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Making your Disney Cruise a bit More Magical

There is only one thing my family loves as much as Walt Disney World vacations, and that’s cruise vacations.  When we can combine both of those loves by doing a Disney Cruise, which we’ve done now nine times, we know it’s gonna be one awesome trip.

Over the years, we’ve tried some things that have always given us even more amazing memories of our cruise vacations.  If you are new to Disney cruising, you might want to think about trying some of them, too!

1 – Board Ready for Your Close-Up!

After you’ve checked in, you will at some point be ushered through to your adoring fans – we call them “Photographers”.  They will take your family’s embarkation photo, the first of many you might have taken during your cruise.  I like to try and have the family dressed similarly – and if I can get away with it, the kids all dressed alike.  You don’t get many chances at home to have the whole family posing together, so take advantage!


2- Have your bathing suit ready when you board!  Most guests tend to follow the crowd when they get on the ship, and that usually means heading to grab some lunch before you can gain access to your stateroom.  Most guests will have their bathing suits packed away in their luggage, so this is a great time to hit the pool.  My girls have had the whole pool to themselves on a cruise or two in the past, and the shortest wait you’ll have the whole time you’re on the ship for the AquaDuck is just after embarkation.

3 – Door Magnets!! – You will find this is unique to the Disney cruises, where the metal doors make the perfect canvas to express your inner vacation artist.  You’ll find people bring everything from just a few magnets to a whole door full, decorating the “porthole”, changing magnets to reflect the port, or even using magnetic dry erase boards to communicate with travel companions in other cabins.  It’s always fun for the kids to the see different magnets, and a unique way to show your Disney Side!


4 – Ahoy, Me Hearties!  On most Disney cruises, you’ll get to experience the Pirates IN the Caribbean deck party.  Complete with fireworks and turkey legs, this is a fun night, where you’ll see lots of your shipmates decked out in their Scurvy best.  Pack your eye patches and be ready to party, but in case you forget, you’ll find the finest pirate couture collection at the gift shop on the ship.


5- Dine and Play for the Kid that wants to Dine and Dash – Not every guest on a Disney cruise can score early dinner seating.  For our family, that works out just fine.  I can usually convince my kids that they need an afternoon nap, especially if we’ve been busy on Castaway Cay or touring another exotic destination, so we always request late dinner seating.  We can be seated at our table around 8:15 in the evening, and the kids have the option to order their meal from the kids menu right away, and by about 8:45 – 9:00, a cast member from the Kids Clubs will come gather up the interested children and escort them back to the club.  The service allows the grown ups to linger a bit longer, enjoy a leisurely dessert and coffee.  You could even go snag a nightcap at one of the adult only hot spots before snagging the kids to head to bed.

6- Castaway Cay 5K – Have you ever wanted to attempt a 5K, but were afraid of being swept up at the end for coming in last?  Neither had I.  But on a recent cruise, when a group of friends wanted me to walk the 5K, I realized it was unlikely that I would spontaneously combust and get out of it, so I embraced it.  It was FUN!  The event is free, but the number of guests permitted to register is limited.  Head to Guest Services on your embarkation day to get your number, and get ready to enjoy an early morning stroll (or sprint) around the beautiful private island.  There is no time limit, so it’s a great first experience, and the “medal” is cool, too.  They also have t-shirts you can buy when you’re done!


7- A Vacation With Character – One of the biggest differences on a Disney cruise is, of course, Disney characters!  Not only will you find meet and greets scheduled throughout the day, longer cruises also have a character breakfast you can attend.  Characters may also pop into the kids club, on the beach when you dock at Castaway Cay, and even at the Sail Away Party as your ship gets underway.  Keep a camera at the ready!

8- Don’t Miss the Shows!  Entertainment is what Disney does best, so why would you want to miss a great show?  You’ll find a different stage show each night of your cruise, and some of the performances are really Broadway quality.  The shows are kid friendly, and they’ll love seeing some of their favorite characters on stage.

9- Fish Extenders – Fish what?  Is that on the menu?  No!  Outside each stateroom door, you’ll find some variety of sea creature that acts as your “mailbox” during your cruise.  You’ll get invitations to various events or find your final bill tucked behind the fish mail holder.  Well, a group of incredibly creative people decided to start a bit of a Pollyanna type of thing.  You join a Fish Extender group on the DisBoards at http://www.disboards.com/ or find a group on Facebook, and you sign up agreeing to deliver some little gift to your fellow cruisers.  In return, you hang your Fish Extender on your fish mailbox, and the other cruisers who are participating will bring you little surprises as well.  Kids love getting the little surprises, and even grown ups will enjoy seeing what little treats have been left while they were gone.  It’s a must do for my girls.

Fish Extener

10- Milk and Cookies at Bedtime – You will not go to bed hungry on a Disney cruise, but as an extra little treat, we have gotten into the habit of ordering cookies and milk from room service for the girls.  There is no extra charge for the midnight delivery, and we often sit on our balcony, enjoying a recap of the day or watching our favorite Disney movie on TV.  The cookies are delicious and home-made tasting, and the memories we create in those waning minutes of a day on vacation – pure magic!

When the Stuff Hits the Fan, We’re Family

We are not, by nature, a warm and fuzzy nation.  There are many of us who can say honestly that we don’t really know our next door neighbors, don’t talk much to the people down the block, and  have little to do with the guy who lives on the third floor.  We spend more time on the computer than we do on the front porch, laughing and sharing stories, the way people did when I grew up.

As a country, we could not be more farther apart from each other.  We let ourselves be divided by issues involving race, gender, sexual orientation, and whether you prefer Coke or Pepsi.  You would think many times that instead of one United States, we are instead 313.9 million tiny countries unto ourselves.

And then the shit hits the fan.

Time and again, this country and its beautiful people restore your faith in humanity.  When one is hurt, we all feel the pain, and this could not be more evident than in the way the people of the south rallied around their neighbors – strangers – at a time of great need.

Of course there were the police, the firefighters, the EMTs, even the National Guard.  But there were the teachers, worried about their own children getting home, who stayed put with their students, many of whom would be there overnight, making sure they were calm, fed, and entertained when their parents were stranded and couldn’t reach them.  There were the Churches that opened their doors to people who could get there from the highway, providing hot coffee, a warm place to rest cold and weary bones.  Chef and Restaurant owner Hans Rueffert of the Woodbridge Inn in Jasper, GA offered free lunch to first responders, so the men and women working so hard to get others home to their families could enjoy a hot, home cooked meal themselves, since it will likely be many hours before they get to return to their own warm kitchens.

Hans and Amy Rueffert, owners of the Woodbridge Inn, offer free hot meals to first responders
Hans and Amy Rueffert, owners of the Woodbridge Inn, offer free hot meals to first responders

People ventured out into a serious storm, putting themselves in danger, to offer food, drinks, or a warm place to rest to motorists stranded for hours on southern highways.  Parents ventured out to offer comfort and sustenance to a school bus driver, refusing to leave his bus until someone could come and rescue it – and there weren’t even kids on the bus!  Target stores sent volunteers out to bring bottled water, food, and blankets.  There was even a Facebook page set up (did you think there wouldn’t be??), reaching more than 42,000 members in one day, where people could post offers of a warm bed, a hot meal, or even to report they were making trips to various mileposts on local highways with food and water for motorists who could get to them.

Photo courtesy of SnowedOutAtlanta
Photo courtesy of SnowedOutAtlanta

Yes, we are the United States.  From the true southern hospitality to the unifying Boston Strong, when we all felt for just a little while like we belonged to the people of Boston, we’re good people.  We care about each other, and if you cut one of us, we all bleed a little.  We’re family.  And I’m so proud to be a member of this crazy, diverse clan.

Oh How I Miss Disney’s Guest Assistance Card – and I Never Even Used One!

If you’re big into Disney initials, you’ll know that last fall, the GAC – or Guest Assistance Card – was switched to the DAS – or Disability Access Service card.  There were numerous reasons the switch was made, not the least of which was national attention put on the abuse of the GAC.  Guests who were eligible for the GAC card were pimping themselves out to other guests who would pay them for front of the line access to some of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions.

So, the way things used to work, a guest with a disability could go to guest services, without any proof of a disability, and snag a GAC card.  When these guests went to an attraction, they showed the cast member the card, and the guest with the pass, along with up to five “family members” or “friends”, would be admitted to the attraction either through the FastPass entrance, ahead of other waiting guests, or even via a back door kind of thing.  In any case, the wait time for these guests was significantly reduced.


The new DAS card works more like a FastPass.  You go to an attraction, and based on the wait time for that attraction, you’ll be given a time to come back.  If the wait time, for example, is 30 minutes, you might be given a return time in 20 minutes.  There has also been, up until now, an accommodation for certain guests, specifically those with autism, who rely on the ability to repeat an attraction multiple times.  Those guests were given re-admission passes, which allowed them to return to the attraction immediately, something many guests with autism are compelled by their disability to do.

Here’s the thing.  Amid rumors that the re-admission passes may be eliminated, I encountered several guests during the holidays that made me realize how inadequate this accommodation may be.  I met one man, using the DAS, who had numerous back surgeries, required the use of a scooter to get around the park, but he required times of rest in the prone position in order to get through a full day.  With the GAC, he was able to get in most of the attractions he wanted to do with his family before the need to return to his hotel to rest became evident.  With the new DAS, he complained that he needed at least two days to visit one park, because the wait time required as a result of the DAS system meant he spent more time actually waiting, like a guest without special needs, and that forced him to go back to the hotel before he could see much of what he wanted to see.

I also spoke with the parent of a child on the autism spectrum who said the wait for her family meant there would be a meltdown sooner, requiring them to leave the park early as well.  They had attempted to keep their son entertained with snacks and shopping during his wait time for each attraction, but his comprehension of the wait, followed by the long delays with little or nothing to do, made a full day in the parks impossible.


I hope that down the road, consideration is given to the guests for whom the GAC was imperative.  These are people who are truly suffering under the regulations of the DAS – guests who cannot spend a full day in the theme park due to their disabilities, or guests who cannot simply walk away for 40 minutes and come back without a meltdown.  I don’t think there’s anyone who questions the need to crack down on the blatant fraud that was taking place, but the crack down comes at the cost of an enjoyable vacation for many families.

Why I Love “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

The holiday movie crush can be tough.  There are all sorts of movies throwing themselves out there for Oscar consideration, and the biggest stars release their best work so you – and the Academy Awards – will notice them.

As a result of the stiff competition, you may have overlooked the underdog of the holiday season – the movie that didn’t have Disney punch behind it or an Oscar winning/contender face starring in it.  But after seeing some of the best of the best this holiday season, the one that will stay with me, making it onto my top 10 movie list – Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.


The thing that I love about this movie is that from start to finish, it’s about personal connections.  Real people meeting real people, changing their lives, influencing the way they live.  It’s ironic, really, because the movie starts with Walter trying to use eHarmony to wink at a woman who works in his office – a woman he could walk up to, wink at personally, strike up a conversation.

The movie is about living in the real world, having real life experiences, being present and making the most of the life you have, instead of living in the what if world of fantasy.  Again, this is ironic, since Walter spends the first half of the movie living in his head.  In scene after scene, he daydreams himself into a world he wishes he could live in, ignoring opportunities to make life in the present more appealing.

Ben Stiller in a still from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller is perfect in the role of Walter Mitty.  There are no stupid faces like the ones you’d see in “Zoolander”, or bad puns and off color remarks as you would see in “Dodgeball”.  This is Stiller at his best.  He is vulnerable, determined, normal almost to the point of quirky.  The dream sequences give you a glimpse of the Stiller you either love or hate, but the rest of the movie, he’s just your average Joe, trying to find and make personal connections in this internet world.  He’s all about living in the moment, once he realizes the real moments are the ones that are so much more important.

I love this movie.  I’ve seen it twice, and have come out both times humming and feeling happy.  With a free two hours, especially on a gloomy day, I’d go see it again.


Your Mom Must Be a Liar – Or My Day In the Principal’s Office

Don't Mess With My KidsBack in the day of the dinosaur, when I went to school with the 12 apostles (Judas was a big tattletale back then, for those who wanted to know), when you were out of school sick, your mom wrote a note to the teacher, she absolved you of your sin of sickness, you were welcomed back into the fold, made up your work, and the world continued to spin on it’s axis (although we didn’t know that, because we assumed the earth was flat back then).

Up until my children began public school three years ago, illnesses worked pretty much the same way.  They got sick, I wrote a note, and back to school they went.

When we began public school, things changed.  Eilis missed a day of school during the first few months of sixth grade, and before I could get myself up and dressed after a night of Puke Fest 2011, the school was on the phone with an automated message threatening to send the police to my house for my obviously truant child.  I called the school to notify them that my sleeping child was indeed home with my permission, please don’t beat me or arrest me, and she would be back in the next day or two.  Just to cover my own ass, I sent a note.  And I took the time that she was home sick to familiarize myself with the district attendance policy.

In August, 2012, we got an update to the policy, which essentially just reminded us that “a note” needed to be sent into school when your kids were absent, a phone call to the office needed to be placed before 9 AM to verify a legitimate absence, and if they were going to be out 5 consecutive days, they needed a doctor’s note to return.  Fabulous.  I got this.

Let’s fast forward to this week.  In the mail, I got a letter from Eilis’ principal at Bell Oaks School which said she had five UNexcused absences, and as a result, she was ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities or class trips.  What?  UNexcused absences?  How could this be?  I send my notes in, I notify the school that she’s going to be out in time to avoid having the Paddy Wagon (it’s okay, I’m Irish, I can call it that) swing by and pick me up for a truant child, and I notified them in advance of the two days we would miss in December to go to Disney (our attendance policy has always afforded up to 5 missed days per year for family trips with an educational component as excused absences).

In response to the letter, I emailed Eilis’ principal, then I checked Granuaile’s attendance record online to see that she also has five UNexcused absences.  I emailed her principal.  Eilis’ principal emailed me back that I should call him to discuss the situation, and Granuaile’s principal emailed me that I should read the newly updated attendance policy, which was located on the school website.

I found the attendance policy, determined to find something I had overlooked.  Nothing.  Last updated August, 2011.  I found the student handbook.  Nope, I’m still right.  I patiently wait until our snow day was over and phoned the principal at Bell Oaks this morning.  He’s in meetings all day.  I call Burke.  That principal is in meetings all day.  Okay, who’s next on the list?  The superintendent of schools.


I spend 15 minutes explaining my predicament to the secretary.  I have sent in every note, made every phone call.  My girls have never missed more than one day at a time, except the Disney trip.  I have phoned my pediatrician on several occasions.  If they have a fever, he wants there to be other symptoms before he sees them (ear ache, sore throat, etc.).  If it’s a stomach bug, chances are, it’s a virus, and he doesn’t want to see them unless they’ve been sick more than 24 hours with so many episodes of “fluid loss”.  He’s not the kind of doctor that makes you rush in for every little thing.  I haven’t got doctor’s notes for the cough that kept Eilis up all night one night, so I let her sleep in the next day.  I didn’t take Granuaile to the pediatrician for a fever that was high enough to keep her home, but broke late in the day and didn’t develop into anything else.  The secretary says I’m right so many times, I think I must be wealthy, and she’s trying to get on my good side so I put her in the will.  Finally, after telling me I’m right for the 15, 238th time, she tells me to hold on while she puts the superintendent on the phone.

Annette Castigliano and I have never met in person, but she has already determined that I am an idiot, so she speaks to me in terms and tone that would be sufficient communication for a toddler.  She’s not being condescending.  She’s busy thinking about important things that I clearly wouldn’t understand.  I try as long as I can to be patient while she’s explaining the attendance policy to me, as if I cannot read myself, and I finally – after 6 minutes – interrupt her.  I apologize for interrupting, and ask her where this policy is posted so I can read it myself – when I learn to read, which I clearly cannot do.  Annette has to admit that the policy is not published anywhere at all, because the person that updates the websites for the district was let go, but the policy was changed in September, and on the agenda for the principals to discuss at Back to School Night.  In September.  So I should know it.

And then, my bestie Annette says the unthinkable.  “You know, Mrs. Skamarakas, that if you hadn’t taken your daughters out of school for two days to go on a family vacation to Disney World, we wouldn’t have this situation, would we?”


So yeah, now I interrupt her again and mention how if the policy hadn’t been changed, without any hard copy proof anywhere, my two days “learning” at EPCOT and Animal Kingdom would still be excused.  She then says she’ll bring my concerns up with the board, but she can’t promise that my Academically Talented children will be able to remain in extracurricular activities.  The new policy is mandated by the state as a corrective measure for excessive absences in our Title 1 school.

Let me get this straight.  The solution to excessive absences is to deny kids who are absent too many days the right to participate in school activities that take place at school, where these excessively absent kids don’t come?  WHAT?

I may be crying now.  I may be cursing.  I may be bordering on a schizophrenic episode.  So my pal Annette backs off and says she never said that the board can’t really do anything, as this is a state mandate.  She asks if I want her to help me.  No.  I made this phone call to see if I could get you on a episode of America’s Funniest Videos.  Except it’s not funny.

She’s offering now to talk to the principals.  One of them has called while I am on the phone and is told by Brighid that I am handling things with the superintendent.  He says he’ll work something out for me.

End result?  Everyone is back in extracurricular activities.  They are down to only two unexcused absences – we shall call those the last Disney days my children ever get during school.  The principal at Eilis’ school says there is clearly a problem that they only allow 5 unexcused days, and that they expect a doctor’s note for each individual absence.  They may have to regroup and make new recommendations.

The reason this policy is in place?  Parents lie.  They say their kids are sick when they aren’t, just so they don’t have to get out of bed to bring them to school.  Or so that they don’t have to fight with a kid to get ready in the morning.  Or so they can take them to Disney World and claim they are sick.

Well, Mrs. Castiglione, this mom is not a liar.  I hate this policy, and I hate that I was not issued a copy of this new policy before I had to go all cray-cray on your ass.  (not that I was issued a copy, however, there is no mistake now that I am familiar with it).

I may have to call my kids out sick tomorrow.  I know I sure have a headache.


Showing My Disney Side

No one loves to throw a party as much as I do.  Well, unless you consider my husband, who knows the house undergoes a thorough scrubbing in preparation for a party.  I guess, therefore, he loves to throw a party more than I do, since he doesn’t do any of the scrubbing but benefits from a clean house.

But I digress.


When I found out I was selected to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration, I thought it was the most fan-freaking-tastic way to combine my love of all things Disney and party planning!  I didn’t peek at anyone else’s posts to see what was in the box, so it was a complete surprise when the amazing celebration in a cardboard box showed up today!

The first thing I saw when I opened the box was this adorable overnight bag –



Even making me think about Walt Disney World or a Disney Cruise is enough reason for me to throw a party, but wait, there’s more!  In addition to some great Bingo games, RunDisney chEAR posters, ESPN Wide World of Sports bracelets and bumper stickers, instructions for face painting with a Disney flair, Disney trivia cards, a Disney vacation planning DVD, and recipes/activities, the box came with:

Boxes of HP Photo Cards, so we can capture the memories and share them with friends!
Adorable cookie cutters – or sandwich cutters – as the case may be!
An iPhone case
Yummy Craisins snack boxes!
Stickers! Who doesn’t love stickers!
Measuring cups from The Chew! Do you think Mario Batali packed these himself?
Mickey paper goods – napkins, plates, cups, cupcake wrappers, and decorations
Sweetie posters – how cute would these be as a Valentine gift?

I can’t wait to celebrate with some Disney friends!


Review – Disney Cruise Line – A Price fit for Adults (or not?)

DreamI will always consider Disney when it comes to vacation.  I love Walt Disney World, and have made some of the best memories with my family on Disney cruises.  From our first cruise ever – the Maiden Voyage of the Disney Magic – to the girls weekend I just had, I have enjoyed every one of my cruises aboard the Disney Cruise Line.

But is it really a cruise for adults?

There are certainly things to do for adults on this cruise line.  The spa services are extensive, with everything from a simple manicure to unique treatments and personal fitness trainers.  With an entire adults only district, you’ll find adult beverage tastings, evening entertainment, and a pool and jacuzzi for adult use only.  If your sailing includes a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, you’ll even find a beach designed for some real adult relaxation.

Dream Castaway

So then it comes down to this – price.

A quick comparison for a weekend cruise in March 2014 to the Bahamas shows me that I can get this type of cruise for as little as $60 per night on a Celebrity ship, with a minimum price on Disney at more than double that.  A five night Western Caribbean cruise for two adults on Disney will run me a minimum (inside cabin, 184 square feet,  lower deck) $2007.70. For $2100, Celebrity will give me a penthouse suite that is more than 250 square feet – not including my verandah.  I will have European style butler service, which includes assistance unpacking and packing; in-suite lunch and dinner service (this is not room service – this is a full, served dinner, exactly like what I would get in the dining room, served in my suite); Afternoon tea; evening hors d’oeuvres; complimentary espresso and cappuccino beverages in-suite.  You’ll get express boarding and disembarkation.  You’ll have a concierge to help you with making reservations for specialty dining restaurants, shore excursions, and spa treatments.

Dream spa

So what’s the difference?  What would make adults choose Disney over Celebrity – or any other cruise line?

There are die hard Disney fans.  Totally acceptable to see adults clamoring with the kids for photos with their favorite characters or acting goofy over Goofy at a character breakfast.  And the value of Castaway Cay cannot be oversold.  The island is beautiful, the beach serene, the water crystal – it’s the perfect stop.  Another advantage to adults on Disney is the free soda.  If you are a big soda drinker (and you’d have to be a pretty big soda drinker to get your money’s worth), you may be disappointed to find on most cruise lines, soda is not included in the price of your trip.  You pay by the drink, or opt into a soda package, which varies in price based on the length of your cruise.  Disney, however, has machines where you can drink your fill, and sodas ordered with meals are also included.  Some sodas – such as those in cans sold at the snack bar outside the theater – will cost you extra.

Is it worth it?

I think the big draw on a Disney ship is the awesome and extensive children’s clubs.  From the wee ones to the teen ones, you’ll find close to round the clock activities for your kids – including while on Castaway Cay or in port.  They will even come get your children from a late seating dinner to take them to the club activities while mom and dad enjoy their meal in relative peace.

But honestly, for a much lower price on other cruise lines, you’ll find excellent dining options, great lounge entertainment, Vegas style shows, casinos, and even on some cruises, adult classes in computers, photography, cooking, bartending, and entertaining.  It’s a tough sell to spend twice as much on a Disney cruise for adults only, when the biggest bang for your buck on a Disney cruise is the kids’ entertainment.

As much as I love my Disney, if I’m going to take a trip with just my husband, I am more likely to opt for a more upscale experience, such as Celebrity.  I wouldn’t trade Disney for the world if the beauty girls are in tow, but I think my money is better spent elsewhere for just me and the big guy.

50s Prime Time Cafe – Restaurant Review

Day 4 6

Back in the day when Brighid was little, 50s Prime Time Cafe was the place to go for really delicious, homestyle comfort foods.  But more than that, it was the place to go for an experience like no other – where you became part of the “family” dining at Mom’s table – complete with Mom yelling at you and making you stand in the corner if you talked back.  Or didn’t eat your veggies.  Or you put your elbows on the table.  And if you did manage to make it through your vegetables, Mom – or a cousin – would hand you a ViewMaster dessert menu, taking you right back to your childhood (or your mother’s childhood) while you perused options for your sweet reward for suffering through the green beans.

On our recent visit, we were pleased to see the menu with which we have become so familiar.  Mom’s pot roast – a table favorite – it perfectly tender, shredded into delicious gravy covered bites, and served with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies you totally don’t mind eating, because they are so perfectly cooked and flavorful.

Cousin Ann’s meatloaf, although flavorful and delicious, was a bit on the dry side.  Nothing a few squirts of ketchup didn’t cure, but the ketchup then overpowered the yummy glaze.  Served on a bed of the garlic mashed potatoes, it’s about as close to Mom made as you’ll find.

Prime Time Meatloaf

Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken won tremendous praise at our table.  Golden and crisp, the chicken had the perfect crunch without an abundance of grease (take that, Colonel Sanders).  There were those garlic mashed potatoes again, and sweet corn, adding a comfort-ful side dish to an already homey plate.

Prime Time Fried ChickenThe one health conscious person at our table ordered the chicken Caesar salad, and claimed it delicious.  And really, in these days of diets and fad food trends, is there anything more classic than the chicken Caesar?  It has become almost as comforting as pot roast and meatloaf.

What our experience lacked was the fun factor.  I’ve heard before that they no longer use the ViewMasters for dessert due to health concerns, with the toys being so close to so many eyes.  I guess I get that.  But even the interaction with the servers has been greatly curtailed over the years.  Our waiter, Cousin Richard, was nothing more than a sarcastic, bitter, hating his job type of guy who couldn’t wait to be done taking our order and moving on.  And while Richard was one of the worst we’ve had in a while, there is no more real home atmosphere, where mom is yelling at you for something and someone is getting in trouble.  I was told by one server that people didn’t like being told to stand in a corner, so they scaled back that type of interaction, but it was a huge part of the fun of the experience.

Would I recommend this restaurant?  Highly.  It’s still great fun to see and be transported to the 1950s.  The food is still very good overall.  The peanut butter and jelly milkshake is still one of the best milkshakes – anywhere.  But I would tell folks who were there a long time ago to curb their expectations.  What used to be good food and great fun is now great food and good fun.  It’s still a must do for my family.

Muy Delicioso! Taco Bell’s Cinnabon Delights – Best Thing Since Doritos Locos Tacos!

Gotta say right now – I am not a fan of Taco Bell.  How many different ways can you throw ground meat in some sort of bun type thing, top it with lettuce and cheese, and expect it will bring people in day after day?  Well, of course, they do.  People love Taco Bell.  I typically order the Doritos Locos Taco, so even though the meat is odd and the lettuce funky, I get the taste of Doritos – and face it, who doesn’t love Doritos?

So, when my husband pulled in to a new Taco Bell in our area, I wasn’t thrilled.  Isn’t there a Wendy’s chili nearby?  An Asian chicken salad from Chik-fil-a?  Something other than ground beef topped with cheese and lettuce?

And there it was.  The new Cinnabon Delights.  Despite everything else unappealing on the menu, they had me at “Cinnabon”.

Because who doesn’t need a reward when they are suffering through ground beef tossed on a tortilla with cheese and lettuce?  Or sour cream.  Or tomato.

Cinnabon Delights Taco

Warm and way lighter than they look, these little balls of delicious dough are rolled liberally in a cinnamon sugar blend, very much like the inside of a Cinnabon.  But where’s the goopy icing?  That may be the delightful part!  As you bite into these delicious little morsels, you’ll find the warm, goopy, way too sweet but who cares because it’s delicious icing!  Best part – you get four per order, so you can indulge in a tiny little sweet golf ball sized treat, then pass the bag off to your children, so you don’t turn into a big fat arse.

Cinnabon Delights Taco Bell

The one con to these sweet genius treats – eat them while they are warm.  They get a little funky in texture – almost damp – when you let them cool off too much.  Oh, and don’t eat them when they are too hot – I felt like Kramer on a Seinfeld episode while waving my hands at the burn on my tongue from my first bite into a piping hot Delight.

Price is about $1.50, and this makes a nice little dessert or snack.  Or a replacement meal when your husband insists on his Taco Bell fix.