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Old 12-27-2010, 09:43 PM   #16
DisneyFamily123
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Whispering Canyon Cafe

We wanted to visit Wilderness Lodge to see the Christmas tree and decorations. Went here in 2008 too and it's the same corny jokes. But DS5 really liked it. It's simple stuff and you can be surprised if you decide to go here. If I tell you, it will be even more corny when you get there. This was our first night's dinner (2010) and I gave up Artist Point to go here. I really wish we went to Artist Point but I made this sacrifice for DS because I knew he would have more fun and we were already going to several other boring restaurants. Total cost = $119 (or 1 DDP credit per person) not including tip for 2 adults and 1 child.

I wouldn't come back here unless I was staying at Wilderness Lodge, not worth a special trip. I'd rather go to Hoop Dee Doo for a funny show and better food even though it is 2 dining credits.

For appetizers, we had western chips and dip, and the Trout Wrap. Absolutely nothing remarkable. We had the skillets. The food was OK. I didn't like the ribs, lots of fat in them. Not baby back ribs. It's pretty darn expensive for this lower quality of food. I didn't mind using a dining plan credit but if I had to pay $120 for this, I'd flip out. I remember the food in 2008 being much better. I did like my strawberry milkshake. Desserts were a berry cobbler dessert, and an apple caramel pie. No pictures of dessert.

Adult Skillet


Kid's Skillet
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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-27-2010, 09:44 PM   #17
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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace is one of our favorites. Dinner in 2008, lunch twice in 2009, and twice in 2010. What we really like about Crystal Palace is the variety and higher quality of food on the buffet. I thought I took more photos of the food... I'll post if I find them. I'd like to go to breakfast next trip (before park opens), just to get some photos in Magic Kingdom before the crowds roll in...

Crystal Palace was our first and only character meal in 2008. It was so wonderful and easy to meet Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore and DS3 liked the little parade they do through the restaurant. In 2009, we did many more character meals because of this experience. The service is great. And our servers, each time, would tell us how the characters come around and give us warning when they were about to make rounds by our table. Crystal Palace is consistent and dependable. 5 times here... and each time the food, service, and characters were just as good each time.

There's a variety of cold salads - I like that. The carved meats are delicious. The salmon very good too. I love squash so the ratatouie pictured is a favorite. There's a large variety of food on the menu so it should be easy to satisfy everyone.

I can't say enough good things about Crystal Palace, and if not on the dining plan, the lunch is affordable compared to other dining options at WDW. Total = $68 (or 1 DDP credit per person) not including tip for 2 adults and 1 child.

Carved Beef, with Horseradish Sauce (in large container).


Ratatouie


Salmon Basil Aioli








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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-27-2010, 09:44 PM   #18
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1900 Park Fare Dinner

Who doesn't like to visit the Grand Floridian? Fun transportation on the monorail or boat between Magic Kingdom, the evening orchestra and piano player, the wonderful decor and tile work in the lobby, Christmas decorations...

Really liked the breakfast here in 2009... Great food! Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Tigger and Pooh... We came back for dinner in 2010 because we had a fun encounter with the crazy stepsisters at the Halloween Party (sorry Cinderella)...

We had a 4:30pm ADR right when the restaurant opened. Took a boat from Magic Kingdom. We were seated right away and the dining room was already near full. The decor at 1900 Park Fare is nice, but it is a little crowded in there with the tables... not a ballroom atmosphere. I wish it were more like a ballroom, a little fancier but then they would probably charge more $$$ or 2 DDP credits.
Total cost = $96 (or 1 DDP credit per person) not including tip for 2 adults and 1 child.

DS5 enjoyed meeting Cinderella and Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella and we got some great photos of course and autographs. Looking around, some of the younger girls were really enchanted by meeting Cinderella.

The buffet was pretty good. I liked the asparagus soup, the chicken coq au vin, green beans, and the carved beef. There was a dried cherry relish that was very tasty on the beef. The buffet is set up by country/region -- France, Spain, Asian, etc.. I didn't care for the Asian part but it was OK.

1900 Park Fare dinner is a great way to meet these characters without a long line. But we were at WDW during a less busy time of year and it was not a long wait to meet Cinderella and other princesses at MK. I bet the line is VERY long other times of year.

And it's only 1 DDP credit compared to Cinderella's Round Table... but I can't compare because I've never been to CRT (don't have girls, not interested). I'd definitely return here if staying at one of the monorail resorts or coming for dinner from Magic Kingdom. While I'll say there are better restaurants if you're just looking for food quality.... this was a fun place.

Carved Meats


Soups


Salads


Asian


France


Italy


Spain


Desserts


Strawberry Soup


Kid's Food


Desserts - very hotel like, but it's a buffet. Still tasted good!










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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-27-2010, 09:45 PM   #19
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Garden Grill Dinner

First time here. Loved it. Character were great. Chip and Dale (hard to find) were fun to meet. We picked Garden Grill because we wanted to try new restaurants and Chip and Dale were the first characters we ever met at WDW when DS was 3, at the entrance to Magic Kingdom (our first park together).

We also learned how to tell these 2 squirrels (er... chipmunks) by the color of their nose and number of teeth. The character interactions are at the table and like others say... it feels private the way the tables are spaced apart, not rushed at all. And the characters are in their farmer type of outfits. DS5 really enjoyed this.

Ride the living with the land ride before dining here. We were on the first floor and it spins (very slowly) and you can view parts of the living with the land ride.

Total Cost = $87 (or 1 DDP credit per person) not including tip for 2 adults and 1 child. The food was served family style and I prefer that to a buffet.. even though there is less variety, I don't have to get up and leave the table to get food... it feels more like a family meal. The Mahi Mahi was very good, moist and tasty. I heard they used to have catfish... I guess it depends on the time of year. The turkey was good too. I didn't care for the beef, it had a lot of fat, but that could be trimmed... Still tasted good. The vegetables were very fresh and delicious -- I think they come from the Living with the Land gardens. DS loved his oreo cookie ice cream dessert that looks like Mickey ears.

I'll definitely return here again!

Mahi Mahi on Left, Turkey on Right (half eaten)


Apple Currant Crisp


Oreo Cookie Kids Desert








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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-27-2010, 09:46 PM   #20
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Cape May Cafe

This was a nice breakfast. We picked this because we wanted to see the Beach Club resort Christmas decorations. I'm not sure I''d make a special trip here since we can see the same characters at many other places. But it worked out fine... We came to Epcot for morning extra magic hours 8-9am, then headed through international gateway to the Beach Club for a 9:20am reservation. It was a nice walk... not many people, enjoyable views of the water and scenery. You could get some nice photos without a lot of people in the background. Total Cost = $63 (or 1 DDP credit per person) not including tip for 2 adults and 1 child.


Minnie, Donald, and Goofy were great. The usual table greetings but each took their time with us and joked around a bit. There was plenty of variety on the buffet and everything I tasted was very good... (and I tasted almost everything!).

Yogurt Bar,


Oatmeal, Grits


Fruit


Asparagus, French Toast, Breakfast Pizza


Eggs Omelet, Breakfast Meats



Mickey Waffles, The Syrup was very good here... but a little too hot.






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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-27-2010, 09:47 PM   #21
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Tusker House - Donald's Safari Breakfast

2nd time here. Great food both times. Buffet has nice variety. We also dined at the dinner (no characters) in 2008 and liked the food very much... but Yak and Yeti is our new found love for lunch/dinner at AK Park.

Character greetings were great. The best thing is we can schedule our breakfast at 8am on a day when Animal Kingdom Park opens at 9am.... so on our way to breakfast, we can get lots of great pictures in an empty park without other people in the background of our photos. We finished right at 9am and it's a quick hop, skip, and jump to Kilmanjaro Safari. Total cost = $63 (or 1 DDP credit per person) not including tip for 2 adults and 1 child.

We had our picture with Donald outside and met the other characters (Mickey, Goofy, Daisy) inside. All are great in their Safari costumes. But, if you just want to meet the characters, they were all at Mickey and Minnie's greeting trail later, in the same or similar safari outfits. But the character breakfast would be a great way to meet them without long lines during busier times of year. Tip... our table was against a wall and that made it very easy to take photos without other people in the background. I think I'll request this at some other character meals.

Food -- all very good. I like that there is food other than the usual breakfast items. The coconut sweet potatoes are delicious. I also liked the plantains and basmati rice. And can't go wrong with the bread pudding.

Mickey Waffles, Potatos, Sausage, Bacon, Eggs


Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole, Vegetable Quiche, Potatos, Beef Bobotie



Oatmeal with Raisins, Cinnamon and Brown Sugar. Mealie Pap, Sausage Gravy and Biscuits


Ham, Plantains, Basmatic Rice with Lemon and Cinnamon



Breads - orange and banana, chocolate mango, mealie cornbread, coffee cake.


Yogurt Bar


Plain and Chocolate Croissants


Mini Pastries and Muffins








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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-27-2010, 09:47 PM   #22
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Hollywood and Vine

First, I apologize no photos... I was so busy enjoying the fun and videotaping DS5 dancing with Agent Oso, I didn't take pictures of the food except a Mickey waffle.... So, in exchange... I offer a video of Agent Oso dancing at Hollywood and Vine.

3rd time here. 2008 for dinner buffet. I don't recommend dinner, food was not great and there are no characters. Better places to eat in Hollywood Studios. 2009 for lunch, 2010 for breakfast. We didn't care for the lunch buffet food, but I can't complain... it was good enough to eat.. but nothing great, and the waitress brought DS two big bowls of strawberries that were not on the buffet.

In contrast, the breakfast buffet was VERY good. Total cost = $68 (or 1 DDP credit per person) not including tip for 2 adults and 1 child. The usual breakfast items and mickey waffles, but all were delicious. DS5really enjoyed dancing with the characters here to Playhouse Disney Music, much better than the simple table greetings characters do at other restaurants. Agent Oso and Handy Manny were there this year so that was a treat for DS.

I'd return here again for breakfast... especially if I could do it at 8am before the park opens. This year, we came to Hollywood Studios at 8am for morning magic hours, rode Toy Story and got fast passes for later, than had 9am breakfast. By the time we were done, it was near time to get fast passes again.

Here's the Mickey Waffle! I assure you all the breakfast food was very good.




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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-27-2010, 09:48 PM   #23
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The Kids Meals

I posted a few photos under each restaurant review, but I figure we all know what hot dogs, nuggets, pasta, grilled chicken, baked fish, strawberries, apple sauce, and green beans look like. DS5 is a little picky but had plenty to eat. His favorites are Mickey Pasta, Chicken Nuggets, Beans/Peas, and Strawberries. He is normally picky about food (annoying) but easily worked up a hunger at WDW and was willing to try new things. He ate baked flounder (no breading) at Chefs de France and I was shocked... he dipped it in ketchup of course.

DS had strawberries with every meal. They are sweet and delicious. For some reason, the strawberries we get at home are usually from California, and very tart.

DS5 also has an egg allergy so we usually met with the Chef before our meal. Because of the allergy, he has never been interested in desserts much. On all three of our trips, the chefs were wonderful and accomodating. DS is also picky. Don't hesitate to ask for things that are not on the menu. Even without an allergy (we didn't note it every reservation), I've found that WDW restaurants are willing to please and be flexible when they can.

DS loves the character meals... We enjoy them all... it's so much fun to see DS enjoy himself... and I figure that's a fair reward since he is so incredibly patient to sit through long signature restaurant dinners with us. This is what I like about Disney... I understand that the food is not the greatest in fine dining, especially when considering the price... but the fun and smiles in the themed restaurants and character meals and dinner shows make it all worth it.

I'm not sure what the secret is to enjoying a 1 1/2 to 2 hour signature dinner with DS. But, by that time of the day... he is tired... and more than happy to sit. And he is hungry. The signature restaurants (except Brown Derby) are outside of the parks so there's no competition with his interest in rides and attractions. At our meals, we talk about our day, plan what's next, look at photos on our camera, etc... The signature meals all have some kind of distraction -- between courses, I'll take DS away from the table to give him a break from any boredom he might be experiencing. Here's some of the between courses breaks we took ---
  • California Grill - walked outside on the observation deck to look over Magic Kingdom and see the sun set.
  • Narcoosees - walked on the deck that goes around the restaurant to look at the castle all lit up, the fireworks from MK, and the lighted boat parade that passes by at about 9pm.
  • Citricos - the main lobby is right outside the restaurant... the orchestra and piano player alternate playing music in the evening.
  • Flying Fish Cafe - no break here... but was nice to have a seat by the window. Before and after dinner, we enjoyed the boardwalk entertainers right outside the restaurant entrance.
  • Brown Derby - no break here... DS liked looking at all the pictures of Hollywood stars on the wall.
  • Jiko - quick walk outside the restaurant to the lobby.
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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-27-2010, 09:49 PM   #24
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Deluxe Dining Plan

WHY WE DID THE DINING PLAN...
We did the dining plan (DDP) in 2008 that included 1 table service (TS), 1 quick service (QS) - also called counter service (CS), and 1 snack x number of people x number of nights. We were a large group with several rooms, some of us did the DDP, some didn't. That worked fine because my in-laws were already paying for some of our meals. It seemed like a cheaper way to go. In 2008, we also liked having the dining plan for our family's older teens who were often on their own at the parks during the day and we would meet later for dinner.... with a dining plan, they could get their own meals/snacks without us having to worry about costs. We used the quick service credits for breakfast at the resort, and our table services for lunch or dinner.

When planning our 2009 trip, we wanted to go to more character meals and themed restaurants. Adding up the costs, deluxe seemed to be the way to go, then we were hooked... and did the same in 2010.

WHY GO DELUXE?
  • If we did the DDP, we would end up paying out of pocket cost for some additional meals, some appetizers, a few more snacks, and the refillable resort mugs. That additional out of pocket cost was near equal to the cost of just upgrading to deluxe. And for that, we get to enjoy more table service restaurants.
  • There were just so many fun restaurants to eat at WDW. The character meals, dinner shows, and themed restaurants are part of the fun for us at WDW.
  • With Deluxe DDP, there's no need to pay out of pocket (except for tips) so no need to worry about costs or faint when the check comes. It's all done and paid for in advance.
  • DS4 has a food allergy and the restaurants were much easier to accommodate (meet with chef 1st) than trying to figure it out on our own with counter service.

TOO MUCH TIME SITTING IN A RESTAURANT AND TOO MUCH FOOD?
I understand the argument that 3 meals a day is a lot... and that it takes time away from being in the parks. For us, a 9 or 10 day trip gives us plenty of time for parks. Sitting down in a restaurant is a welcome break from all the walking. We consider the dining to be part of our fun and park experience. We arrive early on our arrival day and leave late on our departure day, so we use dining credits then too. Most days, we only had lunch and dinner because we did 2 credit signature restaurants and dinner shows. When we did have 3 meals a day... we tried to make it an early character breakfast, a late lunch (1pm or 1:30), and a very late dinner 7:30 or so. Too much food? No one said you have to eat it all! And I thought calories don't count when on vacation... All the walking we did in the parks, I figured we were burning it off anyway.

DO YOU REALLY SAVE WITH THE DINING PLAN?
Well, given that the prices of restaurant dining in WDW are inflated... is it really saving? I can see how someone might save by eating off site, or having breakfast in your room... but you still got to eat. Counter service is less expensive, but we like the restaurants better for food and the experience. If staying concierge, I can see how that could save money too but who stays at the resort all day to eat? Would I order that much food if not on the dining plan? Of course not. It's also nice to not faint every time the check comes... with the DDP being prepaid. So here's the dollars and cents... I didn't count tips but of course that's part of the expense too when dining in a restaurant instead of quick service.

Comparison of Deluxe DDP vs. DDP, and Deluxe DDP vs. No DDP
I don't have the 2010 numbers, but for Dec. 2011, deluxe would be $76 more a night for 2 adults, 1 child... for that we can choose table service or quick service for all our meals, 1 more meal credit per night, appetizers 1 for each adult, 3 more snacks per night, and 3 refillable resort mugs - 1 per person. Even if we did the DDP, we would have paid out of pocket for some additional table services, some appetizers, some snacks, and the mugs.

Comparison of DDP and Deluxe DDP (for 2 adults and 1 child):

-$684 Additional Cost to Upgrade to Deluxe DDP for 9 nights
+$42 Value of 3 refillable resort mugs (we would buy these anyway)
+$74 Value of 27 additional snacks (est. $2.75 each)
+$260 Value of appetizers included with Deluxe (est. avg. $10 per appetizer x 2 adults at 13 restaurants, number is less than total #restaurants because appetizers not applicable at buffets and family style meals, some restaurants would be 2 credit signatures).
+$738 Value of 9 additional table service meals ($82 each = average cost of lunch and breakfast table services x 9)
So, while going deluxe costs $684 more, the value of the additional mugs, snacks, appetizers, and meals is $1114. That does not include the value of doing more table service with deluxe instead of the quick service that is included with the DDP.

But what if we really didn't need all that food and just used the DDP and paid out of pocket for some meals, appetizers, and snacks?
In the end... the cost for us to go deluxe DDP instead of the DDP is about $25 a night for 2 adults and 1 child. We would be fine with the DDP -- 1 table service dinner a night, quick service for lunches, bringing cereal for DS's breakfasts and paying for ours, and using snack credits for drinks in the parks. BUT.... on a 10 day trip using the DDP. I'd end up paying out of pocket for the things listed below not covered by the DDP (for 2 adults, 1 child).

Out of Pocket Costs if Used Plus DDP (Minimum):
some quick service breakfasts at the resort ($120)
2 character breakfasts not covered by DDP credits ($130)
2 extra quick service on our arrival/departure day ($50)
appetizers at some of our dinners ($80)
2 refillable resort mugs ($28)
additional drinks/snacks not covered by DDP ($55)
The total out of pocket would be $463. The cost to upgrade to deluxe DDP is $684, or about $25 more a night (total for all of us). So, for $25 more a night... we get to do table service restaurants instead of quick service (including shows and signature restaurants), appetizers at every table service, more snacks to use in the parks (and to bring home some fudge/caramel/treats), and another refillable resort mug (for DS). But, an additional cost is we end up paying more for tips because of doing table service.

Overall Savings Compared to Not Using any Dining Plan:
-$1486 Cost of Deluxe DDP for 2 adults, 1 child, for 9 nights.
+$2204 Cost of Restaurant 22 table service meals if out of pocket, tax included.
+$42 Cost of 3 refillable mugs, included with deluxe DDP.
+$149 Cost of 54 snacks, included with deluxe DDP (est. $2.75 each).
$909 = Savings (About a 38% discount)

Average Cost (for 2 adults and 1 child) not including tips:
$157 Average Cost of a Signature Dinner (if paying out of pocket)
$92 Average Cost of our 1 credit lunches and dinners
$69 Average Cost of our character meals
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Our Disney Vacations: 2008-2014, 6 trips: Halloween, Christmas, Star Wars Weekend. Favorite resorts - All Stars, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, Polynesian. Best Tip - Don't try to do it all... Go slower, relax, take a break, have an excuse to come back. Don't miss - Dapper Dans (MK), Flights of Wonder (AK), Fantasmic (HS), Mo-Rockin' (Epcot).

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Old 12-28-2010, 11:27 AM   #25
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great pics so far, definitely looking forward to the reviews
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:34 PM   #26
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Thoroughly enjoyed your review of the Flying Fish, and will look forward to reading more
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Old 12-28-2010, 02:58 PM   #27
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i'm enjoying your reviews and pictures, thanks for sharing, and looking forward to more.
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:27 PM   #28
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I really like how you laid out each restaurant as a separate review with them all listed together at the beginning of the review. It will be easier for me to keep up with the updates.

Great reviews! Thanks for taking the time!
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:06 PM   #29
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Really great reviews! Can't wait to read more
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:46 PM   #30
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I am enjoying your reviews and look forward to hearing more, especially since we are trying out the DDP next time. Thanks!
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