Tag: walt disney world resort

Don’t Forget Mousekeeping!

Don’t Forget Mousekeeping!

I’m going to take a brief moment today to remind you of one of the most important Cast Members at Disney – and one of the ones you don’t often actually see or think hard about – Mousekeeping!

Without Mousekeepers, the resorts would be a mess. Think about it – they come in, clean up the rooms we’ve left messy, remade beds, restocked the soaps, emptied the trash, and a hundred other jobs I wouldn’t want to do, in HUNDREDS of guests’ rooms. Every. Day. They also make sure that all those gorgeous lobbies and restaurants and shops stay sparkly clean.

So if you’re planning a trip to Disney, don’t forget about your Mousekeeper. Leave them a tip. It doesn’t have to break the bank. I’ve heard that you leave a dollar a person, per day. That’s not so bad, considering how much they do every day. For our trip, I started saving my dollar bills and fives months in advance. I put them all in one envelope until I had enough set aside. That way, it wasn’t coming out of the vacation budget right before the trip (or during).

Now, you can just leave the money on a nightstand and write a little note on the pad they leave (which is what I do in a normal hotel, usually). But this is Disney – why not help spread a little magic and make something for the Mousekeeper?

You can (or the kids!) decorate a simple envelope with stickers and crayons. You can make something super fancy with a cutting machine. You can find tons of printables online. Whatever makes you happy!

I’ve tried to make some printables that you can download that are both something you can print, but also allow you to personalize them a little. They’re just the line art – made for you to color in! Markers, colored pencils, crayons, whatever medium suits your fancy! You can print them on regular computer paper, or make something more substantial from cardstock (though it really isn’t necessary – regular copy paper holds up just fine once it’s all glued and folded.)

If you want to access these (and there are more things already there, and in the works) you will have to subscribe to the blog. Hopefully since you’re already here reading this, that won’t be a problem! Once you subscribe, you’ll be given the password, and you can click on the “Resources” tab, enter the password, and download the PDF files for these envelopes!

Mousekeeping Envelope Dole Whip Mousekeeping Trader Sams PatternMousekeeping Envelope - Epcot Style

 

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!

‘Ohana Grilled Chicken

‘Ohana Grilled Chicken

This is the last of the recipes I’m posting from the Moana dinner and movie party – but don’t think its the “least” of them! This is a great recipe, and is one of the ones given to my mom when we asked on our first trip ever.

We’ve made this MANY times over the years since then, and I must admit that there is one drawback to this recipe – it really has to be grilled. I’ve tried to bake it, saute it and everything in between, and it just doesn’t taste as good unless you grill it. Somehow, it needs that extra boost to be all it can be.

With that being said, don’t skip the recipe! Just save it for a nice day and a hot grill. The chicken (or you could do pork) will need to marinate for two to three days, and I do strongly suggest you actually follow that for this one. It needs to soak in and really do its work. The chicken will be tender and moist if you give it time!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

The recipe itself is super simple. First, you need to use a blender or food processor. A whisk won’t cut it here, because you’d be whisking for days. So pull out the food processor and then gather your ingredients. You’re going to dump the garlic, malt vinegar, lemon juice, Tabasco, salt, pepper, and brown sugar all together. Put the lid on, and measure out your olive oil into a container with a pour spout. Then slowly drizzle it in as you run the food processor. You want the mixture to form an emulsification (hence the reason you need the food processor). Don’t panic when this comes out! It is not a thin marinade – it will come out pretty thick. This is good, because it really sticks to the chicken well.

Now, put your chicken in a bowl or a resealable bag (in a bowl), and pour about half the marinade in with it. Seal the bag, getting as much air as you can out without making a mess. Then leave it in the fridge for 2-3 days. The leftover marinade needs to go into a container and then into the fridge. You’re going to use this to baste the chicken as you grill it later.

Once your 2-3 days have passed, fire up the grill and get the chicken cooking. As it cooks, baste it liberally with the reserved marinade. Once it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, pull it off the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

In the restaurant, they serve the chicken with dipping sauce. I don’t have the copy of the peanut sauce – somewhere in the last move it was lost! But I’m going back to ‘Ohana in a few months.  While I’m there, I’ll get that recipe and post it! Until then, I’d suggest using the one found at AllEars.net. I’m pretty sure its the same one.

The pictures for this really don’t do it justice, but when the chicken was taken off the grill, I didn’t get to the camera before the guests got to the chicken…. so the photos were taken quickly with what I could rescue briefly!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

I hope you try this, and if you do, please let me know how it goes! Have you had this before? Been to Ohana? What did you think?

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires advance prepping and the grill. Its worth the wait though!
Print
'Ohana Grilled Chicken
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Given to me over 10 years ago at Ohana, its as good now as it was then!

Servings: 8 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c malt vinegar
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Tabasco
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1 c olive oil
Instructions
  1. Put all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a food processor.

  2. Slowly pour the olive oil into the processor as it is running, forming a thick emulsification.

  3. Put the chicken into a resealable plastic bag or container. Pour half of the marinade over the chicken. Save the rest in a container.

  4. Let chicken marinate for 2 to 3 days. 

  5. When ready to cook, heat grill and grill chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the saved marinade and baste the chicken frequently while grilling.

  6. Remove chicken from heat when done and let rest for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Ohana Grilled Chicken

Pepper Pot Pork Chops

Pepper Pot Pork Chops

This afternoon I decided it was time to try another grill recipe. Since I found two lovely butterfly pork chops at the store the other day, I went on the hunt for a recipe on my list of recipes to attempt – and came across Pepper Pot Pork from Boma! So far, all the things I’ve made from Animal Kingdom restaurant recipes have been awesome. Pepper Pot Pork was not a disappointment!

The original recipe calls for a pork roast and its cooked differently. There are also some differences in the seasonings. But this recipe was really delicious and perfect for the grill on a warm spring evening. (Though it was pretty hot today – we’re quickly working at skipping spring and heading straight for summer!)

The first thing you need to do is pull out a bowl or (my preference) a resealable gallon baggie, and mix up the marinade. This part is easy. Just dump all the ingredients into the bag and then add the pork chops. You can mix it separately in a bowl and pour it in, but this works just fine. I made sure I massaged the pork chops a bit to distribute all the spices and make sure they were covered, but that’s as much fussing as you need to to.

Once its in the marinade, put it in the fridge and leave it for anywhere from 2-4 hours. I recommend putting that baggie down in a bowl, just in case, but its up to you. I only needed the bag to leak once to make me err on the side of caution. No one wants to clean marinade and meat juice from the fridge. Seriously.

So you’ve got a couple hours to kill. Read a book, watch a movie, do something productive. Take a nap. Whatever. When the time’s up, you’ll need to prep your grill, as well as your sauce.

The sauce is also pretty easy – don’t let me list of ingredients throw you off. Just dice your onions and peppers, put your olive oil in the pan and saute them until they begin to get a little tender – anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Once that’s done, you just add all the rest of the ingredients. Make sure all the spices are well mixed in, and let it come to the boil. Once it does, turn the temperature down to medium low and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. Don’t let this reduce too much – you’ll run out of sauce!

Once its has simmered, you’re going to make a cornstarch slurry – a tablespoon of cornstarch in a couple tablespoons of water or cold stock. Mix it until its smooth, and then pour in about half. Make sure you mix it as you pour it into the pan. At this point, you can add more cornstarch for a thicker sauce, or leave it as is. The thickness is all personal preference! Once you have your cornstarch mixed in, cook about two more minutes and then remove from the heat.

While your sauce is cooking, you’re going to grill the pork chops. I made this with butterflied pork chops and they worked beautifully. There are only two in this recipe, but if you need more, just adjust the amounts as you need to. Its pretty easy to double or even triple it, and it should work out just fine.

I serve this with rice made with vegetable stock, because if I can use flavor instead of water, why not? There is a lot of flavor going on here, so you don’t need seasoned rice. (Though if you want to, do what makes you happy!)

I’m enjoying the grilling part of these recipes because my husband is the grill master (so he’s in charge of cooking that part) and because there is one less dish for me to wash when its all over. Priorities, right? 😉 But whether it is grilled or cooked on the stove top, the flavors are fantastic!

This recipe does differ from the original, which you can see at AllEars.Net if you like. All the same, its a really tasty recipe. I hope you try it, and if you do, I’d love to hear what you think!

Disney Pepper Pot Pork Chops

quick rating

Print
Pepper Pot Pork Chop
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
4 hr 50 mins
 
Adapted from the Pepper Pot Pork recipe from Disney's Boma.
Course: Main Dish
Servings: 2 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 1.5 pound butterfly pork chops
  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
Sauce
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1 c vegetable stock (you can just substitute 2 c chicken stock)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 diced bell pepper (I prefer yellow or red, but any color is fine)
  • 1/2 diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (Hold until the end, then mix with 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp water)
Instructions
Pork Chops
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a gallon resealable baggie. Add pork chops and massage marinade in, making sure that spices and sugar are well mixed.
  2. Place in refrigerator for 2-4 hours. When the time is up, you'll cook the pork chops on a grill, or saute in a pan. Either way, you'll want to cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
  3. Take off heat and allow the pork chops to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Sauce
  1. Dice onions and peppers together, and saute in a non stick skillet in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook these for around 5-10 minutes, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients for the sauce, except the cornstarch slurry. Allow to come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the cornstarch slurry, stirring in until you reach the consistency you like. Start with half the mixture, and add more as you need.
  4. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, then remove from heat. Serve with pork and enjoy.

 

Boma Marinated Flank Steak

Boma Marinated Flank Steak

This recipe is AWESOME. It is the Durbin Marinated Flank Steak from Walt Disney World’s Boma restaurant, though I’ve adapted the recipe found on AllEars.net and in my Disney cookbooks. If you can, I definitely would try it! And I must apologize, because this recipe was previously posted on my website, but after updating earlier this week, I realized that I lost three recipes! So this is actually a repost, and I am sorry for the inconvenience! Either way, it is still delicious, and you should still try it!

I mean, my husband ate three plates full, and it totally sold him on my new blogging endeavor. Seriously. If that isn’t a pretty good endorsement, I don’t know what else might be!

The prep work for this is pretty easy. You don’t have to measure everything out into bowls or on a plate like I did here. I just though it looked prettier than the disaster that it would be to take a photo of my spice cabinet.  Someday I’ll get around to fixing that.

Most of these spices aren’t too strange. But if you’re like me, cardamom isn’t something you always keep in the cabinet. I’ve only recently decided I like this spice (after years of professing to hate it), at least when mixed with other things, and I nearly left it out when I saw the price tag at the store. But its worth it. Really. Just go buy the bottle, and I promise I’ve got more recipes that call for cardamom, so you won’t feel like you’ve paid so much for just this one thing.

Though once you taste it, you’ll make it again. We’re already planning to have it at our Moana dinner and movie night, even though its not strictly matching the theme. Its just too tasty to not have!

Anyway, start out by prepping things. Pull out a bowl and a gallon sized resealable baggie. You can just put this in the bowl if you want, but I have a tendency to make big messes, so I like to put it in the baggie. Then the bowl. Because sometimes baggies leak. Ask me how I know.

I chopped the garlic and ginger and got those ready because that’s really the only thing that takes any time. And a tip – use a spoon to peel the ginger. Just scrape the skin off – its so thin it doesn’t take much effort.

Once you have that chopped up, put it in a small mixing bowl. Measure in all the dry spices, and then your liquids. Mix it up well with a whisk. Normally I’d tell you to dump it all in the bag and mush it around. But this does have quite a lot of spices in it, so I find that whisking does seem to help distribute everything.

Put your flank steak in the baggie and then pour the liquid over it. Massage things in a bit, and get as much air as you can out (without spilling!) and seal the bag. Stick it in the bowl, and put everything in the fridge. I left mine for only about 4 hours. I’d recommend overnight. It was AWESOME at 4 hours. But I think that it would be even better and a little more tender if it was left longer.

Once you’re ready to cook, go out and start the grill. Or have the designated grill master do it. In my house, that’s my husband’s domain, so he was in charge. It only takes about 10 ish minutes on each side, depending on how done you want the flank steak to be.

Once you bring it in off the grill, let it sit for 10 minutes (really it should be like 15 , but who can wait that long?). Don’t do anything with it until that time is up. It makes a difference in how juicy it is. Honest. Then, slice it thinly across the grain and try not to eat the whole thing alone.

If you try this, and I think you should, please let me know what you think!

Disney Boma Marinated Flank Steak

Print
Boma's Durbin Marinated Flank Steak
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This recipe is adapted from the Durbin Marinated Flank Steak recipe found online at All Ears.net, and the recipe found in _____________.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African, Disney Dishes
Servings: 2 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 -1.5 pound flank steak
  • 1/4 c neutral oil (canola, safflower, vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 c malt vinegar
  • 1/4 balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 T teriyaki sauce
  • 2 T ground cardamom
  • 2 T crushed red pepper
  • 1.5 T dried thyme
  • 1.5 T turmeric
  • 1.5 T ground coriander
  • 1/4 c minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 c minced fresh garlic
Instructions
  1. Whisk all the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.
  2. Put the flank steak into a large gallon baggie, and pour in the marinade. Get as much air out of the bag as possible and massage it a little.
  3. Put the marinating steak into a shallow dish where it can lie flat, and marinade for at least 5 hours, up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat a grill to around 375 degrees. Put the steak on and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side for medium well. Adjust your time to suit the desired level of doneness.
  5. Let rest 10 minutes, and then slice thinly, being sure to go against the grain.
  6. Devour!