Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is not new to Disney or to me but it has been several years since I have experienced this dining location and it was much too long to wait…

From the time we arrived at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort we experienced a lively atmosphere – a warm welcome from the attendant at the entrance, open hospitality at the indoor bar, Las Ventanas, and a friendly greeting from the hostess, manager and staff at Maya Grill – our experience before any food was served was exceptional.

We shared our experience with local friends celebrating their birthday and, on arriving at Maya Grill for our dinner reservation, we were met by a Hostess and the manager as well as a seater – all were very friendly and welcoming making our experience fun from the start.

On being seated, our server was quick to greet us and offered suggestions for beverages and food choices from the menu. The atmosphere of the restaurant is a casual Tex-Mex Mayan feel and you could comfortably enjoy a dinner here after coming straight from a day at the parks.

After our server brought our beverages he delivered a bread service to start, along with our appetizers – Queso Fundido and House Guacamole – everything was delicious and prepared well.

Our entrées consisted of Maya Grill’s Signature Fajita Skillet, Seafood Grill Platter (which was enough for two!), Beef Short Ribs and a Classic Caesar salad with a side of steak (for me) at the recommendation of our server – it was delicious, and I loved how it was prepared and served.

For dessert we shared the Ancho Chili Creme Brûlée and Chocolate Abuelita Panna Cotta – both were amazing – the Creme Brûlée was very light and I love everything chocolate!

And you can’t dine at Maya Grill without experiencing the Margarita Flight, which includes 5 shot glasses of specialty handcrafted Margaritas – Mango Blueberry Basil, Classic, Horchata, Pineapple and Jalapeño!

While Disney’s Coronado Springs is undergoing extensive construction, be sure to add this dining experience to your “must do’s” for your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort! Walk-up Guests can be accommodated, however, reservations are accepted and recommended. Reservations are currently available via your My Disney Experience account or Open Table and some Dining Plans are accepted.

Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante at Disney Springs

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante opened early January 2018 and started serving Sunday Brunch shortly before the Easter holiday. I was just able to enjoy my first experience at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante and I chose the Sunday Brunch.

The restaurant theming is set in an airline terminal from the 1930s. On arrival you “check-in” and are then escorted down a flight of stairs where the dining area is a large airy space with floor-to-ceiling views of Lake Buena Vista.


Flight memorabilia, including vintage maps and artifacts, are on display throughout the dining room to provide the aviation theme.

The Sunday Brunch includes Prix Fixe buffet selections for your starter, entree, and dessert. The Salami and Cheese Station was delicious as well as the Antipasti Station. Entrees included with your Sunday Brunch are Spaghetti alla Carbonara, New York Strip Steak and Eggs and Poached Hen Egg and Quinoa-Kale Salad in addition to a few other selections.

The dessert was a delicious chocolate fountain with fresh dried fruits and tasty sweets to cover with chocolate! You can also choose other breakfast/lunch menu items for an additional charge, including Endless Mimosas or Bellini for just $15.00!

The current (July 22, 2018) cost is $35 per adult and kids eat free.

If you are looking for a relaxed yet unique Sunday Brunch experience, Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is a great experience. Advance reservations are highly recommended and can be made online or by calling (407) 939-3463. Same day seating without reservations was a one hour wait time on the day I experienced Sunday Brunch but we had no wait time at all with our confirmed reservation.

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant – Disney Springs

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant has been at Disney Springs for many years, but I recently had the opportunity to visit this dining and entertainment venue again. With new menu items and entertainment since my last visit, it was like a whole new experience!

We started with adult beverages at just one of the 4 bars. With a fun assortment of themed cocktails and a wide offering of Irish, European and American beers, including local and craft varieties, there is something for every taste.

Following our “cocktail hour” we were seated for our reservation. The menu offers traditional Irish options—from Atlantic fish & chips to classics like Shepherd’s Pie—as well as several not-so-Irish options.

We enjoyed wings and scallops to start and our main dishes were traditional Irish options of fish & chips and shepherd’s pie as well as a not-so-traditional Red quinoa and white bean burger with Smokey Bacon and Almond-roasted Brussels Sprouts.

And, of course, dessert is a must… The Chef’s Dessert Flight offered a small taste of everything delicious!

Entertainment is offered daily from 4:30 pm until 1 am. There is a main stage and a patio stage with live music, dance shows and bands.

The Rhythms of Raglan Dance Show is the all-new entertainment featuring 90-minutes of live Irish music and dance presented by a talented mix of performers.

And, during each performance, kids are invited to join the dancers on stage and even receive a signed certificate of achievement.

We enjoyed a very entertaining and fun evening as well as great food and drinks! Reservations are accepted starting at 180 days but walk-ups are welcome as well, based on availability. Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant also offers a Saturday and Sunday Brunch.

STK Orlando – Disney Springs

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

STK Orlando at Disney Springs opened its doors May 25, 2016 but I was just able to experience it for the first time.

STK Orlando is an interesting place… The outside style reminds me of The Hangar Bar or The Edison – more industrial brick and beams with a casual feel – and the front patio would be a relaxing spot to people watch.

Once you step inside you feel as if you are about to enjoy an intimate dining experience – it’s dark with pops of light with a warm inviting feeling.

However, the experience is anything but intimate due to the very loud nonstop music – top 40 tunes and classics from decades past. While the music choice was to my liking, the volume was not conducive for an intimate experience and gave it a more club like vibe rather than a signature dining experience feel as we are accustomed to with Disney (think California Grill or Flying Fish). It was a challenge to have a conversation with our dinner partners and a bit hard to even hear what our server was saying at times.

Regardless of the ‘club vibe’, the food lived up to the reviews and our expectations as did the service! Something to remember before you go, the menu is à la carte but a delicious bread service is included.

We waited for our table in the lounge area and the bartender was very accommodating, answering our questions and offering tastings and her personal experience to help me choose a wine. The drink menu offers some interesting cocktails that I will need to go back and try another time and they carry a few Florida beers that my husband tried. They also offer a full wine list to choose from.

We enjoyed the Double Smoked Bacon – more like large chunks of fatty pork but very tasty once you cut the fat off (IMO) – for a starter as well as the Shaved Brussels Sprouts for a salad.

While STK is known for its steaks, they serve an amazing Scottish Salmon too. With your steaks you can choose various sauces and/or toppings (for an additional charge) and there are several delicious sides to compliment your protein as well. The sides are priced a bit on the high side, but they are large enough to share – the problem is that you want to try them all!

Dessert also did not disappoint, we ordered the Warm Baked Cookie with chocolate sauce, caramel and vanilla ice cream. Again, large enough to share.

STK Orlando currently offers a Social Hour, weekdays 3:30 – 6 pm, and Thursday – Saturday, 10 pm to close. In addition, you can reserve the venue, or parts of it, for private events. On the evening we were there we were not able to go to the rooftop dining area due to a private event.

While they do seat walk-up Guests, reservations are accepted and recommended. They currently accept reservations via your My Disney Experience account or Open Table. Some Dining Plans are accepted and this is a Signature Dining experience, requiring 2 Table Service Credits per person.

Overall, if you are looking for a fun place with great food and service that is geared more towards an adult experience rather than a family experience, I would recommend STK Orlando, just be prepared for the loud music and club vibe.

Be Our Guest Restaurant – New Prix Fixe Menu

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

On Friday, July 27, 2018 Be Our Guest Restaurant debuted its new prix fixe menu for dinner and I was there to experience it!

The new prix fixe, 3-course menu features French-inspired dishes and includes an appetizer, main entrée and a trio dessert as well as non-alcoholic beverages and bread service. Adult beverages may be purchased for an additional charge.

For our appetizers we chose the Maine Lobster Bisque and Assorted Meats and Artisanal Cheese Selection. Both were very good, and the meat and cheese tray was much better than the previous cheese plate they offered at dinner service.

While all of the new menu items sounded amazing, we chose the Saffron-Infused Seafood Bouillabaisse and Spice-Dusted Lamb Chops as our entrées. Both were delicious and prepared to perfection! I am looking forward to trying other entrée options available on the menu.

Dessert is an amazing trio served on a platter with a ‘stained glass’ overlay that is edible. Every single bite was oh so delicious – but I do love my desserts!

And, for everyone wanting to know… The Beast still receives Guests in the library following dinner but, as many have anticipated, Belle was not one of the new additions to this Signature Dining experience.

I highly recommend the new prix fixe menu, my only disappointment was that they no longer do the “rose” napkins…

For dinner service, Be Our Guest Restaurant is a Signature Dining experience which requires 2 Table Service Credits when using the Disney Dining Plan. Current pricing, when not using a Dining Plan, is $55.00 for adults ages 10+ and $35 for children ages 3-9, tax and gratuity are not included. Breakfast and Lunch are still Quick Service options but do require reservations as well.

And here’s a little tip – if you reserve your dinner about 1 ½ hours before ‘Happily Ever After’ you will be able to view the fireworks show from the bridge just as you are leaving the Beasts’ Castle! #wishtips

Top 8 Reasons to Use an Authorized Disney Vacation Agency

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

A Disney vacation is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a magical experience. It’s the ideal vacation for any life celebration – family vacations, honeymoons, couples getaways, graduation and more!

Planning a Disney vacation can be a complex endeavor for any family. During your planning you’ll make many decisions that will affect all aspects of your vacation. Throw in the complexities of the many varied promotional offers available and it can become a daunting task.

That’s why it’s highly recommended that you use an Authorized Disney Vacation Agency with knowledgeable agents Specializing in Disney Destinations.

Here are my Top 8 Reasons to Use a Disney Vacation Planner, Specializing in Disney Destinations…

  1. Less Stress

Using a Disney Vacation Planner that Specializes in Disney Destinations can take all of that stress out of planning a Disney Destination vacation. We will handle everything for you and guide you to the right decisions.

  1. We KNOW Disney

Unlike traditional Travel Agents or online self-serve websites, Authorized Disney Vacation Agencies offer the planning services of Disney Vacation Planners, Specializing in Disney Destinations who have completed mandatory training by Disney.

  1. We Love Disney

Disney Vacation Planners, Specializing in Disney Destinations get into this field because they love planning Disney vacations. Most begin this after planning multiple Disney vacations of their own.


 

  1. We Are Knowledgeable About Disney

Because our focus is Disney, and we love Disney, we are some of the most knowledge individuals about Disney on the planet.

  1. No Extra Fees

There’s no cost to you!

Disney Vacation Planners, Specializing in Disney Destinations, are paid a commission by Disney on the trips that we book. Neither Disney or your Authorized Vacation Planner will add an extra charge to the cost of your vacation package.

You’ll pay the same if you do all the work or if you let your Disney Vacation Planner do it.

  1. Award Winning Service / Knowledgeable Team

Your Disney Vacation Planner watches out for you. We live and breathe Disney every day and are in constant contact with a special team of Disney Agent Only reservationists. Your Disney Vacation Planner knows when new discounts come out for the timeframe that you have already booked and will automatically apply the best offer that your vacation package qualifies for. Our agents use the same discounts that you do, so we are very familiar with them.

You’ll receive other extras too, like personalized information to read up on prior to your trip, assistance with Advance Dining Reservations and FastPass+ selections, and more. (The extent of extra services often depends on your selected package).

Disney Vacation Planners work for Earmarked agencies for Disney Destinations. There are only a select group in this elite classification of Authorized Disney Vacation Agencies!

Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel has a large staff to assist you with your Disney vacation. While other companies may have, at most, one or two experienced individuals, Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel has a very large number of agents with extensive Disney experience ready to assist you and we all work together so you will always be benefiting from a team of knowledgeable professionals.

We hope that you will choose Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Agency, for your next Disney Vacation!

Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel also provides travel planning services for those interested in a Universal Orlando vacation package.

UP! A Great Bird Adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

The newest attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, ‘UP! A Great Bird Adventure’, is located at the Caravan Stage in Asia, former home of Flights of Wonder, and debuted April 22nd for the 20th Anniversary celebration.

Similar to Flights of Wonder, this new show entertains with bird species from South America, North America, India, Africa, and other locations around the globe, but now also features Russell and Dug from ‘UP’.

During this 25-minute show you will join Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his furry friend Dug for an all-new adventure as they discover bird species from around the world.

More than 15 different species of birds make an appearance, including parrots, toucans, macaws, and a marabou stork that flaunts a magnificent 10-foot wingspan!

‘UP! A Great Bird Adventure’ is now performing daily at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and you can experience the show as standby or with FastPass+ access.

After the show, head on over to Discovery Island for a meet & greet with Russell and Dug!

*Park tickets required to experience this show.

Guide to Walt Disney World Mobile Food Ordering

written by Sally Portera, travel specialist

Instead of waiting in line, you can save time by ordering from your phone from wherever you are!  Many quick-service dining locations throughout the parks and Disney Springs offer this convenient option.  Note: There will be times when mobile ordering is unavailable and you will need to use the traditional line to order.

First, Order Your Food

First, open your My Disney Experience App and either:

  • Tap on the image of your character, scroll down to “My Plans” and press the “Order Food” button.
  • Select “Dining” from the top of the app, tap on the restaurant you want and press the “Order Food” button.

From there, just select the menu items that you want to order!

Next, Pay Using the App

Once you’ve added your family’s meals and/or snacks, you can review your order and purchase it right from the app. Disney currently accepts credit cards, debit cards or your Disney Dining Plan for mobile order payments.  Gift cards can’t be used and no Annual Pass/DVC/Disney Visa discounts are accepted through mobile ordering at this time.

Let Them Know When You Have Arrived

When you arrive at the restaurant, open the app, tap on the image of your character and press the “I’m Here, Prepare My Order” button. This lets the restaurant know you’re here, and they will start preparing your order.

When your food is ready to enjoy, you will receive a notification from the app.  Follow the signs marked “Mobile Order Pick Up” to pick up your meal(s).  It’s that easy! 

Locations That Offer Mobile Ordering

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

Disney Springs

Hollywood Studios

Animal Kingdom

Frozen Ever After Dessert Party at Epcot World Showcase

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

The Frozen Ever After Dessert Party was introduced at Walt Disney world last July and, while I always try to explore new experiences as soon as they are available, I was just able to experience this event for the first time!

This special ticketed event is sold separately, and theme park admission is required in addition to your party ticket.

You can arrive for check-in at any time but it’s best to arrive early to get the most out of your party experience. You will receive a sparkly wristband [the MagicBand is mine] when you check-in and the “doors” officially open at 7:45 pm and tables are assigned so if you are a smaller party, like me and my husband, you will be seated with other 

Guests that you may not know.  Once seated you can partake of  the food and beverage buffets set up throughout the reserved party area.

.

From fresh fruits and breads with cheese fondue to sweet treats specially designed with a ‘Frozen’ theme, the buffet also included warm pudding treats [with ice cream if you like] and fun Freeze Fried Salted Caramel Popcorn at the Nitro Station. In addition, there were specialty Frozen-themed beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, as well as beer and wine.


Then, from the special VIP reserved viewing area we were able to get an amazing view of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.


It seemed as if the fireworks were right above our heads – and with our reserved seating, we were able to enjoy the fireworks display comfortably without anyone blocking our view.


They even gave us all special viewing glasses that made the fireworks look like they had snowflakes around them – I wish I could have gotten a photo of that for you!!


After the fireworks ended, we were then escorted to the Frozen Ever After ride for a private, no waiting experience!


If you or your little ones love Frozen, I highly recommend this reserved experience.

Check My Disney Experience for more information and to reserve your experience online – Frozen Ever After Dessert Party at Epcot World Showcase – or contact your Travel Agent!

New Details Emerge at a Toy Story Land Industry Showcase

written by Sara Toerner, Travel Specialist

A park-wide reimagination has been revealed for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida and new details emerged recently at an industry showcase hosted by the Walt Disney Company.

Toy Story Land Opens June 30
Hollywood Studios invites guests into an immersive world of Hollywood music, theater, and film and this year marks one of the most exciting enhancements since its debut in 1989. Disney World’s Incredible Summer brings big changes to Disney parks, particularly the opening of Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios June 30, 2018.

What makes this such an exciting time at Disney World?
Toy Story is a movie franchise that began in 1995 with the release of the first film, in which Andy’s entourage of toys (led by cowboy Woody) is rocked by newcomer, and Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear. The series continued with the success of Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, granting the franchise multi-generational appeal.

At a recent tourism industry showcase, The Walt Disney World Company revealed that guests will step into a NEW eleven-acre playland in the larger-than-life setting of Andy’s imagination. Andy has designed the perfect play space decorated with more than 400 toy blocks and towering toys from the hit Toy Story franchise, including the stars of the movies Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Toy Story Land brings the addition of new attractions to Hollywood Studios
***Slinky Dog Dash send riders dipping and dashing around blocks, stretching Slinky’s coils to the max on a coaster that the whole family can enjoy together.
***On Alien Swirling Saucers, guests climb into a toy rocket and hang on for dear life among high-energy music, lighting, and sound effects. Alien Flying Saucers is designed to look like one of the three-eyed alien play sets and sends guests flying around while trying to capture our vehicle. If we’re lucky we may be captured by the claw!
The entrance to Toy Story Land is near Toy Story Mania, which remains one of Hollywood’s top attractions and falls in line with the theme of the new Land.
***New intelligence reveals that the height requirements are 38’ for Slinky Dog Dash and 32’ for Alien Swirling Saucers. Just confirmed – BOTH new attractions will be eligible for FastPass+!!!

Also announced as part of the massive addition:
The toys have turned Woody’s lunch box into new eatery, aptly named “Woodys Lunch Box.” Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Woody’s participates in the Disney Dining Plan and features a new style of cuisine (which we nickname “lunch box fusion”) with tasty treats like three-cheese grilled cheese and a banana split parfait. Guests can take home treasures from their visit to Toy Story Land in new merchandise locations – keep an eye out for collectible trading pins with new attraction logos and a light-up tumbler that guests can take home as a souvenir.

Toy Story movies are light-hearted, inspiring, fun films that the whole family can enjoy together. Toy Story Land is designed the same way – to provide families with a fun place to play together in a space that entertains both young and old.

Contact Wish Upon a Star with Us to book YOUR next Universal Studios, Disney, or Cruise vacation. You’ll appreciate the personal knowledge and professional assistance provided while planning a memorable vacation experience.