Apr 13

Disney Favor for My Friend Chef Robert Irvine

robert irvine chandler make a wish disneyI know Chef Robert Irvine plays a hard nosed dictator on his Food Network Show “Restaurant Impossible” where he whips restaurants and their owners into shape. However…Robert is just a muscle bound teddy bear if you ask me. He’s got a very special place in his heart for veterans and children and is generous of both time and spirit.

I recently found out that Robert played a huge part in sending 6-year-old Chandler to Walt Disney World Resort via the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  You can see that touching moment here:

Chandler wants to make wishes come true for other kids like her. Robert asked her how many wishes she’d like to grant, and her answer was “500”!

Chef Irvine wants to help Chandler pay it forward by raising $25,000 on her behalf for future Wish Kids.  As of this publication date, Robert is at $2,610.  There’s still a long way to go to get all 500 wishes granted.  Please help by contributing any amount you can. Every dollar you donate can help Make-A-Wish kids renew their courage and find a turning point in their lives.

Thank you for your generous support!

Donations can be made HERE!

Apr 13

2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Changes

“change is the only constant”


2014 walt disney world marathon weekend changes20 years of practice and Disney is still tweaking to make every mile magic. A quick conference call with Feron Kelley (Director of Marketing and Communications for Disney Sports) and we have the following list of changes for the upcoming 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.

  1. Runner feedback confirmed that the half and full marathon course had it’s tight spots. You know…the ones where you’re forced to walk instead of run cause there are too many runners all around you.  That stretch right after you leave Magic Kingdom and before you get to the Walt Disney World Speedway comes to mind. Well, in order to alleviate some of that congestion, race capacity is going to be reduced by 2,000 entries.  The majority of that reduction being applied to the half marathon. Feron said that this was a painful decision, but one that had to be made in order to make the weekend the best experience possible.
  2. Reinforcing point #1, more corrals are being added to the starting line.  I asked Feron how they were going to compensate for more start corrals and he said that the half and full marathons will have slightly earlier start times and consequently a later end time.  This will not increase the 16-minute-mile pace requirement, but will give runners more breathing room on the course.
  3. Proof of time will no longer be accepted at Runner Relations at the Expo.  In fact, proof of time must be submitted by November 1st, 2013. If no proof of time is submitted you WILL be placed in the last corral.  Concern was expressed that some 2013 Wine & Dine Half Marathon participants might want to use their November 9th time for corral placement, so let’s hope runDisney takes this into consideration.
  4. Ladies…we will receive ladies fit tech tees!
  5. The new 10K medal will feature Minnie Mouse.
  6. The 5K Family Fun Run medal design has not been decided yet. runDisney works closely with Disney Pictures on the new design each year. Hmmm…what’s coming out this year? “Monsters University” is. Wonder if we will see Mike and Sulley on the finisher’s medallion?
  7. The full marathon medal will be new. Kelley didn’t know if the design will be based on the 20th Anniversary Medal from 2013 or an update to the 19th year medal.
  8. The course for the 2014 half and full marathons will remain the same as 2013.

Registration for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend opens tomorrow! Who is registering and for which race?



Apr 13

Disney Cruise Line Unveils Itineraries and Ports for 2014

Disney Dream at Castaway Cay

The white sand beaches and azure waters of Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, take center stage in the early half of 2014 voyages for Disney Cruise Line.  With all four Disney ships sailing from Florida ports, not only will guests have more options to visit Castaway Cay, but they may combine their cruise with a visit to Walt Disney World Resort and experience the expanded Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.

In the early part of 2014, the Disney Magic will return to Port Canaveral, Florida joining the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, while the Disney Wonder will homeport in Miami. During this time, guests will have more opportunities than ever to enjoy a Disney cruise that visits Disney’s private island in the Bahamas reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests, Castaway Cay.

Caribbean and Bahamas from Port Canaveral

  • Three-night Bahamian: Disney Dream departures Jan.-Aug., 2014; Disney Magic departures Jan.-May, 2014
  • Four-night Bahamian: Disney Dream departures Jan.-Aug., 2014; Disney Magic departures Jan.-May, 2014
  • Seven-night Eastern Caribbean: Disney Fantasy departures Jan.-Aug., 2014
  • Seven-night Western Caribbean: Disney Fantasy departures Jan.-April, 2014
  • Seven-night Western Caribbean, including Jamaica: Disney Fantasy departures May-Aug., 2014

Bahamas and Western Caribbean from Miami (Jan.-May, 2014)

  • Four-night Bahamas: Disney Wonder departures Jan.-May, 2014
  • Five-night Caribbean: Disney Wonder departures Jan.-May, 2014
  • Five-night Caribbean, including Castaway Cay: Disney Wonder departures Jan.-May, 2014

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, guests can visit Kingdom Magic Travel online or call 866-972-6244.

Mar 13

Review of the Yachtsman Steakhouse in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Disney Yachtsman Steakhouse Meal

It’s a rare evening when I try a Walt Disney World restaurant ‘for the first time’. Saturday my friends invited my husband and I along with them for an Anniversary meal at the Yachtsman Steakhouse in Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.

I had been to the Crews Cup Lounge adjacent to the restaurant several times before…once when we had a meet-up with Chef Robert Irvine from the Food Network…and we had always admired the huge slabs of meat which hung in the double sided glass butcher’s case that separates the lounge from the restaurant.

Chef Daniel Sicilia and I in front of the meat display. The Crews Cup Lounge is on the other side of the glass.

Disney Yachtsman Steakhouse Chef Daniel Sicilia Amanda Tinney

Guests can whet their appetite here before entering the dining room.

Disney Yachtsman Steakhouse Meat Cuts

The most impressive thing when you enter the restaurant is the open kitchen.

Disney Yachtsman Steakhouse Open Kitchen

Disney Yachtsman Steakhouse open kitchen

Chef Sicilia allowed me to snap a couple photos off the line. Check out this food art!

Steakhouse Wedge

($13) Iceberg Lettuce, Blue Cheese, Hazelnuts, Tomatoes, and Herbs

Disney Yachtsman Steakhouse Wedge Salad

Heirloom Tomatoes

($15) Heirloom Tomatoes, Burrata, Black Garlic, and Basil

Heirloom Tomatoes disney yachtsman steakhose

The Yachtsman Steakhouse dining room is rustic with large windows overlooking Stormalong Bay. A mix of square and round candlelit tables offer inviting places for diners to enjoy their meal.

disney yachtsman steakhouse dining room

…and speaking of meal, let’s get started on ours!

The Yachtsman Steakhouse has an extensive selection of beer, wine and cocktails to choose from. I am a self proclaimed craft beer snob, but my friends have been slowly introducing me to wines that I have grown to love. I know that reds are usually paired with meat, but I have yet to meet a red that I love, so I opted for the white wine flight.

Flight of Interesting Whites

($19) Dr. Loosen Riesling, Mosel…Conundrum, California…Cakebread, Napa

disney yachtsman steakhouse interesting white wine flight

The Cakebread was alright. Chardonnay isn’t my favorite. The Conundrum is a California white blend that I am already a fan of. It is sold at almost every lounge on Disney property.  The riesling was PERFECT! Not too sweet. In fact, I ordered another glass of it later on in the meal.

Our server then brought out a basket with crack in it. It wasn’t crack, but crack is the only word I can think of to describe it.  A bread basket with two different selections. Sourdough, which I didn’t even sample and pull-apart onion rolls which were soft and sweet and kept me reaching for more.  Two spreads were served on the side…softened butter with salt and roasted garlic.

Bread Service

disney yachtsman steakhouse bread basket onion sourdough

disney yachtsman steakhouse bread garlic

I could NOT pass up the opportunity to sample yet another Disney cheese board. I LOVE CHEESE! So it was a no brainer that I would order this as my starter.

Artisanal Cheeses

($17) Assorted Bread and Seasonal Accoutrements

Before I show you the beautiful board…Here’s the cheese menu with descriptions…

Disney Yachtsman Steakhouse Cheese Board Menu

Disney Yachtsman Steakhouse Cheese Board Menu

That tiny loaf of heaven…truffle bread. I know…decadent. This was the first cheese board that I have had that did not have honey with it.  I think my favorite was the Beecher’s Flagship Reserve cheddar.


Moving along to entrees. My husband and I had both been eyeing the cuts of meat we were going to order earlier in the evening at the butcher’s window.  Upon Chef Sicilia’s recommendation, we ordered the strip and the rib-eye.

16 oz Boneless Rib-Eye

($43) Sweet Onion Jam, Bone Marrow, Brioche, and Red Wine Butter

disney yachtsman steakhouse boneless ribeye steak

This was my husband’s selection. The steak was cooked just as ordered.  I tried a bit of the marrow as I had NEVER sampled it before, but I just couldn’t move past the fact of what it was.

12 oz Prime New York Strip Steak

($45) Gruyère Potato Gratin and Peppercorn-Brandy Sauce

disney yachtsman steakhouse new york strip steak

This was my entrée and I unabashedly consumed my entire portion of steak. While I wasn’t as impressed with the gratin, my dining companion Kriss was happy to finish it for me.

We opted for one side which was especially delicious.

Creamed Spinach

($8) Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gruyère

disney yachtsman steakhouse creamed spinach

At this point in the meal we were all stuffed…however…the desserts on the menu looked too appealing to pass up.  here are the two that the table split.

Habanero-infused Flourless Chocolate Cake

($8) Mango Compote and Lime Sorbet

Habanero-infused Flourless Chocolate Cake disney yachtsman steakhouse dessert

Oh my! Do I love chocolate and citrus! What a pairing. The lime sorbet was tangy and paired perfectly with the bittersweet of the chocolate cake.

Peanut Butter and Pretzel Gianduja Cake

($11) Salted Caramel Gelato and Liquid Ganache

Peanut Butter and Pretzel Gianduja Cake disney yachtsman steakhouse dessert

I couldn’t decide which one I liked more!  Can you tell I’m a chocoholic? Another stellar frozen component paired with a perfect chocolate cake..and how they got the writing on that chocolate curl, the world may never know.

Overall this was a Disney Signature Dining experience which could hold it’s own amongst the fine dining establishments in Walt Disney World. Service was impeccable and the pace of our meal was timed perfectly.

If you are thinking of embarking on your own Yachtsman Steakhouse journey, be sure and book an advanced dining reservation through Disney Dining or risk being turned away. You can book online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.  And be sure and tell Chef Sicilia that Amanda sent you.

Mar 13

What Does an Amateur Do on a PGA Championship Walt Disney World Golf Course?

Have a good time, that’s what.

disney palm gold course hole 10

Disney golf cartsDid you know Disney Golf will give you a taxi voucher to go to and from your Walt Disney World owned-and-operated Resort? Me neither.  I also didn’t know that the tee off closest the pin was no longer called the “Ladies Tee” but instead the “Forward Tee”.

I was a little intimidated by my golf date last week. I had never played a Disney course before, they are PGA championship courses. You know, the ones that the professional multi-million doller bread winners play on.  I hadn’t played a round of golf in about three years and the hubby and I were going to be playing with a Disney Exec and an Arnold Palmer Golf Management Exec…no pressure Amanda.

I really didn’t even have anything to wear. There’s a dress code right? I’m a blogger and my daily wear consists of bare feet and flip flops with tank tops and tees.  That was an easy fix. Grab a collared golf shirt at my local outlet and pair it with some existing capris. I didn’t even have golf shoes.  My running shoes fit the bill.  Amateur wear…but that was OK and I felt completely comfortable playing. Proof that you don’t have to break the bank to golf at Disney.

disney palm golf course putting green

Here I am practicing my putting skills.  That’s the pro shop behind me.  I own my own clubs but the rentals are actually nicer than mine. Club rentals are $50. If you are a resort guest the price is slashed to $20 and you get free range balls as well. Way cheaper than paying an extra baggage fee on your flight here.

The Courses

disney palm golf course putting green

See that building in the background? That’s Disney’s Shades of Green Resort.  The resort is surrounded by three of Walt Disney World’s five golf courses: Magnolia, Palm and Oak Trail (9 holes). You may have seen them..directly across the street from Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The other two courses are Lake Buena Vista (near Old Key West and Saratoga Springs) and Osprey Ridge (Near Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and Golden Oak).

If you’re intimidated by signing up for a full 18 holes then try Oak Trail. Oak Trail is free to Disney Premium Annual Passholders and it’s only 9 holes and is probably one of the better Disney-themed courses. That’s set to change though. Rumor has it there will be good things to come for Disney Golf which recently entered into a 20 year agreement with Arnold Palmer Golf Management.

disney oak trail golf courseWe headed over to Disney’s Palm Golf Course…elevated greens, 9 water holes, 94 bunkers (sand traps) and lots of woods.

disney golf course

disney golf course amanda tinney

Midway through I tried to discern whether we were golfing or at Animal Kingdom.

disney golf course wild turkey

I got some coaching on my grip.

disney golf course palm

…and tried to focus on the game instead of taking pictures of my lush surroundings.

disney golf course palm

disney golf course palm

disney golf course palm

My 14-year-old daughter was bummed that she couldn’t come out for our “play date” but I did find out that Junior Golf Camps will be available this summer with newly hired Director of Instruction by Mike Schlager.

Talking to Alex Forsyth (WDW Tournament and Event Sales manager) …I learned that more than half of the PGA Championship courses are private courses. Not many people have the opportunity to play on an open PGA course seven days a week, 365 days a year. Disney offers its guests and the public this exclusive opportunity.  That’s right, Disney courses are open to the public, so all you locals pull out your phones and book your tee time!

Professionals and amateurs alike are welcome and will definitely enjoy a golfcation at Walt Disney World.  I can’t wait to come back and try out another signature Disney Golf course.

Resort guests, passholders, DVC Members, military and cast members are eligible for discounts on golf.  Visit Walt Disney World Golf to book or call 407-WDW-GOLF.

Big thanks to Disney Golf for a complementary nine holes. Of course all “major Disneyphile” opinions are my own.