Saturday, November 29, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Snow's Perfect Apple Punch

True confession time: I made this one up. You won't find it on any menu in the parks or the resorts; but when the wind is howling and the fire is crackling lively in the fireplace, (or you just need a warm and lovely pick me up!) this little beauty is exactly what you need to warm your winter's night!

I like a recipe for which you can make just one glass at a time, or an entire batch for a party. I've included both recipes for you here! You could certainly use this recipe without the brandy, but I think it's a marvelous addition!

And of course you can skip the garnish if you wish, but do yourself a favor and don't skip it. A pretty drink always makes me feel a little more special. And who couldn't use that, especially at such a busy time of the year! Cheers to a yummy winter warm up! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Snow's Perfect Apple Punch

For one glass:
pour 2/3 C cider into mug, heat in microwave until steaming hot
add 1 jigger brandy, stir well
sprinkle with cinnamon and cloves to taste
garnish glass with one apple wheel, a cinnamon stick

For one punch bowl:
pour one gallon cider into pot
add several tablespoons of mulling spices
Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes
remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
add 3 cups brandy
Pour into punch bowl and float apple slices on top

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Pumpkin Fudge

That's right, it's time to being our Christmas series on the blog again! If you missed it last year, you can use the 12 days label to search 12 handmade Disney ornaments. This year's theme is one everyone loves: food! I will be researching and posting a recipe for 12 different holiday goodies you can find around the Disney parks and resorts, or themed to our favorite Disney characters! It should be fun and a great way to inspire you for your next holiday party or cookie exchange.

Today, since we are still so near to Thanksgiving, (and you may need an extra little something for your dessert table!) we will start off with Pumpkin Fudge! You can find this fudge at Marceline's Bakery in Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort in California, and the Main Street Bakery in Walt Disney World once fall rolls around! Thanks to Magical Recipes for the recipe. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 lb marshmallows or marshmallow crème
3 Tbsp maple syrup


Line a 12×8 inch baking dish with foil, letting it hang over the edges.
In a large sauce pan, whisk together the sugars, butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin, and spices.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. 

Continue boiling for 10-12 minutes or until the candy thermometer registers 235 degrees Fahrenheit – soft ball stage (soft ball stage occurs when you drop some of the mixture into a bowl of cold water, and it forms a “soft ball” when it cools and is removed from the water).

Stir in the white chocolate chips first, and then the marshmallows or marshmallow crème and maple syrup. Stir until melted, and then immediately pour into the prepared pan.

Let cool on a wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled.
To cut, lift the foil from the ends of the dish.
Cut the fudge into 1 inch squares.
Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Monday, November 24, 2014

DIY Knit Bambi Mittens

These mittens were so fun to make! They are my second pair of stranded mittens; getting the tension right is always the hardest part for me. And getting the hang of the thumb shaping in this pattern was a bit tricky, but once I saw it happening it was much easier to knit.

I love this design so much I might actually make a second pair! I've been trying to find something Bambi related for a very long time! Thanks to Drunk Girl Designs for such an adorable retro pattern! You can find this pattern at the link above. And just as a heads up, if you are easily offended, her other mitten patterns are probably not for you. I find them hilarious, but I have a former middle school teacher's warped sense of humor. So there's that.

I started knitting these mittens with the intention of making them for myself. They would have totally gone great with my winter coat! But as fate would have it, I started knitting them on an airplane, on the way to Walt Disney World. I thought I would go a little ways, check the gauge and adjust as necessary. Well, I got all involved in listening to my book (which you absolutely need to read NOW) and by the time we landed I was halfway through knitting the first mitten and had completely forgotten about my plan. And then I realized as I was finishing up the first mitten (on the way home) that I was knitting something for a GIANT. The gauge was way off even though I followed the pattern and used the same yarn! (This is a rather common occurrence for me, which is why I try to check the gauge!) Instead of ripping out all that work and starting over, I decided to just knit another giant mitten and felt them both. What the heck? I wasn't going to be able to wear them the way they were.

As it turned out, it worked! And although they were too small for me once they were felted, they are a perfect fit for my favorite 5-year-old! So she can enjoy the total cuteness of the Bambi mittens. They match her totally cuteness in general! Also, don't let anyone tell you you can't use your front loader for felting. Mine worked perfectly. So until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

From Belle's Library | Disney War by James B. Stewart

Reading Disney War is like wading through a swamp. At the beginning, it seems like a formidable task, but you have the gumption, you believe in the team, you know you can do it. By the end I'm screaming at the book, "fire the son of a bitch already!!" It was a good read, a long read, a very informative and well documented read. I hesitate to say I liked the book. That's like saying you liked Schindler's List. It was a great movie, but to like it makes you a sadist. Same thing here, on a much lesser scale. (Although if I had worked for Michael Eisner, I might think the scale was accurate.)

This book, Disney War, is all about the rise and fall of Michael Eisner within the Disney company. I wasn't paying much attention to all of this political and economic drama. I was busy getting through my own high school and college drama. It just wasn't part of my world. But reading this book was extremely eye-opening. We had family who were shareholders at the time of the Save Disney campaign and I was paying a little bit of attention to their side of the story. But still. I had no idea the depths to which this saga sank. There's no possible way to sum it all up here. Suffice it to say, I can't imagine a person with such a lack of human dignity as Michael Eisner is portrayed. Nevertheless, there is little doubt this portrayal is anything less than accurate. Eisner had a habit of putting his thoughts on paper and in email that were later subpoenaed in two court proceedings. It seems the rumors of his narcissistic personality are true. And it's hard to believe this man had 20 years at the helm of Disney. As they say, the truth is stranger than fiction.

This was very interesting history and after having read two Pixar books it was interesting to read one from the other side of the table. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a Disney buff and who is interested in corporate intrigue. It's extremely well written and kept me waiting for the inevitable investor coup.

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DIY Hand Knit Cruella DeVille Inspired Cowl

 One of my favorite villains from the Disney library is Cruella DeVille. She has her own theme song, she's wickedly audacious and her penchant for fashion should make us all jealous. When I saw this cowl pattern (which also has matching gloves, hat and shawl!) I was immediately reminded of her. And I had to have it; all of it! I'm not usually drawn to these sorts of things, but I must have been channeling my inner Cruella. It makes me smile just to think of wearing it. And obviously, while I'm wearing it too!

This set of patterns is called Frost. (I actually was thinking of Frozen when I saw the name.) The booklet itself is $15 for all four patterns. The corset patterning of the knitting in this cowl gives it a little more interest and helps it stand up to the ostentatious "fur." This cowl is also shaped in such a way as to keep the right side facing out at all times instead of turning in on itself like most cowls do. I love this attention to detail. It's not the sort of mindless knitting I thought it was going to be, but it was worth doing it right. And the pattern made it very easy to follow.

I took some liberties with the materials, mostly because the yarn in the pattern book has now been discontinued, so I had to find a replacement. I decided not to splurge so much on this yarn and went with the Hobby Lobby brand Lace in ivory. I also went wanted something synthetic for the fur, (not so very Cruella of me I realize), but that would drape nicely and not look like fun fur. I went with Lion Brand's Romance in ivory. I am very pleased with how this looks! And bonus for me, all the yarn was 50% off, so the materials to create this cowl were under $10. This looks far more expensive than that! It's definitely going to be my "dressy" accessory for a night out at Dance Kaleidoscope! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Packing for Disney 101 | Packing Schedule for Peace of Mind

I've said it before and I'll say it again, packing for Walt Disney World can be a marathon! This is our packing area just a few days before our last trip!

 It's stressful to try and remember everything you might possibly need. I have developed a system over time for how I try and get everything done, so we can have the best trip possible. Today, I'm sharing my packing schedule with you too! This is just how we do it, and it only relates to packing. There are lots of variables, but it should help get you thinking about the things you need (and want) to have. I've also tried to spread it out over several weeks for the least stressful packing experience. If you fly, you might need to alter this a bit, but for the most part, it works for us in either situation. For your convenience I have compiled this Complete WDW Packing schedule as a downloadable PDF checklist.

I hope it's helpful for you and your families; until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Complete WDW Packing Schedule
©Merryweather’s Cottage

One Month Before
  • Decide if you are taking your own stroller; if not, place a rental order (same thing goes for wheelchairs and/or motorized scooters)
  • Place grocery delivery order if using this service in Florida
  • Get (purchase, rent, borrow) a car carrier if you need one and don’t already have one

Two Weeks Before
  • Get Tinkerbell Treasures/Road Trip goodies
  • Decide if you are going to ship anything to yourself at the hotel; order anything you may need from Amazon to deliver to your hotel (diapers, etc.)
  • Pull out luggage you will use and tag it with names (We have one bag per person, one bag with our pool gear, and one overnight bag for the family that we take into the hotel. Our road trip entails one overnight stop in the Atlanta area. This way we don’t have to unpack the entire van for just one night.)
  • Figure out which knitting project you are taking and collect all supplies needed to complete it
  • Download new audiobooks, apps, videos, etc. to devices
  • Make sure all meds are filled; call in refills if necessary
  • Make packing lists for all members of the family (I use the Travel List app.)

One Week Before
  • Vacuum your vehicle out thoroughly
  • Round up all Disney items that you like to have with you and pack them in bags
  • Package up road trip/airplane goodies and Tinkerbell Treasures
  • Pull out clothes to pack (especially if you are traveling out of season or the kids have magically grown a size!)
  • Start doing laundry!
  • Round up cameras and lenses and pack them
  • Clean up phone (delete texts, pictures and video that are taking up valuable storage space on your phone; use cloud storage to save special items.)

Four Days Before
  • Put a hold on all deliveries (CSA, milk, mail, Amazon, etc.)
  • If not using grocery delivery service, pick up any groceries for your trip, while on the road and at the resort
  • Stock freezer at home with a couple frozen meals for your return home
  • Pack dry goods in bags or boxes for the car
  • Confirm grocery delivery (if using)
  • Put car carrier on your vehicle
  • Locate your reservation info, tickets, magic bands, etc. and pack them in your carry on (or easily retrievable spot)

Two Days Before
  • Pack all clothes for all people (if using Travel List, print lists for those old enough to pack themselves)
  • Consider putting outfits in Ziploc bags by day to ensure your photos coordinate (at least early in the day!)
  • Pack up pet’s stuff for the kennel, or make list for pet sitter
  • Make sure insurance cards will be with you as well as any other travel documents you may need
  • Stock and pack your medical kit

One Day Before

  • Charge all electronic devices (including external batteries, tablets, phones, e-readers, camera batteries, etc.)
  • Round up all charging cords and plugs and put them all in one place (I use a small drawstring bag)
  • Pack toiletries (get ready from them the morning you leave to ensure you didn’t forget anything crucial.)
  • Pack diaper bag(s)

Morning of Departure

  • Collect all electronics
  • Pack cooler if you are taking one
  • Place all bags by the front door

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Scrapping On The Fly in Walt Disney World

I have made no secret of my love for Project Mouse. I have used it to scrapbook our family's last several Disney trips, as well as a few other layouts, and it's sure to be used to scrap the next several trips as well. But recently, I have also found the Project Life app. I love the flexibility it offers, how easily I can create layouts and record memories. 

I really wanted to be able to incorporate using the Project Life app into my scrapbooking as well. The Project Mouse kits are not offered as part of the Project Life app and I was lamenting this to my friend, Flora, on our recent trip to Disney. She suggested I save the cards from Project Mouse as pictures and then import them into the app when I want them. And you know what? It works! This is revolutionary for my scrapping habits, y'all! I could actually be current in my scrapbooking within the next year. That has never happened to me before! I welcome the possibility.

I am a devoted Mac user, so all my equipment is from Apple. If you are an android user, perhaps this could work for you as well, I have no experience with that. All I know for sure is that doing it this way, with iPhoto, the use of iCloud, and my iPhone, this process worked for me! 

Here's exactly how I made it happen:

  1. I selected all the cards I thought I might want while on our last Disney trip and imported them into iPhoto.
  2. I moved all those cards into an iCloud album called Disney Cards.
  3. When I was ready to journal on one of them, I opened it up in Rhonna Designs (I used this app because I love the fonts available, but any app that allows you to add text to photos would do the trick.)
  4. I added the text I wanted to the photo and saved it to my camera roll (or photos).
  5. I opened up the Project Life app.
  6. I added the card I just edited as a photo in the layout. Voila! The layout is done and my favorite Project Mouse cards were used!
All these cards were scrapped in the moment (or shortly there after) in Walt Disney World or on the road home. I cannot tell you how much I love being able to capture my thoughts about our trip, and any of the little details, before they are gone. 

I don't like scrapping out of order, so I am usually having to remember long after the fact what we were doing and who was happy (or not) about it. But by creating these cards the day the moment happens I can get those thoughts down before they are gone. And when I save the image, it's in order in my photo stream so I will see it when I go to scrap the layout! No more forgetting the little things! I could not be happier! Scrapbooking just got a whole lot easier.

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Disney Road Trip 101 | Organizing your Disney Parks & Road Trip Paraphernalia

To say that we have a lot of Disney merch is to put it mildly! And we have lots of things we like to take back to Disney on every trip. We're nostalgic that way, and enjoy making the most of our Disney toys. (You could not have convinced me in 2005 that the spinning Stitch light toy Doc just had to have during the Main Street Electrical Parade would still be played with in 2014!)

However, it's getting harder and harder for me to remember everything we have! So I decided to divide our stuff into two boxes, one labeled Road Trip and the other labeled Disney Parks. This way, depending on where we are going, I can quickly grab what I need without the mental effort of trying to remember what we've taken in the past and what we might want now.

So, what's in the boxes? Here's what I have in there:

Road Trip Box:

  • Car games (auto bingo, magnet boards, hangman)
  • Crayons and coloring books
  • Color Wonder markers and books
  • Any goody bags that didn't get used the last time
  • A note to myself about what the kids liked or didn't use last time

Disney Parks Box:

  • Disney hats (mouse ears, Merryweather's hat, etc.)
  • Our park bags
  • Disney books (hidden mickeys, trivia, etc.)
  • My Pal Mickey (yes, we still have ours!)
  • Pressed Penny books and coin purses
  • Pins and lanyards
  • Parade Toys from years past
  • Extra luggage tags from the Walt Disney Travel Co.
  • Disney ponchos

Sorting this as soon as we get home, and storing it in an out of the way place makes it so much easier for me to pack it up the next time we go! And around here, packing for Disney is an art form! I'll have a future post on my packing process, but this should help tremendously. I'm always curious about what others take with them to the parks. Feel free to share in the comments! 

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DIY Crocheted Adult Sized Mickey Beanie

Show your Disney Side by sporting this cool Mickey Mouse crocheted beanie! It's starting to get cold out there and this could be the perfect accessory for those missing the magic of Disney.

This pattern from Repeat Crafter Me was easy to follow and FREE. It makes a hat for a baby. I, of course, needed something a little larger for me, so I used the measurements from a basic crocheted beanie pattern that used the same needles and yarn sizes, the ears from this pattern and voila! A new adult sized hat was born! I can't remember if I increased the size of the ears from the original, but you could always add a few more rounds if they seem too small for your taste. And by the way, Mr. Photos from the Parks is a gem for posing for these pictures for me!

If you are interested in making your own Mickey beanie, just search "Mickey Hat" on and you will find a wealth of patterns! Some are free and some you need to pay for, but I find that the patterns I pay for are generally easier to follow with extremely clear directions. Just something to consider.

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sitting With Grandmother Willow | Amy of Main Street Designs

As part of our on-going series, Sitting with Grandmother Willow, I am happy to introduce Amy of Main Street Designs, a wonderful Etsy shop. This series of blog posts highlights artists and bloggers of all stripes with one thing in common: a passion for Disney!

Amy features Disney themed, special even stationary! Whether you're on land or at sea, Amy has a design that fits your event! I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. A big thanks to Amy for taking the time to interview with us! And be sure to visit her shop for a great selection of Disney themed stationary!

Disney By The Numbers (with apologies to Harper's)

# of trips you have made: Between WDW, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris I think it is around 12. I wish it were more but flights from the UK are so expensive :(

Date of first trip: My Grandma first took me to Disneyland Park in October 1992 when I was 6 years old!

Date of next trip: October/November 2014 for our Disney Fairy Tale Wedding! We are so excited!

# of Resorts stayed in: Sadly we have never stayed onsite but for our wedding trip we are staying at Bay Lake Tower :)

Usual # in your travel party: 3

Pairs of mouse ears in your cottage: 3

WDW or Disneyland (or other)? Oooh! That is tough! We always go to WDW but my heart is with Disneyland. So many happy memories from both.

How do you usually travel to Disney? We take a 9 hour flight from the UK. It's long but definitely worth it!

Do you have any tips for trips? We try to get to the parks for opening, we find the crowds and temperatures lower so we can get more attractions done!

Do you have a favorite place to eat while in Disney? Yes! Beaches and cream! We go multiple times during our trips :)

What is your absolute DON'T MISS attraction? Pirates of the Caribbean has always been my favorite.

Stage shows, yes or no? Generally no but now we have our daughter (she will be 10 months old on our next trip) I'm sure we will be stopping to watch.

Parades, yes or no? Again, generally no, we like to take advantage of low wait times on the attractions during parade time. But, we are really looking forward to seeing Festival of Fantasy, it looks amazing!

Best Fast Pass to get: Soarin' and Toy Story Mania

Favorite park: Magic Kingdom

One piece of advice you'd give a novice about WDW/DL: Research, research, research! But be sure to have plenty of rest periods, WDW can be really overwhelming at first.

How do you create extra magic for your family? I love to show them new things each trip. My favorite was the first year we saw the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, I told them we were going to see 'some Christmas lights'. They were not expecting what they saw and their faces were priceless! It's still one of our favorite memories :)

How can we connect with you?
(Please feel free to include any social media outlets and your user id's so we can find you online!)
You can find me on Etsy:
Instagram: Mainstreetdesigns

Thursday, November 6, 2014

DIY Stitched Disney Park Map

Here's a fun way to add a little dimension to your scrapbooking, or create a unique keepsake from a special day at the Disney Parks: stitch a map with your route that day. It's simple and easy.

One thing I love about Disney are the maps. They are such an excellent tool, as well as being a great souvenir of the day! I am always trying to find new ways to use them, and new ways to enhance my scrapbook pages. This one turned out even better than I imagined!

I simply took a contrasting embroidery floss color and used a running stitch to chart our course from October 22, 2014. I stitched through the numbers on the map of the places we went. I plan on incorporating it into a scrapbook page with pictures of the day. I think this could easily be adapted for any of the Disney parks, and would be especially fun in Epcot's World Showcase where you could document kids at the Kidcot stops, completing Agent P's missions, or the adults frequenting the Food and Wine Festival booths! The possibilities are endless!

This would also look great framed, commemorating a special day in the parks. You could use a shadow box to put other ephemera around it, or just pop it in an 8x10 frame (this would cut off the legend though).

Let your imagination run with this idea! And if you do, I'd love to see how you use it! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

DIY Dole Whip Knit Hat

I saw this hat pattern on Pinterest and I knew right away that I was going to do a Dole Whip version for Doc! We are crazy for Dole Whips here in the cottage and we stop to get one whenever we have the chance. (Incidentally, we were delighted to find them at the Hilton Head resort too!)

This was a fairy simple pattern to knit up. The most difficult part of this pattern was figuring out how to put it together once I had knit it. It starts as a parallelogram. Easy enough to knit. But then you have to sew the cast on edge and the bind-off edge together to make a cylinder. That was not specified in the directions, and I had a devil of a time figuring that out! After that, I just gathered the top of the hat with something like a basting stitch and sewed up the gap. I had intended to put a pompom on top, but it was so cool just like this that I decided not to! And the gathered top was not nearly as bad as I thought it would look, so I decided I didn't need to hide it with the pompom.

You can find a link to the pattern and all the details for my hat on my Ravelry page. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Trip Report | Animal Kingdom Lodge, October 2014

Quick Stats:

Travel Party: 2 adults, 2 teens, 2 toddlers
Resort: Animal Kingdom Lodge
Room: 7435 One bedroom villa, Kidani Village
Dates: October 18-22, 2014
Tickets: Base Tickets
Meal Plan: Quick Service
Memory Maker: Yes
Parks Visited: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom
Overall Trip Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Base Tickets

We usually go with park hoppers but this trip, that seemed like overkill. We decided to try it this way and I am glad we did. Because we have two littles, who really need rest every afternoon, or at the very least some down time, we decided to skip the park hoppers. It was a good call. We went back to the room most afternoons and the littles did rest most days. (It took them a long time to relax after so much stimulation! But they did eventually sleep.) I missed the park hopping ability about twice in five days. I can live with that. As they get older, I can see us going back, but for this trip, with this touring plan, it was the right call.


We are touring with teens and toddlers this trip. I know the conventional wisdom is to get fastpasses for the middle of the day when things are crowded, and that would probably serve us well if we were actually in the parks at those times, but with the littles, we were doing things differently.

The Fastpass+ system makes it great for our kids not to have to wait too long for a ride or a show. Critical when you have two really wiggly toddlers. We used our fast passes for the littles as early in the day as we could. We were in the parks by 9:30 at the latest and they were melting down again by 1 p.m. This is our golden window. We crammed in as much as we could while they were in high spirits.

We either let the baby sleep in the stroller for nap time and pushed through with the 4 year old, or came back to the resort for naps for the littles (and mama), and pool time for the bigs. We mostly played it by ear, which was another reason to use all the fastpasses in the morning, or alternatively, save them for later in the evening when we were all rested and back at the parks.

A Note about Crowds

It seems like the parks are getting more and more crowded during fall breaks. I can only assume there are more schools going to a balanced calendar and more availability for fall trips. That being said, they are not unmanageable. Parkhopping to a park without magic hours or MNSSHP is a good way to avoid the crush of humanity. We felt it most in the Magic Kingdom, naturally.

Memory Maker and Photopass

I am SO glad we purchased this. We got tons of pictures and some really fun ride shots of the teens that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. I felt a little bit like I was missing their vacation, but with Memory Maker, I really got the chance to enjoy their experience, even without being right with them.

It was also FABULOUS to be able to just interact with the characters along with the littles and let the photographer do the photographing! I'm usually not in the shots or getting to interact and this time I was. It really enhanced my vacation experience. And sometimes as moms, we don't get a lot of that. This time I did. I'll definitely pre purchase the memory maker for our next trip.

A Word About Stroller Identification

If you are taking your own stroller to WDW, let me just say, stroller parking areas are a big sea of strollers that miraculously morph to all look just like yours! I highly recommend taking something to make your's readily identifiable. We have a couple things, the stroller allergy tag and the water bottle holder that made it infinitely easier to locate our stroller after it had been moved by the very attentive stroller attendants. Trust me, your stroller will get moved. You need a way to see yours readily. There are always balloons if you forgot to bring something with you.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

This was our first time at the AKL and it was awesome. Even without the savannah view, we got to experience the animals. We made a short day of it on our Hollywood Studios day and had dinner at the Lodge. That meant we got to spend some time out and about around Jambo house. It was great.

The Lion King theming was awesome! I loved all the details, the hidden mickeys, the kids discovering another samba or Zazu! It really felt magical and Jambo House is out of this world gorgeous.

I was glad we had our own vehicle; it made not having to wait for the busses (with cranky toddlers) a beautiful thing. The AKL is remote, with the exception of the Animal Kingdom, and travel time is what it is.

Our room was in Kidani Village, a one bedroom villa. We learned that there is a difference with the one-bedroom villas: in Jambo house, there is a full bath and a half bath, in Kidani, there are two full baths. With the teenagers, this was key. And our one-bedroom villa was very roomy with perhaps the best kitchen layouts I've seen (outside of OKW). The teens were also impressed with the number of outlets available to charge all their devices. We took the first available room, and not one with the view of the savannah. The room faced west and the afternoon sun made it impossible to blog from (be on) the balcony. It was just too hot and intense for this pale-skinned girl! I will definitely ask for a savannah room next time. I've heard so much about how amazing the view is, and now I know that's the way I'd want to go next time.

It's also a LARGE resort (aren't they all?) and we were not near the pool or the recreation area. Therefore, we didn't use it with the littles. Which is too bad, as the playground looked to be really fun! Parking, however, was very convenient. We were able to find a close spot every time and our car carrier was never a problem, even with the underground parking.

Although we've done grocery delivery in the past, we skipped it this time and just bought our perishables at the resort. I know it seems more expensive, but the beer was the same price we pay for it at home and our list was small enough that we didn't have much to buy. We have also found that the price for over the counter meds is quite reasonable at the resorts. We DID bring a large supply of non-perishable nut-free items from home!

Quick Service Meal Plan

I am often asked if the meal plan is a good choice. I think there are many things to take into consideration when discussing the meal plan, but for me, convenience is a big part of the equation. Because our family often splits up in the parks, having the quick service meal plan makes it easy for the teens to grab a bite when their fastpass times permit, and the rest of us to do the same. You could always do this with the ability to charge it to the room, but for some reason, having the meal plan makes it easier for our kids to use it. They often won't if they have to charge it to the room.

Also, we don't worry if there are meal credits left on our account unused. I know that bothers some people. For us, it's worth it to know that the kids will eat and we can simply stop, drop, & eat wherever we are (especially with toddlers!). We also make a point of stopping at the candy cauldron on the way out of town to use up our snack credits. We never have any of those that go unused!

We found delicious meals at the ABC Commissary in Hollywood Studios, and Tamu Tamu in Animal Kingdom. I think it goes without saying that there is amazing food to be had all over Epcot, although the cast members at Tangerine Cafe did NOT understand about our nut allergy, nor the nut allergy in the party next to us in line. We wound up at Pecos Bills at the Magic Kingdom, and this meal was just disappointing. We should have stuck with Mr. Photos from the Parks' suggestion to eat at Sleepy Hollow. But there is good and delicious food to be had on the quick service plan, no doubt.

Because we were in the villas, we knew we'd be eating breakfast in the room most mornings. This also made the quick service plan a good choice for this trip. Unfortunately, being on the quick service plan at the AKL was not the best. There is only one place to eat there with the quick service plan; the first two nights we found the food delicious. But we were burned out on it after two meals. We ended up heating frozen pizzas from the sundry shop on our last night. We were just too tired and spent to go anywhere else.