2016 Chocolate Easter Eggs at Disney’s Grand Floridian

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2016 Chocolate Easter Eggs at
Disney’s Grand Floridian

 

After having a great lunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe last weekend, my kids and I decided to spend some time looking at the gorgeous display of handmade Chocolate Easter Eggs in the front lobby.

I really love how they incorporated scenes from some of the newer Disney movies such as The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, Tangled, and even some old favorites like Lady and the Tramp and Robin Hood. Get a load of that BB-8!

You know how the lobby of the Grand Floridian smells like gingerbread during the Christmas season from the life-sized Gingerbread House? Well, imagine that wafting smell of chocolate!

Please excuse the angle of some of the eggs as there were lots of Guests around and I wanted to capture the whole thing from as close as I could get. If you click on the photo, you’ll be able to see it bigger.

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This last egg was just too fabulous and I couldn’t manage to take a still shot of it that was worthy; so I took a video instead! Another disclaimer; PLEASE excuse the vertical video as I only had my iPhone and the egg was tall so it had to be that way to get the whole thing. Hope you like it!

Jake’s American Bar Inside Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

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Jake’s American Bar
Inside Loews Royal Pacific Resort

at the Universal Orlando Resort

 

When I first walked into Loews Royal Pacific Resort, I knew it was someplace special. You see, the only Resorts in Orlando that I’ve ever been to have all been at Walt Disney World, so this was completely different from anything I’d seen before. There were so many absolutely gorgeous, live orchids everywhere I looked and it felt as though I was in paradise!

I was set to meet up with my group at Jake’s American Bar for dinner that evening and I’d arrived a bit on the early side. I sat down on one of the benches outside of the restaurant and was making some notes on my phone when a gentleman from the restaurant walked over to ask if he could bring me a drink or anything while I was waiting. I could tell by his attire that he was a manager as all of the other staff were wearing different uniform-type shirts. I explained that I was meeting up with some others and that I was early, but I did take him up on his offer and asked for soda. When the gentleman brought my soda, he sat down and struck up a conversation with me asking how many people would be joining me and if I was enjoying my vacation so far. We had a great conversation and he said to just let one of them know when we were ready to be seated and they would get us right in.

About 10-minutes or so went by when I received a text message from one of the members of my party that explained they weren’t going to be able to join me for dinner. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at first as it had been many years since I’d dined alone in a restaurant, but I thought about how nice that man was in making sure I didn’t need anything at all that I decided to go ahead and stay there for dinner. I went up to the podium and let them know that it was just going to be me that evening; they were very gracious and took me right in.

As I was looking over their menu, that same gentleman stopped by my table to check in when he’d noticed I was there by myself. I explained what had happened and he said to be sure and let them know if I needed anything and they’d take good care of me. Now, mind you, I already felt like I’d been very well taken care of and I had barely met my server at this point.

One of my VERY favorite appetizers in the world is calamari, so when I saw it on the menu, I was all over it. Theirs was served with a chili-lime glaze that was out of this world and not spicy at all – just tangy and awesome. It was cooked perfectly and had just the right amount of glaze on it, not too little, not too much. This was quite possibly the best calamari I’ve ever had, actually.

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The menu had all sorts of delicious choices from flat breads to Rib-Eye steak with lots in-between. I wasn’t really in the mood for anything too heavy for my entree as that calamari was pretty filling; so I decided to order their Chopped Caesar Salad with Chicken. I sure was glad I did because the presentation of this salad was beautiful and it tasted awesome too. The chicken was cooked perfectly – not dry and seasoned just right. I was really glad to have added it to the Caesar – they had an option to add shrimp also for all of you shrimp fans.

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I’m one of those people who hates it when I’m still eating my appetizer and my entree is brought out. I don’t often order an appetizer, but sometimes dinner comes with a soup or salad and I don’t know why, but this is just something that has always bugged me. Jake’s was spot-on with clearing my appetizer plate first and then bringing my entree out which was nice. I love it when restaurant staff really pay attention to little details such as this.

Just a minute or so after my salad came out, the gentleman from the beginning of my story stopped by my table and asked if I’d mind if he joined me, which I didn’t mind at all. He asked how my calamari was and if my salad was good as well. Just at that same moment, my server came back to check and see how everything tasted as well. Remember that soda I told you about at the beginning of my story? Well, I still had that same soda and it was about half-full and very watered down. The gentleman actually picked it up and handed it to my server and asked him [politely] to freshen up my drink which was really nice; I hadn’t even paid attention to it at that point.

Related: Universal Land & Sea Coverage

So, we sat there and visited a bit. He asked me if I’d driven or if I’d flown down to Orlando. I let him know that I was fairly local, had parked my vehicle with the valet and that I was staying with a friend over at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. He asked me how I liked it and let me know that he was involved with the opening of that Resort – pretty fabulous! I told him that I thought it was really cool that the valet fee is reduced down to only $5 when you dine at one of their restaurants. He asked if I had my valet ticket with me and when I pulled it out of my purse, he stopped one of his staff and asked them to go get him something that would waive the entire valet fee – including the $5! When the staff member returned with my ticket and a couple of other cards to waive the fee, I was ever so thankful. Along with the card to waive the valet fee was this kind gentleman’s business card – Phil Klinkenberg, Director of Food & Beverage for Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

To say that I was very impressed by my entire experience at this dining establishment would really be an understatement. From the moment Phil noticed me sitting by myself outside of the restaurant until I got up to leave, he made certain that impeccable care was taken of me by going way beyond anything I would have ever expected. I couldn’t believe the exemplary way he conducted himself along with how impressed I was with the example he was setting for his staff – so much so that I told him just that right there at the table. If what I experienced is the way Phil runs the food & beverage show here at this Resort, well, I can’t wait to try out their other dining locations!

Phil, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU for the fantastic experience at your restaurant!

Universal Orlando Resort: Be Prepared To Pay For Parking At Resorts – Even As A Guest!

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Universal Orlando Resort:
Be Prepared To Pay For Parking At Resorts –
Even As A Guest!

 

As a person who has been a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder for more than 5 years and had never visited the Universal Orlando Resort – the Theme Parks or the actual Resort hotels, I visited for the first time earlier this year. I enjoyed my stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, but to say I’m bothered by the parking fees at the other Resorts would be a gross understatement.

The sole purpose of my visit was to visit all of the Universal Orlando Resorts so I could get some ideas on where I’d like to bring my family for their first visit. Some members of our party were staying in each of the four Resorts, so we thought we’d make a visit to each one and see what each location offered, eat at some of the different restaurants and look into family activities at the Universal Orlando Resorts. In fact, take a look at the Universal Land & Sea coverage that was put together by some of my co-workers which includes an article with family activities for each of the Universal Orlando Resorts.

Our first stop was Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and our fees to self-park our car was $22 or we could valet for $32. We figured that price would cover the parking fee for the day since all of the Resorts are on your property. Much to my shock, when we left the Portofino Bay Hotel (after paying the price to park there) and pulled up to the Hard Rock Hotel, we were told that we’d have to pay [full price] again since we were coming to a different Resort. It didn’t matter at all that we were staying at a Universal Resort ourselves, there would be no discount. Furthermore, we were told that even if we’d used valet at one of the Resorts, we couldn’t simply go to another and valet again with no additional fees, we’d have to pay full price again.

So, needless to say, we figured out another way to get to the next Resort we wanted to visit which was rather inconvenient in the hot weather.

Here’s what I have to say about that – c’mon, Universal! If you want people staying at one of your Resorts to come back and maybe try out another Resort on their next vacation, you are going to need to stop nickel and diming us like this – we’re not even talking nickels or dimes either. It’s completely unreasonable for a person who wants to visit Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Hotel on the same day to incur between $66-$96 in parking fees for ONE day – and that doesn’t even include tipping the valet! Family vacations at a Theme Park are expensive enough without having to pay exorbitant fees to basically spend more money in the shops and restaurants within the Resort Hotels. My guess is that the Resorts would probably make more money in the long run if they made the parking fee a daily charge rather than a per Resort charge. I’m sure that people, myself included, would be more inclined to visit the hotel shops and restaurants if we didn’t have to spend so much money in parking fees.

Now, I do understand that the goal here is to prevent Theme Park Guests from taking advantage of parking at the Resorts and filling up their lots. I also realize that because this was my very first visit to the Universal Orlando Resort, there could be more to it than just what I have experienced, however; I was not a happy camper about this parking situation and I thought I’d share it with all of you in case you’re planning a visit in the near future.

Am I missing something here or is there an easier way to tour these Resorts without going broke? Please share your experiences in the comments!

Let The Pixie Dust Fly At DisneySMMC!

Photo Credit: @hyku

Photo Credit: @hyku

Let The Pixie Dust Fly At DisneySMMC!

 

I can hardly believe that it’s just about the end of March. This year has been flying on by and it’s been a long time since I’ve shared anything here with you all. I think my writer’s block may have taken off for a while – thankfully!

Being on social media a little bit the last couple of days has me feeling all Pixie Dusted because I’m seeing that invitations were sent out for this year’s Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, i.e. the MOST Pixie Dusted social media conference you will EVER attend in your life!

My family has been able to be a part of this magic several times since the first year this magical celebration took place and when I think about all of the incredible memories we have to share because of the experiences we have had, it gives me goosebumps!

Related: My Disneyland Experience With A Toddler In Tow

The amount of thought that goes into the planning is just amazing. From the very moment you arrive and through each Pixie Dusted event, you and your family come to realize just how very special it is to be a part of something so magical.

I’m just elated to see so many new faces receiving invitations this year! It truly warms my heart that so many of you will get to experience this wonderful celebration and I can hardly wait to watch and enjoy the magic through the eyes of your families! I’m so excited for all of you!!

My family attended in 2010, 2011, 2012 at the Walt Disney World Resort and in 2014 at the Disneyland Resort and I’ve shared my experiences with lots of photos right here on my blog if you want to take a peek. Just click on “social media” at the top of the page and choose the year you’d like to read about!

If you’re trying to work out the details like airfare and conference fee costs, take it from me (and, I’m certain of many others), if you need to move mountains to attend this celebration, move ’em! No, really.

Where’s Mickey Vera Bradley Hipster Giveaway

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Where’s Mickey Vera Bradley Hipster Giveaway

 

Fall has been real busy around here, but I wanted to take some time to partner with some of my Disney Blogging friends to offer you a fabulous Vera Bradley Hipster purse in the popular “Where’s Mickey?” pattern!

Vera Bradley’s “Where’s Mickey?” Hipster is a fun Hidden Mickey patterned bag of bold blues and greens. It features numerous pockets and has a generous adjustable crossbody strap with a zippered closure. It’s the perfect bag for a day in the parks.

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Win It!

 

  • One Jackie’s Magical Moments reader will win a Where’s Mickey? Hipster Style Bag by Vera Bradley. See the actual bag in the picture above.
  • The giveaway will run from now until 10//19/2014 at 11:59 PM Central Standard Time.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter.
  • The winner will be chosen by random number generator via Rafflecopter after verification of entries and notified by email. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received. To officially accept the prize the winner must reply by email within 24 hours. Make SURE to include a valid email address that you check regularly.
  • Any taxes or other charges that may be part of the prize are the winner’s sole responsibility.
  • The giveaway is open to United States residents over 18 years of age and you guarantee that you are eligible by entering.
  • We reserve the right to cancel any giveaway.
  • This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or Pinterest.
  • We were not compensated to participate in this event. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements.

Entering is easy through the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you have a Vera Bradley bag in your collection? What style is it? Tell us in the comments section below.

This Vera Bradley Giveaway is brought to you by the following Disney Blogs! Be sure to check out their sites!

Deb @ Focused on the Magic
Lin @ Disney Mamas
Sean @ DisneyDaybyDay
Diane @ Can Do It Mom
Julie @ Run, Walk, FastPass, Repeat
Jodi @ Magical Mouse Schoolhouse
Lisa and James @ Home is Where the Mouse is
Didi @ DIStherapy
Beth @ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts

Best of luck and have a Pixie Dusted day!

From the “Not-So-Magical” Files – Let’s Talk About Phone Lines

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Photo Credit: mediavatis.com

From the “Not-So-Magical” Files
Let’s Talk About Phone Lines

Landline phone?

Plain old telephone service?

Do either of these even exist any longer? Well, they do, but let me tell you something; it’s not so easy to get and apparently large companies like Comcast for example, don’t understand what it is.

We recently bought a house and are once again homeowners, something we have not been since 2009 before I suddenly lost my job.  We had the same phone number back home in Seattle for 16 years! I need a landline for work and the specifications are pretty simple: A) You need to have a landline phone B) The line cannot be voice over IP C) You cannot use things like MagicJack. Sounds simple enough, right?

Since we have both our cable and internet service through Comcast, I decided to give them a call to find out who offers this plain old telephone service. Would you believe that the person on the other end of my line explained their phone service to me, said it was NOT voice over IP and that it is considered plain old telephone service with the only difference being that the phone line runs through the cable wire instead of a phone wire? He went on to say how it’s better service because the cable wire is newer and far more reliable than the old phone lines were. Fair enough.

The person I spoke with was nice and all, but I didn’t believe it so I called back later on and spoke with another agent who told me the same thing. I called back again (twice) only to be given the very same information a third and fourth time. The whole thing just sounded hokey to me, but just because I hadn’t heard of Comcast ever offering plain old telephone service didn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. So, despite my hesitation on the matter, I went ahead and ordered their plain old telephone service and had it hooked up because, as a consumer, I chose to believe what this large, reputable company told me.

A couple weeks later when I was running some tests on my system and getting things connected, I found out that the phone line would not be plugging into the telephone jack in the wall, but into the back of the modem. Yes, that’s right. The back of the modem . . . same place where the ethernet cords are plugged into.

Really, Comcast?

It does not take a genius to realize that a phone line that plugs into a modem is not and will never be considered plain old telephone service. You see, a phone line should not plug into a modem if it’s just a phone line.

Meanwhile, the only company in my area that offers legitimate PLAIN OLD TELEPHONE SERVICE is AT&T. Thankfully, they are able to just grab the same phone number and switch it over for us. It takes some time for it to be installed because of something to do with the 911 system, but it will plug into my phone jack when it’s connected.

I can hardly believe that something that should have been so easy has been dragging on for weeks. Moving is a big enough pain all by itself and I surely had no intentions of unnecessarily adding another pain in the neck to the pile. I’ll be thrilled if sharing this information will save even one of you from dealing with this hassle!

Tutorial From The Animation Academy: Minnie Mouse

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Tutorial From The Animation Academy:

Minnie Mouse

 

Minnie Mouse has always been my very favorite Disney Character and I was so excited last week when a video tutorial on how to draw her was shared by Disney Parks. For those of you who have never visited The Magic Of Disney Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this will be a real treat for you. It’s a great place tucked into the back of the Park where you can step inside, have a seat and discover how some fantastically talented Cast Members bring Disney Characters to life.

This unique hands-on experience is so cool and often overlooked. I love it most because you will leave with a great souvenir of your visit there!

Grab your sketchbook and drawing pencils and get ready to draw Minnie Mouse!

Guardians Of The Galaxy Printable Activities

Guardians of the Galaxy
Printables!

 

Download the PDF file .

Disney Planes Fire & Rescue Activities

Download Race To The Rescue Activities

Dusty soars into theaters today and we’re celebrating his arrival with some super fun printables and activity sheets! Are you going to see Disney Planes Fire & Rescue today?

Happy Birthday, Donald Duck!

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Hi, everyone! Today is a really special day for a really special Duck! It’s Donald Duck’s 80th Birthday! I thought I’d share some pics with you of some of the fun times my family has had with Donald over the years.

Be sure to check out all of the other fun in today’s blog hop by clicking on the link below!

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