Listen to Jim, the Main Street Piano Player, at Casey’s Corner

How many times had we rounded Casey’s Corner of Main Street, absently listening to the ragtime cheerfully drifting from a piano just out of view? The answer was all too often — without pausing a moment to discover the man behind the music. Many Magic Kingdom regulars consider Jim, the master pianist of Main Street, to be a rather hidden treasure they’d never consider missing. Finally, on a recent fall trip to the parks, we joined the ranks of those regulars.
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Fill a passport with new flavors at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

It’s a menu, super souvenir, and a kid’s geography lesson all rolled into one: the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Marketplace Discovery Passport! (That’s a mouthful, huh? And yes, pun intended.) These handy checklists detail the ethnic offerings – including food and complementing beverages – at more than 30 vendors arranged around World Showcase during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Our family goal is to fill one of these passports with as many unique stamps from the vendors as we have room for in our stomachs. Here’s where it will actually help that there are six mouths to feed – one bite each of these sample-sized portions will leave us plenty hungry for more. We likely won’t collect all the stamps, but we’ll have a delicious time trying.

Voted most delicious by our family for the 2016 International Food & Wine Festival: (more…)

Enjoy: Mini Mickey Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream Soda Shop

You scream, I scream, we all scream for Beaches and Cream!

In greater detail: These kids are hollering for three generous scoops of ice cream – chocolate, strawberry and vanilla – topped with hot fudge, strawberry sauce, pineapple and peanut butter, crowned with chewy brownie pieces and Oreo cookies and finished with clouds of whipped cream, cherries and sprinkles. Oh, and it’s served up in a little plastic sink shaped like Mickey’s trousers, which makes for a sweet souvenir. (more…)

Enjoy: Fish ‘n chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop

A basket of fish ‘n chips and a Harp lager in his grasp while wandering World Showcase might have been my husband’s favorite memory of a recent trip to Epcot. The highly portable dinner had come from the Yorkshire County Fish Shop, a compact cottage with a quick-service dining window in the United Kingdom Pavilion. Yorkshire County serves up two superior strips of fish – slightly crisp on the outside, flaky and tender on the inside – and thick-cut fries for less than $10. It’s such a tasty, filling bargain that we found ourselves back at Yorkshire County twice during the trip (and, clearly, it was still on the brain days later!) (more…)

Enjoy: “Back to the” 50’s Prime Time Cafe

If you’ve got a hankering for home cooking and a return to kinder, gentler times, consider a meal at the 50’s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just be prepared for a truly immersive experience – and above all, make sure to mind your p’s and q’s. Why’s that? Well, we lunched at the retro spot a couple years back and I found out the hard way that our server (“Cousin-Somebody-or-Other”) wasn’t going to let me off the hook for leaving vegetables on my plate! (more…)

Enjoy: The burger fixings bar at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe

MH pecos billsOur affinity for the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café lies in the extensive fixings bar ready and waiting to top that solidly good cheeseburger we order every time. The burger is a rather standard 1/3-lb. patty, but somehow it tastes just marvelous dressed in unlimited sautéed mushrooms – especially during a break in a busy theme park-touring day. We look forward to a refuel at Pecos Bill’s during most family trips to the Magic Kingdom.

Here’s what the burger bar has to offer: sautéed mushrooms and onions, banana peppers, dill pickles, salsa, hot cheese sauce (try it with the French fries!), grated cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and the standard ketchup, mustard and mayo. For a little extra $, the cheeseburger can be upgraded to deluxe and topped with bacon, onion rings and barbecue sauce. (more…)

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! (more…)

Star Wars™ Weekends return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Star Wars™ Weekends are back at Disney’s Hollywood Studios May 16 – June 15, 2014! The event, which takes place Friday – Sunday, is jam-packed full of special entertainment, characters and dining experiences celebrating the popular Star Wars films and the television series Star Wars™: The Clone Wars. (more…)

Enjoy: Winnie-the-Pooh breakfast buffet at The Crystal Palace

Of the two options for sit-down breakfasts in the Magic Kingdom, one is pricey and the other is shockingly expensive. Especially if you’re feeding a larger-than-average family! This is primarily why we’ve balked at breakfasting with Cinderella and opted instead to dine with Winnie-the-Pooh and his pals at The Crystal Palace. Plus, the Palace does a decent breakfast buffet with lots of choices: cooked-to-order omelets for Mom and Dad, Mickey waffles for the kids and plenty of fruit and yogurt for the baby. (more…)

Enjoy: Being selected “Family of the Night” at Olivia’s Cafe

What was it that the staff saw in us that evening when we came through the door of Olivia’s Café? Likely they saw us exactly as we were: a maxed-out mom and dad with an armload of little ones, in our last throes of a busy, but wonderful week at Walt Disney World. Perhaps they sensed we could use a little extra pixie dust thrown our way. Whatever the reason, our Mouse Holiday family was thrilled to be chosen – by Olivia herself, according to legend – as “Family of the Night”!

MH olivia's cafe

The honor was not bestowed upon us right away. First, we eased into the beachy, relaxed restaurant. The walls are adorned with fishing knickknacks and framed photos of Disney Vacation Club members who own at Old Key West Resort. The menu is also flavored with Conch Republic influence: conch chowder and fritters, tropical dressings on meat and fish, and an awesome key lime tart for dessert.
We were about halfway through dinner when the announcement was made. (And let me just say that I had a total sixth sense moment here; I knew instantly they were going to call out our family’s name – probably because I was in the middle of feeding the baby.) (more…)