The Herald Bulletin

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November 27, 2012

Jim Bailey: Disney means it when they say 'Be Our Guest'

It’s no accident that people from all over the Eastern United States make it to Walt Disney World periodically. We’ve likely been for the last time, but that has more to do with our age than with disenchantment with all things Disney.

That it’s expensive is no secret. But the hosts with the most do their best to provide an experience for old and young alike that makes it seem worth every penny — and some of the famous WDW promos help in that respect.

Take the culinary aspect as a starter. By timing our visit in the offseason, we took advantage of Disney’s periodic free dining plan offering. That gave us two meals a day plus snacks plus endless free beverages (not the adult kind) with our free Disney mug at our resort.

Stay at a luxury or moderate resort in the offseason and you get one sit-down (table service) meal and one quick service meal plus one snack per day. At the value resorts it translates to two quick-serves and a snack. We opted for a value resort, Disney’s All-Star Music, not only to save money but because we spent most of our time in the theme parks and didn’t require the extras at the more expensive resorts.

That left us on our own for one meal a day, which was fine. We took advantage of two character buffets (lunch at the Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace with Pooh and friends and Donald’s Safari Breakfast at Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House). Advance reservations are a must for these events. And we dined at Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant, Animal Kingdom’s Rainforest Café and Downtown Disney’s Planet Hollywood.

The quick-service options didn’t leave us hungry either. They consist of one entrée (usually with a side), one dessert item and one beverage. And there are plenty of options besides burgers and fries, ranging from pizza to chili dogs to fish and chips, with grapes as an alternative to fries. Typically we used quick-serve for breakfast at All-Star Music’s Intermission Food Court. Usually we got enough food that we had to pitch part of our fries and save up our desserts for late-night snacks.

Epcot’s annual Food and Wine Festival also was under way, for which you can use your snack credits for the former. Bonnie picked up a serving of Greek yogurt, while I got a Greek salad that tasted much better than it looked.

Disney’s Fastpass system is an ingenious way of saving time otherwise standing in line at the most popular attractions. We took advantage a few times when rides were backed up.

WDW refers to its employees as cast members, and as a group they are among the most cordial and helpful people in the world. Lots of people (including myself) wore Grumpy T-shirts at the parks. But I suspect that any Disney employees with a grumpy nature wouldn’t last long on their jobs.

Jim Bailey’s column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by email at jameshenrybailey@earth link.net.

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