Character Series: Meet Snow White

MH snow white germany pavilionWhere can you meet the Fairest in the Land? (Let me quick consult my Magic Mirror…) Mirror reports back: Perhaps the easiest spot to meet this princess is at her wishing well in the Germany Pavilion of World Showcase at Epcot. Nestled on the outskirts of the pavilion as you enter going clockwise, Snow White (occasionally with the Prince, and/or Dopey) greets guests at the well several times daily between 11:30am and 6pm. Our photo, taken when our son wasn’t quite three, remains one of my favorite Disney snapshots of all time. Check out the way he’s gazing at Snow White!

It used to be that if you had more patience (or maybe a FastPass+ reservation), you could snag some time with Snow White at Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom. This is how we met the princess in 2013 soon after the new meet-and-greet opened. (June 2014 update: Snow White has been ousted from Princess Fairytale Hall by the Frozen sisters. She will now be greeting guests daily at Town Square Courtyard.)

MH meet snow whiteIf you’re prepared to fork over some major moolah (especially when you’re a family of six!), you might try a princess character meal. Snow White makes appearances at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion and, at the Disneyland Resort, during certain meals at Ariel’s Grotto in Disney California Adventure Park. This is how we met Snow White on the West Coast.

Enjoy: Breakfast at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

The formula worked: charming Disney theming plus solidly good food brought us back to the relatively-new Jolly Holiday Bakery Café twice during a 2013 trip to Disneyland. First there were all the “practically perfect” Mary Poppins-esqe details to pick out: penguins in the stained glass windows, an instrumental “Spoonful of Sugar” playing as background music, silhouettes of the Banks children on the wall and a lovely painting displaying quotes and song lyrics from the film that our kids studied while we placed our order.

And then the order: breakfast was especially memorable as the kids were tearing into the signature ham and cheese quiches so fast I barely managed to get a couple of mouthfuls. I had to stake my claim of the plump, iced-out cinnamon rolls and firmly defend it from eager oncoming forks. My lovely coffee selection provided a much-needed jump start to the day while the kids drained every drop of the “Practically Perfect Punch” (a twist on cherry lemonade).

We had eaten a late lunch at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café only the day before, but the timing of that meal (on schedule to exit the park – in other words, worn out kids ready to hit the swimming pool) leaves the subsequent Jolly Holiday breakfast as the most memorable of the two. Suffice to say, I’d highly recommend the Waldorf chicken salad sandwich for a quick-service lunch. Don’t shy away from the bakery cases – there were amazing-looking cupcakes, chocolate tarts, croissants, muffins and scones tucked inside.

My other strong memory of this delightful Main Street eatery was gazing up at the exit sign stretching in an arc quite close to our outdoor table. “Don’t stay away too long”, it implores. On our last day in the park the message was especially meaningful. Trust us, Disney, that’s so not the plan.

Location: Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe can be found in the Main Street USA section of Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort.

Touring Tip: The cafe is open at park opening for drinks and pastries; lunch items follow starting at 10.30am.

Make a splash at Disneyland Hotel’s Monorail Pool

The sleek monorails whooshing down the waterslides are first to grab your attention upon entering the Disneyland Hotel’s swimming complex. The nostalgic Disneyland marquee atop the slide tower is pretty impressive, too. And the slides, according to our little waterbugs, are just as fun as they look. Monorail Red’s double loop emerged the clear favorite. For the very youngest in our Mouse Holiday family, the gentle kiddie slide and super shallow water at the base of the tower were all they needed for a perfect afternoon.

2011 saw the renovation and re-theming of the landmark Disneyland Hotel’s swimming pool. Sadly, our kids never got a chance to experience the “Never Land” pool complete with Captain Hook’s pirate ship and Skull Rock. Monorails are cool and all, but my guess is the kids would have enjoyed swimming like Lost Boys even more. Never Land has been transformed into the “E-Ticket Pool”. The photo below shows the diminutive “D-Ticket Pool” meandering under a bridge to connect with the unusually-shaped E-Ticket.

Finally, it’s worth noting that there are a couple Adventureland-inspired places to grab eats and drinks while enjoying the Disneyland Hotel pool. Amazonian watering hole Trader Sam’s serves cocktails that conjure up “mystical effects” (Disney’s promise, not mine). Next door, Tangaroa Terrace dishes up a tropical breakfast, lunch and dinner amidst palms and tiki torches. We appreciated the cozy outdoor fireplace seating on a brisk February day after the pool!

A stay at Disneyland Resort’s Paradise Pier Hotel

MH disneyland paradise pier hotelA stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel is about the beachiest a vacation you can get while traveling to Disneyland Resort and staying within its magical boundaries. Our Mouse Holiday Family hails from snowy Minnesota so a trip to Paradise in the middle of winter was the perfect antidote to beat the long chill. There isn’t an authentic white sand strip for miles, but the hotel evokes the feel of a breezy California beach complete with a twinkling boardwalk view.

It was the proximity to this boardwalk – the namesake Paradise Pier located across the street in Disney California Adventure Park – that was the best perk of staying at this particular hotel. Not the absolute closest you can sleep to the theme parks (that would be Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel), but an easy 10-minute walk (this is with kids, mind you) to the resort guest-exclusive entrance to California Adventure. It wasn’t a bad walk through Downtown Disney to the Disneyland Park entrance either, or resort guests can take the Disneyland Monorail right into the station at Tomorrowland. Easy access to the theme parks came in handy as we took advantage of early Extra Magic Hours, a benefit extended to guests staying at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels.

MH disneyland paradise pier hotelAs for the hotel guest rooms, our less-than-400 sq. ft. room fit our family quite cozily – to be expected when you’re cramming six people into one standard room. This included four people in each of the two queen beds, one in a daybed and an infant in a crib. The days we’ll be allowed to sleep in a standard-sized hotel room are sadly numbered, folks. The room’s beachy décor – sun-shaped mirrors, beach ball pillows and a Mickey lifeguard lamp – helped to keep our minds off the impending need for a suite.

MH disneyland paradise pier hotelNow, how about the California eatin’ and recreatin’? Paradise Pier Hotel offers breakfast and Golden State-inspired dinner at its PCH Grill. Regretfully, we didn’t make advance reservations for the Surf’s Up with Mickey and Friends breakfast buffet. Instead, we gobbled down (delicious) breakfast flatbreads from the quick-service Surfside Lounge literally en route to the theme park. There’s also a counter-service restaurant at the Paradise Pier Hotel’s rooftop swimming pool. And speaking of the pool (which is not technically atop the hotel but rather the hotel’s third floor convention center), it features a pretty cool roller coaster waterslide and a clear view of Disneyland Park’s nightly fireworks complete with the soundtrack piped in.

Most importantly, it was worlds away from another Minnesota winter. I’m California dreamin’ about it right now!