Tag: disney parks

Spreading a Little Magic at Walt Disney World

Spreading a Little Magic at Walt Disney World

I have to apologize for being a little late with this post. I’m a teacher, and this past week was the last week of school. It’s CRAZY. But I’m back now, and I have lots of great posts planned! Mexico Margarita Cupcakes are coming – and they are fantastic!

But I want to talk about something different today. About magic.

©VanessaEdwards Cinderella's Castle

If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World or any Disney park before, I want to ask you to take a moment and close your eyes and remember walking into the park. Stroll through your memories. There were, I’m sure, a lot of fantastic images there. But I want you to see if you can remember something that most people overlook – the Cast Members (CM).

We talk all the time about magical moments and how to have a magical Disney vacation. Many times it’s a Cast Member who makes that magical moment or memory possible. Usually when you think about it, they blend into the scenery. They are there in the background taking care of serving customers, or picking up a piece of trash, or helping a family find something or do something. Many of the memories where something awesome happened, a cast member was involved in providing that boost of pixie dust for your family.

So today I’m going to suggest something – rather than just being a recipient of the magic, maybe we should help encourage it as well.

Cast Members deal with a LOT of guests every day. They do it with a smile, and in costumes and temperatures that would make lesser mortals melt into puddles of goo. Seriously. I’d die if I had to work outside in Florida in August in those costumes!

They help make all that magic possible, and I believe that you can’t do a job like that unless you have a real passion for it. And while going to Disney World is like nothing else, most people don’t think about making magic themselves. But there is no reason a guest can’t make a little pixie dust for a Cast Member.

Next time you’re there, take a moment to thank a CM. Maybe they helped make your day – maybe they are making magic for another guest and you saw it. But take a moment to acknowledge what they’ve done.

They do a hard job – Disney is supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth, and working there means that even if you are having a terrible day, you are expected to act like everything is amazing. They work in a service position, and as someone who also works in a service position (sort of – all these things are true in education) where a lot is expected of you every day, often the most attention happens when you are doing something wrong, not when something is going right. It’s always a nice change to have someone tell you thank you for doing a great job. And in a CM’s position – where they deal with hundreds of guests a day, not all of them pleasant, I can see where a simple thank you and smile may go a long way.

In my experience, doing little random acts of kindness helps the giver just as much as the receiver.

So when you’re at Walt Disney World next, and you want to spread a little magic of your own, I’ve made up a couple of free printables that might work. I’d recommend printing them on cardstock or some kind of fancy paper (but that is just me). Have your kids hand them out. Carry one in your park bag and decide as a family that you’re going to give one away every day. These two designs are available to everyone. On June 12, I’ll have uploaded a few more designs that are for blog subscribers only. If you’d like access to those, just subscribe to the blog!Disney Cast Member Appreciation Certificates

Disney Cast Member Appreciation Certificates
Click on photo to download PDF.

 

If you aren’t comfortable walking up to a CM and handing them this and explaining, that’s okay! I’m not the most outgoing of people either. But if a CM or Mousekeeping or other person needs some recognition, maybe try social media. I’d suggest heading to Twitter. Send a shout out telling what the CM has done that was so awesome. Make sure you say where you are, and the CM’s name (if you can), and tagging the WDW twitter account. I’ve seen several times where WDW has seen those tweets and has gone back and recognized the CM for their work.

You can also take a moment to help make a little magic in another guest’s day. If you have an extra set of dollar store glow sticks you’ve brought in, share it with that family with small children next to you. If you’re playing a game in line while waiting for a ride, invite the family in front of you to join in. You never know – that may end up being the highlight of their trip.

Several years ago I went on a roadtrip with a friend. We met up with a group of her friends, and they were going to Harry Potter World at Universal, on opening weekend. I am not that big a Harry fan, so they dropped me off at EPCOT in the morning. I stood in line for Soarin’, and the wait was well over 45 minutes. A CM came by asking for “single flyers” and I got to jump to the front of the line.  I ended up at the end of a row with a large family. When we got off, they asked if I was alone. When I said yes, they were so concerned. “You can be part of our family for the day!” I declined, but it was one of the nicest things I’ve had someone do in a theme park. She genuinely wanted to make sure I had a great day in Disney World.

That kind of attitude is what helps spread a little kindness. Like Cinderella says, “Have courage and be kind.” In the world we live in, it never hurts to help spread a little pixie dust – whether in everyday life, or the Happiest Place on Earth.

If you do this, please comment and tell me how it went – or even send a photo! I’d love to post it on the blog. And if you’ve had a magical experience at Disney World, I’d love to hear about that too!

Cooking with Character was given The Liebster Award!

Cooking with Character was given The Liebster Award!

I received an email not long ago from Stephanie at Love, Laughter and Luggage, nominating me for the Liebster Award for new bloggers!  I was extremely excited, because this is a virtual award passed from blogger to blogger as a show of support, and a way to promote other blogs we enjoy reading.

 

Be sure to stop by Stephanie’s blog, and show her some love on social media. She has a fabulous website!

HERE ARE THE RULES:

  1. You must acknowledge who has nominated you and also share their links.
  2. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer all 11 questions asked.
  4. Nominate 11 more bloggers whose blog you would recommend.
  5. Ask 11 questions that you would like those bloggers to answer.
  6. Include an image of the Liebster Award either in your post or in the sidebar of your blog.
  7. Let the bloggers you have nominated know that they’ve been nominated.

11 FACTS ABOUT ME

  1. I used to be a technology education teacher, and now I’m a high school librarian. I’m also certified to teach high school English.
  2. I’m a published Young adult and middle grade author.
  3. I have a husband and a cat. I’m pretty sure the cat rules the house.
  4. I can wiggle my ears.
  5. My minor in college was Medieval and Renaissance Literature. Reading the original King Arthur stories ruined it for me. To this day, I can’t stand King Arthur, mainly because Guinevere really isn’t much of a catch to be fighting over.
  6. I love to cook – but only in the last several years have I managed to expand some of my tastes. I didn’t eat shrimp until this year! In my defense, I have weird texture issues.
  7. I once accidentally walked into the kitchen in a restaurant in France when I took the wrong door while looking for the bathrooms. Luckily, no one saw me.
  8. My aunt and uncle invite friends and family every year (we try to go every year, but we may have to start doing our own version at home if we don’t make it more often!) and make over 500 pounds of cabbage into homemade sauerkraut. It’s amazing stuff. Your arms ache for days afterward. And no matter what anyone says, those inferno pepper slices are not safe to eat alone. Take it from me.
  9. Even though I’m a librarian, I almost never have time to read at work. It’s sad.
  10. I love writing snail mail letters. I think it’s a lost art, and I want to get high schoolers interested in it again.
  11. I think one of the best sandwiches ever is a bologna and ketchup sandwich. If its garlic bologna, even better!

11 LIEBSTER QUESTIONS

  1. What’s your middle name? My middle name is Ellen.
  2. What is your favorite song right now? Oh, man. Well, I’m going to say that it’s a toss-up between either “Carry Me” by Eurielle, or “Shiny” from Moana.
  3. What gives you inspiration for blog post ideas? Lots of times its watching a movie and thinking about what they might eat in that country, or looking through a Disney cookbook, or a book or blog post about Disney. Sometimes it happens when I’m walking through the grocery store and I’m hungry and thinking about what I want to eat.
  4. Best and worst parts of blogging? I enjoy this, but I have to say that doing it seriously, and trying to do it well, is a lot of work. More than you’d think it is. I’m trying to learn as I go, but keeping up with social media and a day job and my writing and everything else in life is HARD. But it’s worth it.
  5. Your favorite spring trend of this year? I’m about the least likely person to even know what the trends are, but it seems that there’s a lot of tropical prints and pineapples around, and I love a good pineapple/tropical print during the summer.
  6. Sun or snow? Can I qualify this and say sun, but not scorching?
  7. Future goals for blogging? I would love, LOVE, to be able to do this blog and have it open up opportunities that would allow me to make it a full time job. Most of all, I’d love to have a community of readers who want to see what I post next.
  8. Do you have any pets, if so what are they? We have a cat, named Molly, who is a rather lazy fuzzball. I had her before I met my husband, but she’s totally ditched me in favor of him.
  9. What is your favorite social media platform and why? I like different platforms for different reasons, but my top two are Twitter and Instagram. I like twitter because I can interact in real time with people, but I like Instagram because it’s just fun to have the visual there.
  10. Coffee or tea? Tea all the way!
  11. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why? This is tough. I should say something like Walt Disney or Julia Child. But I think I’d like to have dinner with my Grandma Caynor. She died six months after I was born, and I would have loved to have met her.

 

My Liebster Nominations are:

  

My Questions To You.

  1. What is the one place in the world you want to visit, if money was no option?
  2. Who is your favorite Disney character?
  3. Do you prefer phone calls or texting?
  4. What is your favorite part of being a blogger?
  5. What is your ultimate goal for your blog?
  6. What is your favorite book (or author)?
  7. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  8. Almond or vanilla?
  9. If you could interview one person, dead or alive, for your blog, who would it be and why?
  10. What is your favorite thing to do on a warm summer evening?
  11. If you were stranded on a desert island and you could have one meal delivered from anywhere in the world, what would it be and why?

 

The Best Dill Pickle Flavored Popcorn Recipe for a Movie Night!

The Best Dill Pickle Flavored Popcorn Recipe for a Movie Night!

There’s a flavored popcorn stand in EPCOT that I’ve heard many people rave about. And apparently flavored popcorn is a big thing in Disneyland and some of the other parks across the world. What a perfect snack! I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of popcorn? (Unless its burnt. No one, except a friend from college, likes that. She used to hunt down the burned popcorn smell and take it off our hands, so I suppose it wasn’t a bad thing in the end, right?)

I’ve got a fun, tasty flavor for you to try this weekend. If you do a family movie night, this is a fun way to up your popcorn game. Keep an eye out, because I’ve been working on a handful of these. This is just the one I finished first. This spice blend is easily kept in a jar and used a little at a time. While I’m writing a recipe designed to flavor a lot of popcorn, you can easily just sprinkle it with a spoon over your personal bowl, and then everyone can have what they like! That way too, if you follow the blog and get the other recipes (they’re coming soon!) you can pass around the bowls and see which ones you like best.

What flavor are we making? Dill Pickle, of course!

If you like pickles, you’ll like this. Now me, I don’t like pickles. I LOVE pickles. Its a problem. I have no problem sitting and eating an entire jar by myself. Whenever someone tells me it isn’t good for me, I wave and hand and remind them I’m eating vegetables. They seem to think this doesn’t count. Whatever.

If you’re like me, then you should make sure there’s a separate bowl for everyone else. Cause there’s no sharing going on here.

Dill Pickle Popcorn

This is really easy. If you have a spice grinder, you can get fancy and grind your own spices. I like to do this because I think they taste fresher longer, but its not necessary. Mixing preground spices works just as well. The hardest thing to find for any of these recipes will probably be the citric acid. Its usually in the canning section of the store, or you can order it online. You don’t need very much – only a 1/4 tsp for the whole recipe! One container will  last you a long time.

Dill Pickle Popcorn Seasoning
This recipe makes quite a bit. Only use what you need – you should get a couple batches of popcorn out of this!

To do this recipe, you measure out your spices (if you’re using any whole spices) into a spice grinder, and pulse them all together. Be careful when you remove the top, because some of the spices, especially those that were already ground, will be a really fine powder. If you get too close to the puff of spice that comes out when you take off the lid, it will go straight up your nose. Ask me how I know. If you don’t have any whole spices, just measure everything into a small bowl and mix well with a spoon. I would recommend using fine grain sea salt or popcorn salt if you go this method, but that’s a personal preference.

Dill Pickle Popcorn

I cheated for this, and popped a bag of microwave buttered popcorn because I didn’t want to get out the popcorn popper (I have the kind you put on the stove and crank.). If you’re going this route, you won’t get 5 quarts of popcorn. I used about two heaping teaspoons of powder, sprinkled it into the bag, and then poured the popcorn into a bowl. You can add as much or as little as you like. If you aren’t sure you’ll like it, I’d start with one teaspoon, toss the popcorn, and then taste. You can add more from there if you like.

 

Its got a lovely dill pickle flavor and a nice pungent sour note that isn’t too strong. Before you know it, you’ll be staring at the bottom of an empty bowl and hunting down the next bag of popcorn!

What other popcorn flavors would you love to see?

 Dill Pickle Popcorn

snack rating

Dill Pickle Popcorn
Print
Dill Pickle Popcorn
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
This recipe is adapted from one found at Food and Wine's website.
Course: Snack
Servings: 4 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp light mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dill seed
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid
Instructions
  1. Mix all spices together in a bowl, or put all spices into a spice grinder and pulse to a powder.
  2. Sprinkle over popcorn sprayed lightly with cooking spray or tossed with butter. If using microwave popcorn, just open bag, close, and shake.
  3. Enjoy!
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Friday DisNews: Full Menu for Satu’li Canteen is Out – and Pandora is looking awesome!

Friday DisNews: Full Menu for Satu’li Canteen is Out – and Pandora is looking awesome!

Floating mountains grace the skyline while exotic plants fill the colorful landscape inside Pandora – The World of Avatar, which opens May 27, 2017 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Pandora – The World of Avatar will bring a variety of new experiences to the park, including a family-friendly attraction called Na’vi River Journey and new food & beverage and merchandise locations. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer) Courtesy of Walt Disney World Resorts.

I’m a little behind in getting this blog post up, but I’m very excited to say that the sneak peeks we’re being given about Pandora: The World of Avatar are looking better and better! I enjoyed the movie when it came out, and I think one of its strongest points was that it was gorgeous to look at. Now that its become a real part of Disney, and we know how well they do bringing things to life, I’m really excited to see what they do with it. I’m also excited to have a reason to stay in the Animal Kingdom park past five. In the past, Animal Kingdom has not been a full day park for my family, mainly because of the heat (it always seems like the hottest of hte parks) and because my family doesn’t ride roller coasters or Kali River Rapids. (With my husband, that may change, because he loves coasters) This, however, looks like two new rides I think I’ll like, and I am hoping for great things from the nighttime look of Pandora, with its bioluminescent features. The possibilities of what this could look like are really exciting! Take a look at this video, provided by Walt Disney World Resort:

I mean, the beginning is a lot of the same opening shots of the entrance that have been posted everywhere. But I’m very excited by the peek into the Na’vi River Ride! It looks like it should be really fun, and really beautiful to look at.

 

Satu’li Canteen

Walt Disney World has also released the full menu for the Satu’li Canteen! I couldn’t get any press photos for the food, but if you want a sneak peek, you can visit the Disney Blog and the full menu on The Disney site. The selection looks interesting, and you can see that they’re sticking with the themes from the movie by creating a menu with healthier fare. I’ve also heard that they will be using an online ordering system where you can order and pay via the My Disney Experience app and then tell the kitchen, via the app, that you’ve arrived. When your food is ready, it can then be picked up at a specific window/place in the restaurant. This should be a nice feature, as I’m sure the restaurant will be crowded, at least to start. It also allows you to customize your meals as well, with a nice selection of healthy foods. The cheeseburger “pod” looks like it might be a bit of a stretch to all that “healthy,” but I like the idea of the “pods.”

What are you looking forward to most in Pandora?

 

Top 5 Reasons to Love Disney as an Adult

Top 5 Reasons to Love Disney as an Adult

 

Disney World is an amazing place. But there are some people who will look at you and wonder, “Why bother going to Disney as an adult? Isn’t it just an overpriced place for the kids, with no real thrills?”

Clearly, they’ve never looked at it the right way.

There are lots of reasons a Disney fan can give as to why they love the parks. As this is one of my first blog posts, I thought it would only be appropriate to mention a few of the reasons why I love it so much.

At Disney, it’s okay to release your inner child.

Do you remember the excitement you felt as a kid when the newest Disney movie came out? Or when you got to go to a theme park for the day? Or come home after school and watch cartoons? Of course! Being a kid, you were allowed to geek out over a cartoon character, or play with stuffed animals, and daydream about how the movie would have been if you were the princess (or prince!). At Disney World, you can let go of all the adulating for a while and just let yourself enjoy being a kid again. You can get your picture taken with Mickey, you can laugh at the jokes in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and you can generally let yourself believe in a little magic again. Or just ride Space Mountain for the nth time. There’s plenty of time for the real world. But at least for a little while, you can let it go (pun intended) and just soak up the magic.

There is more to see and do than standing in line for Mickey and buying a stuffed animal.

Spend real time walking through the World Showcase areas. Morocco has some really amazing views and things to look at and enjoy!

Disney World was built as a place for families to be entertained, and kids were the biggest portion of that vision. But don’t let think the adults have been left out! There are lots of opportunities for adults to enjoy themselves. For me, EPCOT is the most “adult” of all the park. I can see where a kid might think the countries of World Showcase boring. But as an adult, they are pretty awesome to wander through, look around, and enjoy the taste of another culture and country. Beyond that, there are lots of things sprinkled in the park that you will appreciate as an adult that may go over the kids heads, and there are many things that only an adult who has seen some of the older movies and Disney shows will appreciate.

The Food.

This blog is food-centered. So it’s no surprise that the food makes an appearance on here. In my experience, most kids are pretty mundane eaters. Don’t get me wrong – some are adventurous, but as a rule, kids just want food so they can get back to the park. Adults, on the other hand, more often can appreciate the joys of a great meal in an awesome setting. No matter what restaurant you pick, the worst meal at Disney is still likely to be miles better than the normal chain restaurants from home. The themes are amazing, and the food is made with great attention and care. It tastes good, looks good, and there are so many restaurants to choose from, you should be able to find something you like!

As an adult, you can appreciate the detail.

Come on, not too many kids would find this as entertaining as I did.

This kind of goes with #2, but adults can appreciate some of the inside jokes in things (Jungle Cruise, anyone?). The Imagineers dropped little things all over the park. Some of the labels on boxes in the Agrabah area of Magic Kingdom, for instance, may seem familiar to an adult. And only someone who isn’t on overload with sugar and Mickey and OMG another ride, will be able to see it. As an adult, you can take your time, breath, and enjoy yourself. No one will mind if you buy a dole whip, take a seat on a bench next to the castle and people watch for awhile. (And you totally should!)

There is always something new.

This one goes for everyone – not just adults. Unless you’re going to Disney World every day (and even then you may argue that it still applies) there is always something new to see. It may not be new to the park, but it may be a feature you missed, a show you haven’t seen, or a new world added since the last time you visited (Anyone else excited to see Pandora?). As adults, sometimes we have a tendency to check off a place we’ve visited on our mental list, crossing it off as being “done.” But I’ve never had a trip to Disney where it became boring because I knew what to expect. There are always hidden secrets, an inside joke, or a new attraction to pique my interest. And on the subject of food, there are so many great restaurants with so many dishes, I’ll never be able to get through them all!

 

What do you like best as an adult at Disney?