Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you are enjoying this holiday season! I thought I would share some new updates after being in the parks along with some lessons learned form our most recent trip last month!
I took my wife and 2 kids on what has turned into an annual trip over the Thanksgiving holiday. This was a unique trip for us as it was a first trip since our daughter has been diagnosed with several food allergies. Because of these allergies, we scheduled several table service meals where we knew a chef could make her a meal fitting her dietary needs. We at at Trattoria al Forno at the Boardwalk, 50′s Prime Time Cafe at the Studios, Kona Cafe and Ohana at the Polynesian, San Angel Inn in the Mexico Pavillon in Epcot,and the Wave at the Contemporary Resort. At each location upon checking in and being seated, we communicated our allergy concerns to our server. A chef would then come out, ask us about our allergies and then explain what my daughter could have. Let me just say, these chefs did a fantastic job of making our kiddo feel special and making sure she had a great meal. At no point did we ever feel she was getting a second tier meal. If you can’t do the table service meals, don’t worry!
The quick service places are great too. If you have ever dealt with allergies at Disney, you know about “The Book” at QS locations. These books have a list of every ingredient used in the dishes at that location. We were prepared to go through the book to figure out what Sophie could eat. What we weren’t prepared for was how Disney has streamlined the process! Almost every quick service location we went to now has a printed allergy friendly menu. These menus showed what dishes were safe for what allergies. On most menus there were separate sections for Milk, Soy, egg, gluten, and tree nut allergies. For these menus some cross referencing might be necessary if you have multiple allergies. Some locations would have dishes listed and then under that particular dish would be a list of all allergies this particular dish was safe for. As you can tell, Disney goes to great lengths to make sure people feel safe about the food they are eating. I cannot recommend Disney enough if you have allergy concerns! Here are a couple of shots at the menu at Liberty Innin the American Adventure in Epcot!
Also, here is picture of the dessert Sophie got at our dinner at Ohana. Since she couldn’t have the bread pudding (which is amazing) chef made her a Sundae with Rice Dream Ice Cream, Allergy friendly chocolate chip cookies, and allergy safe chocolate syrup!
So, on to other things! This trip was a special one for us. I have just finished my doctoral work and my bride turned 40 recently, so as a surprise I booked two nights at one of our favorite resorts, The Boardwalk Inn and 5 nights at one of our Bucket List Resorts, the Polynesian! The kids figured out about the Boardwalk when they saw our Magical Express tags, but no one but me knew about the Polynesian! So first, the Boardwalk. This is one of our favorite places to stay for a reason. You can walk to Epcot (5 minutes to the International Gateway entrance) and to Hollywood Studios (10-15 minutes to the front entrance). It serves as great home base to explore these two parks. The convenience is amazing and the theming is really great. The pool is wonderful with a fun waterslide, but it was a little too cold for us to enjoy it on our nights there. There really is an old fashioned boardwalk with great food and nightly entertainment that is so much fun to walk around and enjoy. You can rent Surrey Bikes to ride around and the Boardwalk and Beach/Yacht Club resort areas. This really is a great resort area and if you are a fan of Epcot and the Studios, you cannot beat the location!
As for the Poly, this was something that has been a dream for a long time! I caught a GREAT deal that made it doable for us and put my plan into motion! I scheduled a dinner over there on our check in night and told my family some lame story about needing to swing by the front desk to check on a client. When they came over after looking in the gift shop, the front desk Cast Member informed them that they were the clients and that we would be staying at the Poly! I even had personalized our Magic Bands to say “Aloha Welcome 2 Our New Hotel.” It was great. It took a minute for them to believe that we were actually staying there! With a monorail stop at the hotel, a walkway to the Ticket and Transportation Center for a quick ride to Epcot, an amazing pool (see below), and a stand that sells nothing but Dole Whips, the Polynesian is an amazing place to stay if you ever get a chance!
The monorail resorts are the most expensive on property, so for most people, this wold be a very special, perhaps even once in a lifetime, stay (ourselves included). The question clients often ask me is whether or not they are worth it. There is no doubt the Poly was amazing. To be so close to the Magic Kingdom, to have the monorail stop at the hotel, and to be able to see MK from the beach at night are all wonderful things to have access to! If you have the ability to stay here or another Monorail resort even for a couple of nights, it is an amazing experience!. If you do this, plan on your time at the resort being MK or Epcot focused. Just as when we are at the Boardwalk we took advantage of the proximity to Epcot and the Studios, any stay at a monorail resort should take advantage of the proximity of the MK. As far as Epcot goes, it was actually quicker for us to talk to the Ticket and Transportation Center from our room and go directly to Epcot rather than taking the monorail at the hotel all the way to the TTC and then switching monorails to go to Epcot. Had we done the resort monorail, we would have had to wait through stops at the Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom, and the Contemporary before getting on the correct monorail to Epcot. This is a good reminder of making sure that you understand how transportation at Disney works. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean its the best thing for you to do!
I will write more later about some new experiences that we took part in on this trip, including thoughts on the Soarin, Frozen Ever After, and experiencing Animal Kingdom at night! Until then, if I can help with any of your trip planning needs, with no fees attached, please let me know!