At Home, Dining, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney World, Disneyland, Typhoon Lagoon, Visiting Disney

My Disney Desktop

Here’s some more news that’s come across my desk that I wanted to share!

The Wonder – part of the Disney Cruise Line – will be getting tons of improvements this Fall (read here) – plus a new Frozen show to enjoy while on board (read here)!

So this video is awesome…but it leaves me desperately wanting to do this myself!

I originally found out about this video (here).  If you can’t manage to pull together something as awesome as this on your own – you can take part in a (costly but cool) Signature Photography Experience at Disneyland (read here).

If you are planning a trip in 2017, be sure to read this great post that explains the 2017 Dining Plan offerings – it answers tons of the questions I often hear from people (read here).

If this summer heat is getting to be too much for you (like it is for me) – read about this new addition heading to one of the Walt Disney World Resort’s Water Parks! (read here)

And lastly – I thought I’d leave you with a story of good will the NYPD did…they sprinkled pixie dust (read here)!

Until next time!

 

 

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Main Street Electrical Parade

One of my FAVORITE nighttime shows at the Walt Disney World Resort is The Main Street Electrical Parade.  This amazingly joyful parade of light, song and dance always gives me the cheerful boost I need to keep going after a long day at the parks.  We even have mouse ears that are “Made With Magic” and they glow and change colors along with the show!  I’m sad to report to those of you who usually visit Disney World that this parade will be leaving Orlando on October 9, 2016…but in good news for those of you who visit Disneyland, it will be heading your way!

If you are planning to visit the Walt Disney World Resort between now and October 9th (or if you now feel the need to book 1 more trip to see it before it goes) – be sure to check the Magic Kingdom’s Times guide to see which nights it will be performed (please note: the parade will not take place on nights when there is a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party).  You can also book a special dining package to secure a VIP viewing area.  The package includes lunch at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.  If you don’t reserve the dining package, 2 of my favorite viewing spots for the parade are: 1. Anywhere along the curb by Town Square and 2. On the porch by Liberty Tree Tavern.

In case you won’t be able to catch the parade before it leaves Walt Disney World, here’s a slideshow of some of my favorite moments!  Enjoy!

 

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Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

We just got back from a last minute trip to Walt Disney World. We stayed at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort&Spa…and due to a slight problem with our original room were upgraded to a 2 bedroom villa!  I’m going to make this a “Wordless Wednesday” type of post – please feel free to ask me any questions about my stay at this resort and I’ll be happy to answer!  Post comments and questions below or on my Facebook page!

Here we go!

The 2 bedroom villa:

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The atmosphere:

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I had to include this picture because I visit Saratoga Springs, NY and these stairs really do look just like the ones at the Saratoga Race Track!
I had to include this picture because I visit Saratoga Springs, NY and these stairs really do look just like the ones at the Saratoga Race Track!

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Dining:

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To do:

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There was so much to do there that we couldn’t fit it all in on our short weekend trip!

So…ask away – and please check out Disney’s Official Website (here) and learn more about Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – we were pleasantly surprised with our stay…next time we stay there I’ll be scheduling some spa time!

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Meeting Disney Characters!

It was sometime back in the 1980s, but I have a clear memory of spotting Snow White out of the corner of my eye and racing over to her (along with a bunch of other kids)  – hoping that I’d be able to get her autograph. We hadn’t been looking for her – we were just walking down a path in the Magic Kingdom – and when she signed my book it was like magic!

These days you aren’t likely to just run into a character walking down a path – there are schedules and meeting spots and fastpasses to think about – but I will tell you – it’s still magical!

There are many places you can meet characters in Walt Disney World – and if you check your My Disney Experience App, you will find a list of every character who will be out and about that day – what times – and where to find them.  For some characters in the Magic Kingdom, like Gaston or Woody and Jessie, you go to their meeting spot and wait in line, for others, like the princesses who meet in Princess Fairytale Hall and Talking Mickey in the Town Square Theater, you can either wait in line, or select meeting them as one of your Fastpass+ choices for the day.

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If spending time waiting for a character meet  is not something you want to spend your time doing, another option is to book a character meal!  My family loves to do this – that way we can meet 4 or 5 characters while we’re enjoying some delicious food.  You are seated at your table, and the characters rotate and come to you!  Some character meals we have enjoyed in the past are Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet at the Contemporary hotel, Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridian, and both the Disney Junior Play and Dine and Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood and Vine in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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But are your kids ready to meet characters up close and personal?… I thought for sure that mine would be dying to meet their favorite Disney friends – they BEGGED for me to list meet after meet in our touring plan. Then when we got face to face (or face to mask in some instances) – they freaked.  Now we prepare by watching youtube videos of character meets to prepare – and we also usually stay more calm around “face characters” (characters where you see their actual human face).  On our last trip though – my older children did give a few characters hugs and high fives, so I think we may add a few meet and greets back into our rotation.

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I’ve found that having a plan for meeting the characters helps.  If you have autograph books you can practice with your child what they will say to ask for the autograph.  Sometimes we purposely wear clothes that have that character’s image on it so we can point it out them.  My kids have started coming up with fun questions to ask the characters.  Even the ones who don’t talk back have found ways to answer!  My son asked Sorcerer Mickey at Hollywood Studios if he could turn him into a frog.  After thinking about it for a moment – he led my son over to his spell book and “searched” for a spell – we LOVED it!

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Let’s say your children aren’t ready to get too close to their favorite characters – don’t worry – there are SO many shows and parades happening all day long where you get close, but not too close to your favorite Disney friends.

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What characters are you hoping to meet?  Do you have any great character stories to share?  We’d love to hear about it all – leave a comment here or on Sprinkling Pixie Dust’s Facebook page! And…be on the look out every Friday, when I’ll post some of my favorite “Disney Friend” pictures!

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Tiffins at Animal Kingdom

If you pass through the Oasis at Animal Kingdom and enter Discovery Island, bear left and head down a quiet path…there you will find Disney World’s newest signature dining restaurant, Tiffins!

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You’ll notice some posters in the background for Pandora, Land of Avatar…so I’d imagine this path way won’t stay so serene once that land opens.

I was very excited to reserve The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic Dining Package at Tiffins in June so that my son and I could experience both this new restaurant and the new nighttime show!

When we arrived at Tiffins, we were greeted outside the restaurant and brought inside to check in.  INSTANTLY it felt like we had left the hustle and bustle of the theme park behind us and were now on a gorgeously peaceful retreat.  We were a little early for our reservation, so they asked me for my cell phone number so that they could text me when our table was ready, and then they guided us to the Nomad Lounge to wait.

The lounge, as you’ll see below is gorgeous and comfortable.  It even has an amazing wrap around deck with seating.

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It was a very humid evening, so all I wanted to do was stay in the air conditioning and down a Diet Coke, but the Nomad Lounge has a great food and drink menu. The menu not only tells you what they offer, but also a little about the lounge and restaurant.

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Our server told us that the NIGHT MONKEY is her favorite drink - you may want to give it a try!
Our server told us that the NIGHT MONKEY is her favorite drink – you may want to give it a try!

Tiffins was designed to showcase the travels and adventures that went into the creation of Animal Kingdom.

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As a matter of fact, they refer to each of the 3 dining rooms of the restaurant as a gallery of art!  There’s the Safari Gallery:

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The Grand Gallery:

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And the room we dined in, the Trek Gallery:

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Our table was ready very quickly and when we entered the Trek Gallery we didn’t know where to look first.  There were so many artifacts on display!  If you’ve been to Animal Kingdom before, there are a few that will definitely look familiar to you.  It was very cool to see the travels and process of making Animal Kingdom displayed this way.

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As you can tell…I loved the décor…and I’m happy to report I loved the service and food too!

The leather bound menu offers some truly tempting choices (I’ll post menu pictures at the end).  We had had a long and filling morning at Hollywood Studios, so even though it was included in our package I passed on the bread service and appetizer course and just asked our server what he recommended for the entrée.  He suggested the Wagyu Striploin and Braised Short Rib and it didn’t disappoint!…and at a the a la cart price of $53, I still felt like I got my money’s worth with the dining package.

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The meat was so tender, the vegetables were cooked perfectly and I even tried the sauces (which I had asked for on the side, as I am always afraid to have my entrée drenched in something I may not like, lol.)

Our sever, Mo, took care of everything – anticipating things we’d need before we even knew we needed them.  Additional staff were at the ready to clear plates and crumbs. We even got to meet with the chef, Robbie, a few times due to my son’s allergies and he was wonderful.

For dessert I ordered the South American Chocolate Ganache, which was dense and delicious.  My only complaint of our whole experience was that they could only offer my son fruit as dessert to accommodate his allergies.  I know most other Disney restaurants will at least have some pre-packaged allergy safe treats in “the back”, so he was disappointed and passed on dessert (don’t worry, I always bring him a safe dessert alternative in my bag to have just in case).

After our meal, we were presented with both a Joe Rhode print (he was the lead designer of Animal Kingdom) and our tickets to The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic.

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Tiffins is open for lunch and dinner (valid theme park admission required).  You can order and pay a la cart or use 2 table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan.  We purchased the dining package (which as of today is still accepting reservations through September) which cost $67/adult and $32/child.  And while, yes, Tiffins is an expensive choice – I feel the quality of the food (far better than what you’d probably find in an actual tiffin) and the service were worth it.  Plus with the dining package we had the added value of not needing to arrive at The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic (which I’ll be sure to write about soon) crazy early to secure seats.

Have you tried Tiffins yet?  What do you think? Comment below or on Facebook and let us know your experience!

Here are menu photos, as always please check Disney’s Official Website for the most updated information.

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Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

Have you ever wanted to go back in time and experience a drive-in theater?  I certainly have!…and even though Walt Disney World offers you a chance do just that, I haven’t had the chance to give it a try – yet!  Thankfully a good friend of mine recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios and graciously offered to report back on her dining experience at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.

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Here’s what she had to say:

I chose the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater based on a recommendation from a friend and I was NOT disappointed. While waiting for our reservation my husband asked if the waiting area was supposed to look like the back of a movie set.  Boy, was he right.  The restaurant was a perfect rendition of a drive-in theater at night.  The only real lighting was from the “stars in the sky”, car lights, and the huge movie screen set up in the middle of the restaurant.  We were seated in our car (my family of four- 2 in the front seat, 2 in the backseat), shown how to work the speakers (on the side of your car) and given our menus.  There are lights in your car so you can see the menu, but it was still a little tough to see.

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The dinner choices were what you would expect from a “Disney Diner” (burgers, shakes, BLT, steak, ribs, salmon salad). And, to make every parent’s dinner complete – plenty of cocktails and alcoholic beverages to be consumed as needed.  If you are a soda drinker, they have the option of adding cherry or vanilla (or a combo of the 2) to your drink.  Another option which I don’t remember being offered many other places was a pomegranate lemonade which was a big hit with my kids.  The kids’ menu had typical child’s fare (chicken nuggets, sliders, grilled cheese, and a wheat pasta choice).

Now, while you wait for your food to come, you always envision sitting and having a nice, warm family discussion about the day. The rides you liked, what characters you met, what you want to do when you’re done with dinner.  But, does that really ever happen?  It’s usually the time where the kids pull out their ipads, mom and dad check out social media and e-mails, or escape for some alone time in the bathroom.  But, here, none of that is necessary.  First off, you are essentially seated at 2 separate tables not facing each other.  You can hear each other, but this does not lend itself to a family discussion.  And this is done so that all members of your party are facing the movie screen.  This negates the need for ipads and social media.  I was a little concerned because the movies were shorts of old sci-fi films.  But, both my boys (5 and 9) were into them and found them funny.  My only complaint about the “movie” is that it loops.  So, if you have slow eaters (which I do) they might get bored after seeing it the second time.  Lol.

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Overall, it was a great and very different dining experience. My family found the food really good.  And, if you can save room for dessert, do.  I got the warm glazed doughnut which was more of a cronut and it was incredible.

Thank you so much for sharing part of your vacation with us and giving us a glimpse into the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant!
The Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant accepts some dining plans, otherwise prices range from $15 – $34.99 per person.  Reservations are recommended.  You can find more information on Disney’s Official Website  – click here!

 

 

 

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My Disney Desktop

So much news, so little time!

That’s how I feel as I pour through all the Disney related websites and news articles that come my way.  Some of it is full of useful and interesting info…the rest, not so much…

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So I thought I’d sort through some of it for you and from time to time highlight a few links that have passed my desktop and really caught my eye!

I’ll start today!

Forbes reports that Zootopia is the second-biggest original movie ever!(read here)…and today it was released on DVD!  We just ordered it On-Demand and will be watching it later today! On the flip side, Disney’s latest Alice movie didn’t do as well as expected (read here) – I admit, I haven’t seen it yet….have any of you? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!

Another thing new starting today…you can now make reservations for a new dining package at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.  The Main Street Electrical Parade Dining Package is described on the My Disney Experience Website as this: “Indulge in a Lady and the Tramp-inspired lunch by day before enjoying VIP viewing of the Main Street Electrical Parade at night.”  You can read about the details  on the Disney Parks Blog (here).

Heading to Disney Springs? If you’re taking Disney bus transportation you’ll now be dropped off at the new bus depot at the centrally located Town Center (read here).  This will be a nice change – now if you’re on the Westside you won’t have to walk all the way back to the Marketplace on the East side to be picked up.

I’m getting excited to visit Animal Kingdom and see all the new nighttime additions (read here) – for now, I’ve been looking through  “Nighttime Inspired Wallpapers” – you can download them too from (here). I can’t wait to see the Tree of Life “awaken” at night!

Now this is the most fun article I found this week “5 Disney Movie Secrets from Alan Menken” (read here).  Numbers 1 & 2 are my favorite – which are yours? Let us know!

Stay tuned for more editions of  My Disney Desktop!

 

 

 

 

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Behind the Seeds Tour!

One of my FAVORITE attractions at Epcot is the Living with the Land Ride!

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I’ve always loved taking this boat ride through the Land Pavillion and how they show humans’  relationship with the Earth and how we need to care for it because we need it to provide for us.  The best part for me is when the boat leaves the storytelling part of the attraction and enters the beautiful Sustainable Agriculture Production & Research Center.

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So when I heard there was a backstage tour of this attraction I knew it was something my family needed to try on our trip to The Walt Disney World Resort during Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival!

First my family and I rode the ride to refresh our memory of it.  Then we went to the tour check in desk which is located by the Soarin’ attraction, also in the Land Pavilion at Epcot. I had made reservations for this tour (which runs every 45minutes from 10:30am-4:30pm daily) 180 days before our trip, so they were ready for us with our nametags when we arrived about 15 minutes before the start of our tour.  Soon after we checked in, our tour guide, Stephen, came out and introduced himself to our group.  I would say there was about 15 of us all together – my family of 5 and 10 other guests.

Stephen worked there in their pest management program, which also happens to be the first stop on the tour!

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We entered the “bug” room and learned about the different ways that Disney manages farming pest problems. They don’t use chemicals as a first course of action.  One thing they do is use “good bugs” to help eliminate the “bad bugs”.

Here you can see the effects of a bug infestation of a leaf.
Here you can see the effects of a bug infestation of a leaf.

We had signed up for this tour because I thought it would be fun to go behind the scenes and learn a few things along the way – but the rest of our group must have been serious gardeners because they all had very serious and specific questions, which Stephen was TOTALLY able to answer.

Next we moved on and got to peek in the window of their Biotech Lab, where they use clippings to grow more plants.  We weren’t allowed in the room as it is a very controlled lab and they don’t want anything introduced into its atmosphere that could change the genetic make up of the plants.

IMG_8682Next we went into the areas where the boat ride passes through, so we did get to feel like VIPs for awhile.  We saw how through the use of hydroponics they’ve created vertical farms which use land space much better and produce many more crops than a traditional garden.  We also were able to take a taste of a fresh cucumber grown in the greenhouse.  A lot of the food grown here is served at Epcot! (We got to eat even more of it after the tour as we had a reservation at The Garden Grill upstairs!)

Nice use of space!...and hello boat passengers!
Nice use of space!…and hello boat passengers!
Do you see the size of these tomato plants...they keep wrapping around!
Do you see the size of these tomato plants…they keep wrapping around!

Stephen did a great job of giving useful information to the interested adults and fun facts and experiences for the kids.

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Next we explored the aquaculture area and saw alligators and fish farming!  We were invited to feed the fish as well.

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I really enjoyed this walking tour (yes it’s about an hour of walking so wear comfy shoes – it is also wheelchair accessible).  It’s great for people who want to learn both a little or A LOT more about hydroponics.  My 5 year olds enjoyed seeing everything and interacting with the plants, but my 2 year old, as I knew would be the case, had a little bit of a hard time with the length of the tour.  I definitely plan on doing this tour again in a few years – it will be interesting to see if anything changes and also interesting to see the different takeaway my kids will have from it at an older age.

The Behind the Seeds Tour runs every 45 minutes daily from 10:30am – 4:30pm.  Reservations are available (call 407-WDW-TOUR), but I’m told that there is usually availability on the day of.  The tour lasts about an hour and costs $20/adult and $16/children ages 3-9 (plus valid park admission).  I recommend this tour, however if this is your first time visiting Epcot and you only have one day, I would say you should plan to spend your day touring the park and pass on this.  If you have been to Epcot before and want to try something new – this is definitely for you!  I suggest doing these 3 things in a row to make it all come full circle…

1. Ride Living with the Land

2. Take the Behind the Seeds Tour

3. Enjoy a character filled meal at The Garden Grill (which is a revolving restaurant in the Land Pavilion that takes you back through part of the Living with the Land attraction) and taste some of the goodness you saw growing!

As always, please check Disney’s Official Site for the most up to date information.

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Be Our Guest – Quick Service Lunch

 

Be Our Guest…is there anyone out there who hears that phrase and doesn’t start humming this…

 

In addition to this tune entering my mind, I also have the knowledge that Be Our Guest is one of hardest restaurant reservations to obtain at Walt Disney World…even when breakfast and lunch are quick service meals!

Be Our Guest Restaurant is a fairly new restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, but that alone isn’t the reason for its popularity.  The restaurant is housed in Beast’s Castle in Fantasyland and the theming inside is extraordinary!  The magic begins the moment you check in at the castle gate!

I had a chance to have lunch there a few weeks ago.  After checking in we crossed the bridge and got in line to order.  A few enchanted sleepy suits of armor kept us company as we waited!

Shhh...can you keep the snoring down!
Shhh…can you keep the snoring down!

A few minutes later we entered the room where you can either place your order at a kiosk or go to a cashier and speak to a cast member.  Another option is to pre order your lunch (or breakfast) 30 days in advance to save some time- you get in a shorter line and just pay !

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Once you are finished paying you make your way further into the castle and can select which of the 3 exquisite rooms you wish to dine in!

On this visit we picked a table in the Grand Ballroom:

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Another choice is Belle’s library, The Castle Gallery:

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And lastly the dark and mysterious West Wing, which did not photograph well this last trip, but I will try again next time 🙂

Sometimes you are given a red “rose” to leave on your table in order for the food to magically find its way to you, but this time Cast Members just asked to see our receipts and noted it somewhere.  I collected some silverware and our fountain drinks and was then rewarded when I sat down when one of these beautiful carts rolled up with all of our meals!

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I ordered the Carved Turkey Sandwich.  It is served on a baguette with Dijon mayo and fries and is one of my FAVORITE sandwiches in ALL of Disney World!

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We also ordered a few desserts: The Master’s Cupcake which comes with the famous “Grey Stuff” mentioned in our title song; The Triple Chocolate Cupcake; and the Chocolate Cream Puff.

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Due to our food allergies, some of the dessert decorations appear to be missing.

We always like to dine here either before or after experiencing Enchanted Tales with Belle.  It makes for a nice little Beauty and Beast afternoon and a VERY tasty meal!

Be Our Guest serves Breakfast and Lunch as a quick service meal and Dinner as a full service sit down restaurant (you may not pre order dinner).  Reservations are recommended for breakfast, lunch & dinner services. While it is not guaranteed, you usually have the opportunity to meet The Beast during the dinner service only.

Lunch Menu:

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