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Polynesian Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort Pool

Drinking Around the World at Epcot’s Germany Pavilion

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I consider the Germany pavilion to be one of the World Showcases little hidden havens.  There is something about the fountain with the statue of St. George slaying the dragon and the faint sounds of Oktoberfest accordion music coming from the Biergarten buffet restaurant that make me immediately embrace my own German heritage and feel cozy and at home.

Sommerfest is a great stop for lunch and for one of my favorite beers: Altenmunster Oktoberfest.

If you like normal Oktoberfest brews it may not be your first choice, however, and I will explain why.

I first gave this a try as I like beers with a much lighter taste and at the time we stopped I saw the look of the beer the people in front of us had ordered.  I asked what they had and it was love at first sip.

With more of an ale taste, this was a perfect choice to compliment the brats we ordered for lunch on a bright and sunny Florida day.  Next time you are strolling through World Showcase, whether you are a beer connoisseur or just want something to compliment your meal (or the feel of the pavilion) I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Prost!!

 

By profession Melissa is a 9th grade World History teacher, but by nature she is a lover of all things Disney. She has always been a bit of a bookworm and has believed in fairytales since she was a little girl. (Her favorite heroine and princess is Belle.)

Melissa DonaldWhen she isn’t teaching, snapping pictures to post on Picturing Disney on Facebook, updating her photoblog Picturing Disney, or prancing around Disney Parks like a kid, she is lives her life filled with love, laughter, and happily ever after in New York with her husband and their adorable dog.

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Photographing Walt Disney World: How to Bring the Magic a Little Closer to Home

One of our Mouze Kateerz writers, Amanda Major (www.cheapskateprincess.com), is one of the best Disney photographers that I’ve seen. She captures Disney Magic with every picture. She is one of the largest picture contributors to Mouze Kateerz. Here is an article that she wrote several months ago that I thought was worth rerunning for more readers to enjoy. ~ Frances

By Amanda M.

Every photo has a story.

One reason I am so enamored with Walt Disney World is the wide range of photographic opportunities I find when I vacation there. Photography can be both a tremendously rewarding experience and a maker of memories, but on the other side, it can be a journey into frustration and disappointment. Images don’t always turn out in print like you see them through your eyes.  Sometimes, I look at my photos and think, “Ugh!! It didn’t look like that!”  What to do…

Picture this…As photography has moved away from print film to digital, we now have the opportunity to clean up and fix a lot of images that would look better with a little nip and tuck. One of my most useful photo editing tools, Picasa in my case,  is the crop button. Simple. Handy. Crop.

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL,  dropped a photo off on our wall at Mouze Kateerz on Facebook, and it was so beautiful, I had to see if there was an original.  Apparently Randy didn’t need to crop his photo a for a closer view- he just zoomed up on his subject. In keeping with my theme of every photo has a story,  there was indeed a great Disney tale attached with his photo…romance, relaxation, and vivid colors.  Here’s Randy’s photographical memory:

disney photography, The Disney Moms, Tree of Life photo, Animal Kingdom photosThis past May, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with our first trip back to WDW since our honeymoon … without the kids. We decided during the planning for the trip that we would set no schedule, eat when we wanted to…not just when we could spare a moment between attractions. We took the time to look for the details that we so often rushed past in search of a character signing or fast pass.

Every trip for us to WDW includes a morning at Animal Kingdom. First destination… The Tree of Life to see A Bug’s Life. As we worked our way towards the tree, we stopped to take this pic with the tree in the background.

The vivid color of the simple pink flower struck me so I decided to take a close up. “

Animal Kingdom, It's a Bugs life, Disney Photography, The Disney Moms, Animal Kingdom safari
“This close up has become one of my favorites from this trip. It is a good reminder to me to slow down and look for the detail, it is all part of the Magic!

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL

The personal thing about photography is that sometimes a photo will have no meaning or emotional attachment to anyone other than the photographer. The picture belongs to you; the special meaning is all your own. But this doesn’t diminish the beauty you can find in photographs, even if you really have no idea where the photo was taken.

Bonnet Creet Resort, Windham Bonnet Creek Resort, Hollywood Studios, Bonnet Creek photosHere is a photo I took in 2011 at Windham Bonnet Creek Resort on the other side of the highway from Disney‘s Hollywood Studios.Our first stay here was fabulous, and included hot dogs for Christmas Eve dinner (a new annual tradition) and a swim in the heated lazy river on Christmas Day.

I took several shots of a sunset as the clouds were rolling in on Dec. 26th, the day before we returned home. Most people will not recognize this as Bonnet Creek.

There are no Disney characters in the shot, no iconic Disney architecture or logos, so you won’t recognize the location, but you are drawn in all the same.

photography, Picasa photo editing, Picasa photography, Disney Picasa, photo cropping, Disney photography, The beautiful thing about this photo is that I didn’t do a thing to change the color. I just cut out the distracting clouds and focused on the closer beauty of an Orlando sunset. I then fought off depression by telling myself in that every sunset does notlook like this when you are three miles from the Magic Kingdom. I remain unconvinced; I somehow suspect actually they do.

So if you can’t zoom, then crop. A little nip here, and a little tuck there can take a good photo and bring it a little closer to home, both to your eye, and to your heart.

Thanks for coming along for a photographical ride, and we’ll see you around the Disney parks with a camera!

Amanda

Love Disney World photography? For a virtual Disney vacation in pictures, join Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some fabulous Disney photographs you’d like to share, send an email of your favorite Disney location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

See ya soon!

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Be Our Guest Restaurant= More Magic

With the official grand opening of the Fantasyland Expansion being December 6, 2012… Disney magic has been gearing up for a some test runs. The Beast's Castle Disney, Beast's Castle photo, Beasts castle pictures, Be Our Guest menu, Fantasyland Expansion updatemuch anticipated Be Our Guest Restaurant will be opening to the general public officially on November 19th. It will be open with a Quick Service menu during lunch and a Table Service Menu for dinner. If you are on the Disney dining plan, it is one Quick Service credit during lunch and 1 table service credit during dinner.

One of the magical touches will be that you will order your ‘fast food’ lunch on touch-screen similiar to the ordering system at Pecos Bill’s. After you have paid, the cast member will give you an enchanted rose petal that you take with you to where ever you want to sit in the dining room. The server will magically find where you are sitting thanks to the enchanted rose petal!

Here is a glimpse at the dinner menu!

Dinner Menu

Signature Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Served in a Light Up Castle-themed Souvenir Goblet 18.99
Beverage only 4.19

All-Natural Fruit Punch
sweetened with Organic Cane Juice and Wildberry Extract topped with
Lemon-Lime Foam
-OR-
All-Natural Lemonade
sweetened with Organic Cane Juice and topped with a Wildberry Foam

Appetizers
Assorted Cured Meats and Sausages
served with Cornichons, Pickled Onions, and Toasted Baguette 14.99

French Onion Soup
topped with Crouton and Gruyere Cheese 6.99

Mussels Provencal
with White Wine, Tomato, Garlic, Onion, Basil, and Butter 10.99

Potato Leek Soup 5.99

Garden Salad
with Champagne Vinaigrette 4.99

Seasonal Salad Trio 6.99
Three individual bowls of:
Roasted Beet, Gold Raisin and Orange Salad
Green Bean, Tomato and Roasted Shallot Salad
Watermelon, Radish and Mint Salad

Entrées
All entrees include choice of dessert.

Thyme-scented Pork Rack Chop
with Au Gratin Pasta, Seasonal Vegetables and Red Wine Au Jus 21.99

Rotisserie Rock Hen
with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables 15.99

Pan-seared Salmon on Leek Fondue
served with Creamy Saffron-crushed Potatoes 15.99

Grilled Strip Steak
with Garlic Butter Spread and Pommes Frites 29.99

Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops
with Seasonal Vegetables served with Puff Pastry with a Creamy Lobster Sauce 22.99

Layered Ratatouille
Oven-baked Zucchini, Eggplant, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions sliced and layered on Quinoa served with Bell Pepper Sauce 15.99

Desserts
Presented and served table side! 3.99
Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake
Vanilla Sponge Cake, Strawberry Mousse Filling, and Cream Cheese Icing

Triple Chocolate Cupcake
Chocolate Sponge Cake, Chocolate Mousse Filling, and Chocolate Ganache

Lemon Meringue Cupcake
Vanilla Sponge Cake, Lemon Custard Filling, Flamed Meringue Icing, and Crunch

Chocolate Cream Puff
filled with Chocolate Mousse topped with Whipped Cream

Passion Fruit Cream Puff
filled with Passion Fruit Mousse topped with Whipped Cream

Lemon – Raspberry Cream Puff*
filled with Lemon Custard
*Dessert is Gluten Free and No Sugar Added

Beverages
Fountain Beverages 2.99
Coca-Cola®, Diet Coke®, CokeZero®, Barq’s® Root Beer, Fanta® Orange, Sprite®, Minute Maid® Lemonade

Fresh-brewed Coffee (regular or decaf) 2.59
Fresh-brewed Iced Tea 2.99
Hot Tea 2.59
Hot Cocoa 2.59

Milk or Chocolate Milk 3.09

Orange Juice, Apple Juice, or Cranberry Juice 3.19

Evian 750 mL or Perrier 750 mL 6.75

There still are special packages available for the Grand Opening of the Fantasyland Expansion. Please contact our preferred travel agency Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys.  frances@distinctive-journeys.com  or 404-414-6198

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Disney World Guidebook Round Up

By Melissa L.

With such a huge costumer base, it is no wonder that there are entire shelves in bookstores dedicated to Disney World Travel Guides as well as website companions that offer online subscriptions to the company’s best planning tools.  How do you make your way through the stack in order to find which is best for you? Use the guide below to find what resources you are looking for in order to make the perfect pre-trip purchase for you!

Books

Most fun and personalized: Passporter

What makes the Passporter guide book my go to choice is the fun I have filling it up with personal information.  The moment after I book my next Disney World trip the first thing I do is order the most current Passporter! I pour over the pages for hours before planning trips, going over ever detail, adding every last minute that I have planned to my pass pockets and updating all of our personal trip information.  I am a Passporter addict! I even used leftover pockets on my honeymoon!

This innovative guide has excellent descriptions of the hotels, attractions, and restaurants at Walt Disney World, as well as, ratings and worksheets that help make your trip planning fun.  What I love about Passporter is that I can hold onto my guidebook as a memento after our trips and flipping through it feels reminiscent of flipping through a scrapbook or photo album.  The deluxe version is fabulous and they offer updated refills each year as well as Disneyland Resort refills.

Most comprehensive: The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World

To use the singular of Unofficial Guide does not do this line of books justice.  Not only is the original namesake filled with a plethora of Disney Planning information for planning your vacation from beginning to end, but there are multiple companions which include a color companion, guide specifically for traveling with kids, one for traveling without kids, one for traveling around other parks in Orlando, and editions for Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

Best quick look for Disney pros: Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World

I have found myself with a small collection of Birnbaum guides over the years.  Planning a Disney trip is exciting and for some reason I usually find myself with a copy of this at some point in my planning.  It’s usually under $10, and I find it great as a guide when I am planning out where to eat or what new attractions to look forward to.  I carried it in my work bag for two months before our last trip.  It is slim and had lots of quick descriptions which are great for skimming through on a lunch break or when I have a few minutes here or there.

Best pictures: The Complete Walt Disney World

Like the other guides featured here, this has great descriptions and reviews of the parks, restaurants, hotels, and attractions to be found at Walt Disney World.  Unlike the other guides here this is so chock full of photos you may find yourself lost in a day dream before you make it through the first 20 pages.  There is so much not just to read, but to see in this book that its hard to resist once you take a peek inside!   There is also a really neat section that is a Disney encyclopedia of sorts called “Disney A to Z”!

Online Subscriptions

This is the digital age, so while there are plenty of books out there on the topic of Walt Disney World, there are also tons of websites out there  filled with Disney planning information.  There are also a small handful of online SUBSCRIPTIONS where you pay for a span of time to use a website’s own planning tools.  The Passporter guidebook has a company website which offers monthly access to their Passporter’s Club in which you can view any of their many available e-books for free.  This is great for getting companion information to their guide book.

Most fun, personalized, and comprehensive: Tour Guide Mike

Tour Guide Mike is a personal favorite as far as planning tools.  You begin by filling out a survey about your trip plans and aver a few minutes your Automated Vacation Planner is prepared for you with personalized trip planning information to fit you and your family’s needs.  It is amazing how spot-on the tour and dining recommendations can be! Furthermore, you can add reminders for making Advanced Dining Reservations, later on add your confirmation numbers, and are privy to being able to access the loads and loads of vacation planning articles on the website.  My very favorite feature: The Least Crowded Park Charts! They rock and are incredibly accurate! I plan my park days based around these recommendations and they are constantly updated if changes come from Disney!

Best quick look for Disney pros: Touring PlansDisney Wishes, disney photography, Picasa, Disney, Magic Kingdom photos, fireworks, Photoshop, photo editing

From the makers of the Unofficial Guides, Touring Plans is a site focused mainly on, well, Touring Plans! Here you can find comprehensive plans for touring all Disney parks as well as another super-accurate park chart.  The Touring Plans Crowd Calendar not only makes suggestions as to which parks to visit or avoid each and every day (for up to a year in advance) but you are also giving estimates on how crowded Disney will be!   Whatsmore, your Touring Plans subscription (available for Walt Disney World, Disneyland or both) allows you the ability to login to the smartphone app which gives you up to date and accurate ride lines and wait times!

What is your favorite guide? Did it make the roundup? Let me know in the comments below!!

When Melissa isn’t teaching, snapping pictures to post on Picturing Disney on Facebook, updating her photoblog Picturing Disney, or prancing around Disney Parks like a kid, she is lives her life filled with love, laughter, and happily ever after in New York with her husband and their adorable dog.

It’s All About The Mouse!

Please enjoy some of our favorite photos from around the Walt Disney World Resort.

 

 

Cinderella Castle Halloween, MNSSHP Castle, Cinderella castle

 

 

It’s a World of Laughter…

 

 

A Free $100 Disney Gift Card = Awesome

Free Disney Gift card, Disney Gift Card.

There are many things that you can purchase with a $100 Disney Gift Card! Here are a few that we thought of and would love to hear from you as well!

~ 1/2 of your Disney Vacation Package Deposit (It’s only $200 to make your deposit)

~ Most of a Bippity Boppity Boutique Dress and accessories

~ About 10 different drinks while you “Drink Around the World” at EPCOT

~ A Round of Golf, A Cart & Clubs at the Oak Trail Golf Course

~ Go towards dinner at Victoria & Albert’s

~ Customized Christmas Stockings

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE $100 Disney Gift Card drawing!

What would you do with a $100 Disney Gift Card? Vol. I

By Frances

There are so many things that you can do with a $100 Disney Gift Card. Here are a few things that our Mouze Kateerz readers would do. Please comment on this post and you just may see your comment in a blog:-)

Kristen says: I am going to Disney in April, so I would use the gift card to pay for a character meal for my 3 toddlers, husband and I!!!!

Amanda says: I would love to be able to take my little girl to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique so she could be her favorite princess Rapunzel!

Lois says: I have a surprise trip planned in January (it’s going under the Christmas tree), so an extra $100 would really help!!

Julia says: I would buy all of the baby Tinkerbell and baby animals that I could afford for my daughter.

Click here for your chance to win the $100 Disney Gift Card.

Best of Luck to everyone!

Think You’re Ready for a Disney Vacation? Here’s a Mileage Tip You Seriously Need to Know

Frontierland photo, Disney Frontierland, Disney walking tips, Disney miles, miles in Disney world, Disney busy at Christmas, Christmas at Disney

A Disney vacation is a total adventure, but most people don’t sit around relaxing on adventures.  What’s the number one vacation tip I would give to anyone anticipating or planning a Disney trip? You need to start walking way before your feet ever hit Main Street, U.S.A, to run and grab a Fastpass at Space Mountain. [Read more…]

Important Life Lessons Kids Can Learn from a Disney Vacation

paying for Disney vacation, saving for a Disney vacation, stress on vacation, kids on disney vacation, things for kids to do at Disney, Disney kids, Disney kids

Disney World vacations are very expensive, very memorable, and they can be an excellent opportunity to teach your child life lessons before, during, and after the vacation. Here’s two simple, yet very important, life lessons I have tried hard to instill in my own children, and they can work wonders for yours too.

Save Your Money.

Money…you can’t go on vacation without it.  If I’m paying for the vacation, I can’t possibly buy my children everything they want. Even worse, if I did, I would be providing a false sense of reality. As adults, we know we don’t get everything we want in life. There’s always a nicer hotel room, a more expensive meal, a bigger gold bracelet waiting at the end of our Disney dream list. Vacations are expensive, and it takes a lot of money to fund your Disney dreams.  But do kids know this? Does your child really understand that your Disney vacation will cost a lot of money, and that without a money tree, that money has to come from somewhere?

Haunted Mansion, kids gifts, Disney, philosophy at Disney, buying gifts at Disney, disneystore.com

My kids can’t have it all, but they can do their part by paying for most of their own souvenirs. I know a lot of families spring last-minute surprise vacations on their kids. This makes for great Disney TV commercials, with happy little tykes opening pizza boxes with ‘We’re going to Disney!” messages drawn in Sharpie marker. But you can’t save for what you don’t know about. I have to save money to go on vacation, so my kids can save money to buy the goodies they want. My children know the exact date we leave for our next trip They know, to the penny, how much money they have, because it’s posted on our refrigerator door every day. If they buy an expensive toy two weeks before we make it to Orlando, they know I won’t swoop in to buy their souvenirs, no matter how much they beg. They know they have a choice, and I’m always subtly hinting for them to save, save, save their money. Everything, and I mean eve.ry.thing, looks good in those Disney gift shops. Save, save, save, because Sugar Daddy’s pockets are only so deep.

Encourage your child to start saving money for your vacation months before you leave. This opens up great dinner conversation opportunities, and they’ll be glad they had money to spend once they hit those gift shops.

disneystore.com, the Disney store, Disney Visa, Disney Monorail, saving for Disney, saving for vacation, what kids want on vacationPull up the Disneystore.com and let your child see how much Disney merchandise costs online. This will give them a realistic sense of how much Disney items cost (a lot) and how much money they will need to take with them (a lot). Now is the time to tell your child if you plan to pay for any souvenirs.

I usually give each of my three kids $20, and past that point, it’s up to them. Christmas $$, birthday $$, chore $$- I hope they’ve saved it.

In our fast food world of overwhelming credit card debt, the ability to save money for items you really want is a valuable life skill.

Be appreciative.

We pulled up to a cheap hotel in Orlando several years ago to groans and cries from my kids, “This is a dump!”  While I was not planning to spend a lot of time in the hotel room, I still didn’t take this hotel mutiny well. “You’re on vacation, and lots of people are not. Just be glad you’re here.”  It goes beyond how some people are not going on vacation now, because some people have never been on vacation to Disney. And some will never…

Peter Pan's flight, Peter pan photo, Disney peter pan,  Disney fastpass, Disney pastpass wait time,

I teach 250 different high school students each year, and when I ask them just who has been to Disney, very few hands raise. And it’s not my imagination that there’s a look of envy toward those who have. When I ask my pre-middle school age sons how many of their friends mention going to Disney, the answer through the years has been a small handful. Teach your kids to appreciate where you stay, the food you eat, the view you have, even if it’s not really the one you wanted deep down. We can’t all stay in Deluxe Resorts, eating characters meals twice a day, toting our Dooney & Bourke Mickey handbags over for our reservation at Le Cellier. Some of us had better be glad we made it to Disney at all.

Encourage your child to appreciate the Disney magic for what it is, an amazing opportunity that not every child gets. The fine art of appreciation starts at home, way before the Magical Express pulls up to the resort doors. Talk with your kids about how they can’t have it all, and that sometimes, they have to settle for less. Teach them how to be grateful for what they have. Just by saying, “We’re so lucky to be here. We’re so lucky to be able to do this” is a great way to show your kids you appreciate what you have. Teach them by example. The ability to appreciate what we have before us, as opposed to constantly wishing for more, is a valuable life skill.

Save your money. Appreciate what you have.

Life lessons with a Disney spin.

Thanks for coming along for a photographical ride, and we’ll see you while spending our hard- earned money in the gift shops!

Love Disney World photography? For a virtual Disney vacation in pictures, join Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.

Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys is ready to help you plan your next magical vacation. Please visit them at Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys or 404-414-6198.