It is what? Double the size of the Magic Kingdom? And, unlike Florida, it wasn’t 100% built in the sun. There is actually shade! AND TREES! There are trees in California! Magic Kingdom really lost something when they took all the trees out of the Hub area. Yes, it opened up the visuals for nighttime spectaculars, but it was visually amazing. Main St USA goes to Disneyland. It’s fantastic. All of it.

Walt's Apartment
IYKYK

California Adventure gives off Hollywood Studios vibes IMMEDIATELY, which I love, because Hollywood Studios is my favorite park. But DCA was the most shocking part of the trip for me. I. Love. It. For starters, it is MUCH bigger than it looks. When you walk in the gates, it looks like it’s all squished together, but it is really quite large! Secondly, you could easily get through all the rides here in no time, but this park, like Hollywood Studios, is SO MUCH more than just the rides. Take time to explore the details, the shows, the shops, the exhibits….it’s all magnificent. CarsLand is HANDS DOWN the best land in any American Park. And, shockingly, IT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE. Do NOT miss this place at night. You WILL feel like you’re in the movie. It’s incredible. For the purposes of this Disneyland Review, I was pleasantly surprised.

Lightning McQueen
How do the rides compare?

Can you have a Disneyland Review without talking about the rides? Not a chance. Everything you’ve heard is true. The duplicate rides in both parks are superior in Disneyland. Except maybe Peter Pan. It’s still overrated in BOTH parks (sorry, not sorry. It’s not worth it unless you have a lightning lane). Disneyland’s unique rides are fantastic. Things you should NOT skip: Indiana Jones, Guardians of the Galaxy, WebSlingers, IncrediCoaster, Monsters Inc, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Matterhorn, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and Storybook Canal Boats. You can pass on Snow White, she was better when it was scary.

I think Disneyland would be PERFECT with EPCOT. That’s the only thing that is missing. The California Food & Wine Festival was delicious (AND full size drinks, not shots for $8), but EPCOT is SO much better.

Final thoughts, on this, my Disneyland Review: while both parks are amazing, I really love Disneyland. I was not run over by a stroller once. The people were so chill and nice, not overly entitled at all. When I did get hit by an ECV, the person apologized (I thought I was dreaming). Disneyland was a vacation. Yes, we were exhausted. Yes, we walked about 10 miles a day. But we were able to relax. We could sit down and enjoy ourselves. Everything being walkable is the complete difference. There’s no feeling of “IF WE DON’T GO NOW WE’LL MISS THE BUS!” I will most definitely go back!

Ready to book your trip? Contact me today!!!

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Mint Juleps & Mickey Beignets!

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Head to the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square to Enjoy Mint Juleps & Mickey Beignets!

If you’re anything like me, you want to know where to go to get the most unique food offerings a place has to offer. Well, if you’re heading to Disneyland, you will want to head to the very back of New Orleans Square. That’s where you will find the Mint Julep Bar. As there is no alcohol in Disneyland Park, this is not actually a “bar,” but this food kiosk is the only place you can find the refreshing mint juleps & Mickey beignets!

What is a “Mint Julep?”

Mint Juleps & Mickey Beignets

You’re probably wondering what the heck is a mint julep, you crazy person? Well, it is described as “a refreshing mint drink with a hint of lime flavor” on the Disneyland Website. Basically, club soda with mint and lime. It is the perfect refresher for a hot day.

But What the Heck is a “Mickey Beignet?”

Mint Juleps & Mickey Beignets

A beignet is a fried dough doughnut coated in powdered sugar. A MICKEY beignet is a beignet shaped like Mickey Mouse! Everything tastes better when it’s Mickey shaped!

Unique Offerings and Seasonal Must-Haves

As is tradition, Disney offers seasonal flavors of both the mint juleps and the Mickey beignets. Currently, guests who visit the Mint Julep Bar can order a Passion Fruit Mint Julep and Sugar Cookie Mickey Beignets! Other flavors include pumpkin and gingerbread beignets and watermelon mint juleps.

Tell Me More Tell Me More!

Beignets are available in 3-packs and 6-packs, and you can also order an assorted 6-pack, that will come with regular and seasonal beignets. As for the beverages, you can order the seasonal or traditional mint julep, either in a plastic cup or a take-home stainless steel tumbler. Coffee, tea, Coca-Cola products, hot chocolate, and bottled water are also available. And, in the case of having someone who can’t or won’t eat beignets, you can also order Cuties! And this location offers mobile ordering!

So tell me, do you love Mint Juleps & Mickey Beignets?! Go here for more information about Disneyland Resort and to talk about planning YOUR vacation!

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Foodie Guide: California

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Disney’s California Adventure Food & Wine Kicks Off TODAY So Let’s Check Out the Foodie Guide!!

I. Love. Festivals! Disney does Festivals better than almost anybody! Walt Disney World kicked off their Flower and Garden Festival this week, and now it’s California’s turn! Let’s dig in to the Foodie Guide for the California Food & Wine Festival! This Festival, located in Disney’s California Adventure, starts today, and runs through April 26! The fun and feasting doesn’t stop at just the festival marketplaces. You can enjoy this celebration all around Disney California Adventure park. And don’t forget about the Sip and Savor Pass, which allows you to try up to eight different food and non-alcoholic beverage items at participating locations. This is something I wish Disney WORLD had for their Festivals (score one point: Disneyland). You can use all eight tabs yourself – or split with your friends or family! Get your pass at several locations through Disney California Adventure park. Let’s dig in to the Foodie Guide!

WARNING: DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE HUNGRY!!

D*Lish

Foodie Guide: DCA Food & Wine
Photo: Disney
food
  • Black & Tan Beef Potato Puffs: Karl Strauss Wreck Alley stout gravy and lager micro sponge (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
  • Cubano Slider: Slow-roasted mustard-crusted pork and sliced smoked ham with melted swiss cheese and slice of pickle served on a Hawaiian roll (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
beverages
  • Central California Cooler: Peach, apple, orange, and lemon juice (non-alcoholic) (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
  • Chocolate Marshmallow Cold Brew Cocktail: Irish whiskey, Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co. Mexico Origin Coffee, chocolate syrup, almond milk, and toasted marshmallow (New)
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

I’m hoping I can get the slider with no bun, because that sounds amazing! I’m also strangely excited for the non-alcoholic cooler!

Nuts About Cheese

Nuts About Cheese
Photo: Disney
food
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Mac with brown sugar streusel and strawberry crackle (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
  • Next Level Crackers & Cheese: House-made herb crackers with white cheddar-infused fromage blanc, spicy prosciutto spread, and cherry jam (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
  • SNICKERS Caramel-Peanut Milk Chocolate Mickey Macaron: Chocolate Mickey macaron filled with caramel ganache and SNICKERS pieces (available with Sip & Savor Pass) Savor Pass)
beverages
  • Spicy Honey-Apricot Cocktail: Rye Whiskey, apricot, orange, lemon juice, spicy honey syrup, and bitters (New)
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

OH.EM.GOODNESS. That Macaron (which is verified gluten free, for my fellow celiacs) is callin my name! I’ll be honest, I’m not at all sure about PB&J Mac n Cheese, but early reviews are positive, so maybe it’s some weird, unknown, delicious combo?

Uncork California

Foodie Guide - Uncork California
Photo: Disney
food
  • California Artisan Cheese Selection: Habanero Jack and TomaProvence (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch: Chocolate-hazelnut mousse topped with chocolate-hazelnut glaze and a gold leaf (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
beverages
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Chardonnay
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Brut
  • White Wine Flight
  • Red Wine Flight
  • Green Apple & Lychee Mimosa: Flavors of green apple and lychee (New)
  • Passion Fruit & Banana Mimosa: Flavors of passion fruit and banana (New)
  • Cherry, Yuzu & Ginger Mimosa: Flavors of cherry, yuzu and ginger (New)
  • Tropical Mimosa Flight
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

I’m feeling thirsty! How many mimosa flights are too many? Asking for a friend…

Berry Patch

The Berry Patch
Photo: Disney
food
  • Strawberry Cheesecake with lemon Chantilly (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
  • Blueberry-Buttermilk Pie (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
beverages
  • Cherry-Chocolate-Mint Dessert Cocktail: Vodka, crème de menthe liqueur, cherry, chocolate syrup, coconut cream, and heavy whipping cream (New)
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

California Craft Brews

Food

  • IPA Sausage Dog on a soft pretzel roll with onion-pepper Jardinière, cheddar cheese sauce, and malt vinegar-jalapeño crunch (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
beer
  • Mexican Style Lager
  • Pilsner
  • Sour
  • Hefeweizen
  • Tropical Wheat 
  • Witbier
  • Gose
  • Fruited India Pale Ale
  • Imperial Red India Pale Ale
  • Hazy Double India Pale Ale
  • Bright & Balanced Beer Flight 
  • Bigger & Bolder Beer Flight 
hard seltzer/cider
  • Boysenberry Lemonade Hard Seltzer 
  • Hard Cider
Novelty
  • Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

Peppers Cali-Ente

Photo: Disney
food
  • Chile Relleno Empanada with arbol pepper salsa and Oaxaca and Cotija cheeses (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
  • Ají de Gallina: Spicy yellow chile creamed chicken with jasmine rice and olive tapenade (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
beverages
  • Cantarito-style Paloma: Reposado tequila, habanero-pineapple juice, rock melon syrup, lime, and Fresca
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

I ♥Artichokes

Photo: Disney
food
  • Chicharron-crusted Fried Artichoke Dip with smoked pepper crema and Oaxaca cheese (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
  • Artichoke Toast with Olive Tapenade: Toasted sliced baguette with artichoke cream cheese, topped with olive & artichoke tapenade and drizzled with olive oil (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
beverages
  • Passion Fruit Rum Cocktail: White rum, Italian bitter apéritif, passion fruit, orange, guava, orgeat, and lime (New)
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

I’m not a fan of artichokes, but that cocktail sounds AMAZING!!

Avocado Time

Photo: Disney
food
  • Petite Avocado Impossible Burger with dairy-free pepper jack (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
  • Frozen Guacamole: Avocado paleta with lime crema, pico de gallo, and chile-lime seasoning (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
beverages
  • Ruby Grapefruit Sparkling Beverage: Grapefruit juice, raspberry syrup, agave nectar, and Topo Chico mineral water (non-alcoholic) (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

CluckaDoodle Moo

Foodie Guide: Cluckadoodle Moo
Photo: Disney
food
  • Ranch Wings with hot sauce drizzle (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
  • French Onion Grilled Beef Tenderloin Slider: Grilled beef tenderloin topped with a Gruyère cheese sauce and caramelized onions served on an onion roll (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
beverages
  • Blackberry-Lavender Lemonade: Blackberry, pineapple juice, lavender syrup, and lemon juice (non-alcoholic) (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
  • IPA
  • DIPA
  • Belgian Style White
  • Lemonade Lager
  • Sampler Beer Flight
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

I’ll take one of everything, please!

Golden Dreams

Golden Dreams
Photo: Disney
food
  • Honey-Orange-glazed Salmon Salad with citrus vinaigrette (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
  • Mango-Carrot Gazpacho with grilled shrimp and jalapeño crema (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
beverages
  • Orange-Honey Cold Brew: Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co. Mexico Origin Coffee, orange blossom honey, white chocolate, orange juice, vanilla, orange extract, and almond milk (non-alcoholic) (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
  • Pineapple-Tiki Bitter Cocktail: Aged rum, campari, pineapple juice, orgeat, lime juice and tiki bitters (New)
  • Chardonnay
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

Garlic Kissed

Garlic Kissed
Photo: Disney
food
  • Grilled Top Sirloin with roasted garlic-Gruyère smashed potatoes and black garlic chimichurri (available with Sip & Savor Pass) (New)
  • Carbonara-Garlic Mac & Cheese with peppered bacon (available with Sip & Savor Pass)
beverages
  • Rosemary Bitter Orange Mule: Vodka, Aperol, orange juice, lime juice, rosemary syrup, and ginger beer (New)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Novelty: Red or Green Grapes Glow Cube Charm (can be added to any beverage)

This entire kitchen sounds amazing. So amazing I’m willing to make myself sick from the gluten in that mac n cheese!

Paradise Garden Grill (Mobile Order)

Photo: Disney
food
  • Brisket Fries: French fries topped with shredded smoked BBQ brisket, cheddar cheese sauce, pico de gallo, chipotle crema, and green onions (available for Sip & Savor Pass) (allergy-friendly options available) (New)
  • Char Siu Ribs: Chinese-inspired grilled pork ribs with steamed rice and almond-cabbage salad (available for Sip & Savor Pass) (allergy-friendly options available) (New)
  • Impossible Gyro: Seasoned plant-based meat served in pita bread with dairy-free tzatziki, seasoned tomatoes, cucumber, and onions (allergy-friendly options available) (New)
  • Jerk Chicken: Caribbean-inspired half chicken with mango-pineapple salsa served with black beans, white rice, and fried plantains (allergy-friendly options available) (New)
  • Beer-battered Fish Tacos: Baja-style beer-battered fish on corn tortillas topped with slaw, pico de gallo, cilantro crema, and lime wedge with house-made tortilla chips and roasted red chile-tomato salsa (available for Sip & Savor Pass) (allergy-friendly options available) (New)
  • Strawberry Shortcake: Pound cake with fresh strawberries and mascarpone crème (available with Sip & Savor Pass))
beverages
  • Bourbon-Strawberry Lemonade garnished with fresh strawberry and mint (New)
  • Mexican-style Lager
paradise garden grill beer garden
  • Salt & Lime Lager
  • Honey Blonde Ale
  • Passionfruit Wheat Ale
  • Sour Ale
  • Black Lager
  • Mango Habanero Apple Hard Cider
  • Blueberry Saison
  • Hazy IPA
  • Imperial Stout
  • IPA
  • Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale
  • Mead
  • Beer Garden Flight

And this is just PART of it! There is so much more to experience! To read the rest of the menus, visit here. To book your Disneyland vacation, contact me today!!

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Disneyland: Paradise Pier Hotel

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Read Time:2 Minute, 51 Second

A Deep Dive into The Most Affordable Resort at Disneyland

Disneyland - Paradise Pier
Photo: Disney

Disneyland Resort has 3 hotels considered “on-property,” as opposed to Walt Disney World, which has over 25. That alone should tell you about the size difference between the two locations! Of the three on-site hotels, Paradise Pier is the most “affordable.” But that does not mean it is “cheap.” Quite the contrary! This is not a shabby hotel in any way, shape, or form!

Paradise Pier – a Vibe

Disneyland - Paradise Pier view

Paradise Pier is themed like the Boardwalks and beaches of California’s coasts, so if you’re at Disneyland and don’t want to face the infamous LA traffic, you’re pretty set! Both theme parks are just steps away from Paradise Pier, and you can even watch the fireworks and World of Color from some of the upper-level rooms! And did I mention the rooftop pool?

Paradise Pier – Room Types

Paradise Pier offers all kinds of rooms, including standard rooms, suites, and even club-level rooms!

In general, all standard rooms at the Paradise Pier Hotel come with the following amenities: mini-fridge, coffeemaker, iron & ironing board, satellite TV, hairdryer, in-room safe, alarm clock, phone with voicemail and high-speed Wi-Fi. A crib is also available upon request. The difference between a Standard Room and a Premium View room is, well, the view. In a Standard Room, you’re going to get views of the parking lot or Disneyland Drive, while in the Premium View Rooms, you’re getting views of the theme park. Only you can determine if the cost is worth it for your family, but for mine, it’s honestly negligible. Chances are, we’re going to be in the parks for fireworks anyway, so the bonus of watching them from our room? Meh.

If you’re looking for just a TOUCH more with your Disney experience, you might consider the Club-Level rooms. Club-level gets you access to the Beachcomber Club, where guests can enjoy a variety of light bites and drinks on and off all day long from 6:30 AM to 10 PM. This includes continental breakfast, snacks, wine, cheese and desserts. If your kids are in the mood for a Disney movie before bed, just borrow one from the concierge club’s DVD collection.

Or you might consider one of MANY suites offered, which can accommodate larger groups. No matter what kind of group you have, Paradise Pier has got you covered for sleeping arrangements!

Disneyland - Paradise Pier
Photo: Disney

Paradise Pier – Recreation

Paradise Pier has a fitness center that offers fitness classes, for those that need to stay in shape on vacation! It includes cardio machines, weight machines, and free weights.

Disneyland - Paradise Theater

Kids can go into the Paradise Theater, where they can rest and recharge while watching a movie on a sandcastle-shaped television!

Photo: Disney
Disneyland - California Streamin
Photo: Disney

You can’t have a beach-themed hotel without an amazing pool, and that is just what you’ll find at Paradise Pier. This rooftop pool has an amazing view of the nightly fireworks, with the soundtrack even pumped in for full enjoyment. Enjoy a ride down California Streamin’, a sunshine-yellow waterslide styled after the classic coasters of the boardwalk or oceanfront pier. Or take a soak in the Paradise Spa whirlpool, while the kids swim in the main pool or the children’s pool.

For more information about Paradise Pier, see this link.

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Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

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Read Time:6 Minute, 45 Second

Take a Deep Dive into the Story and Details of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World!

My favorite part of all Disney Theme Parks are the stories and the details, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is FULL of them. It is such an immersive space, and right next to Toy Story Land, ANOTHER totally immersive land. Located on the back edge of Hollywood Studios, Galaxy’s Edge is all of your childhood dreams coming true at once. (Likewise, at Disneyland Park, Galaxy’s Edge is on the back edge of the park). While you’re here, you’re truly in a galaxy far, far away.

How do I get to Batuu?

There are two entrances into Black Spire Outpost. You can enter near MuppetVision 3D, which will bring you in by Rise of the Resistance; or enter from Toy Story Land, near the speeder garage. As you should with every land in every Disney Park, pay attention to how the landscaping, the sounds, and even the smells slowly transition you into this new world. In addition to the buildings and spaceships and speeders, explore the foiliage and even the droid and creature tracks in the ground.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Black Spire Outpost: Galaxy’s Edge

Black Spire Outpost

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Once on the planet Batuu, you’ll be at the Black Spire Outpost. This was once a thriving settlement, but is now home to bounty hunters, smugglers, and others hiding out from the First Order. This Outpost was named after the petrified spires located throughout the Outpost, which used to be ancient trees lining the rivers and plains of Batuu. As such, the whole place is a story, and everyone and everything is a character. Likewise, every detail is a story. Visitors will be able to find Rey and Chewbacca wandering around the Speeder Garage or the Millennium Falcon. They may even greet you after you return from Rise of the Resistance! And keep an eye out for Vi Moradi, a Resistance spy. She has blue hair and an orange jacket. BUT REMEMBER: she is a spy.

The First Order – Kylo Ren

First Order characters, like Kylo Ren and his troopers, are found at the TIE Echelon back near the milk stand. Each cast member in Batuu has a backstory, and they are all part of the story. As such, if you ask them how to get to the Rock n Roller Coaster, they might look at you funny. But if you ask them where they live, why they’re in the outpost, or their opinions on the Resistance or the First Order.

Language of Batuu

“Bright suns” means “Good morning”
“Rising moons” means “Good evening”
“Refresher” means “restroom”
“Hydrator” means “water fountain”
“Credits” means “money”
“Data pad” means “cell phone”
“Only the ancients know” means “I don’t know”
“Til the Spire” or “May the Spires keep you” means “Goodbye

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Shopping – Batuu Marketplace

Disney Imagineers visited marketplaces in Istanbul and Marrakesh for inspiration for Batuu, and drew on those experiences to design the marketplace at Black Spire Outpost. In many cases, audio animatronics serve as the shopkeepers, giving more authenticity to the Star Wars theming. You will find a water fountain, excuse me….a hydrator, near the bathroom, I mean, refresher, for filling you water bottles. Above that hydrator, you will see a one-eyed Dianoga. Star Wars fans will recognize it as the creature in the trash chute that pulled Luke underwater in A New Hope. Black Spire Outfitters sells your finest space clothing, and you can find accessories, trinkets (like the japoor snippet Anakin carved for Padme in The Phantom Menace), and treasures.

CREATURES AND YOUNGLING SOUVENIRS
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

The Creature Stall has all kinds of creatures, like Porgs, Santhas, Tauntauns, and loth cats. You can purchase these rare space pets and bring them home with you. While over at the Toydarian Toymaker, manned by Zabaka, a Toydarian like Watto, you will find “handmade” toys, like handstitched porgs or Yoda rag dolls. You can even get wooden sandcrawlers filled with “hand-carved” mini Jawas, Ewok drums, packs of Sabaac cards, and even chance cubes!

If you look up in the ceiling of the toy shop, you will see handcrafted mobiles and marionettes depicting:

  • Obi-Wan vs Darth Vader, A New Hope
  • Millennium Falcon in Asteroids, Empire Strikes Back
  • Jabba’s sail barge, The Return of the Jedi
FROM THE ANCIENTS

You can also visit Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. Ithorian Dok-Ondar deals in rare and unique items and antiquities, and here is where you will find kyber crystals and holocrons for building your lightsaber in Savi’s Workshop. In order to make a lightsaber, you should make a reservation 60 days out. Before you leave Dok-Ondar’s shop, though, be sure to look for Jyn Erso’s kyber crystal necklace from Rogue One. For fans of the First Order, head over to First Order Cargo for all your evil goods. Team Resistance? Head to Resistance Supply and get the good guys’ goods.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Jabba's Barge

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

We’ve discussed Dining, and, of course, the milk stand, and DROIDS!, but let’s talk RIDES!! There are two rides inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and for all you Star Tours lovers (LIKE ME!!!), it’s still there, it’s just not in the land. You will find it in it’s same spot between MuppetVision 3D and Backlot Express. But while in Batuu, you will find the LIFE SIZE Millennium Falcon, where you can ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

While waiting in line, I encourage you to take advantage of looking out the “windows” and taking in the INSANE amount of detail put into the ship. Find yourself shocked that they came in that hunk of junk!

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Millennium Falcon

The “ship” takes 6 people to fly it, so if your party is not 6, be prepared to make new friends. Guests will become 2 pilots, 2 gunners, and 2 engineers. This part is something I don’t like, because I was a pilot but I only controlled left and right, not up and down, but Imagineering didn’t ask me, and there you go. It’s an awesome ride, but honestly, the queue and the staging area before you board the Falcon are my favorite spots, mostly because I, like most people, have grown up on these movies and this is like a dream come true: being IN THE MILLENNIUM FALCON!!!!!!

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge the Millennium Falcon

Rise of the Resistance

I usually do not condone waiting in long lines for rides, but if you happen to not be able to get an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance, just wait. It’s worth it. You can also get in line just before the park closes, and you will get on the ride. What can I say about this ride? It’s the most incredible ride I’ve ever ridden. Truly. The First Order Troopers, the First Order Officers that take you for interrogation, the Resistance fighters, Poe Dameron’s ship, all of it. When in your life have you been shot at by Troopers surrounded by AT-AT Walkers? Even if you’re not a Star Wars Fan, this is a ride you need to experience.

Rise of the Resistance

Easter Eggs around Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

  • One-eyed dianoga from the trash chute in a tank above the Black Spire drinking fountain
  • taxidermic Wampa from Hoth in Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities
  • Pod racing engine used to roast the rontos and the smelter droids from Jabba’s palace turning the spits in Ronto Roasters
  • mural in Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities showing light vs dark from Palpatine’s office in Revenge of the Sith
  • Hondo Ohnaka from Clone Wars and Rebels gives you your mission assignment on Smuggler’s Run
  • Nien Nunb, Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot in Return of the Jedi, flies the transport ship in Rise of the Resistance
  • Actual R2-D2 tracks were used to make “droid tracks” around the outpost to give it a more authentic look

And don’t forget to buy your souvenir THERMODETONATORS!!!!!

The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser is now OPEN! Contact me today to book your next vacation? That’s my job! Let me help you out!

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Droid Depot at Galaxy’s Edge

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Read Time:3 Minute, 16 Second

So you have always wanted your own, personal R2-D2 in your house. Well now you can, by visiting the Droid Depot at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge! This experience is available on both coasts, and reservations are STRONGLY recommended. Reservations can be made 60 days out, as available at the Droid Depot. A separate park ticket AND park reservation to Hollywood Studios are both required. You cannot get in just using a Droid Depot reservation, so plan accordingly. Due to COVID restrictions, space is limited to accommodate physical distancing. Same-day reservations are currently unavailable and walk-ins are not always taken, though in rare occasions, they are possible, I just wouldn’t bank on that.

When you arrive at your reservation time, you will get in line to order the droid style you want and to pay. Droids are $99.99 plus tax, and are not eligible for annual pass or any other form of discount. They are also not returnable, so be very sure this is what you want before you purchase! You will receive a cardboard box to carry your droid around, or you can purchase a cute backpack to store it in and carry it MUCH easier than in the boxes, which will break. You can check in no sooner than 15 minutes before your reservation time. The reservation will be for 2 people: 1 person who will build the droid and 1 person that can watch and take pictures and videos.

You will tell them whether you want a BB Unit or an R2 unit, and they will tell you which pieces you need to pick out for each unit. At that time, you take your basket to the massive conveyor belt of droid parts and pick out all the pieces you need for your unit in whatever colors you want. My daughter chose a BB Unit and, as her favorite color is pink and they didn’t have that, she chose purple. Her name is Gypsy, we love her. You choose all the pieces you want and then wait for one of the cast members to tell you which work station you will be building at. They are numbered stations and there are numbers on the floor that correspond to the work stations. Super easy for anyone to find, so no worries there!

Now this is where the fun begins. Each workstation has instructions for each unit, and they are also picture guides, so all you have to do is take your time and go step by step. There is help available if anyone needs it, but they truly made this experience incredibly simple so that all Younglings could easily follow along and build their droids. Once your droid is all put together, it is time to bring it to life. I’m telling you, they pull out all the stops here. In true Disney Imagineer fashion, they did not skimp on the details. I would say it’s worth the $100 price tag just to make it. Seriously. It is so cool!

Once you have brought your droid to life, you are given the remote control to test it out. Then it’s all yours to take and enjoy. You are not allowed to use the remote control while in the theme parks, and you are required to carry it, but bear in mind, it uses bluetooth technology and will interact with other droids and at various spots around both Galaxy’s Edge and the rest of the theme parks. Honestly, I forgot ALL ABOUT this fact, and so, when Gypsy started rolling around and beeping in her box, I almost had a heart attack. It is such an incredible experience!! Oh, and you never know who you might roll into at the Droid Depot! Get your reservation today!!

Photos are all pre-COVID and do not represent current safety protocols. Masks are still required on property unless actively eating or drinking.

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