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07
Oct 14

Why You Should Book a runDisney Marathon Weekends Race Package at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World

runDisney Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World - Amanda TinneyI recently learned that two of my favorite pastimes have joined forces. runDisney + Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. I mean seriously…how did I not know about this?

Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World runDisney

This past Saturday I checked in to the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort at Walt Disney World as a place to lay my head after the runDisney Tower of Terror 10 Miler, but checking in to the resort would yield more than just a place to bunk down for the night. My daughter and I were in for a runDisney race experience that started at the hotel and ran seamlessly into the race itself.

runDisney Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World - Runners Amenity

Upon check-in, my daughter Alexus and I headed up to our room to stow our luggage. Check it out! A special nutrition runner amenity! Two LUNA bars, two granola bars and two bags of trail mix. These would come in handy as we waited in our corral before the race start.

runDisney Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World - Tower of Terror 10 Miler

We sat for a few minutes and enjoyed a sunset from our 12th floor “Disney View” room. Yep, that’s the Tower of Terror attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…the finish line of our 10-miler we were about to embark on.

runDisney Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World - Send Off Party

Next, we made our way down to the “Big Send Off” party which was set up especially for runners. It’s also where I got that first photo above withe the clever “Don’t be afraid! It’s only 10 miles!” sign.

The set-up for runners was a legitimate pre-game affair. Music pumping, employees cheering and everything a runner would want to nosh on before the big race event. Coffee, tea, bottled water, protein bars, granola bars and bananas. The team that sets this event up is comprised of folks that have actually participated in runDisney race weekends. They are runners themselves and so they know what runners want and need before a big race.

This is also the area where runners sign up for complementary event transportation. Hilton Bonnet Creek charters special buses to take runners and their families to the race venue. For the Tower of Terror 10 Miler, runners signed up for a scheduled bus time, slipped on a special rubber bracelet that was their ticket to board and then boarded the bus at their scheduled time for the ride over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Once at the ESPN, runners would then take the Disney transfer to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the race start line. Buses ran every 30 minutes from 6:30 – 8:00 pm to take runners to the start and then Midnight – 4:30 am for return back to the resort.

Here’s another killer photo opp right outside the resort where bus transportation was located.

runDisney Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek at Walt Disney World - Photo Opportunity

There were some special carb-loading opportunities pre-race, but I was only at the resort for one night. I will be staying several nights in 2015 when I participate in the runDisney Dopey Challenge and will be bringing you a review of those options in a few months.

The Marathon Weekends program is currently available for the following races:

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend, November 7-8, 2014—Complimentary transportation is provided to and from the race on November 8.
Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend, January 7-11, 2015—Complimentary transportation is provided to and from the races on January 10 & 11.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, February 19-22, 2014—Complimentary transportation is provided to and from the race on February 22.

Marathon Weekends pricing and activities are open to all guests participating in select runDisney races and staying at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek or Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Rates start at $129 a night. To make a reservation, please visit www.hiltonbonnetcreek.com/marathon or http://www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com/special-offers/marathon-weekends.

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Inside the gates of the Walt Disney World Resort
14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Ln.
Orlando, FL 32821
407-597-3600
HiltonBonnetCreek.com

I was a guest of the Hilton Bonnet Creek and was provided with complementary accommodations for one night. I was not required to write this post and no monetary compensation has been received. I have thousands of Hilton Honors Points that I have earned by paying my own money to stay at this particular resort because I love it so much.


24
Sep 14

What Adults Do at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party When the Kids Ditch Them

2014 Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom

Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom is a family tradition. I don’t think we’ve missed a party in over 10 years. Of course ten years ago I had a kindergartner and now I’ve got a 15-year-old. Gone are the days of me holding her hand as she trick-or-treated through the candy stations. Now she brings a friend along. We enter the park, get banded and then we see the kids again at midnight for a ride home.

2014 Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party

What are a couple of parents to do when they get ditched by the kids?

First things first. Head straight back to “Be Our Guest Restaurant” for a two-hour dinner. Don’t have a reservation? See this post – How to Get a Dinner Reservation at Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant Without Booking 6 Months in Advance. These are the faces of adults who just had a spectacular dinner inside the Magic Kingdom with beer and wine without the kids.

Be Our Guest Restaurant During Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party

At this point in the evening you will be the last guests out of the restaurant and can take fun photos like this one without other guests getting in your shot.

Be Our Guest Restaurant During Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party

By this time it will be around 9pm. The first “Boo to You Parade” will have already run it’s course and some guests with very small children may have left the park already. You’ll be feeling pretty good at this point and will be tempted to immediately head over to Space Mountain. This is not a good idea after beer, wine, braised pork and cream puffs. Talk yourself back down. Take a nighttime ride on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train instead. It’s right there.

Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014 Cinderella Castle

This will give you just enough time to briefly meet your teenagers at The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland and buy them a Frozen Coke. You will tell them they need to watch the Hallowishes firework spectacular with you and the guilt from your Frozen Coke purchase will compel them to comply. They will be embarrassed half way through Hallowishes when you begin dancing and singing. “BEWARE! BEWARE! Pink elephants on parade. Here they come. Hippity Hoppity. They’re here. They’re there. Pink elephants everywhere. Pink elephants on parade!”

This will be the last you see of them til midnight.

The rest of your hours will be spent listening to Lady Carlotta heckle guests and sing Elvis songs in front of the Haunted Mansion…

Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party Lady Carlotta at the Haunted Mansion

…and blazing through all of your favorite attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and Peter Pan. If you don’t want to see the second installment of the “Boo to You Parade”, no pressure.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Hit up every “Trick-or-Treat” Location for all the candy your arms can carry.

Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014 Candy Haul

By midnight the kids will be searching for a ride home, or to McDonald’s.

Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014

This is how the Tinneys tour Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party. Your results may vary.

Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party 2014

Special thanks to Disney for hosting me and my family. I was not required to write this post. All opinions are my own.

For more info on Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party see this post: Dates and Prices for the 2014 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom


22
Sep 14

Culinary Photo Tour of the “Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner” at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World

After months and months of anticipation, Walt Disney World’s 2014 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has begun. If you haven’t already booked your travel arrangements, consider the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort for your epicurean “home base” for this year’s festivities. Not only is this resort a cut above any Disney Deluxe Resort (here’s why), it is also offering it’s own complementary Food & Wine Experiences as the resort ushers in it’s fourth year of “Food & Wine Weekends” from September 19th – November 9th, 2014.

For eight weekends, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort and it’s attached sister property the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort will feature educated diners special programming and events aimed to complement and “fill the gaps” around the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

This weekend I attended a preview of “Global Venture – a Wine Pairing Dinner” at Bull & Bear inside the Waldorf.

Amuse Bouche

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World amuse bouche

Our dinner started of with not one amuse bouche, but two, along with a celebratory glass of champagne. Above is a beef and romesco sauce and below is a cheddar cracker with fennel confit and mushroom sausage.

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World amuse bouche

Bread Service

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Bread Service

Next diners were presented with a beautiful bouquet of bread to choose from.

Starters

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Wisconsin Pride

Wisconsin Pride – Cheddar (two and four year) Cheese Souffle, Roasted Fava Beans, Pumpernickel Croutons. Warm and gooey and definitely rich. The creamy cheese is broken up nicely with the roasted favas which reminded me of crisp pepitas as well as the croutons and cracker.

This first dish was paired with a 2011 Pouilly-Fuisse unoaked Chardonnay which was a beautiful complement to the cheese dish.

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Pasta Explosion

Pasta Explosion – Pata Negra de Bellota, Parmigiano Reggiano. One of Bull & Bear’s signature starters. Brought to the table with a special spoon for consuming. Diners are meant to scoop each pasta pillow up with the spoon and let the bite melt in their mouth bringing a literal pasta explosion experience.

The Pasta Explosion was paired with a contrasting 2013 Triennes Rose.

Pasture

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Fried Chicken

Bull & Bear Fried Chicken – Yukon Golden Mash Potato, Gravy. The preparation of this dish is painstaking. First the chicken is brined. It is then rolled and sous-vied. Finally it is coated and quickly deep friend so as just to crispen the exterior breading. The dish is carved table side.

The chicken came paired with a 2010 L’Ecole No 41 Syrah. This was a beautiful wine.

Beefsteaks

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Tomahawk Steak

Tomahawk – 38 oz Allen Brothers Prime 32-Day Dry Aged. This cut is called a tomahawk for good reason. It looks exactly like the axe is named for. Offered and priced normally for two. This cut is basically a cowboy steak or ribeye. It is carved and served table side with a bulb of slow roasted garlic and a unique tallow candle made from the steak drippings which is meant to be poured over the meat for extra flavor.

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Tomahawk Steak Tallow Candle

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Tomahawk Steak

For this experience we were served sides of Wilted Spinach, Au Gratin Potato and my favorite B&B Frittes, which are Hand Cut Idaho Fries Cooked in Tallow and Sprinkled with Steak Seasoning.

The Tomahawk Steak was paired with a 2009 Hugh Hamilton Jeckyll & Hyde McLaren Vale Shiraz Voignier blend. I loved the label on this wine, which was a black sheep and the caption “Every family has one”.

Wines

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Wines

Dessert

On the menu, our final course was listed as “Chef’s Choice Dessert“. Little did we know that this would translate to four of the top desserts served at Bull & Bear.

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Creme Brulee Flambee

Creme Brulee Flambee – Presented to the table in it’s most literal form…flaming. This delightfully burnt cream has a hidden agenda…a small layer of chocolate on the bottom.

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Chocolate Cigar

Chocolate Cigar – Crisp chocolate tuile cookie filled with decadent chocolate cream. Served with squid ink dyed meringue to resemble cigar ash.

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World The Lemon

The Lemon – Lemon Peel which has been cooked so that it is edible. Filled with lemon and chantilly cream and garnished with a shortbread cookie. Divine!

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Napoleon

Napoleon – Puff Pastry filled with pistachio pastry creme topped with Caribbean 12 year old Rum sauce, crumbled meringue, macaroons and black walnuts.

Dessert was served with a small aperitif glass of 2002 Tschida Trockenbeerenauslese Sämling, which is a sweet Riesling.

Global Venture Wine Pairing Dinners are offered on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm at the Bull and Bear steakhouse inside the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort. Reservations are required. There is one seating per night of up to 16 guests and the dinner is served at one large table so guests are able to talk and mingle with one another. The cost is $110 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

Bull & Bear Steakhouse
Inside the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort
14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane
Orlando, FL 32821
407-597-5500
BullandBearOrlando.com

Special Thanks to Bull & Bear for hosting me at this dinner. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are my own.


17
Sep 14

Special Halloween Dessert Being Served at Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom

On Friday my husband and I had the pleasure of dining at Be Our Guest Restaurant during Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party. We didn’t even have a dinner reservation. Details on how we got in are in this post: How to Get a Dinner Reservation at Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant Without Booking 6 Months in Advance

Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Blood Orange Filling for Halloween at Disney's Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom

Today I wanted to bring you photos of a special dessert I had after dinner. I was told by my server that this was only being served on Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party nights, but I assume that the closer we get to Halloween, the more this dessert may become available.

This was a delicious Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Cream Puff. It was topped with a bit of plain cream, Halloween sprinkles and a dark chocolate spider web.

Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Blood Orange Filling for Halloween at Disney's Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom

As you can see, the filling really was blood orange in color and tasted spot on like that unmistakable Florida citrus fruit. This dessert, like most of the cream puffs served at Be Our Guest Restaurant, was very light and a perfect ending to our meal. I paired it with a delicious Pinot Noir.

Future dates for Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party can be found here: Dates and Prices for the 2014 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom


15
Sep 14

How to Get a Dinner Reservation at Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant Without Booking 6 Months in Advance

Be Our Guest Restaurant Gargoyle

How fitting that these sad little gargoyles line the walkway to the entrance of Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant. Undoubtedly the hottest reservation to score for guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. Reservations (by Disney resort guests) book up six months in advance leaving locals, day guests and guests staying at non-Disney owned and operated hotels scratching their heads on how to score a dinner reservation.

Take me for example. I’ve only had dinner here once since they opened and that was because I swindled my way into a friend’s reservation (Thanks Carol!).

But there is a way, a not-so-well-known way to get a walk-up dinner reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant…however, it’ll cost ya.

The secret lies in the “Hard Ticket Event”.

On Friday night my family and I attended Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party. The party runs from 7pm – Midnight. Normally on nights like this, Be Our Guest Restaurant takes dinner reservations up until 6:30 pm for regular park guests. These are the reservations that book up six months in advance. If you look on the MNSSHP Map you will see that the only restaurants advertised as “open” in Fantasyland for the party are Pinocchio Village Haus, The Friar’s Nook, Storybook Treats and Gaston’s Tavern. So how did my husband and I score dinner there that night?

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom around 6pm and made a bee line for Be Our Guest Restaurant. When we arrived, there was a manager with a clip board taking walk up reservations. The company isn’t stupid. They know visitors are clamoring for a chance to throw more money at them, so why not allow them to during these “after hours” events? Our dinner bill ended up totaling around $130 that night. Why turn this kind of money away?

When I asked the manager what the “Special Event” protocol was, I was told that on Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party nights, she would book walk-up reservations from 6:30 pm to around 7:10 pm. It’s not always a guarantee that this will be the case and depends on the demand that she sees. She said that the same protocol was in place for the Night of Joy events the previous weekend. I assume this will also be the case for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. We arrived at the hostess station around 6:30 pm and were given a “Party of Two” reservation for 6:45 pm. Being that this was one of the earlier parties, we only saw a handful of other guests arrive after us and ask for a reservation. By around 6:40 pm that booking cast member was gone.

Once inside, our server told us that if there is still demand beyond 7:10 pm, management will open up another one hour block of reservations for guests, again this is on a case-by-case, night-by-night basis and only on separate hard ticket event nights. I don’t think that I would have wanted to take a later reservation time slot however. Dining at 6:45 pm put us out of the restaurant at around 8:45 pm, just in time to see Hallowishes. A later reservation and we would have missed this limited time fireworks extravaganza and that would have been a deal breaker for me.

So there you have it folks. If you’ve been dying to get into Be Our Guest Restaurant for dinner and have been unable to secure a reservation, here’s your chance. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s worth a shot and if you don’t make it in, at least you can party the night away after hours in the Magic Kingdom.

Stay tuned for my dinner review, MNSSHP review and a look at an event exclusive dessert offered only during party nights at Be Our Guest Restaurant.